7 Tips for Baking Better Bread at Home

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Tom Merton/iStock via Getty Images / Tom Merton/iStock via Getty Images

By Bruce and Jeanne Lubin, Quick and Dirty Tips

Whether you just got a new bread machine or you’ve been making bread at home for years, you’ll love these essential tips for baking a better loaf.

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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 six minutes, and then let it rest for four to five minutes. Repeat the procedure if the dough has not doubled its size.

4. 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 will also allow the bread to rise more evenly, giving you a firm and chewy inside.

5. 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!

6. Stop squashing your bread.

You just baked a beautiful loaf of fresh 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.

7. 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.

A version of this article was originally published on Quick and Dirty Tips as "7 Tips for Baking Better Bread at Home." Read more from Quick and Dirty Tips.

About the Authors

Bruce Lubin and Jeanne Bossolina-Lubin are the proud parents of three boys and more than a dozen books. After saving thousands per year using everyday tips and simple lifehacks, they started their own business in the hopes of sharing their knowledge with others. They have been known to go into their friends' refrigerators to turn their eggs upside down so that they last longer.