The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Colleague has "dry, crumbly" bread question

foodslut's picture

Colleague has "dry, crumbly" bread question

I'm hoping someone with experience in using bread machines for kneading/fermenting dough before shaping & baking in oven might be able to help here.

This, from a colleague:  "The last few loaves I've made have been quite crumbly. Any thoughts on how to change that (more/less water, more/less salt, etc.).

  • 1 1/4 c water
  • 2 Tbsp milk powder
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp molasses
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 1/4 c whole wheat flour (although sometimes I use 1 c. white and 2 1/4 wh.wheat)
  • 1 1/4 tsp yeast
  • 2 tsp flax seed

I put it all in the bread maker to mix and knead, then do one more knead myself and shape it, let it rise in the bread pan for 1 hr, then put it in the oven at 385 degrees for 26 minutes. I use to have no problem with this recipe and now it seems to be a bit dry and crumbly."

First off-the-top-of-my-head observations would be: 

  • Has the stove changed heat (hotter = drier loaf)?
  • Since milk powder and butter are already softening things up, would more water help?

Any advice gratefully appreciated.

Lucifer's picture

Add a table spoon or so of plain yoghurt (no additives) and give it more time to ferment. Place in the fridge to slow down the process. Good things take time.

clazar123's picture

I would add more liquid to that amount of whole wheat flour.

My sourdough whole wheat recipe calls fro 1 1/2 c liquid and 1/2 cup starter (which adds to the liquid) with 3 c whole wheat flour.That is about 1 3/4 c liquid total. My recipe uses flax seed, also, which absorbs water,too.

So try adding more water and seeing where it gets you.

Lucifer's picture

The reason I suggested yoghurt and longer stand down time is to let it ferment.

Bread machines do it as if it's a race - the faster the better.

Sure, try adding more water, but you'll notice the bread gets distinct white powedery crumb in a few days anyway.

The yoghurt adds liquid and innoculates the dough with more lactobacteria. You can replace the water with yoghurt completely. It will save you the hassle of mixing it milk powder. A totally different recipe, not true sourdough, but is not any more hassle than what you do now.

Do it in 3 stages:

1. Mix it all up into a dough and and leave for 20 min or so

2. Knead and leave to rise at a room temp

3. Bake when ready

foodslut's picture

Thanks for sharing here - will share with my colleague and let you know what happens.