The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Enough bad attempts - need some help.

  • Pin It
detlion1643's picture
detlion1643

Enough bad attempts - need some help.

I've been pretty impressed with the knowledge of people on these boards here. I've been reading them for about a week taking in new information.

Here is where I stand though. I haven't done much baking, but what I have done have all been pretty much failures. I was researching why my dough wasn't rising an ended up here. Well, much has been learned, but still a couple things I'm a little confused on.

I'll be the first to fess up, I had NO idea that there were even 2 different kinds of yeast (active/instant). I never looked much beyond a recipe, until I got fed up one day (after a total of 10 no rising breads). Well, I have a couple packets of active (red package) yeast left. I want to learn it right.

I noticed that the first thing I should be doing is activating the yeast in warm water, never done that before, but will do now. *The recipe on the back of a package doesn't mention this and it's the active yeast package.

Also, the recipe on the back mentions about 4 cups of flour, salt, sugar, etc. But it also mentions "2" whole packages of the yeast. 2? Whole packages? Every recipe I read up until now always stated between 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 teaspoons of yeast? I know nothing about "hydration" of dough yet.

I don't like following recipes and like doing my own things, so I've been toying with this:
3 cups flour (I think all purpose - it's what I have already at the house)
^ Usually about 1/2 cup more plus a little for kneading
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup honey (somewhat melted to be more liquified)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon yeast
Mixed all together, kneaded until stretchy but not breaking, let rise to double (never rises any at all), shape and rise (still nothing), bake anyways. The results, well, I don't think it deserves to have a result.

Please don't just give me blunt directions. I'd like to learn as well. If you are re-writing the recipe/ingredients/directions, can you please explain why so I can truly understand once and for all!

Does it hurt to overyeast something, too make sure it rises? I don't like the idea of underyeasting, working more in, waiting. I'm rather time contsrained already so the 1 - 1 1/2 hours of a first double rise, shape and rise/proof, bake is a perfect time table for me.

*This wasn't meant to be a rant/complaint thread. I really do want to learn, and just trying to be thourogh on what I'm doing already.

jcking's picture
jcking

That much honey with lemon juice? Pardon, yet you may be confusing cooking with baking. Two different things. Try the lessons offered here Your First Loaf - A Primer for the New Baker

Jim

detlion1643's picture
detlion1643

In my experience lemon juice is overpowering. Wanted a tiny hint of it, with more sweet honey flavor, and a lemon zest glaze on top.

I do come from a more 'cooking' oriented background though. As I've made some pretty awful tasting stuff before, but nonetheless, nothing ever "failed" like my dough attempts. I always used off flavors, different flavors, etc. when cooking too. I expirement with stuff, keep notes, etc. I have recipes that don't work and ones that do. I came up with quite a few that were different with the ingredients, but in the end worked well.

I doubt the honey and lemon quantities affect the dough to the point of no rising ever. Maybe the acidity of the lemon juice affects the yeast? I'll try the 1st lesson tonight and hope that at least works.

LisaAlissa's picture
LisaAlissa

I'm sorry to hear that the bread baking you've done "have all been pretty much failures."  

When you said that your dough "never rises at all" and then you went ahead and shaped and left it to rise and that you then went ahead and baked, I'm not surprised that you had failures.  And I'm guessing that you were "baking by the clock," instead of by the look of the dough.   Your recipe said something like "it should rise to double in 1-1/2 to 2 hours."  So when you got to the end of that time, you simply proceeded.

You said you've gotten new yeast, and that's one possible problem addressed.  You say you're going to proof your yeast (to make sure it's alive), so that's good.  Another may be that your kitchen was too cold to allow the dough to double in the time your recipe specified.  You may need to find a warmer place, or simply allow a lot more time (increasing the amount of the yeast will also cut the time needed, but more time often means better flavor).  In my cool kitchen (around 70F), my first rise is often 3-1/2 to 5 hours.  After shaping, the bread may need another 1-1/2 to 2 hours before it's ready for the oven.  I'm not clear if you've developed the recipe above or not...but if you did, and you've never had any baking successes, I'd start with a recipe developed by someone else.

