The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

first time bread baker

lucieblackcat's picture

first time bread baker

Please help.  I have just started to learn how to bake my own bread, I have followed a recipe in jamie olivers cook book as follows

3cups of flour

pinch of salt

teaspoon of sugar

7g of dried active yeast



the finished product is heavy and very sour, can anyone tell me how to reduced the sourness and make the loaf lighter.


pmccool's picture

I'm sorry to hear that your first attempt at bread didn't turn out the way you wanted.  Not to worry, though, most of us have done the same thing.  Usually more than once.

The ingredients that you listed shouldn't, by themselves, produce a heavy, sour bread.  That means there is probably something in the process that needs to be adjusted.  How about giving us a step-by-step account of what you did as you made the bread.  For instance,

- How much water did you add?

- How was the dough mixed, and for how long?  What did it look like then?  What kind of texture did it have (rough/shaggy/gooey/sticky/dry)?

- Was the dough kneaded after mixing?  If so, how did you do that?  Did you have to use flour to get rid of stickiness?  What did the dough feel like?

- How long did it rise after it was kneaded?  What was the approximate temperature of the dough's environment as it rose?  Was it doubled in volume?  More than doubled?  Less than doubled?  Was the dough covered so that it did not dry out?

- How was the dough handled at the end of the first rise?  Gently degassed?  Punched down? 

-Did you shape it into a loaf at this point?  If so, how did you shape it and in what shape?  Was it put in a loaf pan, or left as a free-form loaf?  If it was a free-form loaf, was it supported as it rose with a basket or couche, or did it rise on a flat surface? 

- After shaping, how long did the dough rise?  At what temperature, approximately?  Was it doubled in volume at the end of this rise?  Less than doubled?  More than doubled?  Was the dough covered so that it did not dry out?

- What was the oven temperature for the bake?  How long was the bread baked?  Did you slash or not slash the loaf before baking?  If you did, please describe how and what the result was.  Was the loaf baked on a stone or tiles?  Did you use steam in the oven?  Did the loaf collapse a little, or a lot, or not at all as it baked?

- How did you cool the bread after it came out of the oven?  For how long?

Whew!  That's a lot of questions!  The point is, if you can help folks understand what you did, you'll get a lot of helpful tips on how to improve your next bread.


copyu's picture

I have one more...WHICH Jamie Oliver cook-book?

I found 14 titles in about 3 seconds of searching. There could be a lot more titles I didn't pick up.

I think you have your first answer, now, anyway. Bread doughs don't vary all that much. They all have flour, yeast, water and salt, at least.

Baking is even MORE about the 'HOW' than the 'WHAT'.

Get back to us with the method you used and answers and good advice will likely pour in.

Best, lucieblackcat,


sphealey's picture

I strongly recommend the King Arthur DVD "Artisan Bread".  Unfortunately KA seems to have discontinued it, but you might be able to get it through your library.  The video takes you step-by-step through the process of making a simple bread that nonetheless tastes great.  That video plus RLB's _The Bread Bible_ is what finally got me over the top to being able to make bread after several years of trying.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Welcome to the Fresh Loaf! 

A pinch for 3 cups of flour would be a Tuscan Bread recipe ... low salt or no salt.  How was this bread served?