The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Same Recipe -different outcome

hardough4010's picture
hardough4010

Same Recipe -different outcome

Hi All,

I started  learning bread baking a few months ago.  I have a basic white bread that after a few attempts, I have managed to perfect.  It is:

500g flour,

320g water,

30 g butter,

10g salt

For the yeast, I use fresh yeast and only about 6g and get great results.

As I said, I have been making great bread with this but the last four attempts have been a disaster in that the dough while rising has become sticky.    Within a few miniutes of the first rise, it starts to fall flat.  When baked they do rise nto as much as my previous successful loaves but I have to leave them in the oven to bake longer.  They also come out a bit chewy and doughy.  I have tried adding less water.  Then less yeast.  I have also added more flour in which case the bread ends up tasting cakey.  I can't figure what I am doing wrong.  I have yet another batch rising and the same thing is happening.  Is there anything I can do to save this?

Anyone have any idea what I am doing wrong?

Thanks for any suggestions

ananda's picture
ananda

Hello hardough4010,

The recipe is absolutely fine; you don't need to play around with that.

2 areas I would look at:

1] What flour are you using?   Make sure you have decent quality bread flour at your disposal.

2] Try to keep a handle on your dough temperature somehow.   If you can make sure your dough temperature is maintained somewhere between 24 and 28*C, you won't go far wrong.   You may need to buy a probe thermometer for this; an essential piece of baker's kit in my opinion.

Best wishes

Andy

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Brand of flour? Perhaps the flour processing at the plant changed? Did you open a different bag of flour? Are you storing it in a different location?

Did the weather change? Is the heat now on or off?

Is your refrigerator temperature different? This would affect your fresh yeast.

Did you get a bad batch of fresh yeast? Perhaps the delivery pallet sat on a hot delivery dock long enough to affect the yeast.

Has your water changed? Different municipal water treatment?

There are many things that can affect the outcome of bread and it can drive you absolutely mad sometimes trying to figure it out. Good luck.

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

It seems that your gluten structure is failing, meaning either that the gluten is being destroyed while fermenting or there just isn't enough gluten in your flour. Probably the latter. It could be runaway enzyme activity too, I guess. If you were successful before, then something has changed, as clazar123 said. Check all of your ingredients for quality and freshness.

hardough4010's picture
hardough4010

Thanks everyone for your help.

Flour - I always use Waitrose Strong Canadian Flour (I'm in the UK) its my favourite flour so far in terms of flavour and handling.  I have always used it for this recipe.  I recently bought a new packet so I don't know if it could be the flour.

Weather:  Well, I didn't do much baking during the heatwave we had here earlier this summer, but the last couple of weeks that I have been failing there has been a lot of moisture in the air, but not hot at all.  Today for example, it is cloudy and threatening to rain. I thought of this and reduced the water by about 30 ml to compensate, it was still very sticky and when I poked it just stayed even though it hadn't been proving for very long.

Yeast:  I have fresh yeast from Richard Berinet's shop that I store in the freezer.  Even though I was told it was okay to freeze I thought maybe that could be the problem so I got some free fresh yeast from Tescos and that did not seem to help.

Water - I really don't know or at least I don't think so.

I was just reading a post on here about rising and proving.  This dough goes flat within minutes of being put down for the first rise.  while proving it is very sticky even with a reduction in water and yeast.  When I poke while proving the indent stays.

The one I did today was a bit better.  I used the full amount of water that the recipe called, about 3g of fresh yeast (tescos) Again spread during the first rise.  I didn't leave it very long about 45min.  Was very soft when I put it to prove and yet again spread so I decided to reshape and this time it rose.  When I did the poke test it bounced back!  It took a bit longer to bake but it was still a bit heavy and chewy.  But marginally better than the others.

This is a bit disheartening as I thought I was doing so well.  I was baking for my neighbourhe said my breads had really improved and felt they were great.

 

golgi70's picture
golgi70

If all the ingredients are the same and its not crazily different weather maybe it could be how you handled your mixing?  Are you using autolyse?  Is it possible the better results are due to better gluten development in the dough?  Tell us how you mix the dough.  Based on what I'm reading I am assuming this is the where something is going wrong.  

Let us know and we'll help you tackle the issue

 

Josh

hardough4010's picture
hardough4010

ok.  I autolyse for about 20-30 min then add yeast salt, butter. Then I knead until dough is a bit smooth. ( but I notice lately it  tears) I fold then leave to rise for about an hour.  Before these problems I use to leave it longer.  I then shape and leave to prove.

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi again hardough4010,

I am in the UK and am familiar with the flour you are talking about.   It is 15% top quality Canadian flour; there is no way it is too weak.

