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5 Minutes with Peter Sidwell

Chef Tips
portrait of peter sidwell

See what master baker and judge of ITV’s Britain’s Best Bakery, Peter Sidwell had to say when we asked him YOUR questions...

How can you stop you loaf sticking inside a loaf tin and get good height on the loaf? (Rebecca Seal)

Try a quick release spray in your tin or roll you loaf in a little flour before placing in the tin. To get a good height make sure you bake the bread in a nice hot oven, I like to add some steam into the oven by using a water spray gun as you place it in the oven to bake.

My loaves tend to spread rather than rise, what can I do? (Jamie Wheat)

It sounds as though you are possibly adding too much liquid to your recipe, try baking your dough in a loaf tin to give the loaf support as it proves and bakes.

Do you have any advice on making bread in an AGA…I never seem to get it to rise enough before the outside becomes too crusty or burns? (Kirsty Warner)

I would recommend using the hottest oven to begin with for approximately 15 minutes then transfer to a middle oven to finish baking.

How do you know when dough is over proved? (Patsy Keith)

You can see if it’s over proved by appearance – the top of the dough will appear to have a thin crust and looks as though it is about to deflate. To resolve scoop the dough out, knock back and try proving again. Also another way to check is the finger test – if you push a wet finger into the dough about 1cm to 2cm in and it springs back then the dough is good if it deflates then it’s over proved.

I leave my bread to prove over various times but nothing seems to make it light and fluffy it’s also dense and urgh. help me please?!?!?!? (Rachel Hutchings)

Possibly you are making bread with very little gluten in so try blending a little strong white flour in there, e.g. 200g strong white bread flour and 300g of another bread flour you make like. You must also make sure your dough has the right amount of water in so you create a nice soft dough that will stretch nicely when kneading. Always give the dough plenty of kneading or leave it to prove over night to give the dough plenty of time to rise on it first prove, before knocking back and shaping.

If your dough is too tight there is not enough water and the dough would not have enough stretch in it to hold the air pockets so it’s important to make sure the dough is soft not tight like a pastry dough and well kneaded so it’s nice and stretchy to allow for a good rise.

Why do I sometimes get a gap under the crust? (Liz King)

This is probably due to not knocking all the air out of the dough following its first prove. It is important to knock all the air out of the dough so you get a nice even rise on the second prove before baking.

Can you rescue over proved by knocking back and re-rising? (Wag Dalzell)

In a lot of case, yes, but make sure you knock it back well so that you get an even 2nd prove. You might even get a better flavour by re-proving. Try proving your bread in the fridge overnight for the first prove to slow it down and generate more flavour.

First time using bread machine, my question is – is it true if using yeast out of date the dough does not get raised enough? (Maryati Tracy)

Yes if yeast becomes old and out of date it can be less efficient in your recipe so make sure you use it and buy Allinsons' sachets so you only open what you need. Also make sure you add the ingredients in the right order i.e. liquid first, then yeast and the flour and finish with the salt then you’re good to go.

Mine never seems to rise as much as it should! (Woody Wenman-Hyde)

Check your yeast is in date and that you are using the correct amount. Make sure you leave the dough to prove for the maximum time in the recipe or until it doubles in size, the temp of your kitchen can also slow down the prove if it’s cold.

Fresh or dried yeast? (Mike Armstrong)

Fresh yeast is great but not a handy as dried, I use dried, such as Allinson's Easy Bake yeast, at home as its handy to just grab out of the cupboard.

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