The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

trubleshooting my first breads, can you help?

Simisu's picture
Simisu

trubleshooting my first breads, can you help?

i had followed lesson one (with a slight modification) and failed utterly though...i will tell my story and see if anyone can help. (i might as well introduce my self too)


so i put the three cups flower 2 ts salt 2 ts yeast and 1 with 1/8 cups water and added a few sesame seeds and flex seeds to the mix. i think i went wrong because i put the yeast with warm water, now either it was too warm it and killed off the yeast or it was instant yeast that´s not supposed to go in water or something but nothing was happaning (we´re having very cold days but i put the mix in a heated room quite close to the heating and waited more then 2 hours and NADA... took it out and kneeded it some more put it back for a couple more hours and still nothing! so i stuck it in the fridge and decided i will try to read what to do with a mix like that the next morning.

i read somewhere here that it´d be ok to just mix more yeast... i then mixed more yeast in water again (this time less warm, thinking it was probably too warm) and waited more....

nothing! and i waited enough time... stuck it in the over none the less (managed to burn it because i had no idea how to use my gas oven!) the outcome was a tasty block of dough, not really adible but tasty (a little too much salt but other then that i liked the taste)

i concluded that the yeast i was using was too old and i probably wasn´t using it right?

or maybe for some reason the seeds were getting in the way somehow?

so the next day i bought fresh yeast and we tried again, this time i stuck to the basics, but the mix came out VERY sticky... i probably had to put more flower but i insisted it was probably ok...  it grew but not doubled (in about two and a half hours! i went out of the house so this time the waiting wasn´t so bad) we came home late and i took it out to shape it for the mold but had to add some flower because it was too sticky to handle, so i kneeded it some more and in the end just dumped as best i could in the mold... it didn´t so much grow as expended and because it was so late we didn´t wait too much before just sticking it in the over (about an hour) in the oven it did grow a little and it came out adible but certanly with a lot of room for improvement, it was too dense but i didn´t mind, it´s a welcomed change haha.

my conclusion is too much water impeding the expansion?

any help would be greatly welcome,

thanks in advance,

Simisu

tomac's picture
tomac

In regards to your efforts. Are you hand mixing or using a mixer with dough hook? With the yeast were you using dry active yeast, or instant active/rapid rise. Active dry requires warm water to bloom/break down the yeast. Instant active/rapid rise can be mixed straight into doughs without blooming in water. I prefer rapid rise. SAF is my favorite brand. You can use water that is slightly warm even with rapid rise, this helps with jumping off the dough, but keep in mind if the water is to hot you can fry the yeast. Anything above 120* can kill yeast be it fresh yeast, Dry active, rapid rise.

Also in reading about your first attempt you said that you thought the bread was a little salty. Salt not only imparts flavor but also controls the growth of the yeast in your dough. Too much salt can equal impeeded yeast production. Another good rule of thumb, when mixing in seeds to your dough do it closer to the end when the dough is almost deveolped. Seeds can act as littile razors that can damage the gluten strands you have built by kneading.

In your second attempt you say the dough was very sticky. Depending on what type of bread you are making this can be good or bad. I suggest 2 things. Read up on how bakers percentages work. If you can convert your recipes from cups to weights you will have more success. Invest in a digital home scale. One that does weight,oz. and grams. Read up on gluten development in breads. ie. the gluten window test. Read up on Stretch and folds in wet bread doughs. I hope I have not complicated things too much. You have picked a great forum website to help guide you along. Happy baking and stick with it.

Simisu's picture
Simisu

hummm.... interesting!

i don´t own a machine so all kneading and mixing was done by hand (i checked out some videos here for the technique and i was quite pleased with the outcome actually)  i used istant yeast from the kind you have to put straight into the flower... but from what i´ve read that shouldn´t have been an issue unless the water was too hot i dunno...

as for the seeds, what do you mean ¨when the dough is almost developed¨ is that when i´m almost done kneading it?

don´t be afraid of complicating me, i here to learn :o) and i´m actually familiar with most of the things you´ve suggested having read the handbook (though far from experienced hehe)

i do have a scale (goes up to 200 grams though and is very accurate) but i was following the lesson one post here in the forum and unfortunately there are no percentages listed only cups and teaspoons. maybe there´s a way to convert that or better yet just look for another recipe with more detail... 

any recipe suggestions are more then welcome (will do with a simple general white bread loaf for now until i figure some things out and practice the kneading folding and shaping too) and i´m aiming for whole wheat whole rye mix and a whole rye 100% with all kinds of seeds and or flavors. but i guess both require a sourdough starter... so there´s still some way a head :O)

thanks for the help, i do hope ill stick through with this because it´s one skill i always wanted to have and i´m a great believer of do it your self, it usually is much better and much more satisfactory anyway!

