You don’t want to make all the effort of mixing, kneading and rising your dough, only to cut into your freshly baked loaf and find it sticking to the knife. I know, because I’ve been there! So how can you avoid baking bread that’s soggy in the middle? Watch this video to find out my two key tips.
Let your dough rise enough before baking it
It’s essential to give your dough enough time to rise, or prove. During this process, gas produced by the yeast fills out the dough. Once you’ve shaped your dough, this rising process prior to baking produces the even, structured crumb you find inside any loaf. If the dough doesn’t fill out with gas, perhaps because it hasn’t had time to rise properly, the inside of the loaf will remain soggy and dense as the dough won’t bake properly.
You should therefore leave plenty of time for your dough to rise. As is discussed in the video, a 1lb (450g) loaf in a tin should take at least 45 minutes to an hour in a warm (around 20C) environment to rise enough – giving a domed shape risen above the top of the tin. Larger loaves will take longer, whilst smaller rolls may take 30 – 45 minutes.
Get a great bake on your loaf
Make sure you’re baking your loaf at the correct temperature and for long enough. For most basic breads (those that don’t contain lots of fats and sugars), you should bake at 220C or a little higher. A loaf as shown in the video will take 20 – 25 minutes to bake at this temperature. So leave time to bake your loaf well.
I can recommend getting a baking stone for your oven. This are now widely available and start from around £10 – £15. Put the stone in to pre-heat when you turn the oven on. During baking, the stone helps improve the efficiency of your oven in terms of baking your loaf. The direct heat in contact with your loaf helps the dough rise more and improves bake and crust development. If you free-form your loaves, place them on a tray lined with baking paper to rise, then slide the paper with the loaf on it carefully onto the pre-heated stone in the oven.
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