Bread is a staple food in many cultures all over the world. Good bread is delicious and highly satisfying to make at home. It’s important to have the right tools, techniques and ingredients to bake the best bread. Making bread crusty or soft is more about how you bake it than the ingredients you use. Changing the oven temperature and how long you bake the bread can change its crust. In this guide, we will take you through the process of determining the correct oven temperature, the cooking time and how to know when the bread is perfectly done. With these tips, you’ll be able to master the art of bread baking and impress your family and friends with your delicious homemade loaves. So, let’s get started and make the best bread you’ve ever tasted!
Use these tips to ensure your bread has the most delicious crust ever.
Determining the oven temperature
When you bake bread, the temperature affects how it turns out. The bread is softer and has more moisture when you bake at a lower temperature (88°C/190°F). Baking at a higher temperature (95°C/205°F) makes the bread harder and drier.
Professional bakers recommend different temperatures for different types of bread.
- Soft bread, dinner rolls, sweet rolls, doughs with whole grains, or lots of rich ingredients should bake for a longer time at a lower temperature, typically 175-190°C/350-375°F. For extra flavour and a softer crust, brush the bread with melted butter when it comes out of the oven.
- Crusty bread and lean dough bake quickly at a higher temperature, 200-220°C/400-425°F.
- Pizza crust, bake in a hotter oven (220-260°C/425-500°F) on a stone or steel for an extra-crusty crust.
Determining the cooking time
Bread needs to bake for the right amount of time. If you don’t bake it long enough, it will lack flavour. If you bake it too long, it will burn. The baking time depends on the size, type of bread, and oven. Rolls take less time. A rich dough takes longer than a lean dough. Sometimes, bread must be covered halfway through baking with foil to prevent it from quickly browning. The perfect colour for baked bread can vary. To ensure your bread is perfectly baked, set your timer and check the colour after 20 minutes. If it’s not done, set the timer for another 5-10 minutes and keep checking. Most baguettes take 20-30 minutes to bake, but you should test them to ensure they’re done.
How do I know when the bread is done?
When baking bread, you can tell when it’s almost done by looking at it. The crust should be hard and dry, and the bottom of the bread should sound hollow when you tap it. If the bread is dark brown and smells like toast, it’s probably done. Follow the recipe for the right time and heat, but you can take it out of the oven and double-check it using one of the following ways:
Take the internal temperature of baked bread
If you’re new to baking bread, use a digital thermometer to check if your bread is cooked properly, especially if you’re making a large loaf. Near the end of baking time, take the bread out of the oven to check its temperature. Carefully insert the thermometer into the middle of the loaf at an angle so you don’t touch the baking pan. Be careful not to burn yourself. Keep the temperature steady and make sure it doesn’t drop. Suppose you notice any batter sticking to the thermometer or the dough in the middle still looks gooey. In that case, your bread still needs to be finished cooking.
The optimal internal temperature
The temperature inside your baked bread depends on the type of dough you make. According to professional bakers, here are the suggested temperatures:
- White bread should be 82-93ºC/180-200ºF.
- Soft bread should be 88°C/190°F.
- Whole-grain bread should be 88-99°C/190-210°F.
- Crusty lean bread and sourdough bread should be 95-100°C/200-212°F.
- Cake should be 95°C/205°F.
Ensure your thermometer is accurate, and check different spots in the bread to get a precise reading.
Keep in mind that temperatures rise quickly toward the end of baking.
If you don’t have a thermometer to check if baked bread is cooked enough, use a toothpick or cake tester instead.
Be careful when doing this. Wear oven mitts to protect your hands, take the bread out of the oven and put the toothpick or cake tester in the middle of the bread. Then, take it out at the same angle you put it in and look at it. If it’s clean, the bread is cooked, but if it’s wet, put it back in the oven and check again in a few (5–10) minutes.
Tap the Bottom
Experienced bakers check if bread is cooked by thumping the bottom and hearing a hollow sound. To do this, take the bread out of the oven, flip it upside down, and give it a good thump on the bottom. If you’re making sandwich bread, remove it from the pan first. You should hear a hollow sound if the bread is cooked thoroughly.
The more you bake bread, the better you know when it’s almost ready. The outside of the bread should be dry, very firm, and a deep golden brown colour with darker spots. If it looks pale, it needs a few more minutes. If you’re unsure, you can bake it a little longer, but if you leave it in the oven for too long, the taste might not be as good.
Pay attention to these details when making a type of bread for the first time.
But don’t worry!
After making the recipe two or three times, you’ll get the hang of it.
It may seem like a lot of work, but it’s worth it!
This article is part of “How to bake awesome bread”
I hope my easy tips will give you the confidence to step into the kitchen and prepare delicious meals to eat with a handful of close friends.
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