The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Struggling!

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mattprince's picture
mattprince

Struggling!

Hi,

I seem to be struggling with light fluffy bread in my 2lb bread tin. I do as follows..

400g Strong Bread Flour, 6g Yeast in one side of the bowl, 8g Salt in the other side of the bowl. Blob of olive oil in centre and then mix normal tap water in until its a nice dough. I then pour a bit of olive oil on the bench and then kneed the dough on that. I'm finding its sticking very badly no matter how slow or fast I'm kneading. I then keep adding a bit of olive oil to the bench to stop it sticking as and when. I knead for 5 to 10 mins until it feels different and feels very stretchy. I then put it into a bowl and prove for an hour to hour and half (doubled in size). I then get it out on a lightly floured surface and kneed a little bit more and then shape and transfer to the bread tin. I preheat the oven to 200 degrees (fan oven) and when its risen to the top of the bread tin , I put it in the oven for 25 mins at 200 degrees.

It cooks fine , and looks quite brown but almost always feels hard outside (the crust) and the inside doesn't have very many big holes , has quite a few little tiny ones but overall it feels very dense.

Any ideas?

I'm thinking the temperature is too high. If I put the temperature down, am I right in thinking it will make the crust less hard and should make it more fluffy inside?

Matt

Sean McFarlane's picture
Sean McFarlane

How much water are you using?  No point in really measuring if  you don't measure everything.

As for you kneading, go until the dough has a smooth skin and/or you can pass the windowpane test.

200c? or 200f? silly question as I am assuming c...but hey gotta ask.

mattprince's picture
mattprince

Hi,

Its 200 degrees C. My oven goes up to 250 degrees C. As for water I put in approx. 260ml but varies as sometimes it needs more than other times.

Matt

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Very dense compared to what? Don't use olive oil for kneading all it will do is hinder the process. 

mwilson's picture
mwilson
ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Matt,

You are using a formula and process which is designed to make Sandwich-type bread.

If you want to make a more open-textured loaf, then there are a number of changes which you might consider.

A good start would be to invest in a baking stone for your oven, and pre-heat the whole mass to 250*C before loading your bread to the oven.   You also should find a way to produce a loaf which is free-standing, rather than baked in a bread pan.

Best wishes

Andy

mattprince's picture
mattprince

I have a baking stone , for making pizzas (something else I seem to be struggling with as they don't seem to cook properly in the middle). Ive tried a free standing loaf but as I leave it to final prove , it almost collapses horizontally as it gets bigger.

Matt

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Matt,

Using a pan supports the shaped dough piece in the final proof.   So baking a free-standing loaf can require a bit more skill and knowledge.

From your description, the problem with collapse during final proof is either due to insufficient dough strength due to lack of maturation [bulk proof phase], or excessive proof meaning the dough is becoming spent.   I suspect the former is the most likely problem.

Following that through first, I would start with mini's advice below.   This is something known as an autolyse.   I would also strongly recommend you start to weigh the water you are using in the dough too.   The 260ml you mention is 65% hydration on total flour, asnd that seems good to me.   But if you weighed that amount out, then you would know what the hydration is.   If you usually use the same type of flour, then water variance, whilst it does occur, is rarely significant.

Try to make a note of the temperature of your dough, aiming for something more than 23*c and less than 28*C.   Take account of whether you are proving in a very warm, or somewhat cooler environment.   Temperature is one of the most significant factors which affect the performance of yeast.

An alternative method, maybe when you become more proficient, is to increase the hydration slightly, and ease back on the initial dough mixing [some call this kneading].   You can then use a sequence of stretches and folds to bring strength to your dough during bulk proof.   For now, stick with the formula and method you currently use.   Make sure the dough has at least doubled.   Do not simply follow the clock here.   It is not something which is easy to teach from the other end of a pc, but somehow you have to learn what all the signs are that your dough has ripened and matured to allow you to proceed to moulding and final proof.

For the pizza problem look at the following:

  • dough too thick
  • too much filling
  • oven and stone not hot enough

The most likely candidate of the 3 is the bottom one.   You should pre-heat your oven as hot as you can possibly get it.   It is quite possible to bake pizzas well in excess of 350*C.   The very best pizzas bake in 90 seconds!

Do use the baking stone as a base for your bread; it can make a huge difference, especially with oven spring.

Best wishes

Andy

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Same recipe.  Once all the dough flour is moistened with water, let it sit for 20 to 30 minutes, covered and go do something else.  Come back and then attempt kneading, also without the oil.  See if that helps.