The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Joe G's picture
Joe G


 Hello All

I am new to baking, been learning to bake now for about 2 weeks, I find that it is the best way to unwind after a long stressful day at work.  I love the process of mixing the ingredients and kneading the dough, and of course it tastes pretty good.  I am baking about 3 to 4 times a week.

One of the biggest problems I have with my breads is density; don't matter if it is rolls or loaves.  I have even tried some simple French bread from one of Peter Reinhart's books.  They all turn out the same, too dense.  I believe I am following the instructions pretty well, I use my oven to proof in, keep it at 90 deg., I get real good first and second rises.

Is there a trick I am missing, a skill I do not have yet?  Something a properly educated baker has learned or a skill that they take for granted.

Comments and suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

OldWoodenSpoon's picture

You have come to the right place.  You'll get plenty of advice and opinion here.

You say you are getting "real good first and second rises".  How many times are you letting the bread rise?  Is your second rise the "proof" of the shaped loaves, or does that require a third rise?  Be more specific about your process and you will get better help.

For the moment I am going to assume that after your good first and second rises (bulk fermentations?) you then shape, proof and bake.  If I am right, you may have either not enough food left for the yeast to raise the bread yet again, giving you a dense loaf, or the proof is very slow because of the same reason and you are baking too soon, giving you a dense loaf.  Again, more detail on your process will help.  Same for the formula.

As for your last question, about a missing trick or skill?  The answer is a definite "maybe".  Have you worked through some of the basic tutorials and lessons available here on The Fresh Loaf?  The Lessons link, and the Tutorials link (both at the top of every TFL page) are great, truly great, places for the beginning baker to start.  Those resources will bring you up the early part of the learning curve very fast, and you get good bread in the process!

Good luck, and I know you will get more and better feedback here if you add some details.


cranbo's picture

Nice to have you here Joe. 

If you're concerned about bread density, you may want to try a recipe that has some fat & protein (butter, oil, egg, milk, etc) to get a sense for what those do. 

For example, for rolls, try this recipe for soft, fluffy rolls or sandwich bread

Another approach is to try a bread with a preferment, like Floyd's Daily Bread

In all cases, you'll need to watch both your hydrations and your rise times. Hydration makes a big difference to bread density: more hydration typically has bigger holes. Sufficient rise times will also help bigger holes. 

Fat and protein will help with tenderness and fluffiness.