How To Know When Bread Is Done Baking

Bread-baking is a notoriously nuanced art. Maybe you were given your first sourdough starter years ago and have become something of a professional dough-kneader by now. Maybe you hopped on the homemade bread trend during the pandemic and never hopped off. Whether you're a gluten genius, a kneading novice, or somewhere in between, there are a number of mistakes a home baker can run into when trying to craft the perfect loaf. It's easy to add the wrong type of yeast, add your water component too eagerly, or not let your bread steam for long enough. 

But many home bread bakers will probably tell you that a problem they run into time and again is over- and under-baking. How can you tell what the crumb inside is like when all you can see is the crust? Luckily, there's a quick and easy technique to test whether your bread is done baking -– and it might seem a little odd at first.

Listen up

Don't knock it till you try it. Or, in the case of bread, don't try it till you knock it. According to professional bread baker Jack Sturgess, you can tell when bread is done baking not by the look, or the feel, but by the sound. Knock on your loaf with a closed fist, Jack says, the way you might knock on a door. Ready bread will have a hollow sound, and bread that still needs a bit more time in the oven will have a dull thud sound, signifying that it's denser inside.

Depending on who you ask, there are a few variations on this method. The Kitchn recommends firmly thumping the bottom of the loaf with your thumb. Breadopedia advises that just a light tap is enough. Virtual homesteader Deep South Texas gives loaves a good solid pat while wearing an oven mitt. The point is, however you knock, if your loaf sounds hollow, it's ready to slice.