The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Help ! Help! Help!

Tomy Lam's picture
Tomy Lam

Help ! Help! Help!

I have been trying to make bread many times in the last few weeks. While I had some moderate success at times, but more often than not, my drough did not raise properly.

As you can see, some parts of the flour was still very much undeveloped and remained very lumpy, someone told me it is the kneading problem, but I had kneaded the dough for as much as 20 minutes, and got it to as smooth as I could. Of course I could never get to the "Window Test" stage.

I had been using instant dry yeast, I always let the dough rest for 15 minutes after kneaking and then shape it before the start of the proofing. I normally only proof it once.

At times, the dough will raise more than double, but often it will end up in very beery taste, For that I was told it is over-proofed.

I think I had more than one problem at hand.

Very much looking forward to some helps and tips

 

cranbo's picture
cranbo

If it's beery, that's almost guaranteed to be overfermented. The collapsed top and mottled texture in your picture are another giveaway. 

The crumb has a few issues, in part related to overfermentation (the gooey, underdone look). The cakey quality might be overfermentation related, but it also shows insufficient dough development, which could be a symptom of not enough kneading, or your recipe, or your flour type, etc. 

You also need to have 2 fermentations, not just one: the first fermentation right after you knead (until the dough doubles in bulk); the second fermentation after you shape the dough into the finished loaf, until it passes the "poke" test (search the forums for more info on this). These are necessary both for improving dough strength and flavor.

During the 1st fermentation, it is OK for the dough to go a little more than double (but never any more than triple!); during the 2nd fermetation, if it more than doubles in bulk, it will almost certainly be overfermented/overproofed. 

Can you share your recipe/formula? That should help troubleshooting. Choosing a good, forgiving starting recipe is key to learning how to make good bread. There are a number of those on this web site, see the "Lessons" link at the top of the page, or search the forums. Alternately, visit the King Arthur Flour web site for some very well-tested, reliable bread recipes. 

Tomy Lam's picture
Tomy Lam

Cranbo,

Thank you so much for the reply.

Here is my formula:
2 cup of all Purpose Flour
1/2 cup Wholemeal Flour
1/2 cup warm water
1/4 cup of cold milk
2 tsp Instant dry yeast
2 table spoon of vegi oil
2 table spoon of brown sugar
1 tsp of salt

I started off by mixing the sugar and warm water in the bread machine.

Then add the instant dry yeast.

Once I see bubble comes out, I pour in all the flour and start mixing.

5 minutes after mixing, I will add the oil.

Once the dough ball is formed, I put in the salt.

When the mixing cycle end (30 minutes), I will stop the machine and manually knead the dough for another 15 minutes.

Once the dough becomes smooth, I put it back into the machine for 15 minutes resting.

And then I shape it into the loaf shape and start my proofing.

In the first 20 minutes, the dough will grow by almost 50%

Within 45 minutes, it will grow by about 100%.

I will continue the proofing for another 15 minutes.

And then... it became overfermented.

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Tomy, thanks for sharing. A few thoughts: 

First, too much instant yeast! This will certainly be a cause for overfermentation, especially in a bread machine. 2 tsp is more than enough for 4 cups of flour for a quick-rising bread. For your quantities, try first cutting the yeast in half (only 1 tsp), and then for future loaves, consider reducing it even further (3/4 tsp) and see what results you get. 

Also try increasing water just a little bit; right now you have 3/4c. of liquid, for 2.5c of flour, which is probably slightly dry. Try increasing liquid by 2-4 tablespoons. This increase should be OK because wholemeal flour absorbs a lot more water than all-purpose flour. 

Otherwise the quantities & recipe looks fine. 

Tomy Lam's picture
Tomy Lam

Cranbo,

So I should stay with the 15 minutes resting and one proofing cycle?

 

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Tomy, 

Once the dough is smooth after kneading (regardless of duration), you need to let the dough double in bulk. That will probably take between 60-120 minutes...watch the dough carefully every 15 minutes. 

After the dough has doubled, then you shape it, let it almost double again, and only then it is ready to bake. 

