I wanted to see how long does it take to make bread. I mean, I already know how long it takes to make my favourite recipes, but what is possible? How quickly can I make bread, and how long could it take? Of course, there are dough improvers we can add, or we could add a ridiculous amount of yeast to make the dough rise in the time it takes to make a cup of tea!
So, I’m focusing on homemade bread that’s enjoyable to eat. How long it could possibly take to make a basic bread recipe? Here are my findings.
A quick loaf of bread can be made in 2 hours and 15 minutes, yet longer-fermented loaves can take as long as 62 hours. How long it takes to make bread depends on the amount of yeast used and the proofing temperature of the dough.
To determine how long it takes to make bread, we are going to follow the 13 stages of bread making to evaluate how long each step could possibly take.
Not every recipe requires a preferment. “Straight doughs” can skip this step, otherwise, in the case of preparing a poolish, it can take up to 18 hours to preferment.
Min: 0 hours 0 minutes – Total: 0 hours 0 minutes
Max: 18 hours 0 minutes – Total: 18 hours 0 minutes
The time it takes to weigh the basic bread-making ingredients of flour, water, salt and yeast. But when there are more inclusions such as butter, malt flour, sourdough, etc., it can be pretty time-consuming, especially rummaging through cupboards to find them.
Min: 0 hours 2 minutes – Total: 0 hours 2 minutes
Max: 18 hours 15 minutes – Total: 18 hours 15 minutes
It’s not necessary to autolyse, but many bakers love to do it as it develops the gluten structure naturally and saves them from having to knead as much. The length of the autolyse is often argued. Anywhere between 12 minutes and 6 hours in some cases.
Min: 0 hours 0 minutes – Total: 0 hours 2 minutes
Max: 6 hours 0 minutes – Total: 24 hours 15 minutes
There are many no-knead versions of recipes available, but even for a no-knead bread recipe, there will still be a few minutes required for mixing to incorporate the ingredients. A small batch of dough can be incorporated in a couple of minutes, but this will be longer if making larger dough batches.
Min: 0 hours 2 minutes – Total: 0 hours 4 minutes
Max: 0 hours 25 minutes – Total: 24 hours 40 minutes
Many bakers love to bulk ferment their doughs for as much time as possible to develop more flavour. The amount of time is arguable as some bakers will leave their dough in the fridge for days and bake it when ready. Yet there are several types of bread that are better without a first rise at all.
Min: 0 hours 0 minutes – Total: 0 hours 4 minutes
Max: 24 hours 0 minutes – Total: 48 hours 40 minutes
The next step is to divide your dough into individual bread pieces. As we are just making one loaf, we can skip this step. If you are making a batch of dough, it will take roughly 20 seconds per unit to weigh and divide.
Min: o hours 0 minutes – Total: 0 hours 4 minutes
Max: 0 hours 0 minutes – Total: 48 hours 40 minutes
Once divided, the dough is preshaped, and bench rested for a few minutes before it is ready to be final shaped.
10 – 40 minutes is typical here.
Min: 0 hours 10 minutes – Total: 0 hours 14 minutes
Max: 0 hours 40 minutes – Total: 49 hours 20 minutes
At the end of the bench rest, the dough is shaped, placed into a tin or proofing device and left to rise. The length of the rise depends on many factors, yet temperature and the amount of yeast used are the most important. With a warm dough and plenty of yeast (>2.2%), the dough can rise in 45 minutes.
The final proof can be slowed down in the fridge too, but it can’t be too long if you had a long first rise as well.
Min: 0 hours 45 minutes – Total: 0 hours 59 minutes
Max: 8 hours 0 minutes – Total: 57 hours 20 minutes
Bread will need to be scored before it is baked, which takes a couple of moments.
In the oven, a loaf of bread will bake in around 32 minutes, but this will increase when using a cooler oven. The baking time will also increase if the loaf is large
See what temperature to bake bread for more information.
Min: 0 hours 25 minutes – Total: 1 hour 14 minutes
Max: 0 hours 45 minutes – Total: 58 hours 05 minutes
Once the bread is out of the oven, it will require cooling before it is ready to slice. You should wait at least an hour for the bread to cool, but for denser wholegrain loaves, it can take a lot longer! See how long to cool bread for a detailed table of cooling times.
Min: 1 hour 0 minutes – Total: 2 hours 14 minutes
Max: 4 hours 0 minutes – Total: 62 hours 05 minutes
The quick bread took just 2 hours and 14 minutes, whereas the long-fermented one took 62 hours and 5 minutes. This is a very fast bread and a very long one, but I think both would turn out nice!
Hi, I’m Gareth Busby, a baking coach, head baker and bread-baking fanatic! My aim is to use science, techniques and 15 years of baking experience to help you become a better baker.
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