The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

First Bread Making Expereinces - Please Help

mrpete's picture

First Bread Making Expereinces - Please Help

Hey im new to the forum and the bread making scene. I m just a home cook trying to learn how to make bread for the family and freinds sowwe can all eat lest chemicals and preservatives lol. Ive been into cooking for about 2 years and enjoy it alot most of the time lol... ANy way thats my intro. 

My first bread attempt I tried to make a French bread Baguette using the King Arthur Recipie. Here how it went down.

I made the poolish, no problems there i dont think.

I then addedthe rest of the flour water and yeast, after i believe 8 hours. THe reciepie att his point said i didnthave to mix it to well, and it didnt have to be smooth, so i didnt mix it to well...( I think this is where i startyed to go wrong.)

I let it proof, then looking at another book saw the dough in the picture looked alot smoother then mine so i kneaded till it was looking like the picture. Then since i basically  got rid of all the great yeast rising by kneeding it id decided to let it rise a bit more before i cut it int 2 for the baquetts. ( I think this over developed the gluten..)


So an hour later , i cut into 2 , shapped them and let them proff for the amoutn of time the recipie said before i balked em, Then i sprayed them with water and putsome cuts in them andbalked them according to therecipe. 

Now heres the funny part.. 

THe bread was more or less pretty pale looking, not the beutiful brown crusty bread color im usingto seeing. (Im using unbleached all purpose flour, not sure if thats the reason)

The inside of the bread didnt taste bad. but the crust was as hard a rock.. possibly harder. Notedible with out achain saw. It also really didnt rise that much.  


My 2nd attempt was the Italian bread recipie inthe King Arthur Flour book, this came out much better.

I did the preferment for 12 hours. Then mixed therest ofthe dough and kneaded it pretty good before i let it proof. Then i cut it into 2 and let it rise again before putting it into the oven. I also brushed it with egg white. 

Over all theb readtasted good, maybe alittle to strong of a flavor(Im guessing theflavor comes from the long 12 hour pre ferment) The crust was no way near has hard, was still alittle pale but not like the first disastor, and not exactly like the italian bread im used to. 

Any suggests as to what i might bedoingwrong or where I can improve ?

I can i do the ital;ian bread recpie with out thel ong 12 houir preferment?


PLease help. Aplogies for the spelling. ..

Mr. Pete


sphealey's picture

The golden crust is my experience is a result of having some form of steam (really very hot water vapor) in the oven during the first 5 minutes, and of using the technique of very high temperature for the first 5-10 minutes followed by the rest of the time at just a hot temperature (say 525/450, or 475/425 depending on the recipe). Steam can be created with a cast iron pan in the bottom of the oven into which you pour boiling water, or a baguette steam pan from King Arthur. But since the cast iron pan was 50 cents at a garage sale that's the method I use.

The very hard crust an hour out of the oven I would think would be the result of overcooking. Baguettes don't bake that long compared to loaves, so you might want to double-check the time. They only last for about 4 hours though; if you leave them out overnight they will get hard.

Is there any way you can get the King Arthur Artisan Bread video - maybe through your library? Watching that video is what really helped me with french and baguette-type breads. Seeing how the mixing and kneading (really more of a strech-and-slap than a classic knead) was done "in person" was very helpful.



Jeffrey's picture

Don't wory about the crust just yet, it'll come along.  Sounds like your off to a great start.  The main thing is in the eating.


Oh and let me extend a hearty welcone, hope you find a lot of bread naking skills here.



aminet's picture

Hi, I am pretty new here also and learning alot about bread.

The steaming method ,like what sphealey posted, definitly improved my baking.

I don't think long fermenting hour is affecting your bread (because usualy longer ferment improved the flavor) . The final rising should be around 45 min to an hour. I always be gental with the bread after final rising because you could deflate the dough.

I hope your bread making goes well!