The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

hard bottom

sholmz's picture
sholmz

hard bottom

I just baked my first bread today. It said to make it on a cookie sheet and make six small loafs. It had a great taste but was very tough. The bottom kinda hard and the top kinda tough. What made it this way? Thanks.

Ford's picture
Ford

Perhaps it did not rise enough.  Letting the dough double in volume is not always enough.  Let it rise until it is soft enough that when gently pressed with two fingers the indentation does not readily disappear.  With time, you will know when this degree of proofing has been reached without pressing with your fingers.  You can also spray your dough with water before putting it in the oven and at two minute intervals for the first 5 to 10 minutes of baking.  A pan of boiling water in the oven under the shelf containing the bread is also helpful.

Ford

Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

Not really enough information, so we'd have to guess.

My 2 guesses would be either it was under-proofed during the final, or the loaves were exposed to too much fresh air while final proofing.

If there were pics of the crumb, we could get a better idea of the final proof, so I'll do my best to describe what you might see. If the crumb is uniform from bottom crust to the top, then the likely scenario would be the latter - too much air exposure, and the outer skin dried up. If the crumb is uniform near the middle, but very compressed around the edges, then the loaves were more than likely under-proofed (we call this 'bricked'). When final proofing commercial yeasted breads (which typically only need about 45 mins to an hour), make sure to use some sort of flour or kitchen cloth to completely surround the formed loaves while they rise. Some people even dampen their towels. For a starter leavened dough that might need many hours of final proofing, some people will enclose the final loaves in plastic food bags (ie., turkey roasting bags). This is especially helpful if final proofing in the refrigerator overnight. Depending on your previous baking skill, it's likely maybe a little bit of both happened, as both are easy pitfalls to fall into (and also easily fixed).

The other possiblity (for a 3rd), would be rough handling from final proofing to the oven, which will cause a lot of built up gas to escape. This is essentially the same thing as under-proofing, as pretty much deletes the last 20-30 mins of final proofing that was done, and leads to a brick condition. Pics would be helpful, and if not available, try to make them available next time you bake. They really tell a much better story for us to decipher.

- Keith