How to bake the best bread

How to bake the best bread

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Baking the bread

Baking the breadWhile the bread’s ingredients affect its crust to some degree, baking is arguably a more significant factor in whether your bread is crusty, crunchy, or soft and tender.

Adjusting oven temperature and baking time can yield different effects on your bread, most notably in its crust.

Determining the oven temperature

Those baked at a lower temperature (88°C/190°F) are softer and retain more moisture. In comparison, those baked at a higher temperature (95°C/205°F) are drier and harder bread.

According to professional bakers, the optimal baking temperature:

  • Soft bread, dinner rolls, sweet rolls, doughs with whole grains or large amounts of rich ingredients like butter and eggs, bake for a more extended time at a lower temperature. Typically, at 175-190°C/350-375°F. For extra flavour and an even softer crust, brush the bread with melted butter when you take it out of the oven.
  • Crusty bread and leaner doughs bake quickly at a higher temperature, 200-220°C/400-425°F. Add steam to your oven.
  • Pizza crust bakes in a hot oven (220-260°C/425-500°F) on a stone or steel for an extra-crusty crust.

Determining the cooking time

A loaf of bread baked too little will lack flavour because the sugars and proteins are not caramelized. However, if you bake the bread for too long, it will have a burnt feel.

Generally, the ideal baking time is influenced by the size, type of bread, and the oven itself. Rolls will take less time. A rich dough will always take longer compared to lean dough.

Some loaves may take more time or need to be covered halfway through baking. The foil will protect a crust that is browning too quickly.

For some people, very crisp is `done.’ Others believe that dark golden brown or light gold is the correct colour. Whatever your personal preference, you should follow a few tips to ensure your bread is perfectly baked.

The bread will take 15 to 60 minutes to bake. Since all ovens are different, you should give your bread a little time. Set your timer to avoid burning bread, and check the colour for doneness after 20 minutes. If it is not done, set the timer for another 5–10 minutes and keep checking. Most baguettes are ready within 20–30 minutes, but you should test their doneness.

How do I know when the bread is done?

Once you get used to bread baking, you can easily tell when it nears doneness – visually.

For the most part, the crust should be firm and dry, and the bottom of a loaf sounds hollow when tapped. When the bread is a deep, golden brown and smells like toast, it’s probably ready.

Use the time and temperature specified in the recipe as a guide.

To be sure, take it out of the oven, and check it using one of the following ways:

Take the internal temperature of baked bread

A method for those with less experience is to measure the bread’s interior temperature with a digital thermometer. This becomes more important as the size of the loaf increases.

When the bread nears the end of baking time, remove it from the oven to get an accurate temperature.

Insert an instant-read thermometer into the centre of the loaf, taking care not to touch the baking pan. You can minimize the visual evidence if you go at an angle and through the side or bottom.

Important: Make sure the core temperature doesn’t drop, and you don’t get burnt.

Note: If some batter sticks to the side of the thermometer or if you find a gooey spot at the centre of the dough, your bread is not ready.

The optimal internal temperature

The internal temperature of baked bread will depend on the type of dough you use. According to professional bakers, those are the optimal internal temperature for:

  • High-rising white bread baked in a pan – at 82-93ºC/180-200ºF
  • Soft bread – at 88°C/190°F
  • Denser whole-grain bread88-99°C/190-210°F
  • Crusty lean bread and sourdough bread – at 95-100°C/200-212°F
  • Cake (quick non-yeast bread) – at 95°C/205°F

Make sure the thermometer is calibrated correctly and check in different places.

Keep in mind that temperatures rise quickly toward the end of baking.

Toothpick test

If you don’t have a thermometer, the toothpick is the best method for checking the doneness of baked bread. Or you can use a cake tester, the little stick-like kitchen tools used to test the doneness of cakes.

While inserting the toothpick may sound simple, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • The first thing is to protect your hands by putting on oven mitts.
  • Remove the oven rack to access the bread.
  • Insert a clean toothpick at the centre of your bread.
  • Pull the toothpick out of the bread at the same angle you inserted it.
  • Scrutinize it.

When you insert the toothpick at the centre of the bread,

  • If it comes out clean, it’s done. This indicates no excess moisture, and the crumb is fully set.
  • Nevertheless, if the toothpick comes out wet, you should take it back into the oven. And test again after 5–10 minutes.

Tap the Bottom of the breadTap the Bottom

Experienced bakers test loaves by thumping the bottom, listening for a hollow-sounding “thunk.”

Take the loaf out of the oven and turn it upside down, taking it out of the pan if you’re making a sandwich loaf. Give the bottom of the loaf a firm thump, with your thumb, like striking a drum. The bread will sound hollow when it’s done.


The more you bake, the more you’ll be able to gauge how a loaf of bread should look when it’s nearing doneness. For the most part, the crust should be dry, very firm, and a deep golden brown colour with darker spots here and there. If the crust is very pale, give it a few more minutes.

If you use the above methods and you’re in doubt, it doesn’t hurt to bake the bread a little longer. Although, if you expose the bread to heat for longer, the flavour compounds may be driven off.

Be sure to use these tips to ensure your bread has the most delicious crust ever.

These details will require your attention the first time you make a type of bread, but once you make a recipe two or three times, you’ll figure it out. It’s worth the trouble!

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