By Liz MacMillan

A lot of work goes into baking bread, so after all that mixing and kneading and shaping, it would be a shame if your loaf was ruined because you didn't take it out of the oven at the right time. Use a few simple tricks and techniques to ensure your bread is always perfectly baked.

Beautifully browned loaves of bread

Step 1

Preheat your oven to the correct temperature and set the timer to the baking time in the recipe. The timer is useful for reminding you to check on the bread, but don't automatically take the bread out just because the timer goes off. Not all ovens heat up the same way, so your bread might need extra time.

A deep, golden brown color means the bread is done baking.

Check the color and consistency of the crust. The crust of white flour-based breads, like ciabattas, Challahs and sourdoughs, should be a deep, golden brown and the color should be even across the entire loaf.

Step 3

Tap the bottom or sides of the bread. If you hear a hollow sound and the dough is firm, the bread is done. If the bread is still wet, put it back in the oven.

Step 4

Make an attempt to slide the bread out of the pan. If the bread is done, its sides should be firm and it should slide out of the pan easily.

Step 5

Smell the bread. That fresh baked bread aroma is a good indication that the bread is done or almost done. A "yeasty" smell might indicate that the bread isn't fully cooked.

Fully insert the probe into the thickest part of the loaf.

Test the temperature of the bread using a digital instant-read thermometer. Stick the thermometer's probe into the thickest part of the loaf, which is usually the middle. Wait a few seconds for the reading to appear. If the temperature reads between 190 and 210 degrees, the bread is done.

Step 7

If you don't have a thermometer, insert a toothpick or a sharp knife into the middle of the bread at the thickest part. If it comes out with batter stuck to it, the bread isn't done yet. If it comes out dry, the bread is finished.