We went along to Le Pain Quotidien in Borough Market, London, and learnt some top bread-making tips for both seasoned bakers and novices.

Didier Tayoro, master baker at Le Pain Quotidien says:

• Only use strong bread flour as any other types will ruin the loaf.

• When adding in your salt, yeast and sugar, put them in small piles to the side of the bowl – then you can see that you've already added them and don't put in too much!

• If adding seeds to your bread, soak them in a little warm water first – this will soften them for baking and also ensure they don't soak up too much moisture from your dough mixture.

• The longer you leave your dough to prove the better – don't be in a rush to get it in the oven!

• Make sure that after proving you put a deep cut on top of the loaf, otherwise the sides will crack.

Tips from the Sainsbury's magazine team:

• To give your crusts the best crunch, sprinkle a light coating of fine polenta onto your dough just before baking.

• Use oil rather than flour on the table when kneading, so the loaf doesn't take on more flour than required.

• When mixing your ingredients, always add the salt and yeast separately, as the salt can kill the yeast.

• When preheating the oven, place a roasting tin on the bottom shelf to get hot. Then, add a mugful of water to the hot tin when you put your loaf in the oven. The steam will help create a crisp crust.

• If using fresh yeast, make sure it is at room temperature before adding.

• The window-pane test is a simple way to see if you've done enough kneading. Stretch the dough between your fingers – if you can stretch it thin enough to let light shine though, it is ready for shaping. If not, get kneading again! (This only works with white bread dough).

• Resist the temptation to cut into the loaf when hot. Leave to cool to room temperature first.

• Don't be afraid to experiment. Throw some poppy, sesame or pumpkin seeds into the mix for a bit of texture. Or try adding whole spices, such as cumin, for a boost of flavour.

If you're baking bread for the first time, this is a great loaf to start with:

The perfect white loaf

See all our bread recipes here.

 

About the author

Sarah Alcock