How to Bake Bread

Making fluffy loaves of whole grain bread and impressive artisanal baguettes is easier than you think! Once you learn how to make bread, you can experiment with a wide variety of homemade bread recipes, like nut-filled quick breads, crusty sourdough breads, and sweet pumpkin breads. With our easy bread recipes and tips for baking bread, you can pull professional-looking loaves out of the oven in no time.

Quick Tips for Baking Bread

Many factors are vital to learning how to bake bread, like choosing the right oven temperature, knowing how long to bake bread, and using a good bread recipe. Here are some starter tips:

Choose the right bread pan

The bread pan you use will depend on the type of bread you are baking. For instance, dinner rolls, French bread, and round loaves can usually be made on a baking sheet. But for standard loaves, you'll want to use a loaf pan. A loaf pan helps shape the bread and encourages even browning, a crispy crust, and a tender interior.

Common loaf pan sizes are 9x5x3 inches and 8x4x2 inches. Nonstick pans make it easier to remove bread and require less fat for greasing. Heavy-duty, well-made pans (of aluminum or another sturdy material) will last longer and perform better than cheaper pans. Glass pans can get too hot and overcook the bottom of your loaf. If using an inexpensive or glass pan, lower the oven temperature by 25 degrees F.

Set the oven temperature correctly

If the oven is too hot or too cool when the bread goes in, you'll end up with a dense loaf. To avoid errors, preheat your oven to the temperature given in your recipe. Use an oven thermometer to make sure your oven temperature is accurate. If needed, adjust the temperature until it's correct.

How long to bake bread

The amount of baking time for a loaf of bread or a pan of rolls can vary quite a bit depending on the type of bread you're baking, the pan you're using, and how big the loaves are. Be sure to read your recipe carefully and follow the baking instructions exactly; if you're concerned about over-baking, you can also check on your bread 10 to 15 minutes before the minimum baking time to make sure your bread isn't getting overdone.

Find the best bread recipe

When you're learning how to make bread, you'll find that the technique you use for baking bread at home will differ depending on the recipe you choose. No matter what route you take, we have plenty of homemade bread recipes to guide you. Read on and get helpful tips for baking delicious quick bread, yeast bread, and artisanal bread.

Get the recipe for our Easy Everyday Bread

How to Bake Quick Breads

Quick breads, like this Coconut Lime Bread, are perfect for an easy breakfast or snack.

Step 1: Grease the pan
Whether using a nonstick pan or not, greasing the pan is recommended to ensure the quick bread dough doesn't stick and that it bakes evenly. Use a clean pastry brush to lightly spread vegetable shortening over the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of the loaf pan.
Bread Baking Tip: Do not grease all the way up the sides, because the batter needs to cling to the ungreased pan sides as it rises.

Step 2: Prepare your recipe
Combine the ingredients necessary to make your chosen quick bread or breakfast bread.

For inspiration, check out our best quick bread recipes.

Step 3: Check for doneness
Take a quick look at your loaf 10–15 minutes before the minimum baking time. If it is browning too quickly, cover it loosely with foil. Remove the foil once you have placed the baked loaf on a cooling rack.
Bread Baking Tip: The center is the last part of a quick bread to cook. Insert a wooden toothpick near the center; if it comes out clean, your loaf is done. The very center will firm up while the bread is cooling on a cooling rack.

Step 3: Cool bread
Let the loaf rest for 10 minutes on a cooling rack so the bread can set up before it's removed from the pan. Run a spatula or butter knife between the pan sides and the loaf to loosen the loaf. Invert the pan to remove the baked bread. Allow quick bread to cool completely before storing in an airtight container or bag.

Get the recipe for our Coconut-Lime Bread

How to Bake Yeast Bread

To give these French baguettes their golden-brown color, we brushed on an egg wash before baking.

Step 1: Grease the pan
Lightly grease the whole pan, even if it's a nonstick pan. Some breads are baked on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal, which helps keep the bread from sticking.

Step 2: Prep the bread dough
While some loaves go into the oven with no embellishment, others get an egg wash or a butter brush and a sprinkle of seeds or herbs.