You say you're time constrained.  So you need to find a warmer place to allow your dough to rise.  You may be able to use a warm place over a register, wrapping your bowl in a warmed towel.  There are even collapsible proofing boxes that will let you regulate the temperature.  Alternatively, there are methods that have you start the dough and then let it raise in the refrigerator for a day or so (remembering that a slow raise will tend to enhance flavor).  

Which leads me to my final point.  You're correct that step by step instructions without discussing the why isn't particularly helpful.  So I direct you to the "Lessons" tab you'll find at the top of the page.  There are a series of posts, each in its own thread that are a great introduction to bread-baking and many of the techniques.  They'll take you through a series of loaves which will allow you to experience success and discover the effects of various changes in your technique and ingredients.  They'll discuss how to get a warm place to allow your dough to rise.  How to tell if your dough is alive.  There are pictures of dough in a bowl before it rises, and after it rises.  You don't need to read all of each thread (although they're interesting, :-))  at the end of the initial post in each thread, there's a link to the next lesson thread.  I suspect you'll find the lessons very helpful--and be sure to read the 10 tip posts at the end of lesson five for some of the information that you're looking for.

HTH,

LisaAlissa

proth5's picture
proth5

Um, just what are you trying to bake there?  A sweet bread?  With a lemon flavor?  Not sure that this ahould be your first attempt at yeasted bread (or even if it should be a yeasted bread, but that's me), but OK, here goes.

The amount of honey -  3/4 cup to 3 cups of flour is pretty high.  You don't think this would affect the yeast, but, unfortunately you are wrong in this.  Honey is hygroscopic, which means that despite its seeming to be liquid, it will actually tie up the liquid in your recipe.  Yeast, being a living organism needs that water to metabolize the flour, and now you have a whole lot of sugar tying up the liquid.

Then you go and cut down on the amount of yeast. 2 packets for 4 cups of flour is actually not an unusual amount - for many panned breads.  Lots of folks who post here (myself included) use smaller amounts of yeast in our formulas - but that is to deliberately slow down the fermentation of the dough. (Yes, the yeast company is telling you to use a lot of yeast - but it is in their best interests for you to produce delicious loaves so that you will continue to buy their yeast. You think that they haven't tested and re tested those recipes on the back of the packet?  Believe me, they have.)

(Also, active dry yeast is most often dissolved in water prior to mixing it with the rest of the ingredients, but it doesn't have to be - which might have been taken into account in the recipe on the back of the packet.)

Additionally, you don't use much water to begin with.  Hydration is just the percentage one gets when one divided the weight of the liquid by the weight of the flour - so we have - oh say - 15oz of flour with say 6-8 ounces of liquid  - about 50-60% hydration. I'm not trying to be exact because I can't with your measurements, so I'm just doing a rough calculation.  But, that's fairly dry.

So, let's recap.  You have introduced a great deal of an ingredient that slows down the yeast (by tying up available moisture), reduced the yeast, and added very little of the other ingredient that the yeast needs to thrive (water).  Your dough won't rise very fast at all.  You can keep it warm, you can sing to it, you can watch it and not the clock, but that dough will rise very, very slowly. 

Hopefully you will follow the advice to look at the Handbook on these pages - or at least start with a recipe that has been written and tested by people who have had success.

And on another note. I write my own formulas these days, but I've worked very hard at perfecting other people's formulas and in understanding how ingredients interact and the theory behind what I am doing.  If you don't like following recipes - that's fine - but as another poster said, perhaps you are confusing baking and cooking.  In baking you can't always taste and adjust - or if you do, you must wait until you have a finished product and adjust for the next time. This means a lot of failures before success - and this is fine, too, if you have the patience for it.  I would however encourage you to understand more about what you are doing before striking out on your own.

Hope this helps.

GAPOMA's picture
GAPOMA

I agree with proth5 on the honey, and it wouldn't surprise me that that much lemon juice might lower the pH and inhibit the yeast.  But I think the biggest problem is hydration.  In my kitchen a cup of AP flour is 140g (3 cups = 420g) and a cup of water is 240g (1/2 cup = 120g).  You're also adding 1/4 cup of lemon juice (~60g) and that liquid should also be considered part of your hydration  Finally, honey is about 17% water, but it's generally not included in calculations of hydration.  So, if I add this up correctly you've got ~420g of flour, ~120g of water and ~60g of lemon juice.  180g/420g = ~43% "real" hydration, plus a lot of honey.  (While a dough of 43% hydration would generally be considered very dry and probably impossible to work with, the presence of this much honey probably makes it workable but not successful.)  You should probably be shooting for something in the 65% hydration range, or about 1 1/8 cups of water/liquid for your 3 cups of flour.

