The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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horvathmj's picture
horvathmj

Hello!

Hi Everyone,


 


I'm Michael and I baked my first loaf of bread today.  I have to admit, it was a lot of fun, and so easy.


My only concern was that the loaf didn't have the big irregular bubbles like most of the artisanal bread that I've bought in the past (boules, etc).  Any ideas?  Ingredients I used were unbleached flour, yeast, salt, sugar and water.


 


Can't wait to learn more.


Ciao for now!


Michael

BakerBen's picture
BakerBen

Michael,


Great to have you on the forum and baking bread.  First did your bread taste good?  No one can give you a real answer without seeing the formula you used.  If you can post that and the method (the instructions for making), then I am sure many people will respond with help.  Pictures are also nice of the loaf as a whole and what is termed a "crumb" shot - a picture of the sliced bread showing the interior of the loaf.  Breads are very different based on the ingredients - especially amount of water (liquid) to dry ingredient ratio known as the "dough's hydration" and the type of flour being used.  Once you post the formula we can talk more.


Ben


 

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi Michael,


Welcome to TFL and congratulations on baking your first loaf!


Breads differ and the crumb needs to be right for the type of bread so no need to worry if your first loaf didn't have larger holes.


However if larger holes are what's needed then there are various ways of achieving this, including increasing the hydration (amount of water to flour), and choosing a flour that can support the development of an open crumb.


As Ben says, do let people know what you were baking and how (including information on type (wheat, rye etc.), and even brand of flour if possible and I'm sure you will get some good feedback.


Reading the archives is good too. I think there are some posts on opening up the crumb that should come up in a search.


However if you are enjoying this and the bread tastes great then you already have two of the most important things in place!


Happy continued baking, Daisy_A

horvathmj's picture
horvathmj

Thanks Ben and Daisy!


My photos keep getting stuck in uploading, so I'll have to try to upload them another time.


The bread was delicious and this is how I made it:


1.  proofed yeast with a tsp of salt and sugar in one and a half cups of water.


2.  mixed in 3.5 cups of unbleached flour.


3.  let rise for 1.5 hours


4.  brushed the dough with veggie oil and let it bake for about 40 minutes at 400'F.


The bread is very dense and heavy, but delicious.  Nice color and smell.


 


Thanks again!


Michael

BakerBen's picture
BakerBen

Michael,


What you have provide is not quite specific enough - is there any way to post the exact recipe (formula) for us? Where did you get it from - a book, a person, online, or where? There are questions I have which I am sure seeing the "original" formula would hopefully answer.  For example,


- you don't quantify the amount - or type (dry active, instant, fresh) yeast - you used


- The need to "proofed" yeast normally would infer dry active - you will have to tell us.


- Normally you do not add salt when you are proofing - salt is for flavor and to "retard" the action of yeast.  Proofing is done to "activate", or wakeup, the yeast. 


- You don't mention anything about "kneading" the dough - this is a very important step for both mixing the ingredients and developing the gluten in the dough.  You did knead?  This was not a "no-knead" formula?


- The dough hydration is about 71 percent - which is not high but ok and typical.


- you let the dough rise for 1.5 hours.  This is "bulk" fermentation and is normally done for a time or until the dough "doubles" in size.  Normally, the dough would be degased (punched down) and allowed to rise again.  It would then be degassed and preshaped - allowed to rest 15-20 - and then final shaped and allowed to proof.  All of these steps have a great influence on the final outcome of the final bread with respect to crust color and crumb texture. 


I know this is a lot of information to take in for your first loaf.  Don't let it bog you down.  If you could provide the exact formula, or point us to it online, that would be a big help for us to provide helpful comments.


Ben


 

horvathmj's picture
horvathmj

Hi Ben and Daisy,


How could I have forgotten the most fun part of the process...kneading?  I kneaded the dough for about 8 minutes.


Here's the recipe from Foodnetwork.com.  I did everything by hand instead of the suggested food processor.  Maybe that had something to do with it.  Also, you can see that the rising time suggested is only an hour.  I'm hearing now that maybe it should be longer?


