Bread Stenciling Is the Most Beautiful Way to Bake

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Use a bread stencil to give your home-baked loaves an artisan touch.

More and more folks are embracing the time they have at home to bake bread and improve baking techniques. Now it’s time to add a new skill to your repertoire: bread stenciling! It’s so easy to add a decorative pattern on your loaves.

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What Is a Bread Stencil?

It’s a lot like the stencils used for other crafty projects, for example, adding patterns and text to walls and other home decor. The stencil is laid over bread dough right before baking—when your loaf is in the pan ready for the oven. Once the stencil is in place, flour is dusted over to create the decoration. Then, after baking, the white design stands out beautifully on the browned crust!

What Do I Use for Stencils?

Bread stencils laid on a cutting board.Nancy Mock for Taste of Home

You have a lot of options here. Use premade stencils purchased at a craft store, or download, print and cut out images from Pinterest. You can also create your own stencils. Draw a design on parchment paper or cardstock, then use a razor blade or X-Acto knife to cut out the design. You can even repurpose items that already have decorative cut-outs, like a piece of lace or a paper doily.

Should I Use Flour or Cocoa Powder?

Round bread dough with flour and chili powder heart stencils.Nancy Mock for Taste of Home

Flour is a great choice, but you can also create decorations using cocoa powder. The deep brown color creates a beautiful contrast on lighter-colored loaves or on rustic loaves that already have a floury surface.

How to Stencil Your Bread

What you’ll need:

  • Bread stencil
  • Flour or cocoa powder
  • Small mesh strainer with handle or sifting canister
  • Bread dough that’s ready to bake, fully risen in a baking pan or on a baking sheet
  • Lame (a small dough-slicing blade for slashing the top of bread dough)

Position your stencil gently on top of the bread dough. Add the flour or cocoa powder to the mesh strainer. Hold the stencil in place with one hand while shaking a thin layer of flour or cocoa over the stencil, covering all the cut-outs.

Sifting flour over a stencil on bread dough.Nancy Mock for Taste of Home

Carefully lift the stencil straight up off the loaf to reveal your design. If using a lame, add a few slashes to the dough. Bake your bread as usual.

Stenciled bread loaves with white lettering and with white and chili powder hearts. Nancy Mock for Taste of Home

Editor’s Tip: You can even create a pattern using ground spices like green sage, crimson chili powder or yellow curry. The color of the spices is striking on baked loaves! Keep in mind that stencils made with ground spices will add a dose of flavor to the bread.

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Nancy Mock
Discovering restaurants, tasting bakery treats, finding inspiration in new flavors and regional specialties—no wonder Nancy loves being a food and travel writer. She and her family live in Vermont and enjoy all things food, as well as the beautiful outdoors, game nights, Avengers movies and plenty of maple syrup. Find Nancy’s writing and recipes at her website: Hungry Enough To Eat Six.