The Fresh Loaf

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Trouble Shoot My Loaves Please

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mrdecoy1's picture
mrdecoy1

Trouble Shoot My Loaves Please

Hi I'm a complete beginner and have had a couple issues wondering if I could get some help. Just have made 3 basic beginner loaves. 1. On all three the texture inside has been very dense and heavy not light at all. 2. The top always gets a "stringy" look or like a "moon surface" and real hard. No softness like you would hope with home made. Is this a technique issue or an ingredients issue or both? I do not have a stand mixer so I've been kneading by hand. Thanks. Eric

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

wthout the recipe and methods since the fixes, easy enough most alwas, are usally found there.

cerevisiae's picture
cerevisiae

but it's hard to say since we don't have much information on exactly how you went about your execution of it. 

Having looked at the recipe and the video, it looks like you're very likely to end up with at least slightly dense loaves. The video quality isn't great, but it looks like the blogger you were following had a pretty tight crumb on her loaves. That might be part of the problem.

More information would be useful, though. What temperature water did you use? What kind of flour? How did you measure things? How long did you knead the dough? What kind of yeast did you use? What was the dough texture like? How long did you let it rest? Did you add any extra water or flour? Et cetera...

You may find it useful to refer to the Lessons section at the top of the page. It has a better walkthrough for introducing you to the bread-making process, I think, than the blog you linked to. Perhaps you should try that for your next loaf.

mrdecoy1's picture
mrdecoy1

Yeah I will try the basic method here. Thanks.

Heath's picture
Heath

The moon-like surface to your bread could be down to shaping technique.  Getting a nice, smooth surface requires that the shaped dough be rolled quite tightly to give good surface tension.  Doing so was one of the aspects of bread-baking that I found hardest to master (well, I'm still trying to master it, to be honest).

This and this are two videos which have helped me.  The key is to keep practising and not to worry about it too much - the taste is more important than the appearance.

mrdecoy1's picture
mrdecoy1

I made another loaf from this method here and did some further research. Got more desirable results except the upper and lower half split slightly. Did I not shape it right?

cerevisiae's picture
cerevisiae

I'm having trouble picturing what you mean. Can you post a photo? If not, try describing it more fully.

It might be shaping, but my first thought is underproofing.

mrdecoy1's picture
mrdecoy1

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mrdecoy1

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mrdecoy1

ericreed's picture
ericreed

It does look like maybe you did a fold that didn't fuse back with the main dough.

Just to throw it out there, people are generally very respectful here about whatever recipe folks are trying to get to work, but I have to say I don't believe there is such a thing as good bread in an hour. Good bread takes time. I would strongly encourage you to look into other recipes, and if you don't have the time or desire to fuss with the dough much, there are some very good no-knead recipes out there that require little more than letting the dough sit around for 12-18 hours.

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

That looks more like a shaping thingy.  The dough should not be oily and brush off flour so the dough layers can stick to themselves when rolling up.  Then pinch the seam tightly together and place the seam side down in the baking form.  Whether you pinch, tuck under your ends or leave them out is up to you, how you want the ends to look.  Then let the shaped dough rise.  

The loaf top also looks very light in colour.  A little longer in the oven or a higher temperature might be called for.  

Moon surface, guessing here but it helps to keep track of the top of your dough.  If you rolled it up with the bowl or down side out while rolling, that would make a crater like surface.  Try this: when turning out the dough onto the work surface, keep track of the top and flip the top side down,  that way, when you deflate the dough and roll it up the top side becomes the outside.   When oiling the bowl, try to use as little as possible or none at all so the rolled up dough sticks to itself better.  Keeping track of the top (don't let it dry out) and stretch the dough away from it with folds.  This is the source of the "tight skin" you want to achieve on the loaf surface.  When placing dough back into the bowl for more rising or just resting on the bench, return the dough to "top side up."

mrdecoy1's picture
mrdecoy1

Some other trouble I'm having 1. I can't seem to hand knead and get that ultra smooth surface that I see on professional videos. 2. I'm trying not to add too much flour but if I try to keep it minimal it's a constant struggle being so wet. 3. Some people say to punch/rest, others think it's unnecessary, what is the standard? 4. I don't know if I'm using too much dough in my baking dish, is there a ratio of dough weight to baking vessel capacity? Thank you. Also yeah I've made no knead, but I hated the wait time, I want to learn it the regular way. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

