The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Doughs Suddenly Won't Rise - Could Flour Be Bad?

abrogard's picture
abrogard

Doughs Suddenly Won't Rise - Could Flour Be Bad?

I've been baking successfully for a few months now, french bread with packaged dried yeast, one loaf every weekday.


Thought I was turning into an expert.


Suddenly my doughs won't rise. No matter how long I leave them.


And they don't suddenly explosively rise and fall down again while I'm not watching. They don't rise. At least as best I can judge.


I've proved my yeast and it is excellent, works no problem.


The ambient temperature around here recently has been usually better than 32C - 89F.


The only things I can think of is this ambient temperature - would that be too hot for the dough to rise, too hot for the yeast?


Or the flour. I use 25kg bags and this one is down near the bottom quarter and has been in use over about a month. It, too, would be at ambient temperature.


Could the flour be no good for dough?


When I first turn it out of the mixing bowl to begin kneading it I find it feels heavy and lifeless straight away. Where I am accustomed to my dough feeling light, airy,  springy.


When I put it back in the bowl for the first rise it feels like a lump of lead.


When I look at it half an hour later it looks like, feels like, it has a dry skin on it and though there's no holes in the surface it looks like sort of 'pitted' under the surface, like it had risen and collapsed.


Looks like temperature to me, on reflection as writing this. Could I get some more opinions, please, from the knowledgeable and experienced?


 


 regards,


 


 ab  :)


 


 

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Has anything else changed such as your water?Technique?Additives?


It sounds like something is killing the yeast and usually that is something over 140F. Are you microwaving the water?


Ambient temp of 89F should be fine.

abrogard's picture
abrogard

I'm not microwaving the water, never have done.


Thanks for the reassurance about the temperature. I figured it should be okay else we wouldn't be baking much bread in Australia.


I use normal town tap water. And that could be pretty heavily chlorinated - I guess that would matter pretty much?


Maybe I should try using boiled water - I've seen it suggested that's the way to get the chlorine out, but I'm not sure it works - I can smell and taste chlorine in my cup of tea after using such water. Tea seems to accentuate it somewhat.


I just proofed a bit of the dried yeast using that water and it worked okay. But perhaps I should have continued the test for half an hour or so - I just saw it was going well after five minutes and threw it away after about ten.  Perhaps the yeast would have died later.


Would a chlorine death occur immediately or slowly?


I better test with the flour, too. I only tested with water and sugar.


I'll do a flour/water/sugar test now.


 


 

Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

We had a house fire. Shortly afterwards my WW flour took on a bitter taste but I didn't think it was "that" bad but at the same time it seemed like it started failing to rise. I couldn't even get the starter to rise when I would feed it with this "bad" or bitter flour.


I asked this question and never really did get an answer so am hoping I get one now.


Tracy

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Hi Tracy.


I don't know how old your WW flour was, or how you stored it, but the wheat germ oil in WW starts to go rancid as it's exposed to oxygen.  Rancid flour will have an off smell and will taste quite bitter.


I keep my WW flour refrigerated in an airtight container.  If you have freezer space, that's even a better place to store it.  


Since you had a house fire, the contents of your home had to suffer from some smoke damage.  If your WW was stored in its original bag, that could have been part of the problem.


Hope your home gets repaired quickly.

Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

I hadn't had it long, maybe 3-4 weeks but who knows how long it was at the store? I purchased the stuff in the bulk bins (last time I do that). I replaced with some of the KA which was so much better.


I'm waiting on an order from flour girl51 and will order from her from now on except in case of emergency. The flour was improperly stored (another thing I've recently learned) in the flimsy bag from the store (I had too much to get it all in the storage container) so the stuff in the thin bag probably got exposed to smoke. I went through the container ok and when I got to the other bag that is when my problem began.


Smoke was pretty severe, colored the walls and my husband is finding damage inside the computers. He is now discovering fiberglass particles in the computers as well so I will be throwing anything that wasn't sealed away.

Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

Thanks Lindy. I'll have freezer space after we're back in the house, although not enough. Right now, it's an RV for minimum 3 months so no freezer space but I'm baking a bunch so I use the flour quickly. I'm starting to order it freshly ground from flourgirl 51 on here too instead of bulk and hoping that will make a big difference as well.


Someone mentioned "dead flour" with no gluten formation and it seems like that's what happened to my flour. It was like I could no longer get any gluten formation from it. It was a big gloop and I knew it wouldn't work.


I threw everything stored in the grocery store bags away after my husband found smoke/fiberglass in his computer vents. Yuck!! I had no idea smoke and the aftermath of firefighting was so invasive to our air.


To think I've been in those horrible field fires in Oklahoma where our air was cloudy, roads closed due to zero visibility and never thought a thing about the damage to household goods before. I will think again after this fire when we move back to Oklahoma and live in the country where brush fires are a common occurence.


