“I know I’m supposed to let bread dough rise until it is double in size, but how do I tell when that has happened? Do I weigh the dough before and after or is a visual thing that you sort of guess at? I hope this doesn’t sound like a dumb question but I have tried making bread and I thought it had doubled but it didn’t turn out very well. I really want to learn how to make good bread and I don’t know what I am doing wrong. Help please!” –Sharon T.
Actually, there is a very easy way to tell when your bread dough has risen enough. When it looks like the dough has doubled, just use your fingers to make an indentation about one-half inch into the dough. If the indentation remains, the dough has doubled… if the indentation disappears, the dough needs more rising time. Make the same test when you have the shaped dough rising in the pan just before baking. When you think it has risen enough, use your finger to make a SMALL dent in the dough near the side of the pan. If the dent remains, the bread is ready to bake.
Don’t get discouraged if your first loaves of bread aren’t perfect. Bread making is a skill that requires practice. Once you’re more familiar with the process and can recognize each stage of the dough, you will find that bread making is really easy. A couple of hints…
- Be sure you have kneaded the bread long enough. If the dough has not had enough kneading time, the bread will be dry and heavy with a coarser texture, and it will crumble easily.
- To tell if the loaf has thoroughly baked, tap the top with your finger. If it sounds hollow, it is done. If the top of the bread feels soft, just put it back in the oven for another five or ten minutes and test it again. If you cut into the bread and realize that it isn’t completely baked, just put the loaf and the pieces you sliced off back into the oven for more baking time.
- When the bread has finished baking, immediately remove it from the pan and place it on a rack to cool.
- For a tender crust, brush the top of the warm bread with butter and cover the bread with a towel. For a crisper crust, do not grease the top and do not cover.
- You can freeze freshly-baked bread and then re-heat it, and it will taste like fresh-baked. Let the just-baked bread cool at room temperature and freeze the uncut loaf immediately. To re-heat, thaw the bread at room temperature and bake in a 350°F oven for fifteen minutes. You can also place the frozen loaf in a 300°F oven for about thirty minutes.