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Topic: bread - what am i doing wrong?!?!  (Read 3373 times)
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« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2011 12:19:01 PM »

My best guess would be that your liquid is too hot.

Also, make sure that you're either using the right type of yeast as called for by the recipe, or adapting appropriately.  (If it calls for active dry yeast, there should be a proofing step.  If it calls for instant or quick/rapid-rise yeast, be sure you're not replacing that with active dry.)

If you're kneading it by hand, you are almost certainly not overkneading the dough; it's almost impossible to overknead the dough by hand unless you're crazy-strong.  It is much more likely that you're underkneading.  (Even by machine, you have to run it a while to overknead.  I have a seriously heavy-duty mixer and I consistently knead my dough in it for 12+ minutes; that has never been too much.)

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« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2011 12:21:56 PM »

I have been baking bread for a year and have only just found the perfect recipe/ combination/ technique... it took a while and a lot of frustration but it is so so worth it (if only because other people are super impressed!)

Most of my little techniques were learnt from Delia Smith's 'How To Cook' book, like seiving your flour from up high and warming it in the oven before adding other ingredients. Here's a link to her bread recipe:


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« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2011 01:25:26 AM »

I second the post on checkign your yeast. There are two kinds of dried yeast, regular dried yeast, which needs to be sprinkled on warm (blood warm) water before you use it, you need to leave it to become frothy...add a little sugar to the water before the yeast to feed it..

the other kind of yeast is easy blend yeast, or fast acting yeast, that can be added directly to the flour and should not be activated first.

You have to knead a lot by hand as it develops the gluten in the flour, the gluten holds all those lovely bubbles that make the bread light. Knead until it feels elastic, about 10 minutes and yes...don't add much extra flour...when it feels smooth push your finger into the dough, it should spring back, that is how you know that the bread is kneaded enough.

Then time to rise in a warm place, or a slow refrigerator rise over night, knock it back..which is fun...reshape it into loaf shapes and allow a second rise...and bake

all of my bread books say that the regular dried yeast and two risings make a better flavoured loaf, that fast acting yeast isnt as nice

OK you have convinced me, there will be bread baking on my crafty retreat this weekend...mmm...

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« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2011 02:59:34 PM »

I just recently figured out that I've been over flouring my bread.  Thanks LMAshton for the idea of weighing instead of measuring.  Most of my recipes call for measurements, but I tend to use less flour than recommended and my bread is still too dense.  I'm slowly figuring it out though. 
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« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2011 01:34:42 PM »

Ditto what edelC mentioned about adding a bit of sugar to the yeast to get it frothy. If it doesn't froth up in warm water with a teaspoon of sugar added, then the trouble is likely with your yeast.  Wink

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« Reply #15 on: February 07, 2011 07:38:46 AM »

i have had this problem for a long time, and i recently discovered a big reason why...i was storing my yeast above my oven! it was killing it. my friend brought over some active dry yeast in a jar that had been in the fridge, and i got the biggest, fluffiest loaf of bread ever. if you don't have a thermometer, get the water to the temp of a hot bath; not so hot that it burns you, but just hot enough to feel really warm. the average bath temp is 101F-106F, which helps as a gauge.

i never thought about the flour tip; i will have to fluff up my flour next time!

if you want to read about my bread making adventure, i just posted on my blog.

« Reply #16 on: February 16, 2011 12:14:15 AM »

My first truly edible loaf of bread was a lot "wetter" to start with than I thought it should be, but a friend suggested I was using too much flour, so I tried her way. It worked.

Proof your yeast. Anything hotter than about 135 degrees Fahrenheit will kill it. It seems to like about 115 degrees F the best, in my experience.

Don't add the salt directly to the yeast, it makes the yeast angry. Sift together the dry ingredients, onto a flat surface covered with parchment paper. If you sift into a bowl, the flour will make static electricity with itself, and you will have a different result. Pick up the parchment and gently, slowly slide the flour into your working bowl, and make a "well" or divot in the top of dry ingredients. I don't know WHY the static changes it, I just know it does. Mix the other wet ingredients and the proofed yeast, then slowly pour the wet ingredients into the well. I pour some, then mix a little, them pour the rest, and mix to that shaggy-flour-y goo texture. (My grandmother's instructions, there, and that woman could make fluffy, soft white bread out of water and air, I swear it. I think she had a secret magic wand that she didn't tell me about. Her instructions worked for me, though.)

Also, (and I am deeply sorry for not being able to quote my source, but this tidbit appeared amid HOURS of frustrated, angry research on the subject, the one secret I did not "earn" and therefore did not learn from my Grandmother before she died...she would be proud to know I kept trying and eventually learned it, though) try the stretch-and-fold method. Here's how it works:

Mix the flour to that "shaggy" stage and let it sit for about 45 minutes. Scrape it out of the bowl onto a lightly oiled surface (I usually pour a few drops of oil on a paper towel and wipe my "kneading board" with it). The dough will be soft and pliable, but less sticky than it was before you walked away. Knead it together a teeny bit, until it holds to itself, then stretch it out using your fingers into a roughly flat-ish shape. Use the heel of your hand to break up any lumps of flour still remaining. You want to make sure you get them all, the first round, because this process is damaging to the gluten formation. Fold the bottom-third of your dough up, then the top third down. Fold the left third over, then the right. You will have a ball of dough. Put it back in it's bowl, seam down. Cover it, return it to its warm place, and walk away again, for 45 more minutes.

When you return, use a dough scraper or a wide, flat spatula under the dough, and your fingers on top of it, to gently stretch the dough back into that wide, flat-ish, vaguely rectangular shape and fold again. Make sure the scraper gets deep under there, you want to make sure you are stretching all of it, not just the top.

Repeat this stretch, fold, and sit process 3-4 times total. Each time the dough will be more and more developed, but still surprisingly wet (unlike kneading and adding flour until it is dryish and thick) and soft. After the final rest, the dough should be well-risen, too. Shape your dough, use a pan or make a boule or whatever you like, and bake.

It is easier by far than kneading, takes less actual work time (albeit more waiting), and results in a BETTER developed dough. Gentler on the hands/wrists, and in my experience, simply works better.

I hope this helps.
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« Reply #17 on: February 21, 2011 08:41:50 AM »

thankyou for your helpful reply nyk Smiley
i'll have a go at your method - and i will try never again to make my yeast angry! Cheesy

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