 


Finally, I have my pics on the TFL file! 

 


 

Fresh Baked Boules

2007, Robert Irvine, All rights reserved

Prep Time:
25 min
Inactive Prep Time:
2 hr 20 min
Cook Time:
35 min
Level:
Intermediate
Serves:
2 boules

Ingredients


  • 1 tablespoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 1 (1/4-ounce) packet fresh fast-acting yeast

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water, between 100 and 115 degrees F, as measured with a candy thermometer (any hotter will kill the yeast - an organic leavener; too cool and the yeast won't be activated)

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus some extra for kneading

  • 1/4 cup melted butter


Directions

Dissolve salt, sugar, and yeast in the warm water and allow the yeast to proof. ("Proofing" the yeast is testing it for viability. It will develop a foam which looks like the head of a beer. If it doesn't proof, the yeast is dead and should be discarded.) Proofing takes about 15 minutes. Place flour in a food processor fitted with a dough blade, and through the feed tube with the food processor running, slowly pour the proofed yeast mixture, until the dough comes together and is a cohesive mass. Transfer the dough to a floured board, and knead for about 5 minutes. Place in a bowl, cover with a clean dish towel and allow dough to rise, so that it roughly doubles in volume. (This will take about 30 minutes to 1 hour). The dough has risen enough if you make an indentation with your finger and it does not spring back.) Punch the dough down and allow it to rise again. (Allowing the dough to rise a second time gives it a finer texture.) Note: It will not rise as much the second time.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Divide the dough in half, and transfer half to a floured board and keeping the balance covered with the towel. Shape the dough into a circle by pulling from the side and pushing the dough under and up from the bottom to form a dome, rotating to make it circular. Cover with a piece of oiled plastic wrap and let rest 10 minutes. Repeat for each section of dough. Grease a round cake pan for each loaf and transfer dough to the pans. (This shape will keep the dough from flattening out while it bakes.) Brush with melted butter and bake until the crust is golden brown and crispy. When done, the bread should sound hollow when tapped, approximately 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes in pan. Remove from pan and serve warm or room temperature with butter.

 

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi Michael,


Glad the bread was delicious! Look forward to pictures.


There is a pixel and byte limit on photos so maybe they are too large? Some people downsize them using a picture manager (I use Seashore which is a free download), others use another host like Flick and link to their pictures. Hope it gets sorted.


Re. the bread. It is good to know the process you went through.


One thing is you don't mention whether you do anything to the dough after you first amassed it. The bread needs a good gluten structure to trap gas and develop a more even crumb. Gluten can be developed via mixing/kneading and also develops simply over time. 1.5  hours does not give much time for the bread to develop, particularly if not kneaded.


If you look into recipes on TFL many will leave the bread to develop for much longer - from hours to days (including refrigeration), and will often have a first and then second rise. Some minimal kneading can be used with this way of developing bread. Several bakers use stretch and fold technique, which is shown on this link http://www.sourdoughhome.com/stretchandfold.html


Well, enough for now and hope the continued baking goes well!


Kind regards, Daisy_A


 

BakerBen's picture
BakerBen

Michael,



I have taken your formula and put it into a more standard form - giving not only volume measures but also "weight" measures in grams. The final column is the "baker's %" which is just the ratio of ingredient weight to flour weight given as a percentage - this makes scaling to a larger or smaller batch size a snap. If you don't have scales don't panic - it is a good and necessary tool if you get serious about baking. Bakeries, and most serious home bakers, use a scale so they can be as precise as possible on measuring the ingredients going into the formula - volume measures can vary a great deal based on the ingredient and the measurer (not a good thing).


