The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Very Disappointed With First Bake...

GRNutrition's picture

Very Disappointed With First Bake...

Hi everyone.


After reading tutorials and talking to people on the forum, i decided today, i would try and make some bread.


Basically, this is the sort of thing i want to be able to bake, this is what i tend to buy from the supermarket, during the week. It is fairly crispy and tastes nice, and looks good. I have uploaded some pictures of what i bought from the supermarket today, so you can all see what i am trying to achieve with my baking.


This bread weighs around 200g, which is exactly the size, weight and shape that i want to achieve with my baking...






Unfortunately, this is how mine came out...





I'm very disappointed with this. They basically feel like a very hard outer shell, and the inside didnt seem that well cooked.


The recipe i used was...

This was to make a 200g loaf...

Flour = 117 grams of flour
Water = 77 grams of water
Salt = 2.34 grams of salt
Yeast = 0.702 grams of yeast.


I would really appreciate any help with this please as i was so excited about making the bread, but then it turned out nothing like i wanted to.





silkenpaw's picture

I'd love to help but you need to give us more info. Go step by step through the process:

Did you proof the yeast? What was the temperature of the water you used to make the dough (hot, lukewarm, cold, icy?)

Did the dough rise as expected the first time? The second time? What's the temperature in your kitchen?

Did the dough feel and look and behave like the recipe described?

Did you get oven spring?

What was the oven temperature? Have you confirmed with a thermometer?

You get the idea. Your recipe looks fine but obviously there is more than just the recipe to turning out a good loaf, so we need to know that before we can help. Can you provide the above and any other details?


ehanner's picture

Hi Gareth,

Your first bread looks better than my initial try. I'll try to help based on what I see.

The formula looks like it should work if you follow some kind of method to develop the dough and let it ferment.

First, at a temperature of around 74F-78F is where the yeasts will do their best work. You can adjust the water temp to arrive at a temp in that range.

Secondly, once you have mixed all ingredients, make sure you cover the dough and let it sit in RT for 30-60 minutes to let the water absorb.

Third, do a gentle kneading for just a few minutes to start developing the gluten. This will make the dough stronger and make the rise more productive later.

Forth, After kneading, cover the dough and after an hour, stretch it out into a square of about 10-12 inches and fold it in a letter fold in both directions. Cover again and wait for the dough to double in volume.

Last, Shape the dough gently into an oval or batard, cover with damp towel or plastic for1 hour or until dough increases by half. It is important that you understand that temperature will affect all of these steps. If it is much below 70F, it will take much longer to rise and proof.

Bake at 450F on a sheet pan dusted with corn meal or some course grain or on a stone if you have one that has been well preheated. The bake should take around 25-35 minutes. I generally leave the bread in the oven until it is golden brown to dark brown.

Try to not use much additional flour when handling the dough. I notice that you had a seam that didn't seal and blew out. There is a good tutorial HERE on scoring by dmsnyder. We are all working on scoring and personally it is my one desire to master.

I think your loaf may have been under baked slightly. The internal temp of French style breads should be 205F or there about.

Hope this helps,


GRNutrition's picture

Thank you for the replies both of you!

The water was lukewarm, not hot, not boiling, not cold, luke warm.

The yeast i used was this...


I used the amount listed in my original post, which was slightly difficult as they come in packets of 8g, i did use scales though.

My kitchen temperature, i dont really know, it isnt warm, but isnt cold.

I put the recipe into a bowl, first the salt, then the flour, then the yeast and finally the water. From then, i took a wooden spoon and mixed the recipe together until it was all joined together.

I felt the dough before leaving it, and it seemed 'sticky', this is probably where my in-experience with bread making comes in, as i dont know if it should feel sticky, or whether it should be more on the 'dry' side of things.

I left the dough in a plastic bowl, covered with cling film and placed on a warm radiator (warm not boiling), for it to rise, for around 60 minutes.

After that time, i took the cling film off, and mixed the dough again with the wooden spoon. This made the dough go back to pretty much it's original size in the first place (i.e. you wouldnt have been able to tell that i had let it proof for 60 minutes).

I then rolled it into more of a ball before flattening it out somewhat and placing it back into the plastic bowl, again covering with cling film, and again placing on the radiator.

I left it for about 20 minutes, and then i took it out of the plastic bowl. I then shaped it into the shape of a baguette, and placed into the pre-warmed oven, at around 200-205 degrees.

The bread did rise, probably by a 1/3 when it was in the oven, but didnt rise much further than that.

Any help or comments would be great.

Thanks for your help.



Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

cover with the same cling film or just a towel and let it rise some more (30 min minimum) before putting it into the oven.  Let it get puffy and when you gently poke it about 1 cm deep there is almost no resistance and the poke hole fills in slowly.  Slash and bake.  Helps to poke it just after you shape it so your fingers will know what resistance feels like.

