Whether you just got a new bread machine or you’ve been baking bread at home for years, you’ll love these essential tips for baking better bread.
Using a Rolling Pin?
Store your rolling pin in the freezer. It’s much easier to roll out pastry dough and pie crusts with a frozen rolling pin.
Whole Wheat Tip
Whole-wheat flour absorbs water at a slower rate than other types of flour do. If you make bread with 100 percent whole-wheat flour, it will be moister if you add the flour to the water slowly and mix gently. Reserve 1/4 cup of flour and knead in a tablespoon or so at a time as needed.
How to Make Bread Rise Faster
It’s not always a good idea to artificially cut the amount of time it takes your bread dough to rise (the flavor of the bread may not be as full), but if you’re in a time crunch, it’s nice to have a backup plan. To speed whole-wheat bread dough’s rising time, add 1 tablespoon lemon juice to the dough as you are mixing it. For other breads, a little heat does wonders when it comes to cutting down on rising time. Set the dough (either in a bowl or a loaf pan) on a heating pad set on medium, or over the pilot light on a gas stove. You can also use the microwave to help speed the rising process by as much as one third. Set 1/2 cup hot water in the back corner of the microwave. Place the dough in a well-greased microwavable bowl and cover it with plastic wrap, then cover the plastic wrap with a damp towel. With the power level set at 10 percent, cook the dough for 6 minutes, and then let it rest for 4–5 minutes. Repeat the procedure if the dough has not doubled its size.
The Secret to a Crispy Crust
We love this secret to a perfect, crispy crust, which a baker friend passed along: Put some ice cubes in a shallow pan and place in the oven with your loaf of bread. This will produce a dense steam, and as the water evaporates, the crust becomes hard and crispy. The steam also will allow the bread to rise more evenly, giving you a firm and chewy inside.
Freezy Does It
Did you know you can freeze bread dough for later use? Let it rise once, then punch it down, wrap well, and freeze. Don’t forget to label it!
Stop Squashing Your Bread
You just baked a beautiful loaf of freshly baked bread, and now it’s time to slice it. Avoid squashing it when slicing it by flipping it over and cutting through the soft bottom first. Your knife will move through it smoothly, and you’ll be able to cut the crusty top without flattening the whole loaf.
Butter Bread Better
Have you ever tried buttering a piece of bread only to end up tearing holes into it? Try buttering before you slice it off of the loaf. That way, you’ll have a firmer base and will be less likely to tear the tender crumb.
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