Choosing the Right Flour: Select the appropriate type of flour based on the bread you're making. Different flours have varying protein content, which affects the texture and structure of the bread.
Proper Kneading: Kneading develops gluten, giving the bread structure and elasticity. Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic, but be careful not to over-knead, as this can result in a tough bread.
Fermentation and Proofing: Allow the dough to ferment and rise properly. This enhances the flavor and texture of the bread. Proofing times may vary based on the type of bread and the ambient temperature.
Using a Starter or Pre-ferment: Sourdough starters or preferments like poolish or biga can add complexity and depth of flavor to your bread.
Scoring the Bread: Make shallow cuts (scores) on the surface of the dough before baking. This helps control the expansion of the bread during baking and creates an attractive appearance.
Steam Baking: Introducing steam into the oven during the initial stages of baking helps create a crisp and shiny crust. You can use a steam pan, ice cubes, or spritz water onto the oven walls.
Cooling Properly: After baking, let the bread cool on a wire rack. This prevents moisture from getting trapped, which can lead to a soggy crust.