Definitely try the handbook recipe to see what you're aiming for as far as texture & hydration.  Decrease the lemon juice to keep the pH balanced, decrease the honey to free up the available liquid, and increase the liquid to keep the yeast happy.  Once you get the "bread" part going, then try increasing the lemon & honey to get the flavor you're looking for.

pixielou55's picture
pixielou55

Just a thought - if you want a hint of lemon flavor, instead of adding lemon juice, what do you think of trying some lemon zest mixed in with the honey.

Rocketcaver's picture
Rocketcaver

... if too hot will kill your yeast and produce the results you describe. 

 

 

detlion1643's picture
detlion1643

Thanks for all the information guys, I really appreciate the informative posts. Really helps us new people out.

I threw together 2 tries tonight. One of a variation of what I posted above, but with a little more water and less honey. It was sticky with the same amount of flour, and I kept adding bits of flour on my hands and counter. It seemed like every 30 seconds, it would get too sticky. I realize a little bit is ok though.

The second one was a basic one from the first lesson. No honey/lemon juice at all. I didn't notice a texture change too much though even after kneading for like 12 or so minutes. It too needed little bits of flour to keep from staying completely stuck on my counter.

I did dissolve a package of yeast into the water for each one. It was barely warm to the touch, didn't see any activation of the yeast, but it did dissolve.

I'll keep an eye on them, and I guess if worst comes to worst, leave them overnight... Is overrising an issue? Or not punching it down, shaping, etc. too late an issue?

I think at this point I'll do lesson 1 over and over on the weekend. I'll keep the information of "little" tweaks after success.

About any cooking comments - That is what I do most for the family. It's sooo forgiving compared to this.

Once again, thanks so far for the help!

proth5's picture
proth5

admire your determination to keep at this.  Baking and cooking are two different things. To riff on the words of my favorite rat, Remy, you can't just take different components of the baking process and imagine what they would taste like together.   Dry yeast - blech! (although some people like the fresh suff...) Raw flour - double blech! - yet wrap them up with flavor neutral water and some salt - apply skill and patience and...voila!

But back to the problem at hand - Yes, overrising can be an issue. You can exhaust the food for the yeast and produce lackluster loaves, There are also a number of enzymes in flour that will break down the gluten over long periods of time.  Most people tucking their dough in for a night and a work day would tuck it into the refrigerator.  What will happen with your dough is difficult to say, but yes, it can ferment too long and it does matter if you "punch it down" (we don't call it that much anymore, but I remember) or shape it too late.

Also, if you are kneading the dough and it doesn't change much in texture over 12 minutes or so, you are doing something wrong.  I can take a dough from a shaggy mass to "smooth and satiny" in no more than 10 minutes (sometimes less) with hand kneading.  Even if the exect time isn't important, you should be feeling some changes.  Something is going wrong with your process if you feel nothing.

Another tip for hand kneading (which I rarely do anymore - there are better and easier methods, even without a mixer) is that the faster you move, the less the dough sticks.  And it will stick, but if you are dragging it around slowly (again, I have no idea what you are doing so it's hard for me to judge) it will stick more.  There are a lot of on line videos for things like "slap and fold" if you know how to search for them (and avoid the x rated interpretations...).  You might want to try and find some videos to watch and compare them with your technique. 

Also, if you are determined to use volume measurements (and again, I don't personally use them anymore if I can help it, but they aren't bad) you may want to practice measuring flour.  You should spoon it into the cup and use a straight edged tool to sweep off the excess.  In that way you will come up with a consistent amount of flour for your hands and be able to make adjustments.  I bring this up because with your formula, your dough should finish the kneading process as decidely not sticky.  Again, hard to know what you are doing good or bad from just your words.

Bakers "live and die" by their formulas, so I will caution you to curb ther free spirit instinct.  We follow the recipe! (I think that comes from the same movie...)

Good Luck.

detlion1643's picture
detlion1643

I admire that you guys are keeping up with me too :).

