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Homemade Poppy Seed Bread Baking Tips

How to knead

First Knead

Lightly oil your surface and begin to knead. Knead quickly for about 5 mins to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands. If it is to sticky you can dust your hands with a little flour.


Put in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film or a tea towel and leave to prove for an hour.

The Second quick knead (Stage 6)

The dough should have doubled in size.

Bash dough a couple of times on an oiled surface to knock out the air bubbles. Fold and stretch a few times and then knead it a little more.

Next, shape into a loaf.

Time to prove again (Stage 7 and 8)

Line a baking tray with baking paper (not greaseproof) put the loaf onto it, cover and leave for a further hour to rise again.

Baking the bread (Stages 9, 10 and 11)

Preheat the oven to 220C (200C fan-assisted) 425F or Gas mark 7.

Remove the damp tea towel or film from the dough, which should have now risen again. Very lightly flour and mark slices on the top.

Put the loaf in the middle of the oven.

Top Tip

Put a baking tin in the bottom of the oven and leave to get hot. Before putting the loaf in, put cold water in the tin add the loaf and close the door. This will cause steam giving a nice shine to the bread.

Bake for about 30 minutes. Remove and check if cooked by tapping underneath to see if a hollow sound is made. If it does that is good. Put on a wire rack and your loaf is ready.

Baking tips, recipes and ingredients for a perfect baked bread.

Baking, unlike other cooking, is a science.

Chemical reactions happen with very precise quantities of ingredients to make bakes rise or drop and change textures and flavours. Baking tips on this page will help you to achieve the perfect baked bread and to realize the precision needed.

When I cook in the kitchen, I'm always quite proud of my guess working approach to cooking. If I am following a recipe I will often add the ingredients thinking 'that is more or less right' rarely using scales, measuring spoons or liquid measures. I can rely on my experience and taste buds to more or less make the food turn out the way I want.

It could not be more different when it comes to baking. The difference of a few grams here and a few grams there can turn a whole bake into a disaster. The moral of the story is, follow the basic rules and ingredients to the gram.

Digital weighing scales

These scales are not only excellent for bread baking but will come in handy for all of the cooking needs in the kitchen. I am Diabetic and have to 'Carb Count' so digital scales like these are not only accurate but a lifesaver for me.

Here are some of my best bread baking tips

The basic ingredients for baking bread


Flour is basically ground wheat. It contains starch and gluten which give the shape and forms of food. The dough is formed by flour and sometimes a mixture of eggs and water. Air bubbles become trapped which help it rise.

Three basic types of flour

Self-raising flour

Contains approximately 10% protein and a raising agent such as baking powder. Note that if you don't have self-raising flour you can use plain flour and add a raising agent

Plain flour

Contains approximately 10% protein level

Strong flour

The protein level has to be above 12% to represent strong flour. For bread, I would recommend strong flour with between 12% and 15% protein, which is available from most supermarkets. It should say something like Strong Bread Flour, or just Bread Flour.

The higher the protein levels the higher the gluten level. Gluten = glue, it holds and binds the bread and structure together, locking in air bubbles and keeping it strong.

What temp water for bread

Any still water or tap water (if safe) can be used for baking bread.

Make sure once again you follow the exact amount, but the one little problem is that each flour absorbs at a different rate.

The biggest mistake people make when making bread is adding all the water at once.

Add it little by little whilst mixing in the bowl. If mixing by hand, before kneading shape your fingers in the following way. Imagine making a spider with your fingers crawling on the table. Freeze your fingers there. That is the perfect hand and finger formation for mixing.

Olive Oil, Butter and Lard

Ingredients for baking bread

Olive Oil

Really any type of Olive Oil can be used when making and baking bread. It doesn't necessarily have to be virgin or extra virgin.

When baking other sweeter bread I would refrain from using olive oil and use butter instead.

Butter and Lard

I always use unsalted, in all types of cooking, that way you can always add salt to taste. Using salted butter gives you less control as you cannot lower the amount of salt.

Butter Softening Tip

If soft butter is needed and it has been in the fridge do not microwave it. Put the butter in hot water for a couple of minutes. This will make it nice and soft without melting it to liquid.

Little Lard Trick

To get lard distributed more evenly and finely in the mix you can freeze it and then grate it like cheese.

What are the differences between different types of yeast?

Bread Baking Tips

Yeast is a fungus similar to that of others that we are all used to, such as mushrooms. Yeast is the active ingredient used in baking to give the bake it's rise.

Yeast can be found in three basic forms


Fast action powdered yeast, which is available in little sachets or packets from most supermarkets.


Dried yeast, this you have to rehydrate with water and sugar, leave for 50 minutes to bubble before you can use it. Waste of time and nonsense, don't use this.


Fresh yeast, (fast action yeast is the dried form of this).

Things to know

When using, fast action yeast is concentrated, so you have to use a third less than fresh yeast if the only fresh yeast is used in the recipe.

Of these three types, I would always recommend fast acting yeast. It lasts longer, you can keep it in your cupboard for years.

More loaf of bread recipe baking basics tips

Other important factors for baking bread are room temperature, the temperature of ingredients before baking, and even moving the bake. A little tap might just be what is needed to burst the air bubbles to get your desired effect, or unintentionally could deflate your bake to the effect of deflating a car tyre.

Pastry Scrapers

A pastry Scraper is an excellent tool to help you shape, cut and manipulate your bread dough and other baking doughs

Homemade Poppy Seed Bread Baking Tips 1

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