Want to start baking better bread? Follow these tips and tricks to take your bread baking skills to the next level. Start making a perfect loaf every time!
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Tips and Tricks for Baking Better Bread
Baking Better Bread Tips
Try all of these bread baking tips and I’m sure your baking will go up a notch.
First, you can kill the yeast by getting the water too hot! I know I said that already but seriously, don’t do this. I have learned that if I get my sink water as hot as it gets, this is PERFECT. The yeast rises and it should NOT kill it. If it kills the yeast then your sink water gets way too hot and you should have that looked at.
Another thing that kills the yeast is if it’s too old. I keep mine in the freezer. This helps prolong its life. I probably don’t hold on to yeast long enough for it to die any ways because I make bread, pizza dough and cinnamon rolls a LOT. But it stays in the freezer always, just in case.
One of the many things I have learned as well, is that when a recipe says 5 cups of flour, I almost NEVER use that much. If it’s a dough recipe to make some kind of bread, DO’NT EVER dump 5 cups of flour in. My dough takes different amounts depending on the day. I have no idea why this is but it’s true.
You want your dough to be slightly sticky. If your dough doesn’t stick to your fingers a little bit, you put too much flour in and your bread will not be as fluffy. These are things you learn in time. So if you read a recipe and it says, 5 to 6 cups of flour, this is actually a great recipe from someone who makes dough a lot. Trust them. Trust this recipe.
The same recipe made on different days, I swear, will take different amounts of flour. I gradually add a cup at a time until it seems the right amount of sticky. Check out the first picture below. It sticks to my fingers a bit, but then in the second picture you see it comes off my fingers fairly cleanly. THAT is what you want!
Another useful tip for when it’s cold, or you just want to speed things up a bit, is to use a heating pad under your bowl while the dough is rising. I read that on Pinterest once and oh my goodness it is the best advice! I do this all the time now and it’s a life saver in the winter. You can see me using my blue heating mat in the recipe photos below.
One more tip I read on Pinterest and have used ever since was to put plastic wrap on the bowl instead of a wet tea towel. This traps the air in and it rises faster and better plus makes your bread fluffier.
What I didn’t read when I saw this tip and learned the hard way, is that you might want to put some cooking oil spray on the inside of the plastic wrap. When the bread rises, if it touches the plastic wrap it will stick to it and you’ll have to throw some of your dough away. But if there is cooking oil spray on it, the dough slides right off, saving that extra bit of dough.
Another thing cooking oil spry is good for is for your hands. If my dough is slightly sticky and it keeps sicking to my hands, I spray my hands a little and the dough sticks no more.
My last tip is for all you beginner bakers out there. Start with a simple recipe. One that doesn’t use too many ingredients or doesn’t have too many steps. Once you get really good at that recipe then move on to another recipe and so on.
So what do you think? Sounds pretty easy right? Not too hard. How about I give you a recipe so you can try your new skills? This recipe looks like a lot of steps but that’s only because I break them down so much. It’s just easier to follow that way.
Katie’s French Bread
This French bread recipe is delicious and makes two loaves. Give yourself enough time to make this. Remember there’s at least one hour of rising time and a bit more after that so if you want to make it for dinner you’ll want to start about 2 – 2 1/2 hours before dinner is ready.
- 2 TB yeast
- 3 cups warm water
- 2 TB sugar
- 3 TB olive oil
- 2 TS salt
- 7 cups flour
- I use my Kitchen Aid mixer for this recipe but you can make the bread without it. I start with the paddle and then switch to the dough hook later. I’ll let you know when to make the switch in the instructions below.
2. Add the yeast and sugar to 3 cups of warm water in the mixer bowl. Let this sit and rise for 10 minutes.
3. Next add oil, salt and half of flour. Mix this until it’s as smooth as you can get it.
4. Next add one cup of flour at a time and mix until the flour is incorporated. I start the mixer on a low speed and then kick it up to medium. Keep adding in flour until your dough sticks to your hands but pulls away, just like in tip 3.
