Hello, Newbie and I seem to be a lousy bread maker so help needed
Hi - I am new to bread making and do everything by hand and if I am being honest I am really not doing very at all.
I want to make a soft white loaf to begin with and found a recipe on the web which after a couple of flops produced a reasonably acceptable loaf though it was still too heavy.
Then I got the River Cottage Handbook No3 “Bread” which called for a much lower ratio of liquid to flour than the 75% in the recipe I was using so I switched to the Basic Bread recipe in the book but it always seems too dry and the end results are even heavier than the former recipe but they are both tried and tested recipes so it has to be something I am doing wrong.
The River cottage recipe is 500g strong bread flour (I have Allinsons), 300ml liquid, 5g yeast and 10g salt though after a couple of real flops I switched from water to half water, half milk and switched half the flour to all purpose (Organic Plain) in an attempt to make it softer and added a teaspoon sugar to the yeast part as I use active dried yeast rather than instant yeast and that is what it said do on the tin, I have also tried adding 14g melted butter which seems to improve the flavour but doesn’t seem to do anything else.
This is the method I follow
Night before mix half the flour and warm yeasty liquid cover ( tsp sugar all the liquid and the yeast) and leave till morning. Next day morning mix more of the flour into the overnight batter and when it starts coming together add the little bit of starter dough left from last batch plus the salt, turn out and knead in most of the remaining flour stopping while its till tacky. I did try adding all of the flour before turning it out as stated in the recipe but that made it far too dry
I knead for approx 10-12 mins till dough passes window pane test then put dough into bowl sprayed with oil and leave till it doubles in size about 1 hour.
Turn out and flatten gently with fingers to deflate excess gas then fold, left right, right left, top bottom, bottom top and return to the bowl. Roughly an hour later when it doubles again turn out and cut off a small piece for next batch and shape the rest for a tin loaf or divide and form rolls as needed.
If making loaf put into sprayed Silverwood loaf pan and leave for final rise. When back up to size (can be another hour or more) put into heated oven. The recipe calls 240c but mine doesn’t go higher than 220-225c so I have to make do with that. Leave to bake for 10 minutes then reduce temperature to around 180c and leave to finish cooking.
When I make rolls with the dough they aren’t terrible but the loaves always seem to be much denser and can be stodgy. Most of the time it’s just about edible providing you eat it all the first day but it is heavier than it should be and even after an hour or more rising my loaves are not nearly as big as the 400g loaves you buy in the shops. They don’t rise much in the oven despite slashing the tops, using a baking stone and putting a baking tray containing boiling water at the bottom so what I end up with is at most half an inch taller than my Silverwood bread pan.
I have tried going back to basics and removing the fat and switching back the milk and plain flour but that produces an even heavier result. So I am running out of ideas and would appreciate any advice you can give.