Bread density- Am I using too much water?
I'm new to this site...I'm an American expat living in Germany, which means I'm forced to eat all kinds of new, delicious food because most of my comfort foods are not available. One of the staples of German life is the bi-weekly farmer's market. This is where I encountered the most delicious bread ever made, and thus began my quest to copycat this recipe, because it's too expensive for me to buy twice a week.
The bread I would like to copy is soft and fluffy, with pieces of olive and paprika (bell peppers) throughout it. It also has several herbs which I believe I've identified as thyme, oregano, and sage, and some coarse salt and sesame seeds sprinkled on the crust.
Here is the recipe that I tried:
- 1.5 cups all purpose white flour
- 1 tsp dry yeast
- 1 tbs white sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup chopped black olives
- 1/4 cup chopped red, yellow, and green bell peppers
- 1.5 tbs butter, melted
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 tbs cornmeal
- 1/4 tsp dried sage
- 1/4 tsp dried rosemary
- 1/4 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp dried thyme
Based on my results the first time, this time I put the yeast in the warm water first and added the sugar to it, and left it for 5 min. or so. I mixed all other ingredients in a bowl, and then added the water, but didn't add all of it because the dough got too sticky.
My dough was slower to rise than I expected. I let it rise 3 times, kneading it after the first 2 times. After baking it at 375F/190C for about an hour, the middle was still dense and doesn't look done. The bread is DELICIOUS, but I need to work on texture.
Can anyone give me some suggestions as to how to improve my texture? I'm thinking that instead of not adding all of my water, I should have added more flour, because not adding all the water means I didn't have all the yeast or sugar either. I'm also not sure how much water is added by using olives, bell peppers, and butter.
What about baking temperature? Does my temp sound reasonable?
Any thoughts would be appreciated. I'm a total novice!