The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

what am I doing wrong?

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maizite's picture
maizite

what am I doing wrong?

I'm really new to breadmaking and am getting frustrated. I don't know what I'm doing wrong, and I have no one to show my loaves to. This one came out particularly bad. I appreciate you taking a look and helping me out. Most of my loaves come out like this, dense and no holes, very little color in the crust, very little oven spring, soft crust. I have tried kneading with the kitchenaid, and kneading by hand with no different result. I prefer kneading by hand. I have a feeling I am kneading too little, or too much, but am not sure which. Or maybe the recipes I've tried are just bad. This is the recipe I have used for this loaf: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/country-loaf-recipe. I did reduce the white flour by half a cup and increased the wheat by half a cup, but I did everything else to the hand making instructions.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and help.

maizite's picture
maizite

I kneaded for 5 minutes, then let it rest like the recipe said, and then kneaded for a few more minutes. I would love holes in my bread, like I get when I make no knead bread. This bread is just too dense to eat!

BreadBro's picture
BreadBro

Deviating from the recipie was probably your first mistake. Whole-wheat flour requires a higher hydration than white flour. You would have to increase the ammount of water. Second, whole-wheat flour raises less effectively than white flour, so often recipies will call for more yeast or autolyzing the flour (soaking it overnight).

You may have overproofed the bread, leading to a dull crust and poor oven spring. Make sure your kitchen isn't too hot  and that the dough is still slightly springy when poked with a finger. That KA recipie calls for spraying the inside of the oven 3 times with a mister, but I've found that doesn't work well in my gas oven. I use a cast iron pan and pour 1/2 cup of hot water into it and shut the oven.

Bread is tricky because any number of variables can affect its outcome. Most important is to not give up. It took me a while before I finally figured out how to produce quality loves easily. Good luck :)

maizite's picture
maizite

Thanks for your help! Yes I may have overproofed the bread, not by much, but maybe 5-10 minutes. It was warm in my kitchen today, that could have been another factor.

It makes sense that wheat flour needs more moisture and might not rise as easily. I didn't think of that. I would prefer a loaf that had a higher wheat content, mostly for my little one, white bread is rough on her. I should look for a new recipe rather than trying to alter this one. In the past, the white loaves I have made have come out better, but still a pretty tight crumb. I would love to learn to make airy fluffy bread!

I have never autolyzed flour, I will look into that too!

I won't give up, I've had some minor successes and I think I should keep trying. I'll look for a new recipe and try again.

Franko's picture
Franko

Autolyse is the key here, along with a dough temp between 75F-78F. The bran from the whole wheat flour is yeast food and rye flour ferments easily so I'd either reduce the yeast, or the WW/Rye flour percentage to avoid a too rapid primary fermentation. My choice would be to reduce the yeast to a scant amount (1% or less) after giving the white and (whole wheat flour if using) and water at least an hour in autolyse, keeping in mind the the dough temp of mid 70's F. Bulk ferment the dough at this range and stretch and fold the dough every 30 minutes over 60-80 minutes, then shape and let rise. Lots of steam and an initial oven temp of 400F-450F, lowered to 385F- 375F for the first 10 minutes then vent the oven of steam and continue the bake at 365F until you have an internal loaf temp of 210F, then let sit in the (off) oven, door ajar for 30 minutes before removing to cooling racks.

Best of luck and happy baking,

Franko

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

But the only time I bake bread at that low a temperature is when baking an enriched dough.  I usually preheat to 500 F  with tons of steam then put the bread on the stone, wait 2 minutes and then turn the oven down to 450 F for the remainder of the steam and when the steam comes out I swich on the convection at 425 F.

I have no luck at all baking bread at such low temperatures like you do. 

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi dabrownman,

Since we got our new oven back in the Fall I've found that it holds the heat much better than the old one. In convection mode after steam, (which I neglected to mention in the reply, my apologies) it does a very good job of getting the   colour I want for a single loaf at lower temps than the old one. Once I get up into 450F range with this one it can get flashy, and if I'm not constantly monitoring during the bake, over-colouring or scorching can be a problem. Ovens vary so much from one to another, particularly domestic ovens, I think it's a case of knowing your oven's baking characteristics and using your best judgment to achieve the results you want given the size and number of loaves/loaf of a particular bake. The profile you describe might work in my oven for a single loaf but I'd rather not have to babysit it to make sure it does. What you're doing works just fine, stick with it!

