Useful Baking Techniques

Useful Baking Techniques

Making bread requires some specific techniques. Paying attention to handling these correctly can make a difference to your bread.


Always put the flour into the mixing bowl first, then add the salt and yeast to the opposite sides of the bowl. This is important because salt can kill yeast. If you're using, add fat next, then three-quarters water. Then with your hands, "knead" all the ingredients together, add all the flour, and add more water until you have a soft dough. This can be very messy, sticky and moist. But it all comes together when you start the kneading process.


The kneading process helps the gluten in the flour to create a smooth, elastic dough. When kneading, you will need to stretch the dough, then fold it back into itself and flatten it, and then repeat the process, making sure to round the dough between stretches. It may take 5 to 10 minutes until the dough changes in consistency and becomes smoother and more elastic. Eventually, it will start to form together in ball  and develop a soft skin.


Place the kneaded dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel to protect it from drafts that can cause skin to form. Put it anywhere in the kitchen. The dough needs to rise to at least doubled in size. When it's fully grown, it will begin to crease at the top, and it may begin to collapse on its own. Don't stay any longer than this. You can let the dough rise again at this point, if you like.

Knocking Back

After rising, the dough needs to be "knocked back". This process makes it easier to handle and shape, and helps to create an even texture for the dough. Remove the dough from the bowl, and place on a lightly floured surface and fold repeatedly with the heels of your hands until it is smooth and all the air is expelled.


You can experiment with different shapes and choose anything from a simple round bun to a decorative braid.


In this final stage, the shaped bread is allowed to rise before baking. Cover the dough with a plastic bag at this stage will help prevent the dough from clumping together. You can tell when the dough is ready by pressing lightly on the dough and seeing if it springs back. If the dough starts to wrinkle and sag slightly, it's over proven. If that's the case, knock it back, reshape the dough, and let it prove again.

Baking and Cooling

When your bread is ready, it should be brown and crispy on the outside. To check if it's ready, remove it from the oven and tap on the bottom. If it sounds hollow, it's ready; if not, put it back and check again in 5 minutes. After baking, the bread should be allowed to cool completely on a wire rack before eating. When it cools, it releases all the steam and finishes cooking.

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