The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Alas failure, but perhaps something learned?

winstonsmith's picture

Alas failure, but perhaps something learned?

I've had some problems with getting good results with my Bosch Universal recently and forum hubbub caused me to revisit that today.

I followed Hamelmans recipe for bagels seeking to determine the friction factor for my machine and as I have not had good gluten development as of late even if the dough mixes for times long enough to make the dough warm to the touch I decided that perhaps the initial water temperature was too high. I thought it time to take some measurements and determine friction factor.


I started out with 44F water and and 66F dry ingredient temps. Ambient was 68F

It took a long time to see any gluten development, not surprising under the conditions I describe. Still, nothing near ready to use even after 83F temps and half an hour.

The dough was very stiff and dense, too much for a 58% hydration dough. 

My habit is to use the same container for both dry and wet ingredients, weighing and taring twice, and today I was particularly scrupulous about procedure.

Even so I had an ball of playdough.

Puzzled and frustrated I almost chucked the whole thing, but it occurred that what I has was something that acted as if it were incredibly dry. Weighing in the same container yielded a number 86g less than I should have started with.


After some experimentation I found that under a certain weight the results were predictable, however over several hundred grams and the scale timing out that changed, and had up to a 115 gram variance for the same sample.


Anyone have this happen before? Obviously I need a replacement scale and so what is the latest and greatest? Gram resolution or better and 5kg capacity would suit me. Analytical balances are a bit out of my price range ;) 

ericreed's picture

I'm quite happy with my Oxo scale. 5 kg/11 pound limit with gram increments. I chose it because Cook's Illustrated picked it as top choice in one of their equipment reviews.

barryvabeach's picture

I had one Oxo, which started acting weird ( diff weights of the same item a few seconds apart, then racing up and down when the item had not been removed ) but I bought a second one and that works fine when I use it, and the pull out can be very helpful at times.  The escali is the one I use all the time.   though if you want to put a bowl from a mixer right on it, the scale may be too small, unless you put a plate on it.  

largeneal's picture

...on sale for like $12.  I already have a scale so I didn't bother, but it looks decent/has decent reviews.  Only marked down in store, though (not online)...not sure if you have one around or are a member, but if you can sneak into one, it might be worth checking out.

MonkeyDaddy's picture

has an awesome website with everything from the analytical balances you mention to the simplest spring scales.  I've had my eye on this one

and I'll be getting it as soon as I can find a storage spot for it in my kitchen.  It's pretty cool in that along with the tare function it can compute baker's percentages.  I can do that for myself, but why not use the technology if it's available.

Antilope's picture

For a cheaper price, $ 35.94 plus free shipping


Whatever kitchen scale you get, make sure spills wipe off easily and won't damage the scale. Because you are going to spill liquids and flour dust on the scale. Make sure it's sealed well.

MonkeyDaddy's picture

on Amazon for about $35.00, Old Will Knott has it for $41.79

Forgot to mention that on my first post.

andychrist's picture

At the risk of further stirring up the hornets' nest, have you ever experimented with that no-measure [flour] method you undoubtedly came across in the forum, Mr Smith? I bake a lot of bagels too and have found the secret to using either an electric or hand cranked dough kneader is to follow the manufacturer's recommendation and just incorporate enough flour at first to form a good dough ball. After that point I gradually work in more flour until reaching the consistency necessary to form a good bagel, which I can judge by both feel and trial.

Had I the most accurate scale in the world it would be of absolutely no use to me, as I've no way of knowing beforehand exactly how much of the dry ingredients might be called for on any given day. My kitchen is not climate controlled, temperature and relative humidity can vary from one hour to the next. This will most definitely effect the way dough turns out, so I always adjust my recipe by feel. 

At any rate, hope you get your Universal bagel conundrum figured out, Winston. Will be keeping an eye on this.  ;-)

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

At least for measuring the salt and yeast. But since nobody else has such a scale it would not necessarily help with someone else's formula. 

I like my scale. But I have central air and my inside climate is always the same In any given season. 

It also helps me because I like to proportion my flours. So 20% whole wheat and 80% AP is easily done with a scale. And I prefer to weigh  the flour ahead of time rather than dribble it in.  One should probably weigh flour and dribble in the water for better results rather than adjusting the flour  In other words, add water but by bit rather than flour, to get the consistency you are after. 

winstonsmith's picture

I have that feeling I'm being watched :D

In all seriousness I'll try your method at some point and see how it goes. My problem is a matter of practice and as it maybe months between batches (somehow life gets in the way) I don't have a good memory for the feel. Regardless, I ought to develop this aspect of baking. 


andychrist's picture

If not by feel, then just the way the dough behaves when you try forming your bagels should tell you whether the hydration is right.  Too dry, and you will not be able to meld the ends together in forming the ring. Too moist, and the rings will sag and not hold shape. When just right, if you do the poke-a-hole thingy, you can twirl the little dough balls around on your index finger and they will stretch uniformly into shape, kinda similar to spinning a pizza.

Once you reach the hydration that works for your bagel rounds, you will most definitely learn to tell when the dough is right by feel, rolling it between your palms. So easy even I can do this, and I'm an idiot.

BTW nice scale you've picked out, winstonsmith. Or so my elder sibling tells me. :)

gerhard's picture

For repeatable results a scale is essential in my opinion.  The smaller the batch the more likely that you make small adjustments after your ingredients start mixing.


winstonsmith's picture

Well I've settled on a model and that's the KD8000. I confess I am curious about the baker percentage function and yes I am aware that it's limited, but for the less than $10 difference between it and the 7000, I thought I'd satisfy my curiosity.