I'm just reading through your description of your mixing procedure as you wrote it out for Josh above.   I don't really see the point of autolyse for this type of bread.   Simply allowing a longer bulk time will be far more effective.   Folding is not really appropriate either, unless you are to increase the hydration of the dough considerably.   Gently knocking the dough back will be more effective.

Can you clarify whether you are weighing the water, or measuring it?   Measuring simply means a line on a jug, implying little accuracy.   Weigh your water is always my recommendation.   Whatever you choose to do, holding back water is one of the causes of the problems you are having.   Very strong flour like this needs to be properly hydrated.   64% [the amount you are using if you weigh it], is about right, but if you go lower than this you may well be making the dough too tight.

I've used frozen yeast before; it works, but it can be very slow indeed.   I'd stick to fresh if you can, without freezing.   If not, use the instant yeast at one third the amount you use of fresh.   I also think you need to look at one of two other options.   If you keep the yeast at that level [pretty low], then you should increase the bulk time.   For a one hour bulk you would look at more like 2.5% fresh yeast.

Try the following:

Weigh 320g water @ 32*C [if you are mixing by hand] into your mixing bowl.   Dissolve the yeast into that, then cut your butter into small cubes and add that.   Tip in the flour, then salt.   Use a plastic scraper to scrape round the bowl edge until the flour and water have amalgamated sufficiently and you don't have any really sticky patches.   Now tip out onto the bench and work up the dough to develop it properly for 10 -15 minutes..   For bulk time, keep the dough covered and hold the temperature between 24 and 28*C.

If you are still having trouble you might contact Waitrose.   But I think it is highly unlikely to be a fault in the flour to be honest.

Best wishes

Andy

hardough4010's picture
hardough4010

Thanks everyone for your help and patience,

Andy - why not autolyse for this bread? I thought auotlyse was a process for any bread.  Yes,  I quite like the Waitrose flour and never had any problems with it before.

I always weigh my water is grams.  i use to measure the temp when I first started baking bread but I guess I have become too cocky and just do the finger test now.  I reduced the water because the dough was just so sticky,

I froze the yeast because  I bought the Bertinet yeast online in bulk.  I found the free yeast from the supermarket a bit inconsistent.  But I do prefer the fresh one.  How do I keep track of the dough temp? Do I just keep measuring it?  I have never measured my dough temp.  Never thought I had to do that. TBH I am just an amateur and have never gone on a course.  I intend to one of these days.

I will try your suggestions and let you know how I get on.  I will need to go to Waitrose to get more flour. BTW since you are here in the UK, do you know of any stoneground organic flours you can recommend?  There are a couple of mills I know of here in Wales but i do not of anyone that tried them that I can ask.

Thanks once again,

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi hardough4010,

Autolyse has its place as a process.   In fact, I use it quite frequently, as it kickstarts all the enzymatic reactions available when the flour is hydrated.   I find it particularly useful in long fermentation dough using natural levains.   It is of greatest use to me when using wholegrain flours which are thirsty, but take a long time to absorb water as the bran is slow to breakdown.

But for bulk fermenting basic white breads, especially those made with very strong flour, I cannot see the benefit of autolyse.   And your dough will not really be wet enough to allow for folding; gentle knockbacks being more appropriate.

Yes, I use the Organic Wholegrain Rye flour from Bacheldre Watermill in Wales in all my rye baking.   Lovely flour!   I haven't used the Bacheldre wheat flours, but you could search out the work of Juergen Krauss here on TFL as I know he has used Bacheldre flour quite a bit, including their very traditional "white" flour which he equated to high extraction and sounds a delight.  See: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/32804/big-miche

Of course, you should expect these local flours to perform very differently to your super-powerful high gluten flour from Waitrose!

Best wishes

Andy

 

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Using a quality flour, this is the last thing I would think of but the description sounds exactly like that-very extensible , wet dough after a short time into bulk fermentation and easy tearing of the dough. Easy enough to rule out-just make a loaf with a different batch of flour and see what happens.

Check with your water service and see If they changed the water purification process.

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

I second the notion of trying a different batch of flour - make sure the lot # (or equivalent in the UK - this is a number or string of letters and numbers that is often used in recalls, somewhere on the packaging) is DIFFERENT from the bag you have at present.

This is exactly what has happened when I have accidentally mixed up flour and ended up using an AP type of flour where a bread flour is needed.

hardough4010's picture
hardough4010

Thanks everyone for all your help.  I have now bought another batch and will be baking tomorrow so I will let you all know how it goes.

