While anyone can bake bread with a little know-how, a lot of work goes into the process. It would be a shame to end up with ruined bread because you didn’t follow the instructions on the recipe. For some people, very crisp is `done’. Others believe that dark golden brown or light gold is the correct color. In reality, it’s all about using your judgment to arrive at the correct color. Whatever your personal preference, there are a few tips you should follow to ensure your bread is perfectly baked.
So, how do you know when bread is done baking? First of all, you should follow the time stated in the recipe. To avoid ending up with burned bread, you may want to set your timer a few minutes earlier. And you should measure the temperature with a thermometer.
Take the internal temperature
Bread is done baking at about 180-190 degrees F. However, bread enriched with eggs, milk, and butter is done when the temperature gets to around 200 degrees F. Keep in mind that this will depend on the type of dough you used. A rich dough will always take longer compared to lean dough.
Before you start baking, set the timer and preheat your oven to the correct temperature. Since all ovens are not the same, you may want to give your bread a little time. And when the bread nears the end of baking time, grab your thermometer and measure the temperature of your bread.
The other advantage of a thermometer is that you can use it in different recipes. Generally, the baking time is influenced by the size of the loaf.
This means that you should expect consistency every time. As for the type of thermometer to use, you shouldn’t go for high-end models. A basic instant thermometer will get the job done.
How do you take the bread temperature? You must remove the bread from the oven to get an accurate temperature. Next, insert the thermometer quickly at the center of the bread.
Make sure the core temperature doesn’t drop and you don’t get burnt. A higher temperature will give you harder bread while a lower temperature will give softer crust. If you prepared the bread with rich dough (eggs, butter, or cream), you should set the temperature at 185 degrees F and 190 degrees F.
Be on the lookout to ensure no batter sticks to the side of the thermometer. If you spot some, the bread is not done. Lastly, make sure the thermometer is calibrated properly and check in different places.
If you stick to one type of bread, you may get a false reading. Use different temperature ranges to discover what works in a specific recipe.
Inspect Visually Your Bread
Once you get used to bread baking, you can easily tell when it nears doneness – visually. For the most part, the crust should be firm, dry, and golden brown with a few spots.
Thankfully, most recipes will tell how the bread should look at the end. You may want to use that as the guide until you get used to the process.
The golden brown color makes the bread more delicious. But why does it turn brown? Well, there’s a simple explanation for this. Bread contains carbohydrates and proteins.
The heat from the oven eliminates all the moisture and you end up with crunchy bread. For quick bread, the color should be golden brown and darker around the edges. If the crust looks pale, pop it back in the oven for another few minutes.
Tap the Bottom
The last thing you want when baking bread is to have a soggy bottom. If you’re making a sandwich loaf, take it out of the oven and turn it upside down. Give the bottom a firm thumb/tap and it will sound hollow.
If you’re not sure of this method, keep tapping the bottom throughout the baking process and you’ll hear how the sound changes. Almost every bread recipe recommends for this `telltale’ sign.
This brings us to the question, how reliable is this method? Maybe you made a loaf of bread that sounded hollow, only to realize it was undone at the middle.
To be on the safe side, you may want to tap the top and the bottom. The distinctive tone when tapping should sound the same. When you get used to baking, you’ll realize that the sound will be consistent from loaf to loaf. The only downside with this method is that you can mess the top when you tap the bottom.
The toothpick is arguably the best method for checking the doneness of baked bread. When you insert the toothpick at the center of the bread and it comes out clean, then it’s done.
This indicates that there’s no excess moisture and the crumb is fully set. If you expose the bread to heat for longer, the flavor compounds may be driven off. Nevertheless, if the toothpick comes out wet you should take it back into the oven.
While inserting the toothpick may sound simple, there’re a few things to keep in mind. The first thing is to protect your hands by putting on oven mitts.
Remove the oven rack to access the bread. Insert a clean toothpick at the center of your bread (until it’s in). Pull the toothpick out of the bread at the same angle you inserted it.
Examine it carefully – if you’re not happy with the results, test again after 10-15 minutes. What happens if you don’t have a toothpick? Use a thin bamboo, straight wire, or natural broom straw.
Most bread recipes give the amount of time the bread takes before it’s fully baked. With this in mind, you should not insert the toothpick too early.
Examine the Cracks
If you want to know whether your bread is done or not, you should examine the cracks and press it down. The loaf should feel firm and there should be no cracks at the center.
If the top is moist, you should continue baking for another 10-15 minutes until you get the desired results.
We all love the smell of freshly baked goods. The ideal baking time is based on the type of bread, the size of the loaf, and the oven itself.
While every recipe will tell you that a golden brown bread is done or you listen to a hollow sound, this is not always the case. The surefire way is to leave any guesswork and use a thermometer to measure the internal temperature.
If you use the above methods and you’re in doubt, it doesn’t hurt if you bake the bread a little longer. Be sure to use these tips to ensure your bread has the most delicious crust ever.