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Hi, Ab.  Boiling won't dissipate the chlorine.  Just fill a jug with tap water and leave it stand overnight.


You'd have to have a pretty high level of chlorine to affect fermentation.  Since you had no problems with previous breads, it seems rather odd that suddenly your dough is not rising.  Thus, I question whether chlorine is the cause of your problem.  Actually, I have lots of questions:


Are you keeping your yeast refrigerated in an airtight container?


What were the temps when your efforts were successful?  Cooler?  Do you keep your dough covered when it's in the rising bowl?


Are you using water straight from the tap without heating it?  Do you know the temperature of your dough after you've kneaded it for a while?  Most wheat doughs should have a temp of 24C/76F.


What type of flour are you using?  Wheat?  Whole wheat?  Rye?


Finally--and it may seem like a silly question, but it does happen--are you certain you've not overlooked adding the yeast?

flournwater's picture
flournwater

What percentage of salt are you using and when, in the process of preparing the dough, do you add it?


 


 

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

It might be that you've become a bit blase (sorry, can't find an accent for the 'e'.) about bread making and are adding a little too much flour.  When I have the odd brick from time to time, I figure it's God telling me my head has become too big!  So slow down a tad, and watch each step to try to figure out if you're doing anything different.  It's very easy, when hand-kneading, to add a little too much flour.

flournwater's picture
flournwater

You're welcome to borrow mine:

 

blasé

 

yozzause's picture
yozzause

hi there AB
So you are in GODS OWN COUNTRY what part of heaven are you residing,(Perth here) you say its town water supply i do know that some supplies have been getting pretty low and the water quality has needed a good bit of doctoring up and im sure i read just recently of somewhwere where there water had been overdosed with chlorine and of course over here we also have flouride added to our water for our teeth.
SIMPLE TEST to check on the yeast and flour, 1 teaspoon of yeast half a cup of water and enough flour to make a paste or slurry, small poolish in fact, you should see some activity in an hour.
Your ambiant temperatures seem fine,cant be to far north for 32 at this time of the year. i believe it was 45 degrees at the Toodyay bushfires yesterday with the loss of over 30 houses. A thermometer is worth having for checking finished dough temps and keeping a record on what is going on. I have had to use iced water in really hot weather to get the dough to finish at its best. If the flour was going off it would seem to me that you would have had some inkling with the bread slowly deteriating too not good one batch and then dead the next. What type of yeast do you use? that hasn't been exposed to high temps has it?
I don't know how quick you use 25Kg of flour we can get it in 10kg bags here and it still takes a while to use if you are not baking all the time. the good thing is you are 3/4 of the wat through the bag so you can easily try a fresh bag. take a note of the markings on the bag and the batch if your shop has low turnover it could be more of the same.
Do keep us informed if you find out what has been the cause of your woes.

Larry Clark's picture
Larry Clark

When I've had this problem it's been caused by water that is too hot - every time. I have a darkroom thermometer and make sure my water is less than 100 degrees.

PeteInAz's picture
PeteInAz

And ask if they have changed anything.

abrogard's picture
abrogard

Hi guys,


and thanks for the comments.


I use LOWAN dried yeast and it comes in a 250g cylindrical cardboard container and I keep it in the fridge.


I've tested the yeast with a sugar/water mix and it worked fine.


I will try the poolish, thanks for the tip.


My quantities are pretty exact. I make one loaf every day, usually, with 2.5 cups of flour and I use a measuring cup for the cups and even use a measuring cup for the half cup instead of eyeballing it.


Then I use a measuring spoon for the yeast - 1.5 spoons and even there I use the appropriate spoon for each, no eyeballing.


I've had four of these failures on the trot now. I haven't forgotten the yeast in all of them, if in any, which I doubt, but, yes, it is a thought, given what a dill I am.


I'm only using 400gm of flour a day. A 25kg bag will last us better than two months.


The water thing is a clue perhaps. I could check that - but it is not very likely given I used the same water temperature, which I admit I judge by feel - when I made the cup of test mix, sugar, water and yeast, and it worked okay.


Salt I usually use none at all. When I do it is a pinch - too little to even use my measuring spoons for.  I add it in the mixing of the dry ingredients, at the same time as adding the yeast to the flour I drop in the salt.  That's all there is to this bread - flour, water, yeast and, maybe, that pinch of salt.


And it is plain white baking flour.


Ambient temperatures have been around 40 often recently. Previously cooler usually but I baked successfully all through a record setting 5 straight days of higher than 40 that we had recently.


I keep the dough covered.  It is in a round plastic bowl and I overturn a little kind of meshwork flat plastic bowl over that with a plastic bag over it. Sounds complicated. It's not. The 'flat' plastic bowl simply prevents the plastic bag falling down into the dough bowl and touching the dough. And the plastic bag, of course, excludes any more air.