I am 'folding' the dough over once and sort of pusing it into underlying, not folder over part. Turning it clockwise some, and doing the same pattern over and over. However, I didn't know something as kneading dough could have a 'technique'. I'll def. watch some videos of it. I am doing everything entirely by hand right now as I never needed anything bread like equipment related before.

I think I mentioned it above, but I am doing lesson 1 exact so I can learn from a proven or successful recipe. Can't see much yet, but I'm looking at the dough instead of the clock. First thing I should learn I guess, and going ok.

proth5's picture
proth5

is so very much in bread baking.  Sounds like you are pushing the dough around (but again, hard to tell) but not really kneading it.  Not only do your motions count, but the amount of vigor with which you apply them matters.  That's why one learns more in one afternoon of actual hands on work with an experienced baker than in many, many hours of "interweb" posting.

If your 12 minutes of pushing dough around is not creating what we call "a developed dough" then, again, the thing will never rise (or rise very slowly).  You can look at videos for "windowpane test" and that might help you understand a well developed dough.  Again, so many of us don't knead until we get a windowpane, but for the first few loaves it can be used as a good indicator of a well developed dough when the proper "feel" is unknown.

BTW: Yes - "watch the dough, not the clock" but professional bakers also live and die timings.  Not to say >poof!< at 2 hours this dough has feremented correctly, but if a tested formula says "doubles in 2 hours" and your dough has moved not an inch - you need to start wondering what you have done amiss.

Just like knife skills are fundamental to cooking, hand skills are fundamental to bread baking...

LisaAlissa's picture
LisaAlissa

Water isn't enough.  When you proof yeast, you need to give the yeast something to eat.  You can use a tablespoon of the flour (from the flour you're going to be using in your dough), or add an amount of sugar equal to the amount of yeast (even in recipes that don't call for sugar).  The water (taken from the water called for in the recipe) should should be tepid...that is, it shouldn't feel either hot or cold to the touch.  You're going for body temp.

When I proof yeast, I put the yeast in the bottom of a small bowl, then an equal amount of sugar on top of the yeast, then slowly pour the water over the sugar.  I don't even stir...although you can.  Then leave it alone.  When you come back in 10 or 15 minutes, the water should look foamy or puffy.  If it isn't foamy or puffy, your yeast is dead.  Find other yeast.

If it's foamy/puffy, add it when you add the water to your dough.

HTH,

LisaAlissa

detlion1643's picture
detlion1643

Doh!

More info to get right for the weekend though so thanks! It should've made sense, maybe I was happy to try something that might work though.

I'll it right one of these days, but can't thank enough for detailed help.

proth5's picture
proth5

be disagreeable, but I want to add a detail here.  Absolutely, if you want to "proof" yeast, you should add a pinch of sugar on that the poster above is absolutely correct.

But if you've gone down to your grocery store, here in the early part of the 21st century and purchased yeast from a reputable company and it has not passed its expiration date and it is active dry yeast, you need only to dissolve it, not "proof" it.

Of course you can proof it if you want to, but modern production and packaging of yeast has really eliminated the proofing step.  Some recipe writers persist in putting it in and, of course, cookbooks written back when I started baking recommend proofing for good reason.

If you think I'm lyin' just consider that most of us posting on these pages use instant yeast just thrown in with the dry ingredients without a second thought.  We don't worry that the yeast is dead... Same yeast - different production process.

It's a "thing" with me - proofing vs dissolving.  Different things, different reasons.

Hope this helps.

LisaAlissa's picture
LisaAlissa

You're not disagreeable (even though you disagree with me...).   I've enjoyed your posts (the one on this thread, as well as the ones on milling wheat).

I had given up proofing yeast as an unnecessary step (pretty much based on the reasons you recite) and had no trouble for years.  Then I had a yeast failure with yeast whose expiration date was 11 months in the future.  I confirmed that it was the yeast by trying to proof some of the same yeast batch after the fact...it failed.  

So I resumed proofing yeast.  YMMV, but proofing yeast doesn't take that long, and it just avoids one of the things that can go wrong in the bread-baking process.

LisaAlissa

proth5's picture
proth5

That is a bad experience.  If it was ADY yeast I hope you called that little 800 number on the packet and made an issue of it.  That's a seriously bad thing and I would think the manufacturer would want to know.  Or at least give you some coupons for free yeast.

