Tips For Baking Homemade Bread

Tips For Baking Homemade Bread

Learn how to bake bread at home.

Nothing smells better, or tastes better, than freshly baked bread.  Far too many people don’t take the time and effort to make a loaf of homemade bread, it’s really a simple process.  Like all baking recipes, a good bread recipe will take some preparation but with a good stand up mixer, fresh yeast and a few other ingredients you will end up with a delicious loaf of homemade goodness.

Bread baking seems to involve so many steps that first time bakers are often intimidated, especially after a few failed attempts.  Maybe they looked at a complicated recipe in a bread baking cookbook and said nope, I can’t do that.  That’s a shame because bread, at its core, is yeast, flour, oil, salt, sugar and water.  Easy, simple ingredients that just require a bit of assembling, some kneading and baking.

Everyone Needs A Few Baking Secrets

There are a few baking secrets that can make bread baking so much easier than it may seem.  They aren’t complicated secrets, just basic tips that can make the whole process much easier and much more enjoyable.

Did you know that there is one secret that most experienced bakers know and follow?  They know this secret because they had too many bread baking experiences end up with bread sticking to the bottom of the pan and no way to get the loaf out without crumbling it.  The secret: cornmeal.

Cornmeal

You don’t add the cornmeal to the recipe, you are going to use it to treat your load pans.  Cornmeal works well when mixed with oil to help the bread release from the hot sides and bottom of a bread pan.  Ask any pizza cook, they sprinkle cornmeal on their stone ovens to keep the wet pizza dough from sticking.  Works every time.

Simply oil the sides and bottom of your loaf pan.  You can use a paper towel to do this, just spread the oil around with the towel until all of the surfaces are lightly oiled.  Then, take about 1/4 cup of cornmeal and sprinkle it all over the sides.  Shake it around, make sure that the bottom gets coated and you are ready to do.  When your bread is done baking, the cornmeal will help it release from the pan without tearing your freshly baked bread.

Use cornmeal to keep your bread from sticking to the sides of the loaf pan.

Once you put the kneaded dough into the loaf pan the oil and cornmeal will act as a barrier, even if the pan’s surface is non-stick.  You still may need a knife or plastic blade to loosen the bread after you take it out of the over, but you will avoid the disaster of the bread falling apart because part of it is stuck to the sides.

Generally, with the cornmeal secret method, your bread will pop right out when you tip the loaf pan upside down.  Be sure to allow the bread to cool a bit before trying to remove it, the bread will shrink a little as it cools.  You can then just brush off any cornmeal that has stuck to the side or bottom of the bread (it will be a bit crunchy otherwise).

A Baking Tip

During the last ten minutes of baking time, cover the bread pan with some loosely tented aluminum foil.  Don’t try placing another pan on top (this method has been suggested often.  You usually just end up with a sticky mess and an odd shaped loaf of bread).  Leave room for air to escape.

This is another baking secret, one that will keep the bread from getting too well done or becoming too dry and hard on top.  You may need to vary your baking time.  Dark pans usually require either a lower temperature or a shorting baking time.  Dark absorbs color (just like with clothing) and this can make your baked item get hotter faster.

If you add foil, add 5-10 minutes baking time.  Keep checking the top of the bread and don’t allow it to over bake.  This is a method that you only need to do if your bread is coming out too dark or too hard and crusty.  If you like the way your bread is turning out (by following the recipe) you don’t need to use the foil covering.

Butter Butter Butter

You probably have been at a restaurant where the rolls have a wonderful butter flavor on the top.  This is another baking secret that is easy to do and adds an amazing taste to rolls or loaf breads.  Some bakers will add honey to the butter, some will add garlic.  The options are limited only by what you have in your pantry.

Make your bread taste even better by glazing it with melted butter.

Don’t start glazing until the last 5 minutes of the baking cycle.  If you start too early the butter will either burn or run down the side of the pan.  In a small pan melt 2-3 tablespoons of butter.  Add any other ingredient that you want.  Using a basting brush, coat the top of the bread loaf or buns with your melted butter.  Put the bread back in the oven for the remaining 5 minutes..

One Last Bread Baking Secret Tip

Occasionally your bread will rise too much and expand well past the edges of the pan.  This could be because the yeast was very active or maybe you forgot to put the loafs into the oven when they were ready to bake.   This is not a problem, in fact you can turn this into a good thing.  Just grab a pair of scissors and cut off the excess dough on the sides.  Be  careful not to cut any dough from off of the top of the loaf.

Take whatever excess dough you end up with, roll it into balls and place on a greased baking sheet (you can also use parchment paper or a silicone mat).  Let them rise for another half hour covered with towel.  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown and you have delicious dinner rolls.  The butter glaze works very well on the rolls!