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Bread baking tips, ingredients and recipes

Updated on September 21, 2015

Baking tips, loaf of bread recipes and ingredients needed to get a perfect bake for various types of bread

Baking, unlike other cooking is a science, chemical reactions happen between very precise quantities of ingredients to make bakes rise or drop, change textures and flavors. Baking tips on this page and my 'how to bake a loaf of bread recipe' will help you to achieve the perfect baked bread and to realize the precision needed. Different types of bread recipes are also covered here.

When I cook in the kitchen, I'm always quite proud of my guess working approach to cooking. If I am following a recipe I will often add the ingredients thinking 'that is more or less right' rarely using scales, measuring spoons or liquid measures. I can rely on my experience and taste buds to more or less make the food turn out the way I want.

I could not be more different when it comes to baking. The difference of a few grams here and a few grams there of the main ingredients can turn the whole bake into a disaster. The moral of the story is, follow the basic rules and ingredients to the gram.

Image: My loaf of Bread, by peterb6001

Easy white loaf of bread recipe

loaf of bread recipe, by peterb6001
loaf of bread recipe, by peterb6001

Simple white loaf of bread recipe

The Ingredients

500g or 1lb 1oz of strong white bread flour (see flour above), and extra for finishing

40g or 1½ oz soft butter (see butter tip above)

2 6g sachets or 12 grams of fast action dried yeast

2 tsp salt

300ml of water

Small amount of olive Oil

Preparation

Add flour and butter to a large bowl. Add the yeast and salt on opposite sides of the bowl. Mix together.

Put about half the water in and mix with fingers in the 'spider position' (see above). Continue to add water a little at a time until all the flour is absorbed into the mix. Not all the water may be needed. The dough should be soft but not to wet.

Basic ingredients in bread, by peterb6001
Basic ingredients in bread, by peterb6001

Now you have a rough dough.

First Knead

Lightly oil your surface and begin to knead. Knead quickly for about 5 mins to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands. If it is to sticky you can dust your hands with a little flour.

Kneading the dough, by peterb6001
Kneading the dough, by peterb6001


Prove

Put in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film or a tea towel and leave to prove for an hour.

Leave the dough to prove, by peterb6001
Leave the dough to prove, by peterb6001
The dough has doubled in size, by peterb6001
The dough has doubled in size, by peterb6001

Second quick knead

The dough should have doubled in size.

Bash dough a couple of times on an oiled surface to knock out the air bubbles. Fold and stretch a few times and knead a little more, then shape into a loaf.

Bread mixture kneaded again and shaped, by peterb6001
Bread mixture kneaded again and shaped, by peterb6001

Prove again

Line a baking tray with baking paper (not grease proof) put the loaf onto it, cover and leave for a further hour to rise again.

Risen again, by peterb6001
Risen again, by peterb6001

Baking

Preheat the oven to 220C (200C fan assisted) 425F or Gas mark 7.

Remove the damp tea towel or film from the dough, which should have now risen again. Very lightly flour and mark slices in the top.

Put the loaf in the middle of the oven.

Marked and floured, by peterb6001
Marked and floured, by peterb6001

Top Tip

Put a baking tin in the bottom of oven and leave to get hot. Before putting the loaf in, put cold water in the tin add the loaf and close the door. This will cause steam giving a nice shine to the bread.

Bake for about 30 minutes. Remove and check if cooked by tapping underneath to see if a hollow sound is made. If it does that is good. Put on a wire rack and your loaf is ready.

Bread fresh from the oven, by peterb6001
Bread fresh from the oven, by peterb6001

Top Tip, Use Digital Weighing Scales

Due to the precision needed in any type of baking I would highly recommend the use of digital weighing scales. I have handpicked the best ones from Amazon for you here.

The best digital weighing scales

These scales are not only excellent for bread baking, but will come in handy for all cooking in the kitchen. I even use mine to weigh my packages that I am going to send so I can look up online how much the post will cost. Great for anybody selling on eBay or sending gifts (especially with the festive season coming up).

