The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Mustang 51's picture
Mustang 51

What's wrong with this picture?

O.K. everyone, here's my dilemma...

I have been baking bread for several years. All this time I have been unhappy with the results. Today I made the Kaiser rolls from BBA. They looked just like they should (more or less.) The taste is just a bit off like all the rest of the bread I have made. It is not necessarily bad, just not what I am looking for. I live in the Milwaukee area and we have a lot of places to go for what I consider to be tasty bread. Even the local Pick N Save stores do a respectable job with their fresh bread products. This got me thinking today. Could the cause be the yeast? In the past I have used the common brand found in the supermarket. For some time now, I have been using the Fleischmann's yeast from Sam's club. Have any of you had any experience with changing brands and affecting the flavor of your breads? Could it be the freshness of the yeast? Would that even make a difference? Does anyone have any other suggestions? I am kind of grasping at straws here.



ggage's picture

Obviously I don't know what you are looking for ,but as far as yeast is concerned it does make some difference ,yes. I used to use fresh yeast cake but my local bakeries started to act like they were doing me a special favour to sell it to me , an attitude problem that really pissed me off ,so about ten years ago I switched to Fleishman's (sp ? ) active dry yeast in a vacumn packed brick ,one kilo or one pound ,I don't remember which. the difference in taste was slight .

I divided the cake yeast into ice-cube trays and froze it in a bag ,always with good results, the dry yeast I store in a quart mason jar in the freezer ,always works fine.

I do know that if you get the salt content too low the taste evaporates, could this be what is going on? or are you looking for a sour note from your bread ?

 I know I have been looking for a taste in bread that I had as kid from a place that made their own style of breads  as well as sold their own honey on and of the comb.,( they are long gone ) the closest i ever got in 40 years is white bread with poolish or biga starter cooked in a Kamado ceramic bbq over charcoal .

 But all that said home milled hard wheat bread is what I make for everyday eating and ciabatta for occasional use. I find the real whole wheat treats you guts nicely, I get heartburn from factory white bread and so does my uncle ,what is up with that ? I don't get it from anything else!

If I forget the salt in my bread it tastes flat and stale. but maybe you need to look at the flour type or quality

 good luck and never give in      ----Gage

LindyD's picture

I looked at PR's Kaiser roll recipe, which includes diastatic malt and a pate fermetee, and it sounds like it would make tasty rolls.  

You mentioned the yeast you are using.  How about the flour?  That's the primary ingredient and the quality of the wheat impacts the bread.  Are you using a major and reputable brand of unbleached, unbromated flour within the expiration date on the bag?  And storing it properly?

The only other thing I can think of is that PR instructs to use bread flour for these rolls.  I think you would be better off using a good AP flour.

Why not try different brands of unbleached, unbromated AP flour and see if a particular brand pleases you more?

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

SAF active dry yeast should be available in a Costco in your area. It's about $3.69/ 2# in the KC, MO area. You can store a small amount in a container in your refrigerator and freeze the rest.

If you haven't already done so, try using Dakota Maid flour for your breads. Both the AP and bread flour are very good and reasonably priced.

Chuck's picture

Can you describe your issue any further? Probably knowing a little more would narrow down the suggestions considerably. Is it something like:

  • annoying "off"/"extra" flavor
  • too bland - i.e. insufficient flavor
  • tastes "rancid"
  • tastes like old gym shoes smell
  • tastes like a plastic bag
  •  "mouthfeel" rather than "taste"
  • texture too dense or too fluffy
  • crust hard to chew
  • tastes like the baking stone
  • tastes like metal
  • tastes strongly of burnt cornmeal

Although it could be yeast, that's by no means the first place I'd look. I'd first check the kind of flour, my storage techniques, and flavor ingredients like honey. Perhaps you can identify the problem ingredient simply by "sniffing" everything you put into your bread. Or perhaps a few experiments replacing only a couple ingredients at a time will identify the problem.

Check any specialty ingredients you use routinely, such as that organic spelt from aunt Jane or the jar of sunflower seeds in the windowsill.

Also check weird things, such as a wooden cutting board that has an unwanted culture growing inside it that soaks up through the bread, or a bread box that's more "alive" than you expected.

flournwater's picture

I've used the CostCo ADY as well as Fleischmann's Rapid Rise, Fleischmann's ADY, and Red Star yeasts and haven't found enough difference in any of them to deserve critical comment.  The CostCo ADY is the best value, even if I don't use all of it before it expires.  All of these yeasts work well and I haven't found any difference in taste  -  but then I don't want to taste yeast in my bread so I use only the smallest amount necessary.