I use the water straight from the tap without heating. In fact I use it from the hot tap.


I doubt I add too much flour. I should have mentioned that, too, I measure exactly the same amount of water (1 cup) each time.


So I didn't find an answer yet. I'll try the poolish.


By the way - to get funny characters in your text you can use the ALT key + Number method.


ALT + 0233 (with Numlock on) should give you this:  é


This URL will explain:


http://www.starr.net/is/type/kbh.html#alt


 


ab :)


 


p.s.   Yes, in God's country alright. Near Adelaide. It's brutal what these bushfires are doing, we just haven't got our act together well enough, we shouldn't be losing lives like this....


 p.p.s.  I made a small poolish.  I made it like a paste, no thicker than syrup, say, and I got activity well within an hour. But: how much activity am I looking for?  Should it rise up like bread? Point is: how will I know if the yeast is dead after an initial activity which is what seems to happen to the bread?


 

flournwater's picture
flournwater

"I use the water straight from the tap without heating. In fact I use it from the hot tap."


How "hot" is it when it leaves the hot tap?  Could it be hot enough to kill your yeast?


If you're using the touchy/feely method for determining water temperature you're unlikely to get a clear picture of the true temperature of your liquid.  You may have gotten lucky with that method when you ran your test and unlucky in the subsequent touch test you used when you prepared the dough.

Patf's picture
Patf

As yozzause says, try a new bag of flour. Sometimes the last flour in a sack becomes damp and starts to ferment on its own, then "dies".

clazar123's picture
clazar123

It's perfectly fine to test the water temp by feeling it. If it's too hot for you,it's too hot for the yeast.


There have been a few puzzling threads along these lines in the past year. Several times it turned out to be that the water was processed using reverse osmosis.For some reason, it just makes breadmaking impossible.Has the water been treated differently recently? Can you try using bottled spring water (real spring water-not treated by reverse osmosis!) for 1 recipe and see what happens?


Flour can be a problem if it sustained a temp over 125F-it degrades something and the dough just becomes wet and floppy without rise.This usually happens during the milling process-I don't know if it can happen in a hot environment.

abrogard's picture
abrogard

 


I'll try some other water, that's a good idea.


My temp must be okay, going by what's been said. I use touch which isn't very accurate but I'm well within the range suggested - I adjust the water until I can't feel it - i.e. it is at blood heat or thereabouts.  It has always worked fine. The last couple of loaves I let it be definitely cooler just because of the temp worry.


I think there's a good chance it is a water thing. Our water comes from the River Murray and it is apparently rapidly turning into a stinking cesspool - which they can't allow of course, especially as it gets piped to Adelaide for them to drink - so they may make all kinds of different treatment ploys at any given time I guess.


 I just had a thought - why the query about microwaving? Does microwaving do something, good or bad, to water for baking?

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Hi AB
So with temps of 40 as you have been having in Adelaide you might need to be looking at chilled water rather than tap water. For the benefit of TFL members we are taking centigrade here.(THAT IS HOT)
With those extreme temperatures your ambient and flour temps are all going to be up there.
So first get yourself a thermometer they are not that dear a digital probe will pay for itself in no time (i will send you a web page with baking thermometers on your messages )
Take notes on baking days take the temp of baking room
take the temp of the flour,There is a scale to work out the temp requirement of the water the one thing you readily change to end up with the ideal finished dough temperature.
Again take the temp of the finished dough.
You should try to not use water from the hot tap anyway because your heater has sacrificial anodes in it for protecting the metal from rusting which relies on the anode being eaten away and dissolving into the water also the water is usually at a temperature that is ideal for nasties to breed and anyway at 40 degrees id be wanting a cold shower.
Now the water, Murray river water at this time of the year does not look pretty and im sure that most of it has been treated but the thing is it could be overtreated.
The supermarkets have those 10 litre carry packs with an incorporated hadle of spring water try one of those, although im sure it will be temperatures that are the cause of our problem here.
p.s We had our own catastrophic fire weather warning and at 45 degrees lost 40 houses to fire at Toodyay but fortunately no lives were lost.
On the weather last night it reached 49 degreees at Onslow in the Nort West of Western Australia.
Regards Yozza

maurdel's picture
maurdel

Wow, sorry you all are suffering so.


Why do you get a fire warning?  Is it very dry? Does shrubbery burn easily?


How do the fires start?

yozzause's picture
yozzause

but the thing is it could be overtreated . try using some of the supermarket carry home packs of spring water, it has to be better than what is coming from the Murray (SAVE THE MURRAY)
I am sure it is the temperatures that are the problem!
We have just had our first catostrophic weather warning and unfortunately had a fire in 45 degree heat that destroyed 37 houses at Toodyay but no loss of life.
On the news last night it was 49 degrees at Onslow .
sent you a message with a link to the type of thermometer i am talking about.
do keep us informed regards Yozza.

abrogard's picture
abrogard

I hope we have found the problem but I'm doubtful. It is a lot cooler today, down the low 30's and I've tried again after a few days of giving it a miss. The dough isn't doing much good.


