Bread Making Terminology

Bread making is amazing and several specific terms and names have evolved as part of the process. Here is a guide to some bread making terminology!



The resting of the combined flour and water at the start of breadmaking is known as the autolyse. It helps to fully hydrate the flour particles before developing the dough.



Preheat the oven 20 minutes before baking to 220˚C, Fan 200˚C, 425˚F, Gas 7. Alternatively, if available on your oven, use the non-fan bread setting, 240˚C, 475˚F, Gas 9.


Banneton, Brotform

A basket that can be made of cane, wicker or wood fibre that is sometimes lined with cloth, and used for the final proving stage of bread dough. When risen the dough is turned out onto a baking tray for baking.



Developed in Italy as a speedier alternative to a sourdough starter in bread baking, this flour and water mixture incorporates a small amount of yeast.


Cob, Boule

A round ball of dough baked on a baking tray.



The inside of a cooked loaf is known as the crumb.



The Chorleywood Bread Process, CBP, was developed in the 60’s. This high-speed bread making process combines low protein wheat, yeast, fat, some chemicals and intense mechanical mixing to produce a uniform bread loaf.


Ferment, Levain

Prior to a bread making session a portion of sourdough starter is mixed with flour and water to create the ferment or levain which is then used to raise the dough in sourdough baking.



The biological process of yeast and bacteria converting starch and sugar into carbon dioxide gas. The gas in fermenting bread dough is what causes the dough to grown in size.



Naturally present in wheat, gluten is a protein with elastic properties that can trap the fermentation gases to give the bread loaf structure and volume.



Kneading distributes the yeast or levain evenly in the dough and helps to develop the gluten that gives the dough elasticity. To knead by hand, take the edge of the dough into your fingers, and pull it to the centre. Then push away from yourself with the heel of your palm so that the dough stretches out. Give the dough a quarter turn and repeat.


Knocking Back

During its first rising a dough may expand unevenly. A second kneading or ‘knocking back’ helps to create an even crumb structure. The dough is then left to prove again in the tin until it has doubled its size once more.



A sharp blade in a handle, usually curved in shape, for cutting or slashing the top of risen dough before baking. A razor blade could make a good alternative.


Poolish, Pouliche

A flour, water and yeast mixture developed in Poland during the 19th century. Using a poolish instead of a sourdough starter quickly became popular for breadmaking in Austria and France where it was known as pouliche.



During the proving period the dough is left to ferment, produce gas and grow in size. A warm, draught-free place is usually chosen for proving. Under cool conditions, the dough will take longer to rise. Always cover the dough with a wet tea towel when proving to stop a skin developing. Dough, when risen properly, should have doubled in size, spring back when lightly touched and feel slightly sticky.


Pullman Tin

A straight sided loaf tin with a hinged or sliding lid often used for making sandwich bread.



Using time and temperature to slow down dough fermentation, retarding can be used to develop flavour or simply because you want to bake the loaf later.


Shaping, Moulding

Before its final prove, dough is shaped to give it a smoother surface and form it into the correct shape for its tin or proving basket.


Starter, Mother

A mixture of flour and water that is left to ferment and develop a colony of microorganisms including wild yeast and lactobacilli. Wholemeal flours make the best starters. When active the starter or mother is used to raise a sourdough loaf.



For consistent and accurate portioning, dough pieces are cut and weighed or scaled before going on to the final proving stage.


Stretching and Folding

An alternative to kneading, stretching and folding dough helps to develop the elasticity of the natural gluten strands in the bread dough helping to trap air in the loaf. This is ideal for wet and sticky or slack doughs.


No Time Doughs

Predominantly used by large plant bakeries this method brings together a liquid ferment, flour and other ingredients under controlled processing conditions, time and temperatures, in a continuous process. This method produces bread with fine tight crumb.


Straight Run Doughs

In this bread making method all ingredients are mixed at the beginning and given a fermentation time of 1 to 3 hours. Depending on the flour protein quality, the dough may be knocked back and allowed to rise again. Breads produced from straight run dough tends to have a coarse texture and robust crumb.


Sponge and Dough Method

Two distinct mixing and proving stages, and a controlled temperature, characterise this bread making method. Firstly, the ingredients are mixed and allowed to ferment for up to 12 hours to create the ‘sponge’. When the remaining ingredients have been added and the dough has rested for 30-60 minutes before cut or scaled into loaf size portions for a final proving.



A traditional breadmaking method which incorporates an active flour and water starter to rise the bread dough. Sourdough loaves have a slightly chewy crust, a slightly sharp flavour and crumb with both small and large holes.