5 12 Tips for Great Breads

Sliced White Bread Tips for Great Breads
Why does my bread turn out differently each time I make it? How can I make my bread soft, not dense and heavy? In this post, you will find 12 tips that I have learned over the years to help make a successful loaf of bread.

  • Make sure ALL your ingredients are room temperature
  • Start with half your all purpose flour, add active dry yeast, salt and gluten. Mix well! With whole wheat recipes, I use 75% of my flour, add yeast, salt, gluten, mixing well prior to adding wet ingredients.

  • Add all your wet ingredients (water, milk, eggs, honey, oils) and mix well. "Sponge" mixture for 10 minutes for white breads and 30-45 minutes for wheat breads. This softens the bran and kick starts your yeast.
  • When following your bread recipes, always start with the smallest range of flour, then adding by half cupfuls until you reach the right consistency. Humidity affects how much flour you add. Knead for 1-2 minutes after each addition of flour.
  • Allow your bread to rise in a warm, draft free place. Ideally, 80-85 degrees, which is an oven with a pan of hot tap water underneath your bread.
  • Allow your bread to rise till doubled in size. Each rise results in a lighter, softer bread. Rising times differ due to temperature and altitude. Bread is double when indentation remain when tips of fingers are pressed lightly and quickly into the dough. Do NOT let dough rise too long...it will NEVER come back together...trust me, I've done it before!
  • Let your dough rise at least 3 times: during the sponge, in the bowl, and shaped.
  • Allow your bread to "rest" for 5-10 minutes between the bowl rise and shaping. This makes the dough much easier to handle!
  • Bake your bread until it sounds hollow when tapped. Rolls should be GBD...golden brown delicious! Immediately turn out onto a cooling rack. Nobody likes soggy bread!
  • Store bread in bags when completely cooled. Warm bread in bags creates a humid environment and mold!
  • Store bread in a cool place on your counter. If stored in the fridge, it will become stale more quickly.
  • If you are not going to eat your bread within 4-5 days, slice it, put it in plastic bags and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Just take out the slices you need, toast or thaw out on counter for a few minutes.


  1. Very nice tips. I came from tastykitchen. I have tons of bread recipes on my blog too. Good to see that there are so many with the same passion as I am.

  2. Where do you get the gluten from? I always thought white flour had it in it.

    Page is bookmarked, thanks for the tips, will be checking it out more. Thank you

    1. You can purchase vital wheat gluten in the grocery store, usually in the baking goods aisle. Bob's Red Mill has it labeled as "Gluten Flour." You can also find it at specialty stores (Bosch Kitchen Centers, Whole Foods), and yes, all purpose flour has gluten, but this adds more structure, strength and your bread lasts longer. If you put TOO much gluten in your breads, it will be dense and chewy ~ ie: bagels and pizza dough. Think of the gel that is put into a helium balloon to give it strength and last longer ~ that is what VWG will do to your breads. Not a necessary ingredient to have, but a helpful one!

      Happy Baking!

  3. What is the "Sponge" stage you mentioned? I haven't heard that term before.

    1. Alison, if you click on the green highlighted word "sponge" in the text above, it will give you an explanation. The French call it "autolyse." All it means is to mix 1/2 your total flour and all of your wet ingredients and allow it to sit for anywhere from 10 minutes to 45 (longer periods for wheat breads). This will allow your flour to act like a "sponge," soaking all the wet ingredients and prevent you from adding too much flour in the end. I also like to add my yeast at this time to give it a kick start in rising my bread.


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