The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Recent Bread Machine Problem

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KGcook's picture
KGcook

Recent Bread Machine Problem

Hello All,

I just found this forum and it looks amazing, so much great information. I'm pleased to meet you all.

I have been making bread in a bread machine for almost 2 years. I have a black and decker and i've always gotten great results. The last two loaves I made in the last few weeks have come out concave on top and with a weird gooey texture.

The first time it happened I thought it was just an old yeast issue and it was a recipe I was less familar with.

Tonight I tried again with a tried and true recipe and a fresh jar of yeast. I did every thing the same as I always have with this recipe and same thing, totally concave top.

I live in Toronto and it has of course gotten hotter and more humid over the last month, but not southern united states humid. I didn't have this problem last summer, but this summer I live in a converted attic that gets quite stuffy, regardless of my small ac unit.

Could the change in temperature be making such a difference in the bread machine? Or did I do something else wrong? Like I said, I think I followed the recipe precisely, same as always.

Any suggestions would be very appreciated!

cheers,

K

maybaby's picture
maybaby

Concave usually means that your bread rose to much...gummy/gooey...too much moisture.Humidty can definitely play a role even in bread machine baking. I've found I have to add a little less water when my flour is super fresh and more flour if it's a bit on the old side (I buy 20lb bags of AP and 5lb bags of organic whole wheat)

B&D breadmachines are pretty reliable but, my newer one only lasted me 2yrs and calved on me so check if yours is heating up to temperature properly. I had to replace mine a few months ago.

KGcook's picture
KGcook

Thanks for the advice! When you say you added more/less flour, can you be more specific? Like and extra tablespoon or 2, or an extra 1/4 cup? I thought it looked a bit wet when it 1st started to mix but I've never had to deviate from the recipe before.

I'd very much appreciate your suggestions!

K

maybaby's picture
maybaby

Tablespoon or two usually but sometimes up to 1/4 cup...I usually check on the dough when the "add in" beep goes off.  It should be soft , supple  and only slightly sticky. It shouldn't make a mess of your finger if you finger test it, but a little bit sticking to the finger is good. I find breadmachine dough needs to be on the slightly sticky side compared to hand kneaded dough when you're baking it in the machine. Dough cycle you can adjust during final shaping to the loaf pan.

If you find even after adding a couple of tablespoons that it's too floppy and still sticky cancel the cycle. Start it again and add a couple more tablespoons and check again at the "add in" beep (where you'd add raisins etc.). An extra cycle doesn't seem to hurt it any if it starts out too wet.

Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

If you've been using that for 2 years, then you've likely used it during other humid periods. I'd find out how to check the machine itself? I've never had to tear into one, but usual appliance suspects are the thermostats, as it appears the heating elements are indeed working. My experience has been that if the heating elements are working, you have problems with whatever regulates them. In the case of a bread machine, that would likely be a thermostat or the timer.

Also, if the dough cycle is working, you can always just bake the loaves yourself after the dough cycle mixes/kneads everything for you!

- Keith

KGcook's picture
KGcook

Thanks for the great tips. I'll check the bread more carefully next time and try some of these tips and let you know how it goes!

Nice to meet you all!

K

Chuck's picture
Chuck

I agree with JustLoafin that one possibility is your bread machine is "broken". But some other possibilities interest me too:

  1. Have you bought new flour recently, or is this exactly the same flour that worked previously? (A change in flour can have as much effect as bad yeast ) Also, where are you located? (In some locales it's too easy to accidentally get "self rising" flour because it was labelled "plain". Such flour can work for quickbreads and biscuits and the like, but it probably won't work very well for yeasted breads.)
  2. Where and how do you store your yeast? (Yeast is sensitive to heat. A hot cupboard next to an outside wall in a warm apartment  can damage yeast; instead keep yeast in the refrigerator. I've even heard about repeatedly buying new yeast only to find at home it was bad again, because the yeast was always at the top of a grocery bag right behind the glass in the hot rear of the car on the way home.)
  3. Please indulge me as I try to clarify: did you live in the same converted attic last summer? Is the temperature in your kitchen 20C, or 70F, or 80F, or 30C, or...? Is this your first time baking in this apartment when the weather is hot, or have you done it before?

One thing I'd try temporarily is to use less yeast to compensate for whatever is causing the over-rising. Then as soon as possible go back to using the regular amount of yeast. That's no substitute for figuring out what's going on  ...but it may be a way to cope. In fact, if the root problem turns out to be simply that your kitchen is hotter than it's ever been before, using less yeast when it's hot might be your best solution.

KGcook's picture
KGcook

Hi Chuck,

Thank you for your insightful clarification questions!

1. I did mistakenly buy softer flour at the bulk store recently. It was working out okay before it got really hard but was leading to more inconsistent results from the beginning. I think I definitely need to try again with the all purpose I was using before.

2. I have always kept my yeast in the fridge with the jar tightly sealed. I think the yeast is okay.

3. I did not live in the converted attic last summer. I lived in a more conventional highrise unit. It was really dingy and had much less charachter but better climate control. Toronto gets much hotter and more humid in the summer than people realize. Right now it is 32 deg. celcius, feels like 36 with relative humidy. Too hot to bake or eat warm bread anyway! 

That being said, I do want to continue to have the option of home made bread in the summer months. When the temperature goes down a bit I will try the various suggestions with one of my cheaper recipes in case it flops again. Thanks!

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

I believe Chuck pretty much hit it. Do check the hydration. Most bread machine recipes call for a tacky dough; not sticky. It should feel like a Post-it note. Second, at 32C your yeast will  be 35-50% more active than at the more usual proofing temp of 24-28C. Try reducing the amount of yeast to 67-72% of what the recipe calls for. For non-machine baking, we'd adjust the time by testing the dough. With the machine, adjusting the yeast amount is more feasible.

cheers,

gary