Bread flour is best.
All-purpose flour is fine. We have found that unbleached all-purpose flour is the best choice in most bread recipes. Bread flour (which has more protein than all-purpose) is necessary only for rustic breads with a really sturdy crumb and thick crust.
Hand-kneading is better.
You should use a standing mixer for the most foolproof results. In the test kitchen, kneading in a standing mixer is the technique of choice. (Use the paddle attachment to combine ingredients, then switch to the dough hook to knead.) This method ensures that we don’t add too much flour to the dough.
Kneading with your hands holds more risk for a dry, tough loaf because it’s easy to add too much flour. Why? Either in an attempt to keep the dough from sticking to your hands or countertop, or because, since a dough is naturally more wet before it is properly kneaded, you might be tempted by its appearance to add flour thinking it doesn’t have enough.
In a machine, it’s easier to wait and see what happens. A standing mixer is especially suited for kneading wet or sticky dough. Once dough is kneaded, it may require a brief kneading by hand on the counter to form a cohesive ball.
Bread is done when the internal temperature reaches a certain degree between 195 and 210 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, depending upon the type of bread.
Internal temperature is less useful than appearance as a sign of a well-baked loaf—a nicely browned, crisp crust, and a perfectly baked crumb. We commonly advise checking the internal temperature of a loaf of bread before making the decision to pull it from the oven, but internal temperature by itself is not sufficient proof that bread is fully baked.
We found that bread can reach the optimal temperature for doneness well before the loaf is actually baked through. You can take the temperature of your bread, but stick to the recommended baking time and make sure the crust has achieved the appropriate color before removing the loaf from the oven.