The greatest influence on simple bread is, IMO, the salt.  My typical salt in a bread formula is 2%; by weight of course.  That seems to be the best compromise.  I also make it a point to blend the salt into the flour with a whisk prior to adding the water.  My yeast is mixed in the water.  This procedure makes for a more even distribution during mixing and kneading.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

As crazy as this may sound...  maybe you can't stand the taste of yeast.

I've noticed that when many people have particular food cravings or aberrations, it has a basic underlying reason for being there.  Is it possible you shouldn't be eating yeast?  Maybe a yeast allergy

Your body could be telling you not to eat it.

Mustang 51's picture
Mustang 51

Thanks for your input everyone. You all raise some interesting points. I'm not really sure how to describe my target. I guess the best word I can think of is "nutty". Most of the flavor comes from the crust. I think my breads have been a bit on the bland side. Don't get me wrong. They are not specifically bad, just not good enough. It is a bit like having a choice between brands. The fresh breads I find in bakeries just taste better to me. I typically buy Italian bread or fresh hard rolls.

My ingredients are all reasonably fresh,except for the yeast. I am guessing that as long as the bread rises the yeast is still O.K. I am surprised that it is still active as I have had it for over 1 year. Unfortunately I don't have a walk-in refrigerator, so I can't refrigerate my flour, but it is otherwise well cared for. I generally buy relatively small amounts so I don't have to keep it around for very long. I have tried a few brands, including KAF but the results always seem to be similar. Presently I am using GM Better fro Bread. Maybe I should add a bit more salt to see how it affects things.

There should be no flavor transfer because I am working on a formica countertop and using a plastic scraper.

Mini - I Find your comment on the yeast allergy to be an interesting point. From the many things I have read and heard, I suspect most of us could stand to reduce the amount of commercial yeast we eat. In my perfect world, I would have time to cultivate and use a sourdough. It certainly seems to be a better way to go. I can see why so many "loafers" are into it. Perhaps sometime after retirement I will be able to do so. Barring major lottery winings that is a way off for me.

Thanks again for your input,


yozzause's picture

Hi Mustang51

Interestingly you say the best word you use "Nutty" is the same word described in my text books regarding the attributes of salt. "Imparts a true nutty flavour".

 Accentuates the flavour of other ingredients

Aids in the preventing the formation and growth of undesirable bacteria in yeasted doughs.

It also helps in the control of fermentation and toughens and strenghtens gluten strands

A small amount @ 2% does a whole lot of things to your dough just try a dough  where it has been omitted and compare the end result! A great excercise for young bakers! You can taste if it has been left out too quite early on in a mix.

regards Yozza

EvaB's picture

be your bread that is off, but the actual bread you buy probably has more enhancers than you think, all of those differnt things in the bread give a different taste to it, I know I have bought the same named bread from two different stores, and had two different flavours and when comparing the list of ingredients (in Canada they have to be listed on the package) they have differences in them.

Salt can be the one thing that does change the flavour of things, and while I have never forgotten to put it in the bread, know that my mother was most agreived when she did. the bread didn't taste bad, just not like usual!

The other thing is does the bread you like still taste the same, as taste buds change as you age, so if you are remembering taste from a year ago, you taste buds might have changed due to health reasons.

Mustang 51's picture
Mustang 51

Next time around I will try a bit more salt. I try to keep as much salt as I can out of my diet, but increasing the abount in these recipes should not be too big of a deal. The sodium level of a whole loaf of bread has gor to be less than a meal at Mc Donalds. It seems like an easy experiment. My tastes haven't changed that much. I had some really good hard rolls from the store last week. They tasted like they always have to me.  



Chuck's picture

You might want to experiment with different kinds of salt too. Home bakers usually recommend something like "sea salt", partly because it tastes more "mellow". But maybe you actually like the flavor of table salt (or even "iodized" salt:-).

Also be careful of salt measurements. If you measure by weight (ex: grams), everything is the same. But if you measure by volume (ex: teaspoons), salt with bigger crystals won't pack as tightly so you'll get less of it. If for example the recipe calls for something like "shaker salt" but you use something like "pretzel salt" instead, and measure it by volume, you're consistently getting a lot less salt than the recipe intended.