Basic Bread


Ingredient          Volume         Weight        Baker's %
Salt                      1 Tbsp          18 g           3.46 %


Sugar                   1 Tbsp          13 g            2.50 %


1 packet dry yeast  (1/4 ounce)     7.1 g         1.37 %


Water                   1 ½ cups      340 g           65 %


All-purpose Flour    4 cups          520 g         100 %


Butter, melted       ¼ cup             57 g           11 %


TOTAL 32.35 oz = 2 1# boules    917g



I believe you may have picked a bread formula that is a bit off - too bad for your first bread. Normally, the rule is that the baker's % of SALT should be no more than 2% - this recipe has almost "double" that recommendation. I would recommend reducing both the SALT and SUGAR to a scant 2 teaspoons each - 11 g salt and 9 grams sugar. I would also not put the salt in when you bloom the yeast - just add the sugar to the warm water and let it sit until you see the froth on top - don't stir the yeast when you place it in the water just let it dissolve by itself. Add the salt to your flour and mix with a fork to blend it in - then make a well in the flour and poor the water/yeast in and then your melted butter (should not be any warmer than water). Then mix by hand until it forms a ball - comes together. I hand knead all my bread because I enjoy it - knead for 10-15 minutes - adding as little flour as you can. You will see and feel the dough consistency change over the kneading time.



Now for your holes in the crumb - this bread is probably not going to give you the holes you might be thinking of like a French baguette or ciabatta. This loaf is fairly plain and simple and your baking temperatures (400 F) is right for this bread but not for getting a lot of oven spring (loaf expanding forming big hole) - that type bread would be baked in a hotter oven with an oven stone and some sort of steam. You will get to that type bread, but the one you are baking is a good one to start out on and get comfortable with.



There is a lot of information on this site that I would recommend that you read when you have time. Topics such as the basic steps in baking bread (scaling to cooling), the chemistry of bread ingredients, the techniques for knowing when each stage is complete (especially important is proofing), explanations on shaping and scoring techniques which is crucial to producing a good loaf of bread. You will find that bread baking can be a life long learning experience - there is always something new to understand to help one become a better baker. This forum is a great place to learn because there are so many people at varying stages along this path and you will find that many of them are willing to share their hard won knowledge. Good luck and keep up the baking.


Ben


 


 

horvathmj's picture
horvathmj

Wow!  Ben, thanks so much for your help!  I made a new loaf with your suggestions and it came out like...real bread!  Big holes too as baked it in a 500'F oven this time with a pan of water.


Thanks for going beyond the call of duty.  I'm quickly growing into a bread making fiend.  I'm going on vacation to Maine tomorrow and my cottage mates will be in for some homebaked bread surprise:-)

BakerBen's picture
BakerBen

Michael,


Glad it worked out so well and glad you did not get discouraged too - there is nothing in my opinion so gratifying as making your own bread.  It is like magic - simple ingredients that transform from powder and water to a beautiful creation through the fire - and you did it.  Keep it up and enjoy Maine.


Ben

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi Michael,


Looking at all the really useful information that Ben has drawn out of the initial formula, I would also go for too much salt.


As Ben says, a standard proportion of salt is normally 1.8 - 2% of flour so the original formula is nearly double that. Salt in the initial build is used to hold back yeast as Ben states in an earlier post. In a preferment it can be used to retard the activity of the yeast so that the preferment can last longer and add flavour. This is only done, however, by adding much smaller amounts.


If the original recipe instructed you to put double the total, normal amount of salt in the initial ferment that could have knocked the yeast back so much that 1.5 hours rising time was not enough for it to become strong enough again to promote the fermentation needed to aerate the loaf.


The formula Ben has put together looks much more balanced. You say you have been having fun with this so with you even happier baking with the new formula!


Kind regards, Daisy_A

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi Michael,


Glad to see you already got some more good baking in. Your friends in Maine should be in for a treat! Even from the beginning homemade bread is so much better than store bought. There's no going back now!


Daisy_A

alabubba's picture
alabubba

Michael. At the top of the page there are "Lessons" This is a very good place for all new bakers to start.


That said, My first loaf came out of the pan with a Thud. Can you say doorstop...


It took me a while as it does most of us to get to the point where were getting the big irregular holes you describe. In addition to the formula of the bread there are techniques that you will need to develop. How you handle the dough is as important as what goes into it.


I also think there is too much salt in this recipe, As a general rule I follow, there should be about as much salt as yeast.


Keep on baking, and keep on reading, you WILL get there.


allan