Cuisinart KML-10 PerfectWeight Digital Kitchen Scale
Cuisinart KML-10 PerfectWeight Digital Kitchen Scale

The best selling Cuisinart Digital weighing scales will weigh up to 5 kilos. The detachable glass top is easy to remove and clean. Touch sensitive with large digital display.

 
bread baking ingredients
bread baking ingredients

Following are all of my best bread baking tips

The basic ingredients for baking bread

Flour

Flour is basically ground wheat. It contains starch and gluten which give the shape and forms of food. Dough is formed by flour and sometimes a mixture of eggs and water. Air bubbles become trapped which help it rise.

Three basic types of flour

Self raising flour

Contains approximately 10% protein and a raising agent such as baking powder. Note that if you don't have self raising flour you can use plain flour and add a raising agent

Plain flour

Contains approximately 10% protein level

Strong flour

The protein level has to be above 12% to represent strong flour. For bread I would recommend strong flour with between 12% and 15% protein, which is available from most supermarkets. It should say something like Strong Bread Flour, or just Bread Flour.

The higher the protein levels the higher the gluten level. Gluten = glue, it holds and binds the bread and structure together, locking in air bubbles and keeping it strong.


Why shouldn't salt touch yeast?

When adding yeast and salt to the flour in a bowl, always put the yeast on one side, and the salt on the other, as direct contact between the two will deactivate the yeast, stopping rising.

water
water

Water

Bread baking tips

Any still water or tap water (if safe) can be used for baking bread.

Make sure once again you follow the exact amount, but the one little problem is that each flour absorbs at a different rate.

The biggest mistake people make when making bread is adding all the water at once.

Add it little by little whilst mixing in the bowl. If mixing by hand, before kneading shape your fingers in the following way. Imagine making a spider with your fingers crawling on the table. Freeze your fingers there. That is the perfect hand and finger formation for mixing.

Photo published under Creative Commons Licence.

What temperature water should I use when bread baking?

Warm water helps the yeast to make the dough rise faster. With tepid water the dough will rise the same amount but slower. The faster the dough reacts the less flavor it will have!

butter
butter

Olive Oil, Butter and Lard

Ingredients for baking bread

Olive Oil

Really any type of Olive Oil can be used when making and baking breads. It doesn't necessarily have to be virgin or extra virgin.

When baking other sweeter breads I would refrain from using olive oil and use butter instead.

Butter and Lard

I always use unsalted, in all types of cooking, that way you can always add salt to taste. Using salted butter gives you less control as you cannot lower the amount of salt.

Butter Softening Tip

If soft butter is needed and it has been in the fridge do not microwave it. Put the butter in hot water for a couple of minutes. This will make it nice and soft without melting it to liquid.

Little Lard Trick

To get lard distributed more evenly and finely in the mix you can freeze it and then grate it like cheese.

Photo published under Creative Commons Licence.

Can I use olive oil to knead bread?

Flouring the surface to stop the dough from sticking adds more flour into your dough with the risk of making it 'tight'.

Olive Oil is a great alternative, and your surface will be easier to clean afterwards.

What are the different bread kneading techniques?

Below is a short clip of three different popular styles of bread kneading. The second style used is the one mainly used on this page for basic bread recipes. Please note here that olive oil is being used instead of flour.

The second technique is a method of stretching the dough away from you, folding it in half towards you, turning it and pushing away. Repeating this for the required amount of time.

Try to avoid putting your finger tips into the dough. Mainly use the bottom of the palm of your hand to push and stretch. To fold the dough over towards you, you can grab it with your fingers, cupping it underneath.

Once the kneading is completed the dough can be left to prove for normally about an hour. This can be put in a bowl with a little olive oil to stop sticking, covered in cling film or a tea towel and left in a warm place. The dough should double in size.

3 Different Kneading Techniques

yeast
yeast

What are the differences between different types of yeast?

Bread Baking Tips

Yeast is a fungi similar to that of others that we are all used to, such as mushrooms. Yeast is the active ingredient used in baking to give the bake it's rise.

Yeast can be found in three basic forms

1) Fast action powdered yeast, which is available in little sachets or packets from most supermarkets.

2) Dried yeast, this you have to rehydrate with water and sugar, leave for 50 minutes to bubble before you can use it. Waste of time and nonsense, don't use this.

