Daniel Fiteni from Which? Local-recommended bakery Breads Etcetera in London shares his tips on how to bake a tasty loaf at home.
Baker Daniel Fiteni from Which? Local-recommended bakery Breads Etcetera in London.
Mixing the dough
Dough not right?
If your dough is too dry: add 2 or 3 tablespoons of water and keep mixing.
If your dough is too wet: add flour a little at a time and mix.
- When you start to mix your bread dough, expect it to stick all over your hands. Just keep going until bits stop falling off. The mixing, process and heat from your hands will help it come together.
- To check dough has been properly mixed, hold it up. If it stays together without breaking apart, it's done.
- After kneading for 10 to 15 minutes, if it hasn't come together, start thinking about adding water or flour.
For the best bread, follow this advice from Daniel:
- Be careful not to use too much flour. Stick to what the recipe says. Too much flour can make bread tough inside.
- When leaving dough to rise, cover it with a damp tea towel or put it in an air tight container to keep moisture in and air out. Air creates a skin over bread which it can't break through when it wants to rise. This leads to either a blow out from either side or no rise in the oven.
- Use fresh yeast. The taste is better than dried yeast and it's easier to work with.
Avoid common bread-baking problems
Learn from your mistakes
If your bread 'blows out' (explodes) from one side, it means it was under-proved - not left to rise for long enough before going into the oven.
If your bread comes out flat, it means it was over-proved - left to rise for too long before going in the oven.
- Hand-shaping takes more skill, so try a tin loaf for your first attempt, suggests Dan.
- Half-fill a tin with dough. When it rises to three-quarters it's ready to go in the oven. You'll get 'oven rise' or 'oven spring' and the heat makes it pop over the edge of the container for that traditional tin loaf look.
- Whether hand-shaping or baking in a tin, put a few slits in the dough to give it space to rise. You can carve letters or patterns too. If you don't bread will choose its own place to pop out.
- Leave bread exposed to the air immediately after baking. If you bake in the day and it comes out of the oven at 5PM, leave it uncovered, exposed to the air, overnight. It'll firm up and get a bit of a crust. In the morning put it into an air tight container.
- Don't keep bread in a fridge. It will lose moisture and water content is vital, particularly for sourdough bread. Fridges make bread tough.
Revive your bread
- Get a longer life out of your fresh bread. If it's starting to loose it's freshness, dribble water over the top of the loaf and put it in the oven for about 10 minutes.
- Sourdough breads will remain fresh for about four days and toastable for another two days. Yeasted breads mould more quickly.
About our expert trader
Baker Daniel Fiteni works at Which? Local-recommended bakery Breads Etcetera in London.
Reviewers have praised the customer service at Breads Etcetera, as well as their delicious muffins, sourdough bread and coffee.
Read reviews of Breads Etcetera