  • Egg Wash: Whisk an egg or egg white with 1 tablespoon of water, and brush it on the loaf just before baking for a shiny, golden crust.
  • Butter or Olive Oil Brush: Brush softened butter or olive oil atop the loaf before baking to add flavor and color.
  • Milk Bath: Brushing a loaf with milk before baking gives the baked bread a tender, golden crust. For a sweet bread recipe, sprinkle with sugar if desired.
  • Toppers: The egg wash helps toppers adhere to the loaf when added before baking. Seeds such as poppy seeds or caraway seeds, crushed dried herbs, or rolled oats make tasty and attractive baked bread toppers.

Step 3: Bake the bread
The key to yeast bread is "oven spring," which is the final burst of expansion or fermentation of the yeast. Once this occurs, the loaf sets up and starts to brown, creating the crust.
Bread Baking Tip: If you bake several loaves at once, use one extra-large baking sheet instead of two smaller ones. Or bake one pan at a time, placing the second sheet in the refrigerator until 15 minutes before baking time. If you bake two smaller pans at once, not enough air will circulate around the bread, causing uneven baking.

Step 4: Check for doneness
Tap yeast bread lightly with your fingers to test for doneness. It will sound hollow when it is done. If the loaf is browning too fast but doesn't sound hollow, create a tent out of foil, loosely cover the loaf, and continue baking. Yeast breads containing butter and/or sugar often need this step to prevent overbrowning or burning.

For more information on how to make yeast bread, including step-by-step photos, see our guide.

Get the recipe for French Bread

Baking Artisanal Breads

To get the crisp, chewy-brown crust desired in these old-world-style breads, replicate a wood-fired oven in your own oven. Here's how:

Step 1: Select a bread recipe
When choosing a bread recipe, consider what complements the rest of your menu, or use ingredients you have on hand to inspire your bread choice.

See our best artisanal bread recipes.

Step 2. Make oven adjustments
Adjust two oven racks so one is in the lowest position and the other is in the middle of the oven.
Bread Baking Tip: Place a broiler pan on the bottom rack while the oven preheats. When the pan is hot, carefully pour about 1 cup hot tap water into it. The steam helps create a crisp, crackly crust.

Step 3. Bake the bread
You can bake the bread on a baking sheet, pizza pan, or directly on a bread stone. If using a bread stone, place the stone on the middle rack and preheat it for 30 minutes. Use parchment paper to transfer the dough to the bread stone (leave it on the parchment). Once the bread is in the oven, if desired, use a spray bottle of water to mist the inside of the oven and the loaves. This also helps to give your bread a nice, crisp crust.
Bread Baking Tip: A bread stone replicates a hearth, especially when used with steam. Artisanal breads are usually formed into freestyle rounds or loaves, so no loaf pan is used.

Get the recipe for our Artisan Bread

How to Bake Banana Bread

You can't go wrong with a thick slice of banana bread for breakfast or an afternoon snack. Follow these tips to make your next banana bread recipe the best you've ever baked.

Tips for baking banana bread:

  • If your bananas aren't quite ripe yet, roast them! Roasting will make the peels black and the bananas mushy, but it will also caramelize the natural sugars in the fruit and make it easy to mix into the batter without mashing.
  • Don't go crazy with the grease. If you grease only the bottom of the pan and 1/2-inch up the sides of the pan, you'll be rewarded with a uniform loaf with a slightly rounded top. If you grease all the way up the sides to the top of the pan, your loaf will have a flat top.
  • Mix the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients separately. At the very end, add the eggs to the bowl of dry ingredients, then use a wooden spoon to gently stir until the flour is moist. Be careful not to overmix the batter when you combine the two bowls—too much mixing can make your loaf heavy and uneven.
  • Wondering how long to bake banana bread? Be sure to follow your recipe, but one large pan will probably need to bake for about 55–60 minutes, while two smaller pans will probably need closer to 45–55 minutes. Your banana bread is finished baking when a toothpick inserted into the center loaf comes out clean.

Try our Best Banana Bread recipe


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