Andy-  I didn't know those finer details of autolysing.  I thought it was something you could do with any flour or bread. 

I will try the Bacheldre flour.  I have the rye but have only used it as a tiny, tiny amount in my bread.  I will try the stoneground white.  Any tips for working with this?

One question though - how does the homemaker achieve consistency in their loaves?  Is it just a matter of practice and experience.  I think some lessons will be on my to do list for 2014.

Will keep you updated.  I am a bit apprehensive as it is a bit damp and rainy here now.

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi hardough4010,

Good luck with the baking tomorrow.   If it does turn out to be the flour, then please take it back to the shop, as Waitrose will very much want to know there is a poor batch of flour out there on sale.   As I said already, however, I don't think the fault is with the flour.

You can autolyse for any bread I suppose, but sometimes there are good reasons for using autolyse, and other times it is unnecessary.

I use the Bacheldre Rye in sourdough baking.   I hope you come to get into that in the future.   For now, you are on the right track working on the basic recipe with high quality flour.   So things are still easy for you.   This is a good thing, as if something goes very wrong at this stage it is fairly easy to put right.   Once you have solved this problem you will gain massively in confidence, and be able to take your baking to another level.   But do get this sorted first before moving to specialist flours.   It is worth spending time and effort solving it.

My best tip for handling  their stoneground white is to look over Juergen's posts that I pointed you to.   He is a seriously good baker and his formulae are very thorough and reliable.

If you are on holiday in Northumberland, then I offer bread courses here at my home.   Please check my website for that: http:www.breadandroses.co.uk 

Don't be apprehensive; follow the advice given, and be confident this will work.   I thought it always rained in Wales!

Take care

Andy

hardough4010's picture
hardough4010

I have followed the advice and the method suggested by Andy and the dough is not really perform any better.

When I got home on Friday, it was a bit wet and cold so I turned on the central heating for a bit.  I made sure to measure the temperature of the water, but I think the dough did not keep the recommended temperature.  Again the dough was sticky when handling.  I had a great oven spring but the dough was heavy and chewy and I think not fully cooked even though I left in there much longer than I usually do.

So today, convinced that weather house temperature and hence dough temperature were the problems, I decided to do another bread as it was much warmer and drier.  I took great care with temps but still even in bulk rise, it was still sticky so end result was the same.

I must say if I had this problem when I first started baking, I probably would have given up long ago.  I have made dozen of loaves and never experienced this.  I feel reluctant going back to Waitrose.  I have another brand of flour so I will try that soon and let you know.

Andy - I checked out your website- just too bad you aren't closer.  I'm orginially from the NW England so maybe next spring my friend could take a couple of days for a mini break up there. I've been to Scotland but not your neck of the woods.

Love your wood fired oven.  Did you need  planning permission for that?

 

ananda's picture
ananda

do you want to post half a kilo of your flour to me?

I'll test bake with it.

andy

hardough4010's picture
hardough4010

That is such a kind offer! will pm you.

clazar123's picture
clazar123

So was this followup attempt with a different batch of Waitrose or Bacheldre?  Also, do you always put a little bit of rye in with the other flour?

I am interested in hearing your outcome because a few years ago-here on The Fresh Loaf, there was another baker that lived in the desert in SW Arizona in the USA who had an experience similar to yours. His problem was worse. He couldn't get a decent rise because by the time it would have risen, it was almost liquefied. It takes persistence to solve some of these issues.

Good luck! Keep posting!

hardough4010's picture
hardough4010

used another batch of Waitrose.  No, idon't alays use rye and I didn't use it while thishasbeen happening.  I keep feeling that itismy inexperience. Intersting about the person in Arizona.  My climate is almost the exact opposite to that.  will let you know the eventual results.  Thanks for taking an interest.

 

 

hardough4010's picture
hardough4010

Hi everyone

Thanks to Ananda for his help in testing my flour.  He baked a perfectly wonderful loaf with beautiful crumb which confirmed that there was nothing wrong with the flour I was using. It was basically down to my inexperience of not measuring temperatures in my water, flour and dough.  I am still new at this and I think the change in temperature and humidity in my house over the past couple of weeks has taught me that I need to be more careful of my water and flour and dough temperatures. I never paid much attention to these.

I started baking in the winter when my kitchen was always so warm and toasty.  I then stopped in the hot summer and only started back when the weather changed and I know that my dough and the water I was using was way too cold.

Thanks to everyone for your support in answering my post and most especially to Ananda. I was feeling ever so fustrated and incapable and was starting to think that perhaps bread making is not for me.  I have used this as a learning experience and will continue to bake to reach the standards of many of you on here.