This article is for you if you'd like a little more reassurance about how to know if your dough has risen enough.
My recipes usually involve letting the dough rise twice. Once after the initial mixing of the ingredients and again after the kneading, directly before baking.
For the first rising, I usually suggest leaving the dough until it has doubled in size. I also mention leaving it for one hour.
The timing and actual size of the dough is fairly arbitrary.
If you're in a hurry, it's ok to knead the dough before the requisite hour is up. It just means that your bread might end up heavier. The gluten may not have had time to develop sufficiently to support the bubbles so your bread won't be as light as it might be otherwise.
It'll still taste good.
What is well-risen dough like?
As you can see from the picture, well-risen dough is full of carbon dioxide bubbles. At that stage, it's also wobbly when you poke it. It might sigh and deflate as you stick a finger in.
Kneading squashes out all the bubbles but that's ok because the yeast is still there, more active than ever.
After kneading, the gluten strands are optimised to support the growing dough. The second rising gives a more even texture - with bubbles all a similar size and strength.
I allow my bread to rise after kneading and before I put it in the oven. I reckon it gets a head start that way - otherwise it might be cooked before it had made all those lovely bubbles.
Usually I suggest leaving a loaf to rise until it is up to the top of the tin. That's all very well, but what if your loaf isn't in a tin? Or what if you're making bread rolls?
I've mentioned that well-risen bread will be springy to the touch. That's easy for me to say - I've seen my mum prod her bread plenty of times.
So, to show you exactly what I mean by 'springy to the touch' I've made a really short video of a prod.
Once your bread can spring back from a light prod, it's fine to bake. You know that there is enough active yeast in there to give your bread a satisfactory lift.
There are more articles on the way to help you improve your bread-baking technique, including How To Tell If Your Bread Is Properly Cooked in which I will probably be seen knocking on the bottoms of loaves.
If you're keen not to miss that one, please subscribe to receive updates by email and I'll let you know when it's up.
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