Finishing the Bread

Try It!
Here are a few bread recipes from our collection:
Baking bread from scratch isn't difficult when you know the steps to follow. You've seen the yeast from the initial stages to punching the dough. The final step is to shape and finish the dough.


Shaping and Finishing the Dough

Most recipes call for rolling, cutting, or shaping the dough after it has risen. This provides the bread with a structure -- which you can shape to your desires.

To shape and finish dough for baking bread:
  1. Lightly flour the rolling surface and rolling pin before working with the dough. If only a portion of the dough will be used at a time, keep the remaining dough covered with a towel to keep it from drying out.

  2. To change the look and texture of the crust, you can brush on a variety of ingredients either before or after baking.

  3. For a shiny crust, brush with one egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon water before baking.

    Brush on beaten egg white for a shiny crust when baking bread.
    ©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
    Brush on beaten egg whites
    for a shiny crust.

  4. For a soft crust, brush melted butter or margarine over the crust immediately after baking.

  5. For a crisp crust, mist unglazed breads quickly with water several times during the first 10 minutes of baking.

  6. Bake bread as specified in recipe.
Testing for Doneness

Once your bread is baking, you can sit back, chill out, and enjoy the blissful aromas wafting from your oven. But don't get too relaxed -- you need to make sure not to overcook your creation by testing for doneness.

To test breads for doneness when baking:
  1. To test breads for doneness, tap the tops of the loaves with your fingers or a wooden spoon. A hollow sound means the bread is done; a dull thud means that the bread is moist inside and requires more baking. Breads baked in loaf pans will shrink away from the sides of the pans slightly.

    Tap the bread top with your fingers. A hollow sound means it's done when baking bread.
    ©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
    Tap the bread top with your fingers.
    A hollow sound means it's done!

  2. Remove yeast breads from pans immediately and cool completely on wire racks to prevent a soggy bottom.
Challah

Challah is a beautiful, braided egg bread traditionally served at the Shabbat meal and during most Jewish holiday feasts. Braiding the dough is really quite simple and a delightful way to finish a bread.

To braid challah:

  1. Prepare dough according to recipe. Divide the dough into 3 pieces on a floured surface. Cut one piece into thirds; roll each third into a 16-inch-long rope using your hands.

    Gently roll the dough into a rope without using too much pressure when braiding challah.
    ©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
    Gently roll the dough into a rope
    without using too much pressure.

  2. Place the 3 ropes side by side and braid; pinch both ends to seal and place to one side on a large greased cookie sheet.

    Make a neat braid that is neither tight nor too loose when braiding challah.
    ©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
    Make a neat braid that is neither
    too tight nor too loose.

  3. Repeat with another piece of dough for the second loaf. Place alongside first loaf -- at least 5 inches apart -- on cookie sheet.

  4. Cut remaining piece of dough in half; cut each half into thirds. Roll each third into 17-inch ropes using hands.

  5. Place ropes side by side and braid; pinch both ends to seal.

  6. Carefully place braid on one of the braided loaves on the cookie sheet, stretching top braid if necessary. Tuck ends of top braid under bottom braid. Repeat with remaining dough.

    Gently stretch the top braid, if neede,d so you can tuck under both ends when braiding challah.
    ©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
    Gently stretch the top braid, if needed,
    so you can tuck under both ends.

     

  7. Cover braided loaves with clean kitchen towel. Let rise in warm place away from drafts per recipe or until doubled in bulk.

  8. Beat 1 tablespoon water into an egg yolk. Brush tops and sides of loaves with egg mixture.The egg wash gives challah its characteristic sheen.

    Brush with egg wash when braiding challah.
    ©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
    Brush with egg wash.

  9. Bake according to recipe until bread is brown and loaves sound hollow when tapped with a finger. Following cooking instructions from the recipe.
At this point, there's only one more step to go and it's the easiest of all -- slicing off a piece of your freshly baked bread and enjoying it with fresh butter or fruit preserves.

©Publications International, Ltd.