Problems with bread being too dense

Discussion in 'Pastries & Baking' started by nadinec, Mar 23, 2010.

  1. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    Upon completion of kneading the dough should be rather tacky.  Following a few french folds, the tackiness will lessen.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2010
  2. ashwellcook

    ashwellcook

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    A few thoughts on this.  I agree that a food processor will not help.  I prefer to knead by hand, using the stretch, fold and quarter turn method.  Mainly because I find it very theraputic and it is wonderful to feel the dough come alive in you hands.

    For while bread or 50 /50 white and wholemeal I use about 400ml water to about 650 grams of flour.  But also like the sponge method - mix 150g flour with 200ml water and half the usual quantity of yeast (maybe 4 to 5g of active yeast, disolved in the water a few mins before mixing).  Leave out for an hour, then overnight in the fridge. 

    Mix rest of flour and the other 200ml water, and a teaspoon or so of salt.  Leave for 10 - 15 mins to autolyse (as suggested above)  then knead for 10 mins ish.  I agree the pane test is a good way of seeing if it is ready.  Then leave covered in a coolish place for 8 to 10 hours to rise.  Knock down gently so as not to lose all the air - more of a stretch really. 

    Then form loaf (ball and slash or roll up and slash) and allow to rise for a couple of hours. 

    Then bake, 240c for 35 to 40 mins.  I use an aga so it needs checking after half an hour as a bit unpredicatable.

    The very long rising and proving time,(24 hrs plus), lowish temperature and relatively small amount of yeast seems to improve the flavour and keeping quality.   I gather this is because it allows the dough to ferment slowly, and for bacteria to break down some of the proteins which cause some bread to be a bit indigestible.  

    It works OK for me, but there seem to be as many ways to make bread as there are breadmakers!  Good luck.
     
  3. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Nadine,

    Assuming you're still following this thread, I've got another question for you.  That is, how well did you loaves hold their shape during baking?  Did they rise a lot?  Or, did they sort of flatten out?

    I agree to a great extent with most of the advice you've been given -- but there are a lot of nuances.  For instance, I'm no fan of bread making in a food processor but obviously it can be used successfully if used right.  We can get into that if you want; but frankly (and as everyone else has said) you're probably best off learning to hand mix and knead before moving on.  You'll get a much better sense of what's involved in the process and of problem solving that way. 

    A point of more definite agreement is that the recipe as written is severly under-hydrated.  The dough is way too "stiff," and the weight of the top prevents the bottom from getting any sort of good "oven spring."  The "weight of the top prevents..." is true in any case; at a guess your problems are caused by manifold bad techniques complicated by a recipe that's not easy for a noobie to handle.

    It's worth noting that simple French bread is not an easy bread to make.  Most beginning bakers are best off learning loaf pan breads first before moving on to any sort of hand-formed artisanal loaves.  Formation is not the easiest thing to learn and poor formation is often responsible for the problems you're suffering. 

    You asked about over rising.  If you let dough rise too much during any of its proofs, it becomes flaccid which results in difficulty in getting a tight surface (loaf formation) and inhibits oven spring (rise during baking). 

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2010
  4. nadinec

    nadinec

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    Hi Boar,

    Thanks for the additional thoughts. The loaves always hold their shape and rise very nicely- maybe a little flatter than desired, but they definitely rise and definitely keep their shapes. I'm going to be reading up on many of the suggested texts above, and I'm going to try my hand again later this week. Hopefully, a little more knowledge and a lot more practice will start to yield some better results! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
     
  5. kylew

    kylew

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    As BDL points out, this recipe is way underhydrated. Baguette dough is on average about 65% hydrated. This recipe is closer to 44%. What these numbers mean is the if the recipe calls for 18 oz. of flour (about 4 cups) then you should be adding 11.5 or 12 oz. of water, 65% of the 18 oz. of flour. This recipe is using 8 oz of water, or about 44 % of the flour weight. 

    BDL's second point is the gospel truth. True french bread is one of the most challenging breads to bake for home bakers. The dough is very, very soft and not easy to work with. I was counseled early on to go deep before I went wide. My tutor advised me to find a simple white pan loaf and bake it over and over again. By doing this in different climate conditions (how does high humidity in my kitchen impact the amount of flour I need to use?) using different bags of flour etc, I would train my fingers to know what a proper dough would feel like. Smart fingers are you best tool :) Once I got comfortable with my white pan loaf I was able to more confidently widen my bread horizon!
     
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  6. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    True french bread is one of the most challenging breads