with recipes that are not so wet or when you mix them up.  Hard to say what kind of recipes you're struggling with.  The no knead one can be rather wet.  If you are finding all recipes sticky, then time to change the way you're touching the dough.  Regular dough, white wheat dough, AP or Bread wheat will be the easiest to handle.  If you add the liquids to the flour and stir until all the flour has been moistened and cover, let it sit 20 to 30 minutes before starting to knead, the dough will be much more manageable and will take on less flour.  If you have a normal work surface (not wood) you might want to prepare your surface (for now until your skills improve) by pouring a scant teaspoon of olive oil into your hand.  Rub your palms together and then your work surface where you plan on kneading the dough.  Turn your resting dough out onto the surface and try at first to fold the dough over itself first several times before starting to knead.  Use only your finger tips and release quickly.  Fold from all sides across the dough and see what you can do without flour.  You may surprise yourself.  

If the dough seems stiff, you might want to experiment with using water instead of flour to knead.  Have a bowl of water nearby and lightly wet your hands  before touching the dough, it only takes a little bit and you will soon be able to judge when to add water to your hands without making the dough or work surface goopy.

Recipes are written many ways.  Some include the extra flour for kneading, some don't. Volume measure recipes tend to assume you will tweak them because everyone gets a little different amount of flour during measuring.  Weight recipes tend to give you exactly what you need for the bread, you can also tweak but the amounts will be less.  

Grandma's recipe usually includes the main portion of the recipe say 4 to 5 cups.  Translation, get 4 cups wet and save the 5th cup for kneading and there might be flour left over to throw back into the flour bin but don't use more than 5 cups total.  I worked with those recipes for years!  Years!  They are fine but I would prefer something with more guidance.  Now I prefer to hold back on the water and use metric recipes.  

White wheat is the standard.  Everything is judged from the standard.  You need about 1/3 the volume of a baking pan to be dough to reach the edge of the pan when finished rising and baking.  You fill more if you want the loaf higher, most do so use more dough.   Most will plop (deflated and shaped) enough dough filling up to half the baking pan.  Let it double in size (twice the volume) to the rim, rounding a little higher in the middle, and then bake for more volume.  That is the "regular" amount.  

The amount of yeast in the recipe will determine the time it takes to rise, that and the dough temperature.  Warmer doughs rise faster than colder doughs.  It's all about fermentation and gluten development.  Often less yeast is added for a slower rise to pull more flavour from the dough.  So a slower rise can mean slight difference in taste.  You need to learn to watch the dough more than the clock.  Recipes are guides not laws.

For recipes with yeast, punching is a normal activity to deflate the dough and usually done once or twice and it is a lot of fun.  Wild yeast and sourdoughs are discussed often and are deflated more gently, that is where you will read differences in pressing gas out of the dough and building dough strength.   Baking with sourdoughs means longer fermentations and handling of the dough even when only done for a few minutes but it extends the working time and the waiting.  So the first thing you need to establish when reading thru the forum is whether the bread you're looking at is a yeasted bread or a sourdough bread.  Talk of starters, builds and inoculations, usually means sourdough.   

andychrist's picture
andychrist

Also, in comparison between the photos of your loaf and that on the recipe site, it seems yours were not as deeply and broadly scored. That might partially explain why yours separated; the top crust couldn't expand enough before it hardened, causing the loaf to burst from the seam on the side, where it was still relatively soft.

Your bread still does look tasty!

mrdecoy1's picture
mrdecoy1

I think I didn't seal the ends, still edible believe me. luckily flour is cheap and water cheaper! will keep at it....thank you all!

mrdecoy1's picture
mrdecoy1

After I knead and let it ferment, does the shape of the bowl affect how much it rises? I don't mean the baking vessel I mean the fermenting. The reason I ask is I'm not sure if it's an illusion, but it seems I get more ferment rise out of certain bowls. Maybe because of the sloping angle from bottom up? Thanks

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

is to fill the bowl with water, say... one litre or a quart.  Mark the level.  Now guess where double would be. (a little mark) Then pour in another litre or quart of water and see how close you actually guessed.  Or fill a large bag or balloon and place in the bowl for the rounded effect.  Is there an illusion?  

Some bowls will insulate warmth better than others, thus fermenting faster if the dough temp is ideal and the bowl can maintain that warmth. 

mrdecoy1's picture
mrdecoy1

Thank you, I'm reading Peter Reinhart's books hopefully will get better. Another question, when I make a basic lean dough bread, I cook it to the right temp and check it with a thermometer. The bottom doesn't sound hollow to the tap like the top and the loaf seems heavy (like banana bread) yet the thermometer reads done, the top IS done, but I get that heavy loaf. I usually cook to 200 or 210 thanks. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

:)