3) Fresh yeast, (fast action yeast is the dried form of this).

Things to know

When using, fast action yeast is concentrated, so you have to use a third less than fresh yeast if only fresh yeast is used in the recipe.

Of these three types I would always recommend fast acting yeast. It lasts longer, you can keep it in your cupboard for years.

Photo published under Public Domain Licence.

More loaf of bread recipe baking basics tips

Other important factors for baking bread are room temperature, the temperature of ingredients before baking, and even moving the bake. A little tap might just be what is needed to burst the air bubbles to get your desired effect, or unintentionally could deflate your bake to the effect of deflating a car tyre.

Pastry Scrapers

A pastry Scraper is an excellent tool to help you shape, cut and manipulate your bread dough and other baking doughs

OXO Good Grips Multi-purpose Stainless Steel Scraper & Chopper
OXO Good Grips Multi-purpose Stainless Steel Scraper & Chopper

This very popular brand receives 5 star reviews for almost all of it's products. This Oxo Good grips pastry scraper is ideal for kneading bread on a flat surface.

 

Are flat breads easy to make?

Yes, see Paul Hollywood's flat bread tuturial below

Paul Hollywood 'Stilton and Grape' Flat Breads

Ingredients

500 g Strong Flour

10 g salt

10 gr Fast Action Yeast

30 g Softened Butter

310 ml water

Stilton and grapes to taste

Preparation and cooking

Follow the instructions on the video below

Paul Hollywood's Grape and Stilton Flatbread

Flat Bread Pan

Mexican Origins PreSeasoned Cast Iron Tortilla Griddle, Comal
Mexican Origins PreSeasoned Cast Iron Tortilla Griddle, Comal

This top selling flat bread pan is 10 inches, and heavy weight cast iron. It is suitable for use on top of or inside oven making it ideal for flat breads and tortillas.

 

100 Great Breads by Paul Hollywood - The best loaf of bread recipe and 99 others

Paul Hollywoods Bread Baking Book 100 Great Breads. Yes I am a great fan and would recommend his work to anyone.

Check Out Bread Baking utensils on eBay

Bake Off Debate

What do you think about baking your own bread?

Love it, worth the time and effort

Love it, worth the time and effort

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    • Tanya Jones 3 years ago from Texas USA

      i've always enjoyed baking my own bread, but admit it needs improvement. i think many of the tips above will improve my breads.

    • John Dyhouse 3 years ago from UK

      I have always loved making bread. Used to do it by hand but now I have the luxury of a machine

    • pericaluic 3 years ago

      nice

    • Peter Badham 3 years ago from England

      @butler1850: I totally agree, for something so simple that we can buy anywhere there is something so special and rewarding by making it.

    • Ed Murphy 3 years ago from New Hampshire

      Best stuff around. It can be a lot of work, but when you get a good understanding of it, it's amazingly worthwhile. I've amazed many friends by baking bread in a dutch oven while camping. It's really a special feeling to be able to serve a product like fresh bread to your friends.

    • Peter Badham 4 years ago from England

      @LeenaBK LM: Good Luck :)

    • LeenaBK LM 4 years ago

      I've never really baked bread. But I'm totally for home made baking. I'll definitely try with your tips.

    • Maribel Forayo 4 years ago from Philippines

      Nothing beats home made breads. And kids love helping around too

    • miaponzo 4 years ago

      Absolutely homemade is the best!

    • Pam Irie 4 years ago from Land of Aloha

      I received a breadmaker for Christmas and absolutely am in love with it!

    • Peggy Hazelwood 4 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      I have made a simple bread that required no kneading, which is the hardest part for me! It tastes great when it comes out right!

    • dumpstergourmet 4 years ago

      LOVE home-made bread: the smell, the flavor, the process. Quick bread, yeast bread, any bread product really.

    • Peter Badham 4 years ago from England

      @JohnCumbow: I love rye bread. Might have to add a recipe :)

    • JohnCumbow 4 years ago

      I used to make a mean rye bread. But that was many years ago, when I didn't have a 9 to 5 job and millions of other chores and duties to take up my time.

      I do miss that delicious, fresh-from-the-oven flavor, though.

