The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

White bread, Kitchenaid, tight crumb

billmac's picture

White bread, Kitchenaid, tight crumb

Try as I might, I cannot achieve anything but a tight, somewhat crumbly crumb when making white bread. I'm using the recipe from BBA and using a Kitchenaid to knead.  I run the machine on 2 (per the Kitchenaid instructions) and it takes close to 20 minutes to achieve windowpane status on the dough.  Proofing and shaping seems to go fine.  I'm using instant yeast I keep in a freezer and the dough rises fine.  I make batards, and they always end up somewhat flattish with a tight crumb.


Anyone see what I'm doing wrong?  I always thought I was not kneading enough (I usually stopped before achieving a windowpane) but this last one turned out the same as always.  I'm using King Arthur unbleached bread flour.


Thanks in advance.


If anyone can point me to a good recipe for crusty wheat rolls (don't have to be 100% whole wheat) that would be great.

arzajac's picture

I haven't read BBA, so I'm not familiar with the recipe.  Do you fold the dough while it's proofing?


I stretch and fold a few times after kneading before the final shape and have had great results when compared to simply kneading and then shaping.


Here is a page with video examples of stretching and folding.


Judon's picture

Sounds like you may be over kneading.

This is what works for me. With a KA, I usually mix on #1 for 3 minutes with the paddle to incorporate the ingredients, remove the paddle, cover the bowl and let the dough rest anywhere from 15-60 minutes (autolyse.) Swith to the dough hook and knead for 3-4 minutes, turn dough out onto lightly floured board and 'stretch & fold' once before putting the dough into a lightly oiled container to ferment. Depending on the dough strength, I'll stretch and fold once or twice during bulk fermentation. Once is the norm if I'm using yeast, twice if using wild yeast starter.

Bread flour to Jeffrey Hamelman is a flour with a protein content between 11.5-12%. KA bread flour is 12.8%. Not sure what Peter Reinhart recommends. Try KA all-purpose - protein content is around 11.7%. Which BBA formula are you using?  What's the hydration % of your formula? What are you using to proof your loaves?

Believe me - with a few tweaks and some time spent searching this site for techniques and tips you'll be baking amazing loaves!


Atropine's picture

I add quite a bit of "vital wheat gluten" (found in the bulk health food section of my grocery store for MUCH less than the same brand in a box on the flour aisle) to mine.

I also make sure that the dough is wetter than dryer.  I never even look to see if there is windowpane.

Also, maybe make sure you do not degas it too much--light handling.  Keep the big bubbles in there.

But really, adding the wheat gluten was pretty key for me.  It changed the texture of pretty much all the bread I made. 

clazar123's picture

I bake too often to use the King Arthur flour-it is very costly here. BUt it is a great bread flour.

If I use an all purpose flour,I have found using the brand names (rather than storebrand) gives me a better product. I have had pretty good results with Gold Medal Better for Bread or a brand name AP flour with the addition of vital wheat gluten.

In reviewing this site, it seems to me that people say the more open crumb is achieved by having a very wet dough that is barely handled after the first rise and cooking in a very hot oven with steam.

Do a quick search on this site of "quick ciabotta" and you will see some threads pop on "Jason's quick... Ciabotta" . It sounds like a great recipe to try.



billmac's picture

Thanks everyone.  I'm going to keep at it.  I like the idea of the autolyse and then the stretch and fold.

billmac's picture

Well, I tried again today with much better results.   Tried the same BBA recipe.  Mixed the dough and did a 30 minute autolyse.  No kneading.  Did two stretch and folds 45 minutes apart, shaped and panned two loaves, and baked.  Much better.  Much softer, more open crumb.

ehanner's picture

Can you tell us which bread recipe from the BBA you are working on? That way we can understand what you are doing and perhaps give you some help.

I suggest you put the stand mixer in the corner and make a few batches by hand so you can get a feel for how dough developes. The benifits of teaching your fingers how to develop the gluten will jump your skills forward immeasurably. All you need is a simple plastic scraper and a medium to large bowl. Here is a link to a video by Richard Bertinet mixing a sweet dough in this method. It works equelly well with any dough. Once you can do this slap and fold method you will be on your way.


billmac's picture



I'm using variation 1 on page 266.  One other thing that I think probably helped with my second batch is that I scooped the flour out of the bag with a small scoop and shook it into my measuring cup, rather than digging it out with the measuring cup itself.  Then the flour isn't packed tightly and I'm essentially using less flour and thus a wetter dough.  Thanks for the link.




ehanner's picture

It can be hard to get consistent results in your own kitchen, never mind from reading a recipe from another source, if you don't weigh your ingredients. Initially I resisted getting a scale when I first set sail as a baker. As they say "resistance is futile" and my results improved dramatically when I started to use a digital scale.

Once you understand bakers percents and use a inexpensive digital scale you can size a mix to suit your needs and have it come out perfect every time.

The Variation 1 formula is an enriched mix and gives many chances for variables in weight. I might suggest you take a look at the Anadama Bread on page 108. This is a very flavorful bread that will get you experimenting with a sponge and a soaker. The sponge doesn't slow you down much and contributes hugely to the depth of flavor. I think you will be surprised at how easily you can make this very tasty bread.

The BBA is a wonderful book. As I mature as a baker I continue to be surprised at how much more I get from the pages the second or third time I browse the pages. Some things need to be felt with the hands before they make sense. At least that's how it is for me.

Hope this helps and I look forward to seeing your bread as you work your way through the BBA.


billmac's picture

Eric:  Thanks.  I take it you use the slap and fold method?  Do you concern yourself about getting a "windowpane" at all, or do you just go by feel?  Do you generally shape after the first rise?

ehanner's picture

The windowpane is important to performance of the rise and also the oven spring. If you don't have a dough with cell structure that will trap the co2 gas that is produced, the rise will be slower and the spring will not be as great.The gas will escape as it is being produced. You might incorrectly conclude the yeast isn't working.

It is essential to get a good first rise in the primary ferment. For that to happen you need some kneading to develop gluten stands. My own rule is that the more whole grains in the mix, the more attention I pay to kneading and development. In an all AP flour mix you can get by with minimal slap and fold kneading and a stretch and fold or two. The development will occur as a result of the water being absorbed and the folding. Pull a small edge out and tease it into as thin a layer as you can. If it looks or feels tough or tears before it gets thin, fold, wait another 45 minutes and try again. At some point you will have the perfect dough. You can beat it up in a stand mixer and never have a clue or you can hold it in your hands and know the exact moment.

To answer your question, yes I use slap and fold almost every time. Even on larger batches of say 4-8 Lbs. On days when I'm feeling lazy and use the DLX, I use the hook for 4-6 minutes then finish kneading by hand. It is by feel as you say.

Your last Q is a little harder. I shape when it's ready. Hope this helps.


LindyD's picture

If you reread pp 27-29 of the BBA, you'll note the importance of accuracy in your ingredients.  Further, Peter Reinhart comments:  Again, some brands of flour may weigh out slighly differently than other brands per cup, so when in doubt, weigh it out.

If you are planning to continue baking your own breads, do invest $25 in a good digital scale.  Not only will you save money in the long run, but your breads will be vastly improved.  I think scaling is so crucial to success, that if a bread recipe is offered only in volume, I'll not bother with it

Quoting Jeffrey Hamelman from Bread:  "Measuring ingredients by weight and not by volume is the only way to insure accuracy..."