Bread help

Discussion in 'Pastries & Baking' started by gbhunter, Dec 1, 2005.

  1. gbhunter

    gbhunter

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    Hi. I tried making French bread. The question I have is. My bread turned out good but was very heavy. What I mean is dense. It was about as dense as a bagel. It tasted great and it was quickly consumed by my wife, but I would like to know if there is some method to make the bread less dense? Baking soda maybe?:chef: :bounce:
     
  2. jock

    jock

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    Making French bread can be tricky if you are an inexperienced bread baker. Not difficult mind you, but there are some things you need to know. It would definately help if you could tell us the recipe so we can break it down.

    Baking soda is not the answer. It is almost certainly a technique issue.

    Jock
     
  3. gbhunter

    gbhunter

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    I start with 4 cups of flower
    5 teaspoons of dry yeast
    200ml of water.
    1 teaspoon of sugar
    A little olive oil
    1 teaspoon of salt

    First I mix the yeast, water and sugar. Then I leave it to foam 10 min or so. Then I add the mixture to the flour and salt. I kneed for about 10 min and add water as needed if the dough is too dry. Once the dough is all elastic then I make it into a bowl and let it rise for an hour. After that I punch it down and form it into a loaf. Then I let that rise for 1 hour. I preheat my oven to 415 for an hour (I have a pizza stone in there and I want to make sure its reached its temp). I score the loaf on the top with a knife then place it in the oven for 1 hour or just until it turns golden. Bang that’s it. I will post some pictures if you like of what the bread looks like.
     
  4. wuzzo87

    wuzzo87

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    I think the dough wasn't hydrated enough. For French bread, it is usually a hydration level of 60 to 65%. So the dough is soft, but isn't really very sticky. Sometimes it sticks a bit. But also u'll have to "feel" the dough according to your flour and the environment.

    Also try to degas the dough as little as possible after the first rise, because u'd wan those precious bubbles. :)

    Hope that helped :cool:
     
  5. gbhunter

    gbhunter

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    So should I avoid punching the dough down?
     
  6. jock

    jock

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    I'm curious, where did this recipe come from? I agree with wuzzo, there is not enough water.

    Let's see, if my math is correct 200ml of water is about 7 ounces. On average, a cup of flour is about 5.25 ounces which makes your total flour 21 ounces - 3 times the weight of water.

    Like wuzzo said, you need about 65% hydration and you have 33% so you need to double the amount of water. But the amount of water will vary quite a lot depending on the kind of flour, the age of it (how long has it been sitting on your shelf) and the humidity level in the atmosphere at the time. It all comes down to understanding bread doughs and what they should feel like under your hands.

    I always reccommend to inexperienced bread bakers that they start with enriched breads that depend less on getting flavor and texture out of the flour and more on flavor from additives like butter, eggs, sugar, etc. It's hard to make a bad loaf of bread with these added and when you have developed some confidence you can graduate to the lean breads like your French loaf.

    But whatever you decide to do, don't give up. The rewards are well worth the struggles in the begining. At worst you are out a $1 worth of ingredients but you gain a wealth of experience.

    Jock
     
  7. wuzzo87

    wuzzo87

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    When the dough gets inverted out of the bowl, it naturally gets partially deagssed. And when shaping it, u'll degas it indirectly too. So...i would say, just let it be with minimal degassing. I mean, don't go all the way to deliberately degas and squish it.. :chef:

    Yeap! that's right...the rewards are excellent once u've got it right! :)
    I started with lean breads, and had a very hard time too...haha...had to try and try and try...
    Just don't give up! :cool:
     
  8. jock

    jock

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    Another thing I was going to mention is the amount of yeast. One envelope of instant dry weighs 1/4 ounce and is about 2.5 tsp. So you must be using 2 packets which seems excessive to me. One would be enough for that amount of flour I think.

    Jock
     
  9. gbhunter

    gbhunter

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  10. kylew

    kylew

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    The recipe does seem to be a bit underhydrated. The weight of a cup of flour will vary based on the type of flour, humidity, and the method used to get the flour into the cup. 5.25 ounces/cup seems a bit hight to me. I use 4.5 ounces and I've seen 4 ounces/cup.

    According to my calculations you are using 18 oz of flour and 6.75 oz of water or 37.5%. That's a little on the arid side. My other observation is that 5 tsp of yeast is a little much.

    I would try using 11.7 oz of water (340 ml) or 65% and 2 tsp of yeast. I agree that dumping the dough out of the bowl is generally all the degassing you need. Between that, scaling and shaping you will probably degas the dough well enough.
     
  11. jock

    jock

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    :eek: Yep, you are correct Kyle, a cup of flour is about 4.5 oz and not 5.25 as I stated. I went home last night and weighed a cup of flour on my handy dandy electronic scale and it was 4 3/8 oz. Sorry for the misinformation.

    Jock
     
  12. larcito

    larcito

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    Hi , yes ..... hydration is far too low. Also be sure that you are covering during proofs. Try adding about 1 teaspoon of good quality malt flour to your dough which will help the enzyme activity and therefore fermentation (This can replace the sugar as well if you like).

    While baking, put some ice cubes in the oven to generate a constant flow of steam. This will help oven spring and give you a lovely shiny, crisp crust!

    Hope it worx 4 u!