The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Advice/Help Need... Baking Bread in South Florida...

NateHevens's picture

Advice/Help Need... Baking Bread in South Florida...

So, if you've seen my profile, then you already know that I live in Boca Raton, FL. If you don't know, that's about 45 minutes north of Miami via I-95, and less than 5 miles away from the Atlantic coast (the beach is fun... if you can beat the weather). I'm having an issue down here making bread, best exemplified by one specific recipe.

I have a very deep love for challah. I grew up Jewish (though I only identify as a cultural Jew now) and challah, to me, when made right, is the greatest thing. There's this recipe that made some of my favorite challah. It's "Cool Cats Challah". I posted the recipe here: breadmachine and no breadmachine. You should look at it carefully because it's the crux of the problem.

In Georgia, following the directions, this always came out fluffy and light, with a perfect crust and wonderful flavor. And I made both versions... with and without the breadmachine. Either way, it'd come out amazing.

Then I moved to Boca in 2009.

I didn't get back into making bread for a couple years because I just didn't have the time. Then, about 6 months ago, I decided to make the challah again (with the breadmachine) and...

It still tasted great, but the bread was dense and the crust chewy and tough.

I didn't change the recipe at all. I followed it exactly, and all ingredients were, as always, kept to room temperature.

What happened? Why this sudden change in texture? How do I fix it to get that fluffy light texture I remember from Georgia?

cranbo's picture

Sounds like you tried again with the bread machine. Maybe something happened to your bread machine in the meanwhile, maybe not working as well as it did 4 years ago? 

Have you tried making it the no breadmachine way as you described? Is so, what were the results? If not, you should try making it w/o the breadmachine to rule out the breadmachine as a possible cause. 

eliminate variables one at a time: 

1. Did you change your brand of flour at all? Did you buy a fresh bag? Both can make a difference. 

2. Are you using a fresh pack of yeast? 

3. Your water certainly has changed from one location to the other. Water that is too hard can inhibit a good rise, because it tightens the crumb too much. Try using bottled water. 

carefreebaker's picture

I had to switch to bottled water from tap water when making yeast dough. Give it a try. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and air in an open pitcher covered with cloth to keep out insects.  Let stand 24 hrs before using for bread.  Try and see how that works out for you.

 Your local water report (link)