The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hello and HELP!

San Juan's picture
San Juan

Hello and HELP!

Hi everyone and congratulations on a great website and community.

Now, I've been wanting to get into bread making for some time now and finally stepped up as a new years resolution, but wow, it's gone so wrong twice now!

I followed the recipe and instructions on Lesson One on the homepage as best I could, but two attempts went well off the mark.

1)The 'bread' did not rise at all in the oven and came out a hard, brown crust on top with compressed white bread inside.

2)This one rose much better first after kneading, and secondly in the oven. However the same hard, brown crust was in place on top. There was generally OK levels of white bread inside that tasted reasonable and texturally were OK, but it sure wasn't pretty and you could not cut this bread as the outer crust was so hard. It certainly hadn't risen to a decent looking shape either. See picture!


Any advice on what is going wrong and beginners tips would be greatly appreciated as I'm really trying here. Thanks! :)



Baker Frank's picture
Baker Frank

Well, since you asked I will offer my best advice:

  • We are all learners and that is part of the fun and adventure
  • Don't be afraid of making mistakes, we all do
  • Don't give up and over time you will get better results
  • Don't pay attention to stated "recipe time" (after an hour.....) pay attention to results ( when the dough doubles) since every house is a micro climate that will produce unique results according to it's own schedule.
  • Use the type of flour suggested in the recipe
  • Pay attention to recipe details and for the time being follow instructions carefully.
  • Find an author whose methods and recipes speak to you and use it as your bible, at least initially
  • You Tube, You Tube,, and You Tube, a gold mine of information and of course "The Fresh Loaf"

Good luck


Yerffej's picture

What is the size of the pan that you are using?


San Juan's picture
San Juan

Thank you Frank, great advice


Hi Jeff - it's a largeish pan, probably bigger than a standard shop-bought loaf now that I think of it.

Yerffej's picture

In your picture the pan looks as if it is a cake pan not a bread pan.  This could be your entire issue.


Floydm's picture

Welcome to the site!

That pan confuses me too.  Is it something like a 9 x 13 brownie pan?  And are you pressing the dough out to fill the pan?  Doing so, you'd end up with something quite thin and, yeah, quite likely hard unless you reduced the bake time.

If you are shooting for a freeform loaf -- something like a French bread -- you'll want to roll the dough up rather than spread it out.  Before rising, you should have something that looks like a large burrito: after an hour, it'll be larger, and after baking, larger still.  You should be able to bake one or two of those just on a standard baking sheet.

As Frank said, don't be afraid of making mistakes... you'll get a hang of it!  Keep trying and, yeah, poke around here and you'll find different folks with different styles and levels of experience.  Hopefully you can find a few that can help you along your way.