I have had instant yeast stored in the freezer finally give up the ghost after 5 years (other people have held it longer) so, 11 moths before expiration is a nasty surprize...

As I said, no harm in doing it.  It's just diffeernt than dissolving it and a recipe written for instant yeast would omit the step in any case.

LisaAlissa's picture
LisaAlissa

As I recall, I just took it back to the grocery store, reported the dead yeast and exchanged for a different brand.

michinson's picture
michinson

I'm pretty sure this isn't what you want to hear, but my advice is to just follow a recipe, at least a few times, until you know what you're doing.   Which seems the lesser evil to you:  repeated failures or the little bit of constraint inherent in recipe-following? Baking is a  precise thing and ratios and technique are very important.   If you had followed a recipe you'd probably have known to stir the yeast into the water to proof it, then to add other ingredients and carry on.  Kneading and resting are also important, and to learn to do these things you need to follow some tried-and-true instructions.  

Time constraints?  "Too bad," says your bread, "don't rush me."  You simply have to give it the time it needs to rise and develop.  Sure, you can slow it down and speed it up somewhat by controlling temperature, leavens, etc., but it's pretty much going to do its own thing in its own time.  That's one of the beauties of bread.  It demands proper treatment, and if you give it the time and attention it requires, you'll be richly rewarded. If you don't, it'll bring you to heel.  

While I applaud your intrepid spirit, save it for cooking.   Follow a recipe just this once and see what happens.  If you get the basics down, you'll be able to ad lib as you like because you'll have a foundation.  You can't do algebra without learning to add, subtract, multipy, and divide first.  Good luck, and keep baking!  

detlion1643's picture
detlion1643

Ok, so it's been resting on the first "rise" portion for about 1 1/2 hours now. I can see very little in my first attempt (still recipe from op), but in my second attempt (lesson 1 simple bread) there is a significant size difference. However, the difference is moreso wider than taller (but the height hasn't shrunk that I can see). If the dough has room on it's sides in the bowl, this is normal right? As long as the dough is getting sizeably larger?

It's easier to wait this out now than before with all the re-assurance and info I'm gathering/watching.

proth5's picture
proth5

What does that tell us? (Tells me that you are probably kneading the dough ok - although why you don't feel it change from start to finish is a bit baffling. But what does it tell you?)

Ok, on to helpful advice.  Yes, it will get wider if you have the dough in a bowl and there is room on the sides.  That is why so many people like straight sided or glass containers to hold the dough during fermentation.  That way you can mark the original dough level and actually see when it doubles in volume.

I'll give you an old trick to let you know when the dough has doubled.  Take your index and middle fingers and press then lightly but firmly into the dough (somewhat less than a knuckle deep) if the indentation stays - the dough is doubled and reday for the next step. But don't get crazy on this - its just a rule of thumb (or finger as it were). 

I'm signing off now, so good luck - I'll check back tomorrow to see how it all turned out.

detlion1643's picture
detlion1643

Well, I did the little test. It did as you described so I figured it was doubled. I took it, 'punched it down', shaped it, and put it on a lightly oiled sheet pan. Currently letting it rise again before baking it, should double, correct? Upon checking it for a little bit, it seems like it still sizes outward. So, I'm thinking I probably should invest in a loaf pan or something. I doubt it's because the dough is 'too dense' and is weighing it down, however, can that happen? It's still got a ways to go until I try baking it, so just kind of writing my thoughts as of now.

Chuck's picture
Chuck

The suggestions above cover most of the many ways bread can screw up and not rise  ...assuming your yeast is alive to begin with.

When you "wake up" the yeast with baby-bottle-warm water and feed it a pinch of sugar, after ten minutes or so do you have a bunch of foam? If not, you're starting with dead yeast - no wonder things don't rise.

(Unlike a few decades ago, getting "dead" yeast from the factory virtually never happens and is no longer a concern at all  ...but you can still kill yeast yourself, for example by storing it in a cupboard that gets very hot.)

