The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

bread consistency changing - need advice

MommaT's picture

bread consistency changing - need advice


I've been successfully making Leader's Country Hearth bread to the delight of my family for a few months now.  I make this using his straight dough instructions, with the poolish OR by replacing poolish with refreshed starter.  All with very similar results.

Of late, my bread, particularly that made with ww flour, has been very dense and not rising well.  I do not seem to get much oven spring.  I generally bake in loaf pans, just to make things easier for lunchboxes for the little ones.  When I slice the loaf, it seems very dense around the edge of slice with a more "normal" airiness in the center of the slice, only.  Also, the loaf is not rising as high as it used to.  My dough is proofing in similar times as before, fyi.

Any tips on what could be making this difference all of a sudden?  Could increased hydration be making a difference?  (I recently noticed that Leader uses fl. oz. for water and that I had been under-measuring in normal oz.)  Type or age of flour?  

Help!  My daily bread is failing!



dmsnyder's picture

Hi, MommaT.

Obviously, something has changed either in your ingredients or your technique.

1. Are you using a different brand of WW flour? Does the dough feel different when you are kneading/mixing it?

2. Have you changed your technique for mixing (developing gluten) or for forming the loaves?

3. You say both the loaves aren't rising as high and that you are proofing for the same time. I wonder if you are under-proofing. Has your kitchen been cooler lately? This could also be due to changes in how you handle the dough.

You mention "differences in hydration." Have you changed how you measure ingredients or their proportions?


MommaT's picture

Hi David,

I have been perplexed...

Flour is the same, although seems to require more - perhaps it's the increase in humidity as it warms up here in Boston.

Technique is the same.

Kitchen is warmer.

The issue with the hydration is simply that I was measuring my water in mass-type ounces and I noticed that Leader lists his water in fluid ounces.  I changed to the fl. oz setting on my scale and have added more flour accordingly.  However, this problem existed before this change.

Taking your comment about underproofing to heart, today I'm experimenting with some changes -- 

* new KA mixer I inherited (wow!  What a decrease in mess and time)

* new jar of yeast.

* slightly dryer dough.

My gluten development seems better and the loaves are proofing well.  I made sure to double for both rises prior to shaping.  My shaping produced loaves that have a bit tighter skin than before, so perhaps this is a good sign.  

Will report back!