I'm wondering if your bulk rise is long enough as you are using a very small amount of yeast 0.6%  of the flour weight.  That would double the rise times, so the dough would take longer than one hour to bulk rise, more like two or even three hours.

GRNutrition's picture

Thank you for your reply.


I have seen some recipes that require different types of yeast, should i be using more yeast if it is fast acting yeast, as the sachets are only 8g each, and i hardly used any of the yeast in the packet.

silkenpaw's picture

... regardless of the type of yeast. DOn't worry about the different yeast types for now. The rapid rise is designed for bread machines but it's OK to use in regular bread.

flournwater's picture

IMO, the amount of yeast in this recipe is slightly less than I'd have used (I'd use 1 gram) but that's a fairly minor difference.  The type of yeast you chose should work OK, but if you can get a "Active Dry" yeast to work with while you're learning you might like that better.  You'll need to adjust (using about 1 1/2 times as much ADY when compared to the fast activing variety) and it should be proofed in a small amount of warm (approx. 100 degree) water before introducing to the flour mixture.  "Fast Action" yeast has some additives that you might want to learn about.  Here's a link that might be of interest:

Looks to me like handling and proofing are the issues to be reviewed here but keep this in mind  -  the professionally produced loaves that you included images of don't look that much better than what you produced.  Yours looks to have a nice open crumb and I'll bet it's pretty tender.

Stick with it; don't give up.  One of these days you're going to want to celebrate that perfect loaf.  If you don't stick with it, it will never happen.  This group is behind you all the way.

silkenpaw's picture

I think it's incredibly brave of you to take this up with just written instructions. I watched my mother and grandmother make yeast breads and cakes as a child, so when I started to bake myself, I had a good idea of the steps involved and of how a dough should look and feel. You are learning the harder way but it will soon become second nature as it all begins to make sense. You need to let your brain assimilate it, it may take a day or two.

Now, for your problems.

You didn't let the bread rise after shaping. I think that's your main problem. The bubbles formed by the gluten during the first and second rise are collapsed when you handle the dough to shape the loaf. So you need to let it rise again for a while before you put it in the oven. The way to tell when it's risen enough is by poking your finger about 1/2" into the dough. If the indentation springs right back, the dough isn't ready. If the indentation springs about halfway back, the baguette is ready to be slashed and put in the oven. If the indentation does not spring back at all, the dough is over-proofed and it's best to punch it down and let it rise again.

The other issue is that rising times are always approximate because the yeast activity is dependent on temperature. You should be watching for your dough to approximately double in size with each rise, however long or short it takes. It's normal for it to go back to the original size when you manipulate it (as in stir or form) because you are squeezing out the gas that causes the increased size. The purpose of the first 2 rises is to strengthen the gluten network and develop the flavor. Each rise may be shorter than the one before because there are more yeast cells but I think not the difference between 60 and 20 minutes. So you may not have allowed the dough to double the second time. Or maybe you allowed it to rise too much the 1st time, since you used rapid-action yeast. I don't think either would cause your bread to come out the way it did. I think your problem was not allowing a rise after shaping your loaf.

I hope the 200-205º is in Celsius, because if it's in Fahrenheit, that's not enough to bake bread. A low temperature would explain the underbaking in the middle but I'm not sure about the hard crust. But you would get the hard dry crust from baking an underproofed loaf (which yours was, since you didn't proof it (allow it to rise) at all after shaping).

I think you should try again, this time paying more attention to the volume of the dough and allowing the baguette to rise again after shaping. Slash it just before you put it in the oven. Bake it until it sounds hollow when you knock the bottom or to an internal temperature of 200-210ºF (93-99ºC).

And please let us know what happens. We are here to help.

Chuck's picture

First baking attempts often involve something like creating a shapeless mass of dough then being unable to handle it, dropping dough on the floor, getting bits of dough stuck to your arms up past the elbows, or making a "brick". And French baguettes are one of the very hardest kinds of bread - as I remember it somewhere in Floyd's "ten tips" he mentions coming up with those tips when making baguettes all the time for a year. So take heart, take a deep breath, and prepare to try again.


Now as to some specifics on your first attempt (I wish I could feel as well as see a picture:-): As you've discovered, most bread has pretty much the same ingredients, so the ingredient list part of the recipe by itself isn't much help. The times and temperatures and feels matter a lot more. In this case -based on the additional information you provided- I suspect two different possible uses of the oven, and also two different temperatures, have all gotten jumbled up.

The step between shaping and baking, where the loaf expands a second (or sometimes third) time is called proofing. Unless your kitchen is drafty or cold or you're in an awfully big hurry, it's probably better to just let the loaf sit out (but covered:-) while it proofs.

Sometimes in special cases, people put the loaf in different places for proofing, such as a microwave or an oven that's been heated but then turned off. It's this use of the oven that I suspect might have gotten jumbled up; this is not baking. In fact, unless you really need to do something different, I suggest you simply leave your bread out while proofing and only use your oven for baking.

