Wait until the dough feels puffy when poked before you put it in the oven.
This is my favourite bread making tip and it really can make a big difference to how your bread comes out.
Poke the dough with your finger when you think it is ready to put in the oven. If you want to be specific you could use your index finger and push it in up to the first joint – a floury finger if the dough is very sticky.
If the dough is springy and elastic, leave it 10-15 minutes longer before baking. If the dough is light and puffy then its ready to go in a hot oven.
If you’re not sure if the dough is “light and puffy” or “spring and elastic” it only takes a couple of baking sessions to get the feel for what is needed.
This is a great bread making tip because it makes such a big difference to the end product. No matter if the kneading was uneven or the ingredients slightly out of proportion this tip virtually guarantees a nice open loaf with plenty of texture and structure in the crumb.
This tip works really well for any kind of yeast, sourdough or enriched breads like brioche or challah.