My wife, who makes dough for steamed bread, Chinese style, is also trying a dough to see what success she has.


Because she seems to think she'll have no  problem.  And I'll agree there's a difference between us right there in the handling. I have had cement dust and antibiotic ointments on my hands in the last month, that she hasn't.  Of course I wash my hands carefully and thoroughly - but  I don't do a clinical scrub and I'd believe it if someone said residues could persist that could influence dough.


I should try wearing thin gloves.


And my wife also makes a dough with some self raising flour in it as well as the yeast. She's also mixed up a batch of that.


So we've got three mixes on the go  today.


And mine is not looking good, as I said.


And I made mine with water that has been in the fridge for a couple of days and I microwaved it to warm it up. Thinking that way the chlorine would be gone and any bugs would be zapped.


But: the dough wasn't looking good last time I looked.


 


Maurdel, I'm not and never have been involved, fortunately, in the bushfire thing so I've only got a general knowledge, but that general knowledge is rapidly growing in Aus. because the bushfire thing is getting worse, not better, and is expected to get worse again because of climate change supposedly caused by global warming.


Our whole country is going up in flames.


They give fire warnings because the bushfires move so quickly and change direction so quickly that people can be caught without time to move unless they are warned in advance.


And why would they want to move instead of fighting the fire when it comes? Because they apparently come behind a wind fanned wall of heat and smoke and embers that blinds you and stifles and chokes you while the embers lodge in the eaves and gutters and rubbish piles and anywhere they can, and start numerous little fires that burn your whole house down.


A wall of heat and smoke and embers that might even choke you to death or crisp you and your children up as you stand there.


Walls of smoke and heat that stop your car on the road, blinded, and then cook your whole family inside like meat in an oven.


 


All this, we've all been made aware, has happened many times over in just the last year, here in Aus.


And we still don't know  how to protect ourselves and our property.


As a representative 'Joe Blow' I can tell you that if I went to an outer suburb or a country town or a farm house for a rented holiday I wouldn't know how to judge the fire safety of that building and wouldn't know how to assess my chances of protecting it against fire and, worse, I wouldn't have any idea of how to judge the safety of my family, there in my care, in the face of the different kinds of fire threats that could come roaring out of the bush.


Hard to believe? Listen, we've all seen aerial t.v. images of houses that were apparently surrounded by acres of grass or pasture land, or wheatfield maybe, something like that - something that to me would appear to offer a natural firebreak, a barrier that would reduce any fire to a pitiful line of flames creeping through the grass, able to be beaten out with a leafy branch from a bush.


But those houses were burned, gutted, blackened, smoking, twisted tin ruins.


 


Does shrubbery burn easily? Mate,  your shrubbery apparently just explodes into a ball of flame from the approaching heat, before you ever see a flame near it..


 


Excuse my dramatics. But it is a drama here. It is killing people.


Off the subject. Sorry moderator.


 


regards,


 


ab :)


 


p.s.  Update on the bread:


 


 My wife's two batches of dough have both apparently risen quite well enough on the first rise.


That's her batch of standard dough and her batch that uses an additional measure of SRF.


My batch I knocked down and put in the bread tin nearly two hours ago and it still hasn't gotten up to where it should be.


 So it looks like ME! It looks like maybe I'm the problem.


 My wife says it is because I am so full of evil.


 


 I've mentioned the cement I've been handling, and the ointment, but there's also simply soap. I use a different soap to the one my wife uses. Because of cement dust and such. And it is one I bought recently. A new one that I've not used before. It'd be easy for me to believe there's soap residue on my hands because, in fact, that's often a desired effect of soap isn't it? To impart a pleasant smell to the hands or such? It is a demonstrable thing soap does.


 


So it is all not proven until the loaves have been cooked. Mine in the oven, my wife's by steaming.  If hers turn out okay and mine is a disaster as usual I'll report that fact and we'll repeat the experiment or I'll make another batch with plastic gloves on my hands and we'll see....


 


:)


 


 


 

maurdel's picture
maurdel

Probably yes, the soap, but...


Also realize that clothing and hair carry plenty of residue. I would imagine cement dust would be all over hair & clothing, and most folks don't think about such stuff on their bodies getting into their dough. As you say you are producing bricks so perhaps cement dust IS the true culprit.


Your vivid descriptions of the fire sound at first like the fires we frequently have here in California, but then again they sound very different. In California they are able to evacuate areas well ahead of the moving fires.