Typical oven temperatures for baking vary from 350F to 450F or even higher. You want the crumb temperature inside the baked loaf to be about 205F but this is not the oven temperature. To get the inside to 205F, the oven will need to be much much hotter. This is the other thing I suspect might have gotten jumbled up.

It's quite common for the "real" oven temperature to be different than what the dial says. So spending a few dollars for an oven thermometer is often a very good idea. (You need to read it several times though, and figure out the middle, as the way ovens work is by cycling between slightly below and slightly above the desired temperature, and only a single reading of the thermometer can by chance fall at one extreme or the other of this cycle, and so be quite misleading.)

As to the crust, the goal is different for different styles of bread: thin and glossy and "singing", thick and crunchy, decorative, chewy, very deep brown, and so forth. But what it won't be no matter what is "like storebought". The bread you buy in the store is often made with chemical additive "crust softeners", something you probably don't want to do on the "more authentic" bread you bake yourself, not even if you could.

Chuck's picture

Do I understand correctly that the top two pictures are what you bought at the store?

If so, I'm rather surprised, as the uneven shape, mediocre slashing, broken crust, and blowout (unplanned expansion) all look more like a first attempt at home than like something a professional baker would put out for sale without significant embarrassment.

jowilchek's picture

Don't give up, keep trying!! My first loaf was so hard my neighbor wanted more "bricks" to build a BBQ with!!!!

Chuck you are so right, if those top pictures are the store bought baguettes then I would find another store. I am very much a beginner and baguettes are a little tricky to shape but mine look 100% better than these store bought ones. I can't give advice on shaping as I am still learning...but I hope some of you will help with the shaping, so she doesn't try to imitate these loaves.

Good luck

GRNutrition's picture

Thank you everyone for your replies again.


I will have another go with the baking either today or tomorrow.


I will pay close attention to the handling and shaping this time.


I will try and buy a small thermometer this time, and i will take more photos along the way during the making process, so that everyone can see what i am doing at each stage, and i will try to include pictures of the dough, temperature, etc... whilst i am doing it.


This is a fantastic forum, i have to say, the amount of help, advice and support is brilliant. One of the best forums i have ever been on, with lovely, genuine people!


Thanks again.



Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Hi Gareth, Looks great for a first.

To find out about technique, well, Bertinet's videos helped me a lot, they are somewhere on the internet.

And his recipe for baguettes always works for me:

500g Flour, 350g water, 10gfresh yeast (equals 3g dry yeast), 10g salt

I find it easiest to work with about 1000 to 1500g of dough,

with too little dough I can't develop it that evenly, and it dries out faster during proof.

I found the flour quite important: I use Shipton Mill , or the Waitrose brand Leckford Estate.

And remember, bought bread usually has additives, the baguettes you show have probably some active malt in them to convert starch into sugars and create a golden crust.

Good Luck,




ralphc66's picture

I've just made my 3d loaf of bread so I'm certainly not the best critic but you don't mention kneading the bread with your hands, just working it with a spoon. The recipe calls for kneading the bread (and earlier discussion explains about it) both times before puting it back in the bowl and onto the baking sheet for the oven.

The only problem I've had with the 1st and now the 2d recipe is that each loaf is a bit flatter than I'd hoped for -- but they've tasted great. Kneading is fun -- enjoy!

BellesAZ's picture

Gareth, a couple of things.. sometimes we assume that bread needs to rise in a warm place and while the warmth may help speed up the process, it can also be too warm and cause problems.  Let your bread warm in your oven with just the oven light on.. that's all you need.  Make sure you keep your dough covered with a towel or loosely with the cling wrap.. don't wrap it too tight.

Secondly, you did not allow your bread to rise one more time before putting it in the oven.. that's a huge mistake and obviously, what happened. 

Third, your salt may have killed your yeast.. I generally don't add salt in my dough until the very end.  Try using instant yeast or activating an Active Dry yeast.  You'll probably have better luck.  That wasn't alot of yeast in your recipe.. but then again... who knows.

Finally, you tackled a rather difficult first loaf in the baguette.  Of all the breads, they are often the hardest to make - even for the more experienced baker.  Try making some basic breads at first, learn what dough should feel like in your hands, learn to knead properly.  Then tackle the baguette.. even for us veteran bakers.. baguettes can be a real challenge.

Good luck, don't give up.

intelplatoon's picture

to tell you the truth, i think your loaf looks better than the store bought loaf. 

dont know if anyone has mentioned this yet. I  skimmed through most of the thread and didnt see it. :/

did you use steam at all during baking? if not, that could be why the oven spring stopped early. the steam helps keep the outer skin of the loaf wet or "supple" as i like to say, so that it can expand to its full potential before drying out and stopping the rise. it also helps give the look of your loaf a  little shine.