Use your loaf and turn out perfect homemade bread with our top tips on kneading, proving and baking

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How to bake: bread

Photograph: Seven

Ingredients

  • Flour: use bread or strong flour as this will help your bread rise.
  • Yeast: use within the ‘best before’ date to make sure it’s still active.
  • Salt: it can deactivate yeast so add separately.

Mixing and kneading

  • Warm your mixing bowl first to encourage the yeast to activate.
  • For a smoother dough, use hand-hot water and add it to the flour in one go.
  • Flour your work surface so the dough doesn’t stick.
  • If your dough is too sticky, sprinkle with a little flour. If the dough is too firm, add water.
  • To knead, use the heel of your hand to push the dough away from you, then fold over, turn and repeat.
  • Be patient when kneading. Work the dough for about 5 minutes until soft and supple.
To tell if your loaf is ready, turn it out of the tin and tap the base. If it sounds hollow, your bread is baked.
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How to bake bread

Proving and knocking back

  • Dough rises more quickly when warm. Cut rising time by placing your dough in a bowl over a pan of just-boiled water. Cover with a tea towel and leave until doubled in size.
  • After rising, knead your dough briefly to knock the air out, shape and leave to rise again for a lighter loaf.

Baking in the oven

  • Dust the top of your loaf with a little flour before it goes into the oven.
  • Place a baking tray of water at the bottom of the oven. This creates steam which gives your loaf a good crust.
  • To tell if your loaf is ready, turn it out of the tin and tap the base. If it sounds hollow, your bread is baked. 

Best-ever bread recipes

Bake a simple cottage loaf or treat family and friends to red onion focaccia. Our tried and tested bread recipes are a great place to start.

Know your bread

  1. White bread is made with flour that doesn’t include the bran or wheat germ, whereas wholemeal bread does. Try using half and half for a lighter, nutty loaf.
  2. Add olives or fresh herbs to your dough before rising to add extra flavour to your bread.
  3. Rye bread is usually made from a combination of rye and wheat flour. Dark rye breads use flour that has more bran included.