Here's hoping the new year brings an end to those fires and offers at least that peace of mind.

yozzause's picture
yozzause

A true comparison can only be if the wife is using the same flour, if she is using a different flour there may be your answer.


try olive oil for cleaning and softening your hands if you are working with cement your hands will love you for it and im sure the wife will be pleased also!


My hands look as they havent seen a hard days work not a callous to be seen and im sure its my 10 years in the bakery handling dough and oiling trays and bread pans etc.


I still think a fresh batch of flour might be the go just buy a kg pack till we get you back on track.


AND AIM FOR A FINISHED DOUGH TEMP OF NO MORE THAN 28 DEGREES.


ps We have just had the water bombing aircraft put out a small fire that strted on the darlig range here at Serpentine 3 helicopters and a fixed wing plane they certainly did a great job!


regards Yozza 

abrogard's picture
abrogard

Well, back to the drawing board.


My wife's effort was no better than mine.


Well, her dough that incorporated some Self Raising Flour worked out okay, but her basic dough produced an article no better than mine.


And we matched like with like. Because my dough was so unrisen in the pan I declined to cook it so my wife used it for her Chinese steamed things, making a batch with mine to compare with her two batches.


As I said, two bad batches, one good batch: the SRF added batch.


SO: the next step must be as Yozza says, try new flour. And if that works we're off and running, nearly. Nearly. Because then I'll be able to start baking bread again but I won't be able to buy 25kg sacks of flour until I know why it goes 'off' and becomes unusable for dough.


The answer to that will, perhaps, be not easy to find. If this thread is any indication. Because it hasn't been besieged by numerous postings saying 'the flour', 'the flour' and describing ways the flour can be buggered up without appearing to be so....


I'll mix up a batch with new flour....


By the way..  thanks all for your help and interest.


 


Not enough 'other' flour in the house to mix up a batch. Have to wait maybe until Monday now, given the Xmas effect on this weekend's trading.


see you then.


ab

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Try adding some baking powder to your presumably dead flour and see what happens.  Also with your high temperature you should be adding salt to control enzymes in the dough.  You could be dealing with too much enzyme activity.  Baking powder also contains salts and this may also be helping.  Try more than a pinch in your recipe, 1.5% at least.


There was a Poolish question that wasn't answered.  A poolish is rather loose and runny, and activity would be defined as bubbly or foam on the top of the mixture.  It doesn't rise much because it has a loose structure and normally in a wide bowl.  It no longer smells like wet flour and more like bread dough.


I've been following along and have some ideas.  You mentioned as you get near the bottom of the bag, the problem gets worse.  When flour is transported it normally lays on it's side often on a pallet.  The bottoms could have been exposed to something, heat, moisture, hard to say.  Next time you pick up some flour, check it over carefully, guard it well.  Look not only for a new batch number but for a bag where the printing isn't bleached out from the sun and no swelling or water marks in the paper.   When you grab the bottom of the bag, it should have the same feel as the sides.  Transport it in such a way as to protect it from the sun and any heat source (watch out for the floor of car, the muffler and road heat can build up underneath.)  


To test your flour for gluten damage, run a test for gluten.  Make a ball of dough with just flour and water.  Work the dough with your hands for over 10 minutes to thoroughly develop it.  Then let the dough stand in water and rinse out until the starches are gone and you are left with a grey mass.  (Yozza posted these instructions here.)  This is the gluten.  If the ball of dough completely falls apart, then you are dealing with gluten free flour, the gluten being damaged. But all is not lost.  You've identified the problem and can go from there.  So run a test and get back to us!


The next step would be to add gluten or work the dough differently if you wanted to still use it.  You might take advantage of the starches and boil a little of the flour in water to make a thick paste, then let it cool and eventually add yeast and flour to make dough. 


Mini

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Hi again ab another thought  contact your flour producer and see if they would like to run a test on your flour most of them are very helpfull and they may be able to give us their guidelines for the correct temperatures that flour should be kept at and what temperatures are likely to cause failure of their product.


did you recieve my message on thermometers i will confine fires to the message board also  in the next week or so


regards Yozza

abrogard's picture
abrogard

Hi..


yes, I got the message on thermometers but I haven't done anything more about it yet. Thanks for that. I will get one.


And I'll test for gluten today, I hope.


And contact the flour producer, yes that's a good one. They were good enough to email me an extensive answer about wholemeal flour onetime, they might respond to this.


Yes, PM's are the proper place for off-topic stuff. Sorry about that. I'll go back and edit out all that stuff if I can.


Might get a resolution to all this this week. Over-riding thing, to my mind, is the simple fact that, apparently, flour can be 'bad' for making dough, bread, with.


ab  :)


Edited Update: Monday 4th.


Well last night I made a load from a new little packet of nondescript flour we got at a local shop.  It turned out fine.