Simisu

 

 

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Check for a personal message under your name, under the search box.

Russ's picture
Russ

I've read through all your posts in this thread and it sounds to me like you're working with dead yeast. Try this: take some yeast (maybe half a teaspoonful) and put it in a cup of warm water with a teaspoonful of sugar. The water should feel comforatably warm to the touch. Leave this mixture alone for 10 or 15 minutes. If there are bubbles and foam in the mixture at the end of that time, then I'm wrong and the yeast is not your problem. If there are no bubbles, then you need to get some new yeast.

Russ

Simisu's picture
Simisu

i agree that my first try probably was dealing with dead or almost dead yeast (for the hot water and the fact which i did not mention in this thread that the yeast i first used was indeed expired) but for the next batches i used yeast i baught the same day...

so no... i´m quite confident the problem was cold tempratures of the dough and ambient!

i´m in the process of writing a blog post with all the story if you are interested check it out...

thanks all the same!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven
Simisu's picture
Simisu

thanks for the pitta recipe, i´ll give it a go one day!

the other is what i was actually following :o)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I can tell you that just when I thought I could whip out a loaf with my eyes shut (like I tried to do the other day) I flopped miserably.   ...and I know why.   Made a frisbee.  A good tasting one by the way, but not the one I had pictured in my head. Susan put me in my place but I was also reminded how upsetting it can be when things don't go as planned.  I really feel like the rug has been pulled out from under me.  I do know that until I get it to work, it will nag at me so off I go to try again.

So stay with it, flops are great ways to learn things, and don't give up.  Birds and animals get hungry too.  Sometimes we have to be patient and listen to the bread dough rising.   Next time I will play some good music.

wayne on FLUKE's picture
wayne on FLUKE

Lesson 1 calls for 3 Cup Flour, 1 1/8 Cup water.

Depending on how you measure your flour the weight of a cup varies tremendously. So my advice is don't use cups.

If I look at a bag of bread flour I have handy, the nutrition label says a serving is 1/4 cup or 31 grams. This is consistent with a flour weight of about 125 grams per cup which I have often seen recommended. However, unless you gently spoon the flour into a cup and level it with a knife you will get much more.

Using that 125 gr/cup and 237 gr/cup water this recipe will have a hydration (ratio of water to flour) of 71% which is fine for some breads but will not give me a dough ball like that in the pictures. If you drop back to about 1 cup of water that would give you about 63% which should be easier to deal with. That being said depending on the specific flour you use, the humidity and other conditions you can see quite a bit of variability. For example, in the winter in Florida I have had to cut back a little on the water in my recipes to get the same results even though I weigh everything to the gram.

Good luck and have fun.

wayne

Simisu's picture
Simisu

thanks a lot for this run down...

im about to go for my third try so i´ll use this post to keep record of what i´m actually going to do and see what comes up.

so i plan to make one loaf (along with my wife so basically we´ll be doing the same with slight changes making two saparate bread loaves) consisting of

375g flour with 65% hidration makes 244 grams water

7.5 g salt 2%

7.5 g instant yeast 2%

and 4% flex and seasme seeds which are 15 g

seeds will be added to the developed dough (a couple of minutes before i finish kneading)

so went a head and did that...

we mixed stuff together and let it rest for a few minuets before kneading this time adding the yeast into the mix before the water. the 2% salt is a big difference from 2 teaspoons salt, it turns out about a 1/4 of the amount i put last time, does that make sense? while with the yeast its more or less the same... i´m guessing the kind of salt used in the original recepie would be something like coarse sea salt? while i was using just plain salt....

on my loaf we decided to double the seeds (which looks to be too much and i´m thinking i should have put more water to account fo the seeds since the dough was rather on the dry side as it was) and off they go to rise.

one of these loaves will have to wait for the other to leave the ovan befor being baked (we only have one mold... or i might just put it straight on a the oven pan along side the mold...?)

well... any comments are welcome and i´ll check back to update with results (hopefully something less dwarfish this time)

 

Simisu's picture
Simisu

we were kneading the dough on the very cold marble (resulting in a very cold dough) which i´m sure is not favorable but am hoping that at least not detrimental...

and i´m sad to remember only now that we did not perform the window test... hummm....

