The Fresh Loaf

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bread a little dense

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sether79's picture
sether79

bread a little dense

I am a new baker. Have only made about 10 loaves of bread. I have mainly been using the recipe below with a few slight variations.(First few loaves I did I did'nt use any eggs, sugar, butter, and substituted water for milk). I adjusted the recipe to try and get more fluffiness and since I did the loaves still turn out decent and taste great. (Much better then store bought). Only issue I'm having is bread still seems to come out a little dense. Would like it to be a little softer and more airy. Thinking it could be a kneading or rising issue, but frankly, not sure. So..... am posting my recipe and method. Hopefully you pros out there can give me some advice. I will try to be as detailed as possible. Any help for this newbie appreciated.

Ingredients:

4-5 cups bread flour

1 ½ cups milk

½ cup very warm water

2 tsp. sugar

2 tsp. salt

1 tbsp or packet dry active yeast

2 tbsp. butter or margarine

Oil for coating

 METHOD

In a large bowl  I combine the yeast and water. Stir and let stand 5-10 min. to get yeast working. In a small bowl add the milk and butter and heat in microwave till milk is scalded. Pull out and let cool till luke warm. While waiting, in small bowl I beat the egg slightly. Add salt and sugar. Stir. Add to the yeast/water mixture. Stir. When cooled I add the milk/butter mixture. Stir. Add one cup of flour at a time mixing together with spatula until dough is no longer able to be stirred with spoon. ( 3 1/2-4 cups). Flour hands and knead dough until smooth, yet tacky, and elastic. Approx. 5-15 min. Adding very small amounts of flour as needed just to keep dough from sticking. While dough ball is out of bowl I clean excess flour and grease thoroughly. Add dough ball. Flip once and cover with damp cloth. Let rise till doubled in size. Usually about an hour depending on kitchen temp. My kitchen is usually between 75-80 degree F. and it usually rises well. After first rise I punch, fold, and work dough for another ten min. Then I grease a 9 by 5 loaf pan. Add dough ball and shape. Cover again and let rise for about another hour, maybe hour and 15 min. Dough usually crests about an inch over pan in middle but not on sides. Add to middle rack of preheated oven for 30-45 min. Oven is set at 400 degree convection bake. Pull out and let cool on rack.

Bread doesn't seem to rise at all during baking. Top of bread gets pretty brown. Would like sides and bottom to have a bit more color, and also like I said previously the main issue is the density.

I included the photo so you can see how my loaves are looking and maybe give tips from seeing it.

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

sether29,

No idea on density of your loaf.  Recipe might need a bit more water but your description of how it feels sounds as though it is okay.

I do have a comment on dark crust though because I bake with a convection oven too.  When baking an enriched loaf I pre-heat at 425°.  When I load my breads I steam them for 10 minutes with the oven turned off or else the fan blows the steam out.  Once it has steamed I lower the temp to 350° and finish up the bake.

Try lowering your temp. to 350° for your whole bake and see what happens.

To brown the sides and bottom simply take the loaf out of the pan towards the end of the bake and let it finish up the bake on the rack out of the pan....like for 10 minutes or so.  You will just have to check and see how quickly yours browns and go from there as all ovens vary a bit.

Good Luck!

Janet

mk3269's picture
mk3269

I can't say I'm the best authority on the matter, but as a new baker, my only thoughts are:

-shaping technique is perhaps a bit rough?
-Have you tried the windowpane test?
-I agree with lowering the temperature, esp. with a sandwich bread.
-I like to begin kneading the dough after having added about 80% of the flour, the rest of it I save to add during kneading, to my hands and the countertop. That way I know I'm never adding too much flour, which I always seem to do otherwise, and my bread comes out heavy.

Hope this is useful in some way!

Cheers, Molly

sether79's picture
sether79

for the suggestions ladies. I will try lowering the temp in the oven. Also pulling the loaf out of the pan seems like a good idea. Molly, I've never done the windowpane test. One of my concerns is that maybe I HAVE been overworking the bread too much. Especially after the first rise. Also possibly adding more flour in the beginning (even in small amounts) isnt the answer. Was thinking of trying adding water to my hands so it doesn't stick my hands instead of flour, as to avoid over flouring.

