How-to Knead, Shape and Bake Yeast Breads

Shape dough into a ball on a lightly floured surface. Fold top of dough toward you. With your palms, push dough with a rolling motion away from you. Turn dough 1/4 turn; repeat folding, kneading and turning until dough is smooth and elastic. Add flour to surface as needed to prevent sticking.

Shape dough into a ball and place in a bowl coated with butter, oil or cooking spray. Turn dough over to grease top, which helps prevent it from drying out during rising.

Cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel. Place bowl in a warm (80° to 85°), draft-free area until dough has doubled.

Press two fingers 1/2 in. into the dough. If the dents remain, the dough has doubled in size.

Make a fist and push into the center of the dough. Gather edge of the dough to the center and shape it into a ball.

Divide dough as recipe directs. Roll out a dough ball on a lightly floured surface into a 12x8-in. rectangle. Air bubbles will pop as you roll out the dough.

Dust off any loose flour from dough. Roll dough up from short end. If it’s rolled too loosely, there will be air pockets in the baked bread; if it’s too tight, the top of the dough will crack during baking.

Pinch seam and ends to seal. Place seam side down in a greased pan. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm (80° to 85°), draft-free area until dough has doubled.

Remove towel and place pans several inches apart in the center of a preheated oven. Bake according to time given in the recipe. If the bread browns too fast, tent with foil.

Bread should be golden brown on top and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom crust. Or, insert an instant-read thermometer; it should read 200° in the thickest part of the loaf. Unless the recipe directs otherwise, immediately remove bread from pan and cool on a wire rack.