The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

List of Baking Heuristics

dangelelli's picture

List of Baking Heuristics


I'm new to the site and fairly new to baking.  I've started doing it a lot lately, especially pizza doughs.  I got my foot into the door with Jim Lahey inspired no-knead pizza dough and now I'm starting to branch out into other areas (both traditional and no- or almost-no-knead breads and pizza doughs).  I'm trying to compile a list of heuristics.  Can some experts please provide feedback on my current list and please include anything I have (certainly) left out.

  1. Colder temp = slower/longer rise, better quality
  2. No kneading ==> more liquid.  Have a very hydrated dough and 1/2 day to 3/2 day for main rise
  3. Main rise => knead/redistribute => 2+ hour proof => hot oven => cool-down before cut
  4. Steam = good crust
  5. Initial HOT temperature allows oven spring before gluten solidifies
  6. Whole Wheat flour needs extra water
  7. Whole Wheat takes 30-60 min to fully soak up water, so dough will be dryer than first mix. Add more water initially to compensate
  8. Higher protein = higher gluten ==> chewier bread, more open crumb
  9. Lower protein = less gluten ==> delicate bread, tight crumb
  10. Rye, XXX, YYY flours have low gluten
  11. Handle dough cold (cold holds air)
  12. Proof to room temp (warmer dough releases more air in oven => better oven spring)

thank you everyone

jcking's picture

Protein quantity does not indicate protein quality.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

to get some theory under your belt otherwise trial & error gets too bogged down in dos and don'ts with too much guesswork.  Different fours behave differently.  There are different methods to handling different types of dough and different moisture levels.  Depending on ingredients, baking temps will also vary.  Dough yeast release predominantly CO2 gasses during fermentation and when heated gasses expand, some of the water in the dough turns into steam.  The dough's ability to trap all that expansion is the oven spring.   Air is predominantly 78% nitrogen with 0.3% CO2.  It is also possible to get a slower rise with warm temps, just use less yeast.

Type into site search box:  good book for beginners?     (or newbies)  and see what discussions pop up     

You could also type in each one of the above numbered points and read further.  

richkaimd's picture

Maybe I can get boring on this subject to others, but I strongly recommend that you buy a text book.  Stop reading bread cook books entirely until you've studied bread baking with a text.  Bread cook books, however good they're touted to be, simply aren't the place the start, in my opinion.   Remember that professional bakers learned their craft by taking courses at schools.  You can imitate them very much to your advantage by working your way through a text book.  Texts, being written for students, are all pretty much the same in that they help you establish a foundation of knowledge from the ground up.  I recommend that you look at these two texts:  DiMuzio's Bread Baking and Hamelman's Bread.  The DiMuzio text is a great text for beginers.  Hamelman's is very intense and yet some people are interested in starting with it.  Both are available used online at Alibris or Powell's Books.

loafette's picture

In addition to the two VERY fine books mentioned above, I'd like to throw in another, which I just recently received...I've learned a lot, from reading his informative writing/answers on Modern Baking, for several years now, and he is a contributor, to this book...'On Baking'...Klaus Tenburgen...a link to his professional information...:



I'd never, until a couple of weeks ago, noticed that mention was made of the book, on the Modern Baking site...and decided to order it.

Love textbooks!

Excellent! Got it through Alibris...