Bake like a pro with these rather handy tips

There’s nothing more rewarding or satisfying (or great-smelling) than making your own, and it’s a really fun activity to get the whole family involved in. Our 12 tips will have you baking like a professional in no time.

  1. Warm your mixing bowl first to encourage the yeast to activate
  2. Stir the salt into the dry ingredients after adding the yeast. Salt and yeast together slows down the rising process so make sure you add the salt to your ingredients separately.
  3. For a smoother dough, use hand-hot water and add it to the flour in one go.
  4. Flour your work surface so the dough doesn’t stick.
  5. If your dough is too sticky, sprinkle with a little flour.
  6. To knead, use the heel of your hand to push the dough away from you, then fold over, turn and repeat. Show the kids how, then let them have a go at it themselves.
  7. Do a bread work out for at least five minutes until soft, supple and has an elastic quality.
  8. Dough rises more quickly when warm. Cut rising time by placing your dough in a bowl over a pan of just-boiled water. Cover with a tea towel and leave until doubled in size.
  9. After it has risen punch the dough briefly to knock the air out, shape and leave to rise again for a lighter loaf.
  10. For a softer crust get the kids to dust the top of your loaf with a little flour before it goes into the oven.
  11. For a crispier crust place a baking tray of water at the bottom of the oven. This creates steam which gives your loaf a good colour and crust.
  12. To tell if your loaf is ready, turn it out of the tin and tap the base. If it sounds hollow, your bread is baked.

Right then, you’re well on your way to being a brilliant baker. So why not test out all that you’ve learnt by baking a delicious loaf of Irish soda bread? As it doesn’t contain any yeast it doesn’t need proving so is the ideal starting place to test out your skills.