    • Tony Payne 4 years ago from Southampton, UK

      I love baking home made bread, the smell alone makes it worthwhile in my opinion, especially when you wake up to a loaf baking at the weekend.

    • Peter Badham 4 years ago from England

      @maryLuu: Wow! so do you agree with the tips?

    • maryLuu 4 years ago

      I love to bake my own bread. In fact I used to bake for a whole restaurant.

    • Jeanette 4 years ago from Australia

      I love it, but I tend to eat too much. Can't resist it straight out of the oven! Confession - I use a breadmaker to knead the dough though.

    • Peter Badham 4 years ago from England

      @Elsie Hagley: That's fine, although I think a lot of people are worried about kneading dough for bread thinking it is very long and physically tiring. This doesn't have to be the case if the right technique is used. Just the weight of your arms and hands is sufficient rather than lots of muscle. If you do try without a bread maker I'd love to know how it went.

    • Elsie Hagley 4 years ago from New Zealand

      Yes I love home-made bread, but i cheat, I use a bread maker.

    • Peter Badham 4 years ago from England

      @lienadla: Thank you for visiting, I just made the bread from my recipe and updated the photos from the one I had on there before, now I'm going to have it with dinner, yum.

    • lienadla 4 years ago

      Homemade bread is more delicious than store bought. I bake them whenever I have free time

    No, it's not for me

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      • Peter Badham 2 years ago from England

        haha! naughty! you would be welcome and love my house then :) (but I would insist on showing you some tricks)

      • poppy mercer 2 years ago from London

        I love the smell of bread baking, especially if someone else is doing the baking.

      • LynetteBell 4 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

        I used to bake my own bread but wasn't too good at it:( Always a bit heavy. We don't eat so much bread anymore I so just buy it.

      • Ellen Gregory 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        I did it once as a child for fun. But whenever there is fresh bread baked, I can't stop eating it. Better to stay away.

      • Peter Badham 4 years ago from England

        @LynetteBell: The smells lovely, great to bake if you're selling your house and have people come to see. The bread in this recipe will only stay good for about two days. You can half the recipe and make rolls which turn out nice to.

      • LynetteBell 4 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

        I used to but I wasn't very good at it. Now we don't eat enough bread to warrant baking it anymore. But I love the smell of fresh baked bread.

      • Peter Badham 4 years ago from England

        @audrey07: Try my recipe above and hopefully you will change your mind ;)

      • audrey07 4 years ago

        I just find that the bread I buy from the bakery taste much better than the ones I bake myself. Well, maybe I'm just not into baking stuff...

      That's basic bread baking and flat breads covered for now.

      Keep checking back as new Recipes, ingredients, hints and tips will be added.

      Share your thoughts

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        • peterb6001 profile image
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          Peter Badham 3 years ago from England

          @PaigSr: They sell bread? how silly of me, I didn't know that, and there I am making it at home

        • PaigSr profile image

          PaigSr 3 years ago from State of Confussion

          Most bread is bought. Banana bread is home made.

        • Arachnea profile image

          Tanya Jones 3 years ago from Texas USA

          great tips for making bread. i think the strong bread flour you mention may help my bread a lot. informative lens.

        • peterb6001 profile image
          Author

          Peter Badham 3 years ago from England

          @John Dyhouse: If they work? haha! they will and do, good luck and look forward to hearing your results.

        • John Dyhouse profile image

          John Dyhouse 3 years ago from UK

          Mmm, just reminded me I need to bake a fresh loaf, got family visiting to night.

          One or two tips here I have never heard before. I have bookmarked to pop back and let you know if they work. THanks for the lens

        • peterb6001 profile image
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          Peter Badham 3 years ago from England

          @SusanDeppner: I hope it does, it's well worth it, you may even get addicted!

        • SusanDeppner profile image

          Susan Deppner 3 years ago from Arkansas USA

          Wow, interesting tips for bread baking, which I haven't done in years. This might change that!

        • profile image

          tonyleather 3 years ago

          Thanks for a great post!

        • profile image

          anonymous 4 years ago

          I never knew the tip about yeast and salt, really helpful!