Cheers,

Franko

flourhappy1's picture
flourhappy1

i've gotten the "best" holes by using high hydration,the KitchenAid and doing the stretch and fold method which actually requires little kneading which for those of us who actuallly like to knead is hard.

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

As others wrote a bread as crumbly as your clearly shows that the gluten was seriously underdeveloped, probably for lack of water and energy. Let me show you a picture of a pizza dough I found today

 

see how it's plastic? If you can get something like that your bread will surely rise much more, for in order to get there you have to let  your mixer knead a lot.

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

Wouldn't a dense bread be more likely to come from under-proofing rather than over-proofing? I've never had a problem with dense bread from over-proofing. But, I just recently baked some really dense bread due to rushing it to the oven before it was ready, and that has happened to me numerous times. I use a sourdough starter, so rising times are in multiples of hours, and I started it too late in the day, then got impatient. Then again, I'm not very experienced yet myself. I'm just trying to learn as much as I can.

As for the hydration, it should get a little more, because you switched out some of the white flour for whole wheat. Don't be afraid to experiment, though. I don't see anything wrong with you changing the recipe. Just learn how each of the ingredients react to each other, and what they need in order to reach their full potential. Nearly all of the best things that have ever come out of my kitchen have been experiments. And a lot of them had no recipe, no beginning parameters at all. They were just thrown together from my imagination. Bread does have some important parameters that have to be stuck close by, but there is always room for creativity as well.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

the temperature of my oven.  I found mine to be 25 F lower than what it claimed and my spring, open crumb and crust color was like your example.

ndechenne's picture
ndechenne

As you can see here... opinions on such matters vary ;-)

And all are correct. I'll tell you this. My first loaves came out very similarly to yours. Tasted good... but dense. It's my experience that time heals all wounds... even in breadmaking. Keep at it, try new techniques and you'll find your happy spot. For me it was this that turned the corner:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YfWcs2k7oQ4

That and a GREAT SCALE. I started making bread by weight, not volume and I immediately saw a change. Like you, I was experiencing dense bread. 

So go play a bit... you'll get it!

maizite's picture
maizite

Thank you all for your suggestions. I have learned so much. You have to see my improvement! The bread came out so good tonight. It's light and airy in the middle, and the crust is thin and crunchy (I don't know if this is ideal, should the crust be thicker?). I measured my ingredients with a kitchen scale and used the same recipe. I did the autolyse for 30 minutes, then I added the prepped yeast to it, then the salt. Turned it out on a clean board and kneaded without adding any flour to the board, while pulling it up every 8 or so times with a bench scraper. When it wasn't as sticky anymore, about 8-10 minutes later, I let it rest, then stretched & folded 4 times resting in between for 10 minutes at a time. Let it rise for 3 hours. I don't know the temp of my kitchen and it was pretty big, it might have been too long because I had to leave the house for a couple hours. Turned it out of the bowl w/o punching down. Stretch & fold instead. Shaped it, put it in a bowl lined with a towel, then let rise only 45 or so minutes because it looked pretty big to me. I think I baked it too hot, I ended up baking it in a dutch oven at 500 degrees for 20 min, then turned it down to 450 for 30 minutes. The middle was 210 degrees at that time. The bottom burned slightly though. Anyway, here's a picture of my bread! How does it look?

 

bisquette's picture
bisquette

That bread looks delicious! It looks like you had great success. I recently got interested in bread baking and I've tried two recipes from the King Arthur Flour site. I haven't come across this particular recipe; I'm definitely going to try it, because this bread looks wonderful. Congratulations on your success! I know how exciting it is to get a recipe to produce a great loaf after a couple of disappointing loaves. 

maizite's picture
maizite

Thank you! I can't believe the difference. I am so grateful for all of your replies and suggestions.