The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

baking failure?

jooney's picture

baking failure?


I'm very new to baking, just started baking a month ago.  I picked one of those recipes listed on Mr. Bertinet's book, "Crust".  The reason why I chose that particular recipe was simply it looked delicious to me.^^  But I now regret that I may have picked something that is too much to handle for a novice baker like me.

Let me first make a brief summary about this recipe before I start asking questions.

Step 1: Make the ferment (which is going to be incorporated into the final mix later on)

125g strong white flour

125g water

5g fresh yeast

You mix all the ingredients very well and leave them in a warm place(25-30 degrees celsius) for 2-2.5 hours


Step 2: Make the dough


strong white flour



warm milk



You need the above ingredients as well as the ferment for the dough and mix them all together well.(I didn't write down the specific amounts because of copyright issue)  Then, you need to work the dough using his slap and fold method until it is smooth and silky.


Step 3: Rest the dough for about an hour

The instruction is pretty self explatonary, so I won't add anything here.


Step 4: Reshape the dough and rest it for another hour.

He says that this step is carried out for the purpose of adding flavor to the bread.


Step 5: Proof and bake

Divide the dough into smaller pieces, glaze them with milk syrup(sugar+milk), proof them for two hours and bake them until golden underneath and top.


This is what the final product looks like.


Now it's time for me to ask some questions.

Q1) I'd like to know what is considered "ripe" in terms of the state of the ferment.  Here is what my ferment looks like.  Is this what it is supposed to look like?  

After I rested my dough for the first time, here is what I got.   

It was a little difficult to work with because it was sticky.  I saw some bubbles being formed inside the dough.  

Q2) Is this an indication of something gone terribly wrong? I think I worked the dough as much as I could-up until the dough was smooth and cohesive(about 20 minutes or so)


When I divided them into smaller pieces and shaped each of them into a ball, I saw some air bubbles developing underneath the dough as you can see in the following image.


Q3) Again, is this a bad sign?


Here is my final result.  It's a little embarrasing to post it here because it is no where near what it's supposed to look like.  For some reason mine didn't get as browned as Mr's Bertinet's version even though I exactly followed his instruction in the recipe-baking at 180 degrees celsius for 18-22 minutes depending on its size)


Q4) How come mine didn't brown enough?


Overall, I'm not satisfied with the result.   I'd like to know exactly what should be done to replicate Mr. Bertinet's bath buns.  Any help and comments would be appreciated.  Thank you.

p.s. I'm baking from Korea.  English is not my first language.  So please pardon me for any grammar mistakes.^^






Yerffej's picture

For someone who started baking a month ago,  those rolls are beautiful.  Bake more and worry less, it will all work just fine.  I am sorry that I do not have time right now to answer your specific questions.  I will check later and see if you have received the answers you seek.


jannrn's picture

I certainly would not call this a failure! I too am fairly new to many aspects of baking, so I will let the more expert answser your questions, but I TOTALLY agree!! Bake more and worry less!! They are beautiful! How do they taste? That afterall is the most important thing! And for English not being your first language, you do very well! Please, bake on and don't worry so much! They look wonderful!


kitcar's picture

I'm not expert, but in my experienec bubbles inside the dough is to be expected if you added yeast! The bubbles are formed by the yeast - as the yeast "eats" the nutrients in the dough, they create is gas waste. Because the yeast is caught inside the dough, the gas can only escape via bubbles - which is why you see them :)

Regarding the dough being too wet to handle, I find sometimes difference in the humidity in the air, or even the manufacturer of flour can cause your dough to absorb more/less water than expected. I've made the exact same receipe multiple times for weeks on end, and get slighly different results depending on both the weather outside and the origin of my ingrediants. When the dough is too wet to handle, my personal strategy is  coat my hands with some flour to ensure it doesn't become too difficult to work with. 

proth5's picture

Question #1 - the ferment (or as you will see it written - the pre-ferment) is not exactly what most of us would call "ripe"

Here is a picture of two fully ripe pre-ferments

(My photography is not so good...)

A fully ripe pre-ferment will have many bubbles and may even be slightly domed.  Yours does not show the many bubbles.  In my picture the one on the left (in the small bowl) is nearly, but not quite, over ripe.

However - this process usually takes 8-12 hours.  The directions you were given do not allow this much time.  This will not cause your bread to "fail" as you are adding additional yeast to the final dough.  You might get more flavor if you let the pre-ferment mature completely, but your recipe made with it at this stage is by no means a failure.

Just answering the specific question on ripeness.  Your bread is lovely.

jooney's picture

Thank you very much all for your helpful comments and encouragement!  I'm going to give it a few more tries and hopefully, I'll do better next time. 



Ruralidle's picture

Maybe the final proof was a little too long and the yeast had used most of the sugars in the dough before you baked the rolls.  Try searching this site for "poke test" and use that to decide when to bake the rolls and do not rely on the clock.  M Bertinet's recipes are generally very sound but I have experience of proof times that he quotes being a bit on the long side.

EvaB's picture

In my experience, the oven is usually the culprit when it doesn't brown the baked goods properly, so my suggestion is to get an oven thermometer and check your oven, this might be an expense but you might find your oven is out by as much as 50 degres F (sorry I don't do celcius) So while the buns may be cooked they might not be cooked to the degree expected.

I know that I had difficulties with my oven being 25 Degrees F lower in temp than it should have been according to the setting (mine is digital, so I can set it by 5 degree increments) and as its a natural gas oven, having someone in to reset the oven would have been expensive, and then I discovered by accident that the bottom floor of the oven had not been placed in place properly so heat was escaping from the oven, once that was fixed the oven is back to the proper heating and its no longer out of range.

The oven also cools off everytime you open the door, so try to avoid peeking if you can!

Other than that, if my bread turned out as nice as yours I'd be estatic!

jooney's picture

Thank you for the additional comments.  I really appreciate the help you all have given me.  Many thanks!