The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

New Baker needs help's picture

New Baker needs help

I am new to the art of bread  baking and I have a question for the experts, or novice, on this site.  I live at 3500 feet in a arid climate so humidity is not a problem but altitude can be.  I made a baugette recipie the other earlier this week and the finished product turned out heavy.  I used KA bread flour, sea salt and Fleichsmans active dry yeast in the dough.  I followed the instructions in the recipie but it still turned out like a lead balloon. 

Any ideas as what I did wrong in the process.


pmccool's picture

it's going to be difficult to diagnose what went wrong.  Please provide as much information as you can about the recipe, the steps you took, the dough texture, temperatures, times, how you shaped and baked the loaves, etc.  It all matters, especially for a bread that is as demanding as a baguette.

Since you are new to the art, let me point you to the Lessons link at the top of the page.  Practice Lesson 1 over and over until you can produce consistent results, then move on to Lesson 2.  As you work your way through the lessons, you will develop an understanding of how different factors affect the bread and you will gain a feel for the dough.  The latter is something that is only learned hands-on.  The best bread books in the world cannot adequately describe what your senses will tell you about your bread.  Most of all, have fun while you learn!


proth5's picture

At 3,500 ft - for bread making - altitude is not really a problem (I bake regularly at 5,280 - so I do know about altitude baking...)

Humidity is - it's way too low.  You may want to add extra water (how much? hard to say - you need to add enough so that the dough feels "right" and that's a hard thing to communicate.)  Try adding a little bit extra so that the dough feel "satiny" (not dry or stiff) and see if the results are better.

Also be absolutely sure to cover your dough well any time it is resting.  Many recipes will say "cover loosely with plastic wrap." That instruction is not for you.  You will need to cover tightly with a bowl cover (these are now readily available in most mega marts) or in a closed plastic bag (I use the Hefty Big Bags in 4X.)

And what Paul said is correct, altitude and humidity notwithstanding, everything must be done correctly - and this takes practice.

Happy Baking!