General bread machine rising problem - puzzled
I'm new to bread making, new to bread machines, and generally very analytical, measuring accurately and recording everything I do, to improve the next time.
Despite this, after making 20+ different breads, I am facing a general problem where I can't seem to begin to find the root cause :-(
My issue became more clear recently when trying a “brioche obsession” recipe using a tangzhong method (http://simplyafoodblog.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/revealing-the-ultimate-secret-to-softer-fluffier-bread-that-stays-fresh-for-days-part-1-my-universal-t... ).
Perhaps someone can help figure out what I’m doing wrong?
I use a bread machine to make different kinds of bread. All the breads & brioche come out reasonably OK – but not more. In particular, while they do rise as expected (close to 2x), they NEVER“burst” out of the pan during baking, no matter what the recipe. Absolutely no “oven kick/oven spring” during the initial baking period. It NEVER looks like the photos on the blogs where I find the recipes . I just make rectangular, average bricks!
When trying the above "super-fluffy" brioche recipe, I noticed something really odd (once cooked and sliced): the dough inside expands well, the loaf did rises 2x, but not more – instead it “expanded”.
What I mean by this is the bottom and sides of the loaf become highly compressed, thick (1.5 inch of dense product - generally unpleasant as a bread), surrounded by a normal thin crust, while the core and top of the loaf are perfectly fine and fluffy. It’s as if the dough could not lift itself out of the pan, only exercising radial pressure. It’s less visible on regular white bread because the dough is generally more dense, but on the tangzhong brioche with a very fluffy core, it was very visible to the eye, like a fluffy brioche baked inside a brioche brick ;-)
I’m struggling to identify the root cause. I measure the ingredients by weight using a proper scale, I estimate the humidity to make sure there is enough water in all my recipes, all my ingredients are at room temperature (Bangkok – warm), I use bread flour and recently purchased yeast, etc. Water and/or milk are brought at room temperature, or even warmed up a bit if making enriched dough containing butter/eggs. I've tried regular and inverted sugar (from my sorbet recipes; I read somewhere that professionals prefer that to regular castor sugar for bread making?)
I even go to the point of removing the dough after the first rise/punch down, to remove the bread machine hooks, shape the dough softly/quickly into a nice ball, and put it back for final rise (this has a surprisingly major impact on the outcome – it seems dough in a bread machine has difficulty “moving around” to settle into the pan evenly, because the hooks and knobs interfere with the dough expansion. After shaping the dough evenly, it rises much better – but still absolutely no oven kick)
This leaves me with A) the question of bread machine temperature – but the bread comes out with a normal crust thickness, normal crust color, baked inside not more/less, etc. I can’t fault the temperature in any obvious way.
Or B) the question of proofing duration. Perhaps the machine starts baking too early? I don’t believe so – the 2nd rise is holding steady and not rising much anymore by the time the baking starts. It’s the oven kick that is not happening in my opinion (dough doesn’t visibly collapse during 2nd rise or baking phase). I've tried spraying a mist of water on the top of the dough halfway through 2nd rise. It helped a bit to make the upper half rise...inside a bottom brick! I can't imagine adding more water to my recipes - dough tends to collapse during 2nd rise if I do that.
I’m really puzzled and frustrated after seeing many beautiful photos of appetizing bread and trying the associate recipes. No matter what type of recipe I try, all I get is basic home-made bread(s), eatable, but nothing to be proud of. I don't mind doing a series of tests varying one particular ingredient, but I really need some help to figure out which one.
PS: I forgot to mention, this happens both with regular and with bread-machine recipes, not much apparent difference so far.
Any suggestions most welcome!