The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Need help to make my bread fluffy

grhumphries's picture

Need help to make my bread fluffy

Hi everyone,


I've only recently started baking bread, and was given the following instructions/recipe:


4 cups  warm water  +  8 Tbs sugar  + 3 Tbs yeast  <- let rise for ~ 20 - 25 minutes

Mix with:

4 cups white flour + 2 cups wheat flour + 2 tsp salt + 1 cup sugar + 1/2 cup melted butter

Let this "sponge" rise for ~ 30 min

knead in ~ 4 - 5 cups flour (1/2 white, 1/2 wheat)   - knead for ~ 30 minutes

Let rise for ~ 1 hour

take dough out of bowl, knead for ~ 20 - 30 minutes, then cut into two equal pieces, place into pans, and let rise for ~ 1 1/2 hours

Bake at ~ 160 C for 45 minutes


My problems:  1)  When the dough rises, it gets to the top of the pan and just pours out over the sides - it doesn't rise "up"    2)  When it's baked, it's dense and heavy (I want it to be light and fluffy)    3) The bread gets super crumbly after it's cooled  <- I recently made one that was less crumbly, but still not how I want it.


Can anyone help me here? 





flournwater's picture

1.  Stop using the bulk measure for your ingredients.  Get a scale and weigh your ingredients.  With the amount of flour in this recipe you could have some significant errors in the amount of flour you're using without even realizing it.

2.  Dough that rises in a bread pan will not hold its shape above the top of the pan and you can expect it to flow over the top, falling down on all sides.  Appears to me you're using pans that are too small for the amount of dough you're loading them with.

3.  Be sure to turn your loaves out of the pan and cool them on a cooling rack.  Don't allow them to cool in the pan.

4.  I suspect your baking temperature is too low. I would expect the baking temperature to be somewhere closer to 175 C.

PaddyL's picture

I'd make 4 loaves with that amount of dough.  What size pans are you using?

yozzause's picture


You didn't say whose recipe you were following, there are lots of recipes here if you do a search for them, they usually have their original source too especially if they have been adapted.

I agree with flournwater it is difficult to comment on a formula without accurate measurements and would encourage you to weigh everything.

From the ingredients that you have listed it would seem to be a relativly sweet and rich dough with the sugar and butter that are in there. Most rich doughs gain their flovours from the sugar and butter and therefore a straight fermentation process is usually called for. Much leaner doughs can benefit from a sponge process which can develop better flavours from the flours and fermentation process.

The problem with the dough flowing over the sides of the pan is somewhat of a worry, you didnt say whether the dough was wet soft or sticky that could be from a slack dough (high liquid content).

  You havent said whether you are mixing by hand or by machine, but it appears that mixing is done in in 2 sessions interspersed with a short 1 hour bulk fermentation time, and that after the second kneading the dough is divided into two and placed into the pans to prove for 1 & 1/2 hours .

I reckon that final proofing time is always somewhat shorter than the original bulk fermentation period, basicly because the yeasts are multiplying all the way through the process. 

I would normally finish my mixing and allow to bulk ferment until doubled in size, the dough would then be knocked back (degassed) divide into the size required for the pan, preshape by bringing into a ball shape. Cover the dough and allow it to recover 5-10 minutes and then mould into the shape you require.

This moulding will give you an even shape a good surface tension and some structural integrity. Cover and leave in a warm place to prove.

With your dough being 1/3 whole wheat it may not quite get to double in size, although it should go very close this is the time to place into the oven, with it being a richer dough it does usually call for less temp than a plain bread to avoid taking to much colour.

When you pan your dough it should fill no more than half the container so it will not kick much above the lip of the pan.

So  my recommendation is to try a dough posted by one of our TFL members, if you can' find one you like i will write one up for you but you will need to tell me how much flour to base it on KG'S please

regards Yozza  ps  i just checked search soft fluffy plenty there to choose

lazybaker's picture

You probably need to tighten the dough more when you're shaping it. Whenever I don't have a tight surface, the dough rises sideways rather than upward. When you tighten the dough by folding and forming a tight seam at the bottom, the dough rises vertically. The surface of the dough should look smooth and tight at the top. Make sure to seal the seam well.

As for the dense and heavy texture, when you're kneading it, stretch the dough sideways. If the dough doesn't stretch out easily, the dough is probably dense with too much flour. 

grhumphries's picture

Thanks for your help everyone,

The recipe was one my Dad gave me a while back - but I'm not sure if he got it from anywhere - he always told me that the key to good bread was never to measure or anything, but to just know what to put in.  

Watching my Nan bake bread as a kid, I never saw her weigh or measure anything, and her bread always came out perfect.

In either case, I went ahead and reduced the flour and water that I had put in, as well as the amount of sugar.  




yozzause's picture

Hi Grant

I expect that i could make a half decent loaf without weighing any of the ingrediants  as i have put together lots of doughs in my lifetime or if i was away on a camping trip and forgot my baking equipement. But for consistancy and trying to replicate a particular bread then accurate measurement is essential.

I expect when your Nan was making all the bread day in day out and she was the same person doing the portions it would have been consistant.

I have been to a country bakery where their bread was consistant but it was consistantly bad, They had a dough maker that never weighed ingrediants so it was hard to work out why they were making the same mistakes daily, his 2 handfulls of salt never weighed the same, the bag of flour was always the same it came from the mill as 150lbs and then if he was making half a bag it was even guess work for the flour! 

Anyway if you want help in solving problems that you are having with your bread making we do need as much Precise information you can possibly give us to work with. Ambiguiety will only end up with wild guesses or lack of response all together

regards Yozza

flournwater's picture

For a "fluffier" bread you might want to try replacing some of your wheat flour with barley flour.  I'd start with 1/2 cup barley flour to 1 1/2 cups wheat flour to start.

OMG, I can't believe is use the word "cups"  -  but there's no other reference verb.