Justkneadit's picture
Justkneadit

I too am a new baker but I have had some amazing results lately with some new techniques. If you don't have a scale I would definately recommend buying one because it helps you become more accurate with recipes and allows you to adjust them easier. Judging by your recipe the hydration of your bread is around 79% if you are using only 4 cups of flour and 2% milk. If you add that last cup of flour your hydration jumps from 79% to about 63%. Plus bread flour absorbs a bit more fluid than all-purpose.  1 tbsp vs. a packet of yeast, there are 3 teaspoons in 1 tablespoon and approx. 2.25 teaspoons in one packet, so you could play with that.

I have found the best way to acheive good crumb is how you handle the dough. I would say after the initial mixing let the dough rest for 20 min. Then knead accordingly, trying the window pane test. After the dough as risen, gently punch it down, rest for 15 mins, then preshape, rest 15 mins, then shape and place in loaf pan. I wouldnt reknead after the first rise. Being gentle is key. Try going by feel for the final proof. Doing the poke test is more accuarate than time on the final proof. Poke the dough gently and if its leaves an imprint the dough is ready for the oven. If you over proof you wont see much oven spring or rise after inserting dough into the oven. here is a link for shaping for a loaf pan.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_3zBaKkxMY   Hope my advice is makin the sense and helps. 

sether79's picture
sether79

thank you for your advice. Is the hydration being lower or higher better for my end result? What about using AP instead of BP?  Combination of both? Have heard that the higher % of protein in the BP can contribute to a more dense loaf. But I hear many different, sometimes contradictory, things. Ha

Justkneadit's picture
Justkneadit

I'm guessing you are trying make a good loaf of sandwich bread so bread flour is good. Just remember to add a little more water and its on this website exactly how much more but I cant seem to find it right now. For a sandwich loaf you are typically looking at 65% hydration, give or take. So a lower hydration is ideal for a sandwich loaf. For ciabattas and focaccias its a different story.

Ford's picture
Ford

Why is the crumb in your bread so dark?   It looks as though it were made from whole wheat flour, not bread flour.  If it is whole wheat flour that might explain the denser crumb.  Otherwise, I agree with Lane87. 

After shaping the loaf and placing it into the pan, brush it with a little butter.  Treat the dough gently when degasing after the bulk rise, and let the dough rise until the indentations made by your two fingers into the dough recover only very slowly, before putting it into the oven.  It should be well above the top of the loaf pan.  Slash and lightly spray the loaf with water before putting it in the oven.  I use a pan of boiling water in the bottom of the oven for steaming during the first 15 minutes.  Oven is preheated to 450°F and the bread is baked at that temperature with some misting of water from a spray bottle for the first five minutes, or so.  I lower the oven temperature to 350°F after 15  minutes and bake for an additional 40 minutes to an internal temperature of 190 to 195°F.

Good luck.

Ford

sether79's picture
sether79

it may just be lighting and angle when I took the picture thats causing it to look dark. I only used bread flour. I only have BP and AP in my house. I want to eventually make many different kinds of bread, but, I want to perfect this easy one before I move on to the harder kinds. Ford do you use convection setting on oven?

Ford's picture
Ford

My oven has natural (gravity) convection, ie air circulates because the hotter air is more dense than the cooler air, therefore the hotter air rises while the cooler air sinks.  Thus, all ovens are convection, except when they are set on "broil", then it is radient heat.

Sorry, I just had to give the little science lecture.  To really answer your question: my oven does not have a fan to give forced air convection.

Ford

adamtombar's picture
adamtombar

Try baking @425 for the first 20 minuted , then low the temp. to 385 for another 20-25 minutes. 

Another way is bake it like you do, then take it out of the pan on the rack for 5 more minutes.

sether79's picture
sether79

everyone for the tips an advice. I will be experimenting with different techniques and variations in the ingredients till I get my desired results. Hopefully have some good photos up soon