If you've ever made fresh bread at home, you know it's a labor of love. It takes a little bit of trial and error to get it just right, but once you have a few foolproof methods under your belt it will become easier. Obviously, home bakers don't have access to professional equipment used at bakeries, such as a proofer or a steam oven, but there are a few MacGyver-like tricks you can pull off to simulate the professional look, feel and taste of bakery shop breads.

Our tips and tricks in the slideshow below take their cues from professional bakeries, using radiating heat and steam to create loaves of bread that rise high, are cooked well from the inside out, and have an exceptionally crispy crust. If you haven't heard of these methods before, give one or all of them a try -- and many of the methods can be used in concert, so don't just stick to one.

Do you have any bread-baking secrets? Share them in the comments section below.

The Baking Stone Method
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Using a pan to bake bread is fine, but a baking stone or pizza stone will really set your bread apart from the average homemade bread. A baking stone creates higher heat, which helps form a crisp crust and a much more professional looking loaf.

To use a baking stone, preheat the stone in the oven for 30 minutes. Place your bread directly on the stone using a pizza peel (or, if you prefer, you can bake on a sheet pan or a piece of parchment paper to make handling the loaf easier).

If you don't have a baking stone (or can't afford to buy one as it can be expensive), use unglazed ceramic tiles. Buy about six or eight large ceramic tiles from your home improvement store and line your oven rack with them -- they will work just as well as a baking stone.

Photo from John Loo, Flickr.

Sources: suite101.com, The Kitchn, The Fresh Loaf.

Main photo from surlygirl, Flickr.