The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Newb Question

Crookedeyeboy's picture

Newb Question

Hi There

I baked my first home made loaf yesterday from the basic white loaf recipe in this book:

Just a quick question......

The bread came out great, not bad for a first attempt at all, tasted lovely BUT

It was quite thick and stodgy and it took quite a few hours to prove and rise.

Would I be right in thinking that basically I didn't have enough water in the recipe to allow the yeast to get going?

In the book it says add more water if necessary but I didn't see this until I had started shaping it and proving it.

hanseata's picture

Though I don't know the recipe, and a crumb shot would have been helpful, in general a lack of water might have been the problem (unless your kitchen was too cold.)

The best way to find out whether your dough is moist enough is to feel it, while you're mixing and kneading it. It should never feel dry, but tacky, or even a tad sticky, depending on the kind of bread and your mixing technique.

Otherwise, your bread looks quite nice for a first loaf, I produced several bricks before my breads turned out right, when I started baking.


Crookedeyeboy's picture

The kitchen wasnt too cold at all, I was sweating by the time I'd finished!

I put the loaf into the airing cupboard to prove twice, I think its certainly down to lack of fluid.

The recipe was 400g of organic white flour, 4g of dried yeast, 8g of salt, 240g of water. Nice and simple.

Skibum's picture

It certainly looks bettr than my first brick . . .  I would try using 270g water for 400g flour next try.  IIf the dough is too sticky just use lots of flour on your hands and your work surface when kneading.  If you don't need lots of flour add a little more water next bake.

can also suggest a couple of great tutorials.  First is Cyril Hitz on how to properly score a baguette:

By scoring a long loaf more lenghwise and overlapping rather than crosswise allows the loaf to spring open in the oven.

Also check out the tutorials section on this site.  Floyd's tutorial Ten tips for better French bread is excellent and the tips have helped me with ALL breads!

Happy baking!  Brian

Cob's picture

Hey I'm familiar with the RC bread book. You must remind me (unless I'm mistaken) of that Spanish recipe in the back somewhere among the 'Leftovers' section using copious amounts of EVO and breadcrumbs/croutons. It's been driving me crazy!!!

As others, I remember those first bricks too! Were I to have baked something similar to yours, I woud've been pretty chuffed. :) I'm not sure what you mean by thick and stodgy. Do you mean dense/heavy? A crumb shot would be useful.

It looks like a proper bloomer with a great, crackle of a crust. You proved it to double I supect seeing as your cuts partially opened. The lightest and airiest loaves loaves I've achieved tend to prove to 2x -3x out of the oven. You could try testing it just before baking by prodding it, it should be slow to respond and leave an impression, meaning there's little left to give.

Sometimes it can take a few hours to double for the first rise, especially given your generous dose of salt - the yeast won't like it, but it will get over it, let it go its own pace. The second rise should be much quicker since the yeast will have popluated to who knows what extent. If it doesn't, in the same 'ambient' conditions, you know its losing vigour. And needs baking soon.

I assume you activated the dried yeast first? I'm guessing your dried yeast was recently bought and a 'fresh' batch. Just to double check, always do that with dried active.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

"put the loaf into the airing cupboard to prove twice"  

Is that a draft free location?   How cool is it in the cupboard?   

Active dry yeast requires rather warm water to activate or it takes a long time.

Syd-a's picture

An airing cupboard as it is called in the UK is actually a very warm environment as it houses the hot water boiler for the house. So a perfect environment for proofing. My parents had theirs taken away when they updated their boiler and it totally spoiled my prefered proofing method, haha


dabrownman's picture

as you suspect.  You can up it quite a bit to 280 g of water even and still be at 70% and manageable.