The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bread Making Failure-Tips and advises are welcome

Midnight's picture

Bread Making Failure-Tips and advises are welcome

Good evening.

Today I "tried" to make some bread, I'm a novice. Before saying how I did it I'd like to tell you how it came out: flat, moist inside and doughy, without any leavening/proofing signs.

I wanted it to get nice and big, with a crunchy crust and not moist.

Here's what I did:


500g strong white flour

150g chestnuts flour

1 tsp salt

30g sourdough yeast powder

480 lukewarm water

1 tsp apple cider vinegar


mix flours and yeast

mix water with salt and vinegar

gradually add water to dry ingredients and mix

put the dough into a bowl and cover with plastic film

let stand for two hours

move the dough to a floured surface and shape

cover with a cloth for one hour

preheat fan oven to 200°

put the tray in the middle of it

place a pot of boiling water in the bottom of the oven

slash the dough

sprinkle with some flour and bake for one hour or until nice and crisp(exactly how it didn't come out)!

-The sourdough powder label says to proof three hours and to use about 45g every 1000g of flour.


I'd appreciate some constructive criticism and some advises from the certainly more experienced than me members of this nice website.


Thanks in advance

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

Are you sure that was real yeast? Can you say what brand it is? Or link to a site that has it for sale?

Also, did you knead the dough well?

DownStateBaker's picture

And dont mix the salt and vinegar into the water it will inhibhit your yeast. Also the salt will tighten the gluten and the vinegar will denature the proteins and break the gluten down.

My suggestion, if you wana keep using this recipe, would be mix the flour and most of the water water let it autolyse (let the flour absorb water) for 30 minutes. Save about half a cup of water to proof your yeast if youre unsure of its viability. Slowly mix in yeast and chestnut flour. Let it rest a bit again as it will probably be pretty tight and to get the yeast goin. Then the vinegar. Once you have the vinegar mixed in add the salt.

Lemme know how it goes

Tom Georgalas

milwaukeecooking's picture

It seems that you are making a bread with 74% hydration and you aren't allowing gluten to build up other than your resting time.  What kind of bread are you trying to make?  What shape?  There is a lot to be said for autolyse but you should also have some kneading time that is separate from shaping.  There are great techniques out there for no knead bread, but they are also folding the wet dough on itself which does help build up gluten.  Also, the addition of vinegar made me question the recipe.  If you are using an acid like vinegar it should be the last thing that you add and you should add it after your yeast has been incorporated into your dough mixture.  This also goes for salt.  I am guessing that your recipe wanted to "create" a sourdough flavor without actually creating a sourdough starter. 

From what I know about yeast powder packets, I haven't used them myself, you should create a starter using the yeast already in there.  It shouldn't be used in place of yeast.  The wild yeast in the packet needs time to grow and multiply before use.  If you want a good sourdough you should search around on TFL and find a sourdough starter recipe because this will produce the best flavor. 

Crider's picture

Is only a flavoring. When you bake make sure volumne of your dough doubles during the first fermentation -- no matter how long it takes.

milwaukeecooking's picture

I have seen sourdough starter that is dried from a mother culture somewhere.  The natural foods store by me sells supposed San Fran sourdough starter. 

flournwater's picture

I'd like to take a tour of some of your ingredients and processing steps.

Chestnut "flour" has very similar nutritional values as wheat flour but it contains no gluten.  You should be careful to ensure that the chestnut flour is fresh.  The aroma of fresh chestnut flour is clearly that of chestnuts.  If your chestnut flour doesn't have that distinct aroma you may have stale (unworthy of use) flour.  The chestnut flour will provide flavor to your finished loaf but it isn't very helpful in providing structure to the bread.

I am familiar with yeast powder, but I've never seen or heard of "sourdough" yeast powder.  I'm a bit confused as to whether you followed the instructions for making the bread or the recommendations of the yeast powder container to determine how much of it to use.  The percentage of yeast powder to flour seems slightly anemic to my mind.

Did you measure the temperature of the water of guess at it?  If you guessed at it the possibility that your water was too warm is a consideration.

How much rise did you get from your dough at the end of the initial fermentation period of two hours (or did you use the 3 hours suggested on the powdered yeast label) and how warm was the environment you left it in during that period.  Two hours seems like a long time; did you monitor the dough to determine when it had risen enough or did you rely on the clock  (relying on the clock is not a good idea)  Once again, did you follow the instructions published for making the bread or the suggested rise time printed on the powdered yeast label?

The point that Paul made regarding the possibility of a baking temperature error is perhaps the most important.  If you made that mistake you were doomed to failure from the beginning, regardless of how carefully you prepared the formula and handled the dough.




wayne on FLUKE's picture
wayne on FLUKE

a google search for "sourdough yeast powder" yields nothing but your post.

I think you need to define this b4 anyone can help.



LindyD's picture

Your link is for yeast powder.  That's an everyday item.

The OP claims he used sourdough yeast powder.


clazar123's picture

I agree-there needs to be some clarification of what "sourdough yeast powder" is before ANY advice can be given.

By any chance, did you use a translation program to generate the post from another language to English?


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

was juat a flavoring and you need some yeast in the recipe.  Two teaspoons instant should do it.  Maybe less for a long bulk rise.  I would use only one cup of hot water in the oven pan, maximum two, and remove the water and pan after 15 minutes when you rotate the loaf.  Letting out the steam will give you a crispy crust. 


clazar123's picture

I do concur with MiniOven-the sourdough yeast powder must have been more of a flavorant  or perhaps a starter than an actual yeast.

I have never baked with chestnut flour (I've only seen small quantities at specialty stores-VERY expensive here) but if it behaves as someone said and has no gluten, it should help in making your loaf light and fluffy-as long as you mix the dough/knead it well to develop the gluten. Your directions were a little vague at that point.Mix very well and then let rise til double (about 2 hours).

Shaping a loaf of any shape will affect the outcome-how high it rises,if it will hold its shape.Look up "shaping a loaf" and "gluten cloak"

"Cover and rise 1 hour" is called proofing a loaf. Look up "proofing".There is a best time to start baking-you don't want to under- or over-proof a loaf.It has different results.

I think your proportions look like they may work but I would consider adding a couple tablespoons of oil or butter to enrich or soften the loaf. It will also help with keeping longer after it is baked.

The best way to learn how to bake bread is......bake lots of bread. Over and over.You learn something with each loaf. Keep looking at this site, watch the videos and read the handbook.

And Welcome to this site!! It can be lots of delicious fun!

Aussie Pete's picture
Aussie Pete

If you are interested in sourdough bread or Artisan baking try and keep it as simple as possible. Why not start by trying a Ciabatta Italian loaf  and get the feel for creating and using a bread starter. Plenty of recipies on this site for a 12 hour Ciabatta starter. While mastering this style of bread keep researching your sourdough breads on this site especially the recepie using pineapple juice to help capture and develop the wild yeast required. It is not a an easy bread to get up and going but when you get there "you won't look back". I also occassionly use Apple cider vinegar in my Ciabatta loaf and have found to get a better loaf if it is not added in at the beginning. Let the yeast do it's job first.

Good Luck and keep us all posted on future results.........Aussie Pete.