16 Useful Tips for Baking Bread
1. Don’t add all the flour indicated as in the recipe. Add a little less at first and see how the dough looks. Sometimes you’ll need less flour than what the recipe says.
2. Don’t skimp on rising time. DO NOT SKIMP ON RISING TIME.
3. When kneading, try not to add too much flour. As long as you’re able to knead, a sticky dough is usually fine and will become less sticky after kneading and rising.
4. Always fluff the flour before measuring. Or your bread might come out more dense than you’d like.
5. Knead, knead, and then knead some more. The more you work the dough, the more gluten is developed, which helps keep the bread light and fluffy. It’s really hard to over-knead, especially if you’re doing it by hand, but under-kneading can happen and will cause problems with rising and baking.
6. Generally, kneading by hand for 10 to 12 minutes or 8 to 10 minutes in a mixer will be enough. Look for these 5 signs that your dough is completely kneaded.
7. A cooking thermometer can help prevent you from accidentally killing your yeast with too-hot water or milk. An ideal temperature is 105 degrees.
8. All-purpose flour can be used for almost anything, but sometimes bread flour, cake flour, pastry flour, or self-rising flour is a better choice for a bread recipe. Read about these different kinds of flour and when to use each.
9. There are four ways to knead bread: with a mixer, a food processor, a bread machine, and by hand. Read more about each method.
10. If you have a bread machine and make bread regularly, assemble bread kits to cut down on prep time.
11. Store yeast in the freezer and bring it to room temperature before using it. Some bakers have no problems using it straight from the freezer; try both methods and see what works for you.
12. You can make dough ahead of time and bake it later. Double the yeast in the recipe, wrap your dough in plastic wrap, take it out of the freezer the night before and let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight, and then cover and rise and bake. Get all the details.
13. Active dry yeast and instant yeast are not the same thing. Active dry yeast needs to be proofed with warm water or milk, while instant yeast can be added to dry ingredients without any proofing.
14. Rather than following the rising times recommended by a recipe, let your dough rise until it is the size you want (e.g. doubled). Varying temperatures in homes can affect rising times.
15. The ideal room temperature for rising dough is 70 degrees or warmer. If your kitchen is a little cooler than that, just let your dough rise a little longer. If it’s really cool, like 65 degrees, turn your oven on to 350 degrees and let your dough rise on the stovetop in an oven-proof bowl.
16. Watch this very helpful video that shows you exactly how to knead, rise, and shape dough. Sometimes we all need a nice visual aid!
What other baking tips do you have? Share them in the comments!