The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

my daily bread: a semi failure, but a tasty semi failure.

nosabe332's picture

my daily bread: a semi failure, but a tasty semi failure.

ok, so i tried the my daily bread recipe:
here's my preferment/poolish. no picture after the 18 hr ferment.



liquidy. bubbly after 18 hours.

here's my autolyse. i don't get it. i had 3 C bread flour (less than the 1 lb in the recipe) and 1 C (8 oz?) water. should it be so dry?

autolyse failure 


anyway, i soldiered on.  after 10 minutes, i decided i'd try to combine all ingredients and knead it. it didn't combine. the autolyse stayed lumpy and the poolish thickened up a little around it, if you can imagine.

the dough handled well, i think. here's a picture of the final product:

french bread 

the crust tastes like popcorn. not what i was going for, but still delicious.

you can see the crumb here. you can clearly see a lump of dense autolyse flour/water at far right. 

 more pictures here:


why was the autolyse so dry?

should i score immediately before the loaf goes in the oven? i scored half an hour before baking, and the whole thing kept rising in the mean time, so it wasn't as pronounced.

oven spring is a huge topic in these forums.. do you think the crust hardened too soon? i didn't have enough surface tension (it was a bit flimsy going in)? not enough steam (i had boiling water into a large tray)? lost too much heat trying to coordinate pouring water into the pan, misting the walls and bread?

 thanks for the input!



mrpeabody's picture

Not sure if this applies to you on getting enough steam, but for a long time, I had too thick of a crust on my bread.  I tried all manner of ways to introduce steam.  It wasn't until recently that I realized that my very old oven does not seal tightly enough to really trap the generated steam.  I was losing too much of the generated steam out the door that my loaves of bread formed a hardened crust too quickly.  Perhaps, your oven door also doesn't seal well enough? 

Anyways, I finally overcame this issue by misting the loaf itself extensively with water just before putting it into the oven AND pouring hot water into a preheated cast iron pan (I also have to used twice as much water as generally recommended just to keep the oven environment humid enough).  That's how much I have to compensate for my oven door being not as tight as it should be.  It just goes to show that we all have to make adjustments due to many variables that are specific to each of our individual setups.  The oven works fine otherwise, but I would not have known this if I hadn't started to try to bake my own bread.

Mr. Peabody

proth5's picture

When you have a 100% hydration poolish (equal amounts of flour and water), I am told (and I believe from experience) that you want to add it to the autolyse as so much of the total water is in the poolish that not enough is available to perform the good offices of the autolyse.

In general, one scores immediately before baking. 

Making these two changes might be the starting point before you go on to other things.

Hope this helps

Rosalie's picture

You say you used 3 cups of flour, less than the one pound called for in the recipe.  When it comes to flour, it's best to go by weight because a cup of flour can be anywhere from 4 ounces to 5 ounces (or more or less) depending on how you measure it.  So, by my estimation, you could have had as much as 15 ounces of flour, about 94% of the recipe's 16 ounces.  The recipe calls for 10-12 ounces of water, compared to the 8 ounces you added; that's 67-80% of the recipe's amount.  That may be why your dough is so dry for the autolyse.


Paddyscake's picture

that volume is a pretty inaccurate way to measure vs by weight and you were short some water. That being said, you have to remember that if you are going by volume your recipe isn't a set of rigid rules. You may have to add some more water or flour, a tablespoon at a time, to obtain a nice workable dough. When I use the autolyse method, especially with whole wheat, I mix till I have a ragged mixture, cover and let sit for 20-30 minutes. You'll find a very different dough than what you started with. Hope this helps, give it another try. The color of your crust looks great!