If stored well, yeast will last years beyond its "expiration date", but if stored not so well, yeast can die long before the "expiration date" comes - Basically "expiration dates" were invented with a different kind of spoilage in mind, and the expiration date printed on yeast packages out of habit means essentially nothing. Dried yeast is sensitive to heat, to temperatures that keep swinging from below freezing to above then below again, and to moisture. What seems to work well is to keep yeast in your refrigerator, and to not open the packets until you use them, nor try to "save" a partial packet.

LisaAlissa's picture
LisaAlissa

Yes, it will size outward...in all directions, except where it is constrained by the sheet pan.  What a loaf pan will do is constrain the rise into an upward direction (can't go outward to the sides, so must go up).  Lots of people never use a loaf pan, but if you prefer the shape produced by a loaf pan, then definitely get one.  (BTW, not much of an investment...you can pick one up inexpensively in most grocery stores.)  

Sounds like it's going well.  And yes, your dough should double again (since your shaping) before it goes in the oven.

Let us know how your bread turns out!

LisaAlissa  

Felila's picture
Felila

One way to deal with time constraints is to use your refrigerator to retard the dough. The yeast will keep working, even in the refrigerator, but much more SLOWLY. You can mix bread one evening, put it in the refrigerator overnight (or longer), and pull it out when you get home from work. Then it's just a matter of removing it from the refrigerator, shaping it, letting it rise, and baking it, which you can probably do in less than three hours.  See Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day.  Follow the instructions religiously. Don't improvise until you have a lot of experience.

detlion1643's picture
detlion1643

Alright, since it's morning now, heres a couple updates.

Loaf 1 (my attempt at op recipe): failed again. Doubled on first rise (almost, took forever though). Shaped and let to rise again, almost doubled again. Baked at 400 for 25  - 30 minutes. I know, should most likely be longer, but it passed the toothpick test. However, the inside looked like cookie dough. The side/top crust looked good, while the bottom that sat on the pan was almost burnt and rock hard... Live and learn on this again.

Lesson 1 loaf: success!!! Well, it turned out a little pale, maybe could've used a couple more minutes in the oven, but overall it turned out good. Inside was cooked and crust wasn't rock hard. Of course, a little on the bland side, but I'm sure that can change over time since I've got a starting place thanks to here.

I thank all of you guys for suggestions/information. I'll still be learning a lot from here, but I finally have a good grasp on 1 loaf :).

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Toothpick test for bread???   That's a new one on me, it can be a test for cakes.  I think it's time to get a probe thermometer for accuracy then you can "goose" the bread with real results.  

Glad to hear a real recipe came out with good results.  

proth5's picture
proth5

like you've learned a lot in just a short time.

In general, we don't use the "toothpick test" for yeasted breads (good for quick breads, though).

I use the "thump test" to test the level of doneness for loaves - you thump on the bottom whith a knuckle and if it sounds hollow - the loaf is done.

I also use the "squeeze test" where you take the loaf in your hands and squeeze it to judge the doneness.  This works best with deeply baked loaves.

"My teacher" has both anecdotal and scientific evidence that a probe thermometer is not the best way to go.  After being subjected to a detailed "lecture" on why this isn't a good thing to use - I would, personally, never dare to put a probe thermometer in a loaf of bread - but many people do so.

Have fun!

LisaAlissa's picture
LisaAlissa

Just thought it was interesting when you mentioned using a knuckle to thump on the bottom of your loaves.  I've always used a tap w/ a fingernail to elicit that hollow sound.  

I'll have to try both on my next bake, to see if they sound different.  

proth5's picture
proth5

My fingernails aren't of sufficient length or strength to make a good thump.  I've always used a knuckle (and so, when I think of it does "my teacher")

Some folks say that thay just don't hear the difference between not done and done with this method.  I am very sensitive to pitch and it is all too clear to me...

Rocketcaver's picture
Rocketcaver

Not to hijack the thread, but... Never use a probe thermometer???  Why?

proth5's picture
proth5

"What did that bread ever do to you?  And then you go a stick a metal probe into it!"

"I would never sell a loaf with that great big hole in the bottom"

Attribute those to "my teacher."