        • peterb6001 profile image
          Author

          Peter Badham 4 years ago from England

          @debnet: There is no cheating in my eyes if buying from a shop isn't involved. Breadmakers are fine (hence the one recommended at the top), I just want to rid the illusion that kneading is so painfully hard and time consuming. It's the rising that takes time, not the physical work.

        • debnet profile image

          Debbie 4 years ago from England

          We love home made bread but I cheat and use my Panasonic breadmaker. I find it really useful as I can put the timer on and the bread is waiting at the start of the day or when I get home from work. I can see you've put a lot of work and thought into this lens :)

        • peterb6001 profile image
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          Peter Badham 4 years ago from England

          @Sniff It Out: Well said. Paul Hollywood certainly is the king of dough.

        • Sylvestermouse profile image

          Cynthia Sylvestermouse 4 years ago from United States

          Well, this just makes me want to run to the kitchen and bake bread! I do love homemade bread!

        • Sniff It Out profile image

          Sniff It Out 4 years ago

          You can't beat the smell or the taste of homemade bread, anybody wanting to make their own bread won't go far wrong if they follow those recipes from the Paul Hollywood book, he is the premier authorities on bread making.

        • peterb6001 profile image
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          Peter Badham 4 years ago from England

          @anonymous: Thank you Tipi :) I'm afraid not. They are my hands in the photos though.

        • profile image

          anonymous 4 years ago

          Wow, you really did an excellent job on this bread making recipe tutorial page.

          That's you kneading the bread dough in the video, yes? :)

        • profile image

          miaponzo 4 years ago

          I love that idea of flat bread over the fire!!!

        • LynetteBell profile image

          LynetteBell 4 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

          When we sold our last house I put some rolls in the oven and coffee in the perk when we had an open home. We had a record number of offers!

        • peterb6001 profile image
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          Peter Badham 4 years ago from England

          @TonyPayne: I agree poddys, It's delicious and very satisfying when it turns out well. I'll be try a new flavor this weekend.

        • TonyPayne profile image

          Tony Payne 4 years ago from Southampton, UK

          There is nothing like the smell of fresh baked bread. I keep wanting to bake our own properly, rather than using the bread-machine though.

        • peterb6001 profile image
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          Peter Badham 4 years ago from England

          @KandH: Thank you KandH, I'm sure you will enjoy it :)

        • KandH profile image

          KandH 4 years ago

          Nice lens, I really enjoyed the info on the techniques and think I'll be baking some bread this weekend :)

        • LiteraryMind profile image

          Ellen Gregory 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

          Thanks for all the information. I always thought flour was flour.

        • LynetteBell profile image

          LynetteBell 4 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

          Perhaps I should have another go!

        • peterb6001 profile image
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          Peter Badham 4 years ago from England

          @takkhisa: Thank you :)

        • takkhisa profile image

          Takkhis 4 years ago

          This is a very interesting lens, helpful and informative. Well done!

        • peterb6001 profile image
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          Peter Badham 4 years ago from England

          @selah74: Thanks, hope you try one day

        • selah74 profile image

          selah74 4 years ago

          I like making homemade bread--of course, eating it is much better. These look like some great recipes.

        • peterb6001 profile image
          Author

          Peter Badham 4 years ago from England

          @lilPinkfairy288: Thank you very much. If you do try that recipe it is very easy and I'm sure you will get lots of compliments.

        • profile image

          lilPinkfairy288 4 years ago

          Very helpful recipe with pictures. I might give it a try making my own bread. ~blessed~

        • peterb6001 profile image
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          Peter Badham 4 years ago from England

          @Elsie Hagley: Thank you very much for the blessing Kiwinana71. The salt will almost instantly retard the dough and inactivate the yeast. This shouldn't stop people putting them in the mix at the same time though. Just keep them separate when mixing into the flour.

        • Elsie Hagley profile image

          Elsie Hagley 4 years ago from New Zealand

          Thanks for a great lens. I have been making bread for years, but I never knew about the salt - yeast tip. Must watch for that. Blessed.

        • peterb6001 profile image
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          Peter Badham 4 years ago from England

          @aesta1: I hope you find them useful

        • aesta1 profile image

          Mary Norton 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

          I truly love fresh baked bread so I value these tips.