5. I like to put my dough hook on and lower the speed to knead the dough, once I have about 6 cups of flour into the bowl. I do this for 5 to 8 minutes. If you aren’t using a mixer then you will knead the dough for 10 minutes by hand.
6. Once you have enough flour in and you have kneaded the dough, you want to let it rise one hour. This is when I use a heating pad under the bowl and plastic wrap on top to keep the air in. Don’t forget to spray your plastic wrap!
7. After your dough has risen for an hour you want to punch it down and then put it on the counter. Before I do this, I usually lightly spray the counter and the pan I will bake the bread on.
8. Divide the dough into two equals parts.
9. Roll out one half into a square or rectangle. Then you want to roll the dough into itself to form to long round cylinder, like you are making cinnamon rolls.
10. Transfer it to the oiled baking sheet and then do the same thing for the other half of the dough. They both go on one cooking sheet and bake at the same time.
11. Once you have the dough on the baking sheet you will need to get a serrated knife and make a few slashes on top of each loaf. I usually do at least 3 on each one.
12. Turn your oven to 350 degrees to pre-heat while the bread has a chance to rise again for a bit.
13. Place in oven, in the center and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. My oven cooks kinda hot so I tend to not do the full 20 minutes but ovens will vary.
14. I have one more tip for you. If you flick the top of the bread in the center with your finger and it sounds kinda hallow, it’s done. If it sounds thick it probably needs a few more minutes in the oven.
15. As soon as I pull the bread out I spread butter all over the top.
One Last Tip for Baking Better Bread
I am going to give you some last minute advice for baking better bread. This recipe says to let the dough rise for one hour and then let it rise again before putting it in the oven.
Will your bread still turn out if you just shape it and stick it straight in the oven? YES! Will it taste the same? Pretty much. Will it be fluffy and amazing? Not really.
It will still be freaking great bread. But if you want the soft, fluffy bread then you need to give it that time to rise. I often make this last minute and don’t let the dough rise and everyone still loves it. However, when I plan ahead and give myself the correct time I need to let it rise both times, the bread is AMAZING!
Now, don’t forget to try all the new tips for baking better bread and see how yours turns out. Do you have any tips or tricks that you like to use for baking better bread? We’d love to read them in the comments.
Katie’s French Bread
- 2 tbsp Yeast
- 3 cups Warm Water
- 2 tbsp Sugar
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp salt
- 7 cups flour
- Add yeast and sugar to 3 cups of warm water. Let this sit and rise for 10 minutes.
- Next add oil and salt and half of flour. Mix until it’s as smooth as you can get it.
- Next add one cup of flour at a time and mix until the flour is mixed in. Keep doing this until your dough sticks to your hands but pulls away.
- If you do not have a Kitchen Aid mixer you need to knead by hand for 10 minutes. I like to put my dough hook on and knead the dough in the mixer, once I have about 6 cups of flour into the bowl. Then I mix for 5 to 8 minutes.
- Once your dough has been kneaded, you want to let it rise an hour.
- Remember the new tips and use a heating pad under the bowl and plastic wrap on top of the bowl to keep the air in. Don’t forget to spray the plastic wrap like in tip 5.
- After your dough has risen for an hour you want to punch it down and then put it on a lightly oiled counter.
- Lightly spray the counter and the pan you will be baking the bread on. I use a baking sheet.
- Divide the dough into two equals parts. Roll out one half into a square or rectangle.
- Then like you are making cinnamon rolls you want to roll the dough into itself to form to long round cylinder.
- Transfer it to the pan and then do the same thing with the other half of the dough.
- Once you have the dough on the baking sheet you will need to get a serrated knife and make a few slashes on top of each loaf. I usually do at least 3 on each one.
- Turn your oven to 350 degrees to pre-heat while the bread has a chance to rise again for a bit.
- Place the sheet in the oven on the center rack and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. My oven cooks kinda hot so I tend to not do the full 20 minutes but ovens will vary so keep an eye on your bread.
- Another tip I learned once is if you flick the top of the bread in the center with your finger and it sounds kinda hallow, it’s done. If it sounds thick it probably needs a few more minutes.
- As soon as I pull the bread out I spread butter all over the top.