Now the scientific answer (also supplied by "my teacher" and the folks from America's Test Kitchen): Normally, we consider that a loaf of bread is done when the internal temperature is 200-205 F (depending at what temperature water boils.)  If you put a probe thermometer in the raw dough and put it in the oven, you will find that the temperature recorded by the probe rises to that level in a very short period of time.  That period of time is much less that what it would take for the loaf to be fully baked.  I've seen the temperature vs time charts of those experiments conducted both by "my teacher" and those uber kitchen geeks ATK, so I'm a believer.  It happens just that way.  So for those of you who want to repeat the experiment, feel free to contradict me.  I'm sure much depends on the exact position and sensitivity (and temperature sensing point) of the probe thermometer.

Do I want to risk the mockery of "my teacher" by recommending the probe thermometer method?  I do not.  But many people use it and swear by it.  My anecdotal opinion is that they are using other methods (color/aroma/squeeze) and confirming their senses with a quick temp check, but I don't insist on it.

Hope this answers your question.

GAPOMA's picture
GAPOMA

I haven't seen the temperature vs time charts that you talk about.  I found a post from ATK about baking better bread from August 10th of this year (http://www.americastestkitchenfeed.com/aint-necessarily-so/2011/08/baking-bread-could-you-be-doing-it-better/) in which they do suggest that "bread can reach the optimal temperature for doneness well before the loaf is actually baked through."  However there is no data associated with this comment.  My experience with this has been that if you bake breads (or rolls) for the amount of time suggested in a recipe and at this time they either don't "look done" or don't "sound done", the bread is at a temperature below 195'F.  If you remove these apparently under-done loaves from the oven at the recommended time (even though they're not up to temp) they are simply undercooked.  They often fall after coming out of the oven (especially rolls) or they have an undercooked, doughy center (loaves).  If instead you wait until the loaf reaches 200'F to remove it from the oven, the bread will be fully cooked (at least it has for me).  I have had several recipes that I've had to extend the baking time based on them not being done at the recommended baking time.  

I agree that a hole in the top of a loaf can be an unsightly blemish on the bread.  It's not as big of a problem with "artisan" loaves as you can hide them in the cracks or on the bottom.  But for loaves made in loaf pans it can be an issue.  

My own personal experience has been that as little as 5 minutes before a bread is "done" the internal temperature is in the range of 185'-190'F, suggesting that the bread gains temperature in a somewhat linear fashion.  But I don't have any hard data of my own to back up this conclusion.   I've not produced a graph of interal bread temperature vs time.

I'd really like to see the graphs of temerature vs time that you talk about.  Can you point me to them?   

proth5's picture
proth5

point you to these as the graphs and results are in the personal possession of someone who is not me.  They are not posted on the internet - they are on pieces of paper.  But I have seen them.  And I believe.

Again, those probe thermometers where you can put the probe in the oven and the readout elsewhere are now pretty common - I'm certain someone will take up the cause and run the experiment again.

The ATK quote may well come from the experiment whose results I got to see.

Again, I will caution that there are a lot of variables inherent in the use of probe thermometers including where the temperature sensing spot hits the loaf - how fast they read and on and on.  I've given up on them for testing if the bread is baked or not.  How could I not?

"My teacher" was referring to a hole in the bottom of a loaf. A hole on the top - now you scare me!

jcking's picture
jcking

Could be why that crazy guy is collecting data to determine if loaf weight/moisture loss may be a beneficial tool.

Jim

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I test at the end of the bake and most often the loaf needs just a few minutes longer.  Get scared!  :)  

Merry Holidays!

proth5's picture
proth5

whatever makes you happy and gets the bread done right...

You don't have to live under my own "special" set of circumstances.  :>)

Merry/Happy

Pat

Rocketcaver's picture
Rocketcaver

Thank you for your explanation.

Chuck's picture
Chuck

I've used both instant read thermometers (remove loaf from oven, poke thermometer in inconspicuous spot, wait for it to settle) and remote probe thermometers (poke probe into dough, dangle wire out through closed door), and I much prefer the instant read thermometer  ...in fact I don't use the probe thermometer at all any more. I agree the convenience of just "beep when it's done" can't be beat, and I agree it works reasonably well for enriched breads that are "done" at lower temperatures. But for lean breads, I don't even try to use it any more because I've had my fill of "false done alarms" and odd skewings by a few degrees.

