Milling your own flour takes homemade bread and kicks it up a notch. To add another dimension to the process, try baking it in different ways. Many people think that the only way to get tasty, perfect, texture-ridden bread is to bake it indoors in a regular oven, but I’m here to tell you differently.

I’ve baked bread on my grill, but I have also baked bread in a Dutch oven under the coals of an open fire, on my woodstove in the winter, and in my All American Sun Oven. The loaves are amazing no matter where I bake them.

My newfound love is baking in the Sun Oven. It keeps my house from overheating in the hot days of summer, I can keep a good eye on it while  working outside, and it is a great unit to use here in northern Idaho during our forest-fire season.

I like to bake my breads in cast iron and pottery pans. I have even used a terra cotta plant pot to see how it would fair in a survival situation. For the record, it passed the test.

RELATED: Make Your Own Old Pioneer Sourdough Bread


When people attempt to bake bread and it flops, they often give up. Baking with someone who is an old hand at bread making is a great way to  learn how and pick up tricks of the trade.


Work only with fresh yeast. Yeast can go bad and there is nothing worse for a new bread baker than starting out with a bad batch of yeast. Check the dates on your packets. Toss the old ones.


Recently, we were working on a distracting project and my bread was on its second rise, but because I did not get it in the oven at the right time, it fell. Stop the rising when the dough has about doubled in size. On the first rise, put two fingers in the dough up to the second knuckle. If the indentations remain in the dough when you take them out, punch the dough down for the second rise. If they do not remain, the dough needs more time to rise. On the second rise, touch the side of the dough with a tip of a finger. If the indentation remains, it’s time to bake the loaf.


Using water that’s higher than 115 F. degrees will kill yeast. Go lower than 105 degrees and the yeast is slow to activate. Check the water temperature with a thermometer before you use it.


Baking involves chemical reactions that require precise temperatures, timing and quantities of ingredients to produce the desired result. Many first-time bakers think that flour is flour, but it is not. The kind of grain, its gluten content and how the flour is milled affect the way it reacts during baking, so only use the flour specified in a given recipe. Make no substitutions.

RELATED: 7 Keys To Sourdough Success

This article originally published in THE NEW PIONEER® Spring 2015 issue. Print and Digital Subscriptions to THE NEW PIONEER magazine are available here.

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