 

jannrn's picture
jannrn

I too use my bread machine alot....but I put all my wet ingredients in first, then the dry. I agree too that you can decrease your yeast. Have you tried butter instead of the oil...just for flavor....but do try reducing the yeast and adding more liquid like Cranbo said. What kind of machine do you have? Is that how your instructions have you add the ingredients? Also, when I am using wholemeal flour, I usually put it in first and next to the liquids so it can absorb first. Do you warm your liquids? Please let us know how it turns out!

Jann

Tomy Lam's picture
Tomy Lam

Jann,

I use warm water, but add cold milk, hence the temperature of the daugh might not be very high.

I have a ACA machine and had been using the fully automatic cycle for bread making.

But it always come out more like a brick.

So I start reading about all these different recipes to make better loaf.

So far, some of my bread turned out very good, but I guess that is more just luck.

Looking for ways to be more consistency.

 

Juergen's picture
Juergen

I agree with everything cranbo said; you're using too much yeast and you really need two fermentation cycles. As a very general rule, a dough must double in size during the first rise (a.k.a. first fermentation). After the second rise (a.k.a. 'proofing'), aim for a rise of about one and a half time the size of the original dough size. With regards to time I'd say forget about time and go by look and feel instead. The 'poke' test to which cranbo referred is one of the best indicators. At first this may seem a little intimidating because you may feel a little unsure but after a few bakes, you'll see that you'll become pretty good at judging things.

So the moral of this story is that it is you who decide, not the clock. Oh, and nevermind those 'bricks', we all produced 'bricks' the first few weeks or even months of trying. In my opinion, the skill of baking is best learned by trial and error. Read TFL, perhaps read some books, go watch some very informative videos on YouTube and before you know, you'll be baking many very decent loaves. Not too long from now, you'll find yourself laughing about the bricks you once produced :-)

cranbo's picture
cranbo

and those bricks can make pretty good breadcrumbs too! :)

Juergen's picture
Juergen

And the birds like 'm too!

Tomy Lam's picture
Tomy Lam

Thank you everyone for the lovely advices.

To summarise all the points:

1) I will need to reduce the yeast by 50%

2) I will need more water (4 tablespoon more)

3) I will knead the dough for longer time 

4) I will need to extend the first part of resting to the extend that the dough grow to double

5) I will need to throw away my timer and use on my own eye to check

6) I shall stop the proofing  once the daugh is about 50% bigger, and hope to get some oven spring.

Anything else?

cranbo's picture
cranbo

For #3, if you knead longer, you will have a very uniform, fluffy crumb, like a store-bought sandwich bread. If you knead less, your bread will be less fluffy and uniform, and have bigger holes. Wetter dough + less kneading = bigger holes in bread. 

Everything else looks good Tomy. Let us know how your next batch turns out. 

Tomy Lam's picture
Tomy Lam

Cranbo,

I shall give it a try tonight.

I often find the longer I knead, the harder the dough became, that is because the water was absorbed by the flour, right?

So I will see how the additional 4 spoon of water will do to my dough.

Thanks!

 

Tomy Lam's picture
Tomy Lam

Cranbo, Jann and Juergen,

Here is the result of my test tonight.

In the first fermentation, the dough raised by double, then I shape it into my loaf tray.

It was at 3cm in height before the start of the proofing, 30 minutes into the proofing, the dough grew to 5cm, so I start the baking.

20 minutes into the baking, the dough grew to 9cm in height.

When it all done in 30 minutes, I waited 30 minutes before I cut up the bread.

However, the outcome is still not very good.

While the bread is very soft, but it still a bit beery in taste.

And most importantly, the bottom of the dough is still not developed at all.

I had tried to upload some photos, but could not find the link.

:(

Any idea what happened?

Juergen's picture
Juergen

Yes, and one more thing that I would highly recommend is to use a digital kitchen scale to weigh your ingrdients instead of measuring them in terms of 'tablespoons', 'cups' etc. etc. This makes things much more accurate since '1 cup' might be 3/4th of a cup for someone else but for example 500 grams is always 500 grams, no matter who weighs it. If you then combine this with using a simple baker's formula of ingredients instead of an actual recipe, you can also adjust the amounts of bread you want to make without always having to make that same large loaf because the recipe calls for 'a cup of water' and 'a tablespoon of salt' etc. etc. In a baker's formula the total amount of flour is always the '100% ingredient' and all other ingrdients are a certain percentage of that amount.