Why don't I use a probe thermometer? Well accidentally catching the probe wire on the door and pulling the raw shaped loaf right off my baking stone didn't help:-). And it's sometimes quite hard to poke the probe into a shaped loaf without partially deflating it. The main reason though is experience indicates it's much easier to misread by a few degrees (and just a few degrees are crucial in judging bread doneness). I found the probe thermometer read differently depending on things as simple as whether the 'L' at the top of the probe pointed down toward my baking stone or up into the cavity of my oven. It seems the remote probe is affected by not only the dough temperature but also the oven temperature (I suspect that's the core of the problem:-). 

I've seen the same ATK results proth5 have. Yes they really do say the temperature method isn't very reliable (although IMHO that's a sensationalist  --and fairly ridiculous--  over-interpretation of their results that wouldn't pass the scrutiny of scientific journal referees; their results really only indicate that the probe temperature method isn't very reliable in some cases). I can't point to their detailed results because those graphs are hidden behind a paywall accessible only to ATK subscribers. And I dare not republish them if I'm not prepared to have the ATK Copyright Police knock at my door and offer to sue me.

I've also found by experience that the temperature method is less and less reliable as you get closer and closer to the boiling point of water. If the goal is 200F it works fine, if the goal is 205F it still works reasonably well, but if the goal is 210F crumb temperature has to be just one of many indicators (similar wallclock time to when it worked before? old-fashioned thump test sounds quite hollow? crust color reasonable after adjusting for oven temperature and previous experience? etc.?)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

:)  I guess you mean you don't like those with dangling wires.  Both are probe thermometers meaning they are stuck into the loaf to measure inside temperature.  

Chuck's picture
Chuck

.

proth5's picture
proth5

you prefer the unteathered version of the thermometer when testing a loaf - but if you want to know what is happening to interior temperature while the loaf bakes, let me suggest that the remote readout will be useful, if not essential.

Certainly I gave a list of the variables that affect how our digital wonders read tempeartures, but I put out into the immensely creative and detail oriented universe of Fresh Loaf posters/readers/lurkers the challenge to design the experiment themselves.  Surely a control for oven temperature impacting the thermometer can be devised - perhaps a bracket that holds the thermometer at the same height as it would eventually be inserted into the baking loaf.  Oh! the endless possibilities!

I myself will not recommend the thermometer technique as after a very(!) detailed lecture on the subject, I will not risk recommending it at the wrong time.  No, you don't have to give me that lecture twice.

Squeezing the emerging loaf is the definitive test - if you haven't learned what a finished loaf feels like when squeezed - it is a skill well worth having...

As I also said, some people like the technique very much and feel they have had great success with it - who am I to stop them?

Peace.

jcking's picture
jcking

Once you get the basics down use your adventurous side to add small amounts of nuts, cheese and olives, also substitute small amounts other flours.

Jim

detlion1643's picture
detlion1643

I gotta say, since I started this, with all your help, and going back to the basic (lesson 1) - I have made 3 semi-successful loaves. Semi, only because they never hit the 'spring/rise' height I was hoping too, but then again, family has all my loaf pans so I did on a sheet. No extra flavors, and they make a semi ok sandwich bread, and make great toast though :).

I am attempting cinnamon buns (roll cut up), and feel like with how I know to proof, knead, rise it may turn out ok. However, I still have plenty of basic loaves to make and keep up on it. Little tweaking here and there as well finally :).

 

Thanks so much for the guidance guys!!!

detlion1643's picture
detlion1643

Rolls seem like a bust to me, so I'm going to stay with the basic loaf and minor tweaks. My dough had additions of eggs, milk, and sugar. Compensated with some more flour (following a recipe - not my own), the dough had a great first rise in about 1 hr 15 minutes. So upon getting the dough out of the bowl, it didn't feel very 'strong'. It was elasticy and weak. I did a stretch and fold and let it rest again for about 30ish minutes. It had a little more growth but felt stronger. So I did 1 more stretch and fold, divided the dough into 2 pieces, rolled them out, spread/sprinkled on the filling, rolled them up, cut them, and put them in a pan. 1 hour later, no growth. 2 hours, still no growth. Overnight (about 8-9 hours), still no growth!?

I'm going to let them sit throughout the day while I'm at work, but I don't have hopes for them. Might be a thrown away batch since the rolls are cut up already. Hmm, anyone experience a fantastic first rise, but no rise after shaping?

Well, for now I'm going back to the loaves I had success with...