Well, not exactly fine, I forgot about it and the first rise continued for three hours instead of less than two - so it showed signs of having collapsed.  Then I put it in the bread tin and it rose enough to fill the tin and come up a bit but it had a flat top on it like a collapse instead of a domed top like healthily, strongly rising bread.


No oven spring came to the rescue.


BUT: it was eatable bread. Light and good inside. I've been eating it. Just picking up the loaf you know its alright, you can feel it.


The other stuff felt like an ingot of lead. The other stuff, I think I said it before, felt dead, lifeless, heavy from the first minute I spilled the dough out of the bowl onto the table for kneading. When I put the ball of dough back in the bowl for rising it was like dropping a cannonball in there.


This bread felt like a feather pillow all along the route.


So it seems clear as crystal. After all the possibles the culprit is simply bad flour. I didn't even know there could be such a thing.


Makes me curious about early travellers, like explorers in early Australia and like the fabled Israelites wandering in the desert - how'd they store and care for their flour so that it remained viable for leavening? It hardly seems possible, does it? Perhaps that's why the early Australians are famous for 'damper' - a bread cooked on an open fire (or, rather, in the hot ashes) using baking powder, not yeast.


A cursory look on the web seems to indicate flour should be stored in a cool dark place. Ours is dumped in the kitchen, on an old chair, and remains there close to hand, ready when required - reaching kitchen heat, humidity and light values.  Not good.


Here's a link to a couple of photos of the bread, bad and good, for anyone interested: http://picasaweb.google.com/dchawcroft/2010_01_04?feat=directlink


That's funny, that, I don't know what I'm doing wrong. When I click to paste an URL in there I get a window opens up asking me to paste into it! Which I ignore and close down - and still get my URL pasted in here as you can see.


Thanks everyone for the interest and suggestions and information I've gleaned.


Question solved:  You can't make leavened bread with bad flour. So look after your flour.


 


:)


 


 

abrogard's picture
abrogard

It is not fixed. I was premature. I thought the flat loaf yesterday was because it had over-risen and fallen.


Today I went to do it properly.


The dough (from the new little packet of flour) would not rise sufficiently.


On the second rise, in the pan, it came nowhere near double, only 1.5 times, I'd say. Flat on top, like yesterday.


It has sort of oozed out to the corners of the rectangular pan and risen above the top about  half an inch in the centre - and it did all that in about the first .75hrs since set to rise.


Since then I've given it another 1.5hrs and it simply hasn't moved.


I'm doing that gluten test on the original bag now.


This is amazing and infuriating. Remember the same thing happens to my wife.


Remember, the dough rises. But stops.


Ambient temp today is about 28C according to my beer brewing thermometer.


There's a thing: I don't suppose there's any chance of yeasts in the air from the beer that get into the dough and bugger it up? Do such things happen?


I'll report on what this loaf is like. If it is eatable and not a solid brick well that will be something at least.


 By the way, here's a pic of a little loaf such as I used to make with such ease - not as good as many loaves one sees in connection with 'the fresh loaf', but perfectly acceptable, I think?


http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/8FF5oyhJO25iwRtZBcdqkw?authkey=Gv1sRgCLvwmcuHmsmy6gE&feat=directlink


 


 Further update:  I just did the gluten test and I get a figure of around 22%.  I had 7oz of flour and water and I finished with 1.6oz of gluten.  Can't be more accurate than that, given the kitchen scales I've got.


 So that's okay, I think?


 

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Well AB the picture of  the bread you used to be able to produce looked great, and i can understand your frustration now that you seem to have lost the ability to recreate it.


Beer yeasts in the air will not be a problem as they can be around anyway along with countless other organisms.


So with the latest bake was the dough noticibly cooler than before? perhaps you could give us the dough formula too.


The gluten test seemed to be a high amount, did it  form a very elastic brown/grey ball,was it able to be stretched a bit like elastic?


regards yozza 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Before I suggest using something other than water for the liquid in the bread (like milk,)  cut your yeast down.  Use less... a lot less.  Try one flat teaspoon.  Flour 400g is not a lot of flour and maybe one package and the high heat is just too much yeast and the beasts are going thru the flour too fast and then psssft, they stop, yeast "burn out."    It may take a little longer to double... now I'm beginning to wonder if it didn't do more than double.  


Can you put the dough into a rather narrow plastic that you can see thru?  Mark with tape and a marker pen and then mark where it should be when there would be two lumps of dough in there.  When the dough reaches the mark, knock it down and reshape the dough tightly for the bread tin.  Look at the level and judge what it would look like if that dough had been double the amount of flour and water.  It should not be allowed to rise higher than that when you put it into a hot oven, lower if put into a cold oven.