Simisu's picture
Simisu

since it failed to rise again we did not preform any trech and fold method, should we have?

my reasoning was that it had to have risen befor stretching and folding but maybe the S&F would help the rise?

 

wayne on FLUKE's picture
wayne on FLUKE

I think regular table salt is about 6 grams per teaspoon so why do you say the 7.5 grams was 1/4 of the 2 tsp you used previously. 7.5 grams would be about 1 1/4 tsp by my thinking.

I do agree though that 2 tsp of table salt (and the recipe didn't specify something else so that would be assumed) is quite a lot.  Let us know how it turned out.

As far as baking two at once, you could always put one in the pan and shape the other like in the lesson which looks like it was baked on a cookie sheet or a stone. If you are going to bake them sequentially, you have to be concerned about over-proofing (last rise too long, loaf will collapse eventually). Some people would retard (usually in the refrigerator) one to slow down the yeast.

Looking forward to seeing your results, post some photos, people won't laugh at them if they are not perfect and it is very helpful to figure out what might be wrong.

wayne

Simisu's picture
Simisu

i measured more or less the same amount and it came up to 12 or more grams per tea spoon... so more or less said it was double... obviously my manner of measuring a tea spoon is off but now i can be more precise since i used the gram scale...

i just finished shaping one of them... if you might call shaping to what i did...

there was only a slight slight change to mine and a bit more to hers (though very hard to tell since it had a lot of side ways space to fall into...) and that´s in about 3 hours or so...

so i dont know... is it the temperature or is it the seeds or what... if its not rising should i simply wait longer or just bake it...

i have to say i came very excited thinking that it won´t be too complex to just whip up a bread but i´m starting to garner much respect to the actual complexity of all the factors... we ate and enjoyed the last bread though so i´m not giving up just yet

Simisu's picture
Simisu

So, thanks to MiniOven´s help i have a few things sorted out i belive...

first are the rise times during cold weather - wow... thats a whole lot longer then i imagined... so it must be the temperature!

according to this chart from this post (which utilizes preferments of sour dough exclusively, while different at least gives me a ballpark estimation of what i should expect. nothing accurate though) at the temps i was dealing with it might have been more then 10 hours rise (considering that i used white flour which takes longer to rise according to the chart author...)

so drawing conclusions as such...

  • find a way to correctly proof the dough in higher temps (maybe a warmed container)
  • change the formula to promote rise times (ie up the hydration and add a bit of extra yeast)
  • use tepid water instead of cold water
  • knead on warmer surface (ie not on freezing cold marble!!!)
  • patience is key!
  • utilize preferments (maybe a biga)

now i wish i could eat all this bread TODAY so i´d have to make the next one already :O)

***PATIENCE*** yes.....

have been obsessing about this issue a whole week but i think it´s going to pay off quite soon... now i realize i picked the worse time to be getting into bread making (it´s been super cold here lately, temps close to 0ºc and my flat is not well warmed (the kitchen is freezing!) but i won´t give up...

the bread came out tasty although dense as a block (we still enjoyed it far more then the bread we used to buy.. i finally feel i´m eating something and having to chew is a welcome change)

ill write again on my next try and i think i should start using my blog, i´m trying to put too much into every post.....

thanks again everyone!

 

 

Jean6's picture
Jean6

You might look into using sourdough starters. There is a wonderful thread on this site that uses pineapple juice to start up your own starter. Sourdough starters like cooler temperatures and are much easier to deal with in the winter IMHO.

Otherwise, look into contructing a proofing box using an insulated picnic cooler and placing some sort of a heat source inside, like a heating pad or hot water bottle. Or take your bread into the heated room to let it rise. Or one thing I do is to heat the oven until it feels really warm when you put your hand inside, then turn the oven off. Put the dough in a heat proof bowl, place it in the oven and close the door. Check back in about and hour and see how it's going. You may need to reheat the oven once more for the final proof time (just make sure you take the dough out before you turn the oven on so you don't bake the dough). It also helps to put any baking sheets into the oven briefly before you put your shaped dough on them so there is not a temperature shock to the dough. Another idea is to warm up your marble countertop. I know one can use ice to cool down marble in summer, why not put a heating pad on it in the winter to warm it?

Simisu's picture
Simisu

just now i finished mixing a poolish starter for my next batch, as i mentioned i put all the info into a blog post here, scroll down for my revised recipe and implementation of said conclusions. i might just use the oven but i´m kinda scared that that would be too hot... we´ll see... at least this time if what i do is not enough i´ll know simply to wait instead of giving up and baking it as is!

thanks again!

Simisu