A typical example would be the classic French 60-2-2 baker's formula which looks like this:

flour 100%

Water 60%

Yeast 2%

Salt 2%

So let's say you know want to make a loaf with 500 grams of flour. These 500 grams then become the '100% ingredient' and the actual recipe would be:

flour 500 gram (100%)

Water 300 gram (60% of 500 grams)

Yeast 10 gram (2% of 500 grams)

Salt 10 gram (2% of 500 grams)

You know see that things become highly adjustable this way and you can make as much or as little bread as you wish and you'll always end up with similar results because the ratios stay the same. 

Good luck and let us know how your next loaf turns out.

 

 

jannrn's picture
jannrn

Ok...what temperature did you bake it?? It MAY be a bood idea to turn it down by 25 degrees and bake it a little longer. You should be able to thump it and it make a hollow sound....

linder's picture
linder

Is this bread made in a bread machine? This may be a silly question, but how old is your bread machine? Years ago, I had a bread machine and after 2 years or so of weekly pizza dough mixing and bread bakes, it no longer baked the bread properly(didn't get hot enough).  I then relegated it to dough mixing only and did the rest of the process by hand, also I got sick of prying the little dough paddle out of the bread.

 

Tomy Lam's picture
Tomy Lam

The dough was mixed in the bread machine, the first fermentation was inside the machine too.

Then I use my oven to do the baking at 180c

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Tomy, sorry to hear the latest bake didn't go well. 

In the first fermentation, the dough raised by double, then I shape it into my loaf tray.

How much time elapsed during the first fermentation? 

It was at 3cm in height before the start of the proofing, 30 minutes into the proofing, the dough grew to 5cm, so I start the baking.

Volume increase is a reasonable indicator during proofing but not as good as the "poke test" . Did you try the "poke test" to determine if the bread was ready to bake? Poke the bread with the tip of your finger, up to the first joint. If the dough springs back quickly, it's not ready yet. If it springs back slowly, it's ready. If it doesn't spring back, it's overfermented. 

20 minutes into the baking, the dough grew to 9cm in height.

That's a lot of oven spring. I wonder if your dough was slightly underfermented this time. 

When it all done in 30 minutes, I waited 30 minutes before I cut up the bread.

However, the outcome is still not very good.

While the bread is very soft, but it still a bit beery in taste.

And most importantly, the bottom of the dough is still not developed at all.

If it is still beery, it's possible that some fermentation problem happened, again I'm guessing underfermented. How much yeast did you use? 

And most importantly, the bottom of the dough is still not developed at all.

Do you mean the bottom is raw/uncooked? This could be because it didn't bake long enough, or the baking temperature was too low. Was the top crust cooked correctly? How about the side crusts? FYI, here is a link to help troubleshoot bread machine problems. Perhaps you can bake the next loaf slightly longer? If you have an instant thermometer, the internal temperature of the bread should be between 190F - 200F for a basic sandwich bread (any higher and the crumb dry out somewhat). 

I had tried to upload some photos, but could not find the link.

When writing a new message, click the small "photo" icon (looks like a little tree), and then click the "Browse" icon next to the "Image URL" text box. This will let you select a photo. 

Tomy Lam's picture
Tomy Lam

Hello All,

This is my latest result.

It is not prefect yet, but it is already much better than before.

 

However, I am still not very clear with the poke test, I've tried a few poke at different stage of the proofing (begining, middle and the end).

 

Those holes never really came back flat... even at the middle of the proofing

 

 

 

What did I do wrong?

Juergen's picture
Juergen

When were these photos taken? At the first fermentation cycle after kneading or during the final proof phase? Also how much time had already passed when you took these?

Tomy Lam's picture
Tomy Lam

Juergen,

 

These are taken during the first fermentation cycle after the kneading, it was 30 minutes into the cycle, when the dough is already double in size.

 

I also did the same test again in the second proofing stage, much the same outcome...