Mini

ddarathorn's picture
ddarathorn

I can't understand the problems people have reported using RO water in bread baking. We have an RO system and I use the water all the time with no problems for very diverse products...from pain au levain to croissants to biga-raised breads. Possibly a baker's "urban myth" ?


Diane

abrogard's picture
abrogard

Yes, a grey ball of stringy, stretchy stuff. I've still got it in the fridge now. The result may be a high amount because of the inaccuracy of my kitchen scales, which are a woolworths special.


 But the experiment proved that there's viable gluten in the flour - or the flour is capable of making viable gluten.


Actually that flour was kneaded for ten minutes, as instructed.


When I bake my flour is virtually not kneaded at all.  It gets about a dozen kneadings from the heel of my hand and that is it, finish.


Note all my bread has been made like this and there was never any problem.


 


I don't think the dough was noticeably cooler this time but I'd say it should have been just because the ambient temp was noticeably cooler - down from 40C to 30C.


The dough formula is 2.5 cups flour (bread quality plain white), 1.5 teaspoons dried LOWAN yeast. 1 cup water.  Pinch of salt.


 


I can do something about rising in clear plastic and judging and measuring the actual rise.  I'll look at that.


 


I can cut down the yeast.  It is not a packet I'm using. It is in a 280gm container (like a cardboard tube) and it has instructions to use at the rate of 2 level teaspoons for 500gm of dough.  When this began to happen the first thing I suspected was the yeast - because that container was nearly finished. So I started a fresh new container of yeast.


And I have done a yeast viability test (made a sort of poolish) which the yeast seemed to pass okay.


So at 1.5 teaspoons I've actually already cut it down a tad.


 


When considering changing my quantities note that I've never changed them since I took up baking and I've always had success with them until now.


 


  Thanks for the post about the treated water. That helps set my mind at rest.  I was thinking it is hardly possibly they could have done something to the water that upsets baking without the whole town hearing about it - because we have numerous bakeries here and wouldn't there just be a furore if their morning bakings failed!

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Hi AB you can use that gluten as an addition to your next  dough. As you say there would be a furore if the water was that much of a problem for the general populace and bakeries in particular if it was causing bread failures.


You will probably find that in line water filters are employed in major bakeries as they are here at the training restaurant here at TAFE.


Understanding or recognizing full proof is quite important, doubling in size is an indication of full proof but can be a bit misleading with different qualities of flour or the richness or leaness making quite a difference on how much the dough will expand.Taking a dough at the peak of fermentation is going to give the best results by far. green (too early) rotten(overproof) will give poorer results.


TESTING by thrusting your finger into the dough mass and observing as to whether it bounces back holds the finger shape or deflates will give the indication of the ripeness of the dough fermentation. 


The ammount of yeast as mini mentions will speed or slow the fermentation down. The amount of salt in the dough will have quite a dramatic effect on the fermentaion process too. a pinch seems to be a bit light on, the accepted amount is 2% compared to the flour content. From when i used to measure in cups and spoons i think i used to use 1 teaspoon salt for 2 cups of flour and 1 teaspoon of instant yeast.  But now i use the electric scales and have a precise measure each time.  


regards yozza  

abrogard's picture
abrogard

 


 


Well we are beginning to get somewhere now.


It looks to me like the answers are in the suggestions I've been given:


.  Use salt


. Don't use so much yeast.


 


Because I created a satisfactory loaf yesterday.  You can see it on Picasa here:


http://picasaweb.google.com/dchawcroft/2010_01_07?feat=directlink


And I did it by using less yeast. I used only 1 teaspoon instead of 1.5


BUT: there's still questions to be answered because it took 6 hours (SIX) of rising to get there.


 


I did not use any salt at all.


 


Meanwhile, my wife took my recipe and added some baking powder and she produced - in about the standard three hours - two fine loaves, one of which you can see in the pic there. The other was about the same size but it got eaten before I could photo it.


 


So it begins to look to me like I need to understand the effects of temperature of the dough and how to adjust yeast amounts


and how salt effects a dough and how to adjust salt amounts.


So I need to get a good thermometer.


 


And all my earlier success just throwing it all together was plain lucky - I just happened to strike the right time of the year with the right temp or something and baking just ain't so simple.


 


TESTING dough:  'bounces back' means still rising?  'holds shape' means finished? 'deflates' means gone too far?


Gluten. Still got it in the fridge, under water. Could I use it to see the effect or too old now? If I use it then how? put it in my dough will it mix up okay? Looks unlikely but I suppose.  How much to use?


 


regards to all for their help.


ab :)


 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Here is a link to some good information about salt in bread.


http://joannasfood.blogspot.com/2008/10/salt-in-bread-dough_22.html


Yeast and temperature is important.  As temperature approaches 38°c or the ideal growing temp., then it becomes more important to slow down fermentation so that the yeasts don't use up all the available food and give a massive but short lived gas producing phase.  There are ways, reduce the amount of yeast or cool down the dough or add some salt.


