Top 10 tips when making bread

Friday, January 14

Together with our friends at ‘Bread Angels’, ‘Heidi Bakery’, ‘SurreyFoodLover’ and ‘Bake with Jack’, we have prepared some of our hottest tips to get your bread baking off to the best start.

Make A Note

Like anything, practice makes perfect! Learning from your mistakes and the satisfaction of improving on your last bake is half the fun. We highly recommend that you start to keep track of your bread baking results – be it on the side of the recipe page or in a separate notebook. As your bread baking records grow, so will your confidence and outcome of the baked goods. You’ll find it will be simple things from adding an extra tablespoon of water or cutting down on the salt – will you remember between the bakes on what worked and what didn’t? Follow the recipe but put your own spin on things. Bake to your tastes and we promise you’ll never look back.

Getting The Flour Right

Bread flour contains more gluten than other flours, which gives it its elasticity and enables the dough to rise with a good structure. SK Strong White Bread Flour is perfect for yeast cookery, other baked goods that require increased volume and most of all, bread! Squires Kitchen also has Wholemeal Strong Flour, which is just perfect for making delicious wholemeal bread loaves and rolls.

Use The Right Yeast

Active dry yeast and instant active yeast both help leaven bread and provide a light texture. They do so in slightly different ways but there’s one major difference in how you use them. Active dry yeast needs to be dissolved in water before using, while SK Natural Instant active dried yeast can be mixed straight into dry ingredients. Squires Kitchen’s Natural Instant active dried yeast helps leaven bread; it is finer than traditional active yeast and can be mixed straight into dry ingredients with perfect results. It is a rapid rise yeast for quick baking projects.

Telling When Your Bread Is Done

The usual explanation is "tap the bottom of the loaf and if it sounds hollow, it's done." That is true but it's not exactly obvious. You want the bottom of the loaf to "feel thin”, like a snare drum. You do not want the bottom of the loaf to feel like you are tapping a tupperware container full of mashed potato. You want the sound to be hollow and not dull.

Top Tips from Jane at Bread Angels.

How & When To Knead Bread

There are times when you don't need to knead bread, and your recipes and personal style will guide you. There are plenty of ways and techniques to knead bread. If you want to knead, you can pin the bread down and push it away from you to stretch out the gluten. You can pick it up and "air knead" by stretching it in the air over and over again (this takes very strong shoulder muscles). You can knuckle it over and over again, or you can stretch and fold it.

Top Tips from Bread Angels.

Tips When Kneading

Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch Bread Expert Jack Sturgess, AKA Bake with Jack, suggests: “My number one top go-to game changing tip is to NOT add flour when you re-kneading your bread dough. DO NOT knead on a floured work surface – sure it will be sticky for a bit but it'll come together. If you dust you'll be incorporating more, unworked flour, tightening up your dough. Then as it comes together you'll often THINK it's ready but in actual fact you've just added a whole lot of flour to your recipe, tightening and drying up the dough and it STILL isn't yet kneaded enough, equalling a HEAVY loaf that was not strong enough to puff up properly. Stay strong, use a dough scraper and avoid dusting with flour until the VERY end.”

When Making French Baguettes

“Put some water into the hot oven in order to make steam to get a nice crispy bread crust.”

Top Tip from Brice, Head Chef at Heidi Bakery, Farnham.

Shaping The Dough

After mixing the dough make sure you let it rise and relax for about an hour in order not to struggle when shaping.

Top Tip from Brice, Head Chef at Heidi Bakery, Farnham.

When Making Sourdough

As a ‘newbie’ to sourdough making, the three main tools that we would recommend you using to get started are:

  • A bowl with high sides.
  • A dutch oven or a cast iron skillet with a cover.
  • A food scale – recipes are calculated by grams and so this helps ensure consistent results.
  • Then, as you get more experienced you can start using more tools and trial other flavours to help make the process easier, gain prettier looking and tastier loaves.

Preparation Is Everything

When preparing to bake your dough, use the fresh sourdough starter within 3-4 hours of being fed to ensure the starter is at its peak of activity.

Top tip from Fulya.

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Have your bread come out right every time!