Unsalted loaves do not rise as high or obtain the same color as salted loaves.


Mini

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Hi ab here are a couple of pics showing a recent dough at various stages the one with my hand indentaation is showing the dough at its peak holding the shape of the hand but not collapsing down 

abrogard's picture
abrogard

Thank you very much, yozza and mini - valuable information from each of you.


I read the linked page about salt and found it very interesting. Two tablespoons for 1.2kg flour! Good god! I reckon that'd be a teaspoon and a half for the 400mg loaves I'm making. And I was using about 0.5 teaspoons.


So I've cranked it up to 1 teaspoon and had the success I mentioned.


 


But now I see your pics and it looks like wholemeal flour, too?  Your rise is more than I've ever got. It looks just incredible. Surely that's not just double the size?  It looks like triple!


I think it must all be about temperature.  I'll get a good kitchen thermometer. I'll go for less salt eventually because I don't like intaking too much salt, I'm irascible enough as it is, but first I'll get the hang of creating some good loaves.


Then I want to get into some dough that I leave all night and then cook into a loaf within a couple of hours in the morning, somehow.


 


:)


 


 

yozzause's picture
yozzause

HI AB  you are probably right the dough featured sure has risen well, i do believe it was a dough using an overnight  soak of the wholemeal flour in some of your cooper's dark ale, all the liquid ingrediants were incorporated with the whole meal which was half the flour and just a pinch of yeast. next day rest of ingrediants were added and mixed. probably an important picture showing to take the dough at its peak rather than just judging ITS READYNESS on its size.l 


REGARDS YOZZA

abrogard's picture
abrogard

 


 You must be the main man, Yozza...   Cooper's dark ale....  what other arcane mysteries are you master of...?


 Do you have a recipe/methodology that would enable me to bake a loaf within a couple of hours of getting up in the morning?  Maybe with a dough that has been sitting there all night or something?


I tried a recipe that had the dough sit in the fridge but it took a full four hours to get it ready for baking the following morning.


 


Back to my loaves.  I'm still not enjoying my previous success.  My recipe now is 2.5 cups flour, 1 teaspoon yeast, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 cup water.  I mix with a wooden spoon in the bowl until all water absorbed and then out on the bench and work with the hands. Minimal kneading.


Rise for a couple of hours. Into the baking dish.  Rise for an hour. Bake.


The temperature for all of this would be wobbling all over and the only current clue I've got is to get a good thermometer and go for strict temperature control.


At what temp should the dough be?


If you've got any further advice or suggestions I'd like to hear 'em.


 


regards,


ab

yozzause's picture
yozzause

hI ab


so lets make one of my favourites 50% wholemeal 50% white flour


wholemeal flour


coopers stout (enough for whole dough, allow 50% total flour weight initially) the remainder can be added at the mixing stage could be 10% or more depending how wet you can handle it. 


a pinch of yeast


just bring together by hand leave in a covered bucket overnight.


have a check during the night if you have to visit the little house to see how it is progressing.


in the morning add the remainder of ingedients 


salt 2%


yeast 2%


molases ( optional great for colour and a bit of flavour)


50% white flour


remaining water as mentioned (measure off 1 litre  add a little at a time at the end measure how much you didnt use and you will know what went in) 


mix and set aside to rise this will take about an hour mark the sides of your proving receptical so you can see when it has doubled and test as shown b4


take the dough shape to required shape and place in a plastic  bag allow to prove for alittle less time than the initial  fermentation process place in the oven and bake GREAT BREAD IN A FEW HOURS. ENJOY!!


RECAPPING WHOLEMEAL 50% (SAY 500g )


STOUT 50% (500ml)


PINCH OF YEAST


NEXT MORNING


WHITE FLOUR 50% (500g)


SALT 2% (20g)


molasis black strap 10% (100g)


YEAST 2% (20g)


total dough weight will be 1820g + for molasses and water (almost 2kg)


go to it my man out of  


OUT OF THE ASHES RISE THE PHOENIX


REGARDS YOZZA


PS IT IS ALL RIGHT TO DRINK EQUAL AMOUNT OF STOUT DURING THE MAKING OF THIS BREAD

abrogard's picture
abrogard

Hi..


 


 sorry to be so quiet for so long. Please don't think I'm ignoring or undervaluing your excellent post.


What I'm doing is  awaiting the opportunity to follow your recipe and make your bread.


When I've got it together and am doing it or have done it I'll come back and post an update.


Thanks very much for the post.


regards,


 


ab  :)

yozzause's picture
yozzause

no worries ab


i look forward to it, easy to check by looking in my recent posts and it shows any new additions or you can message me and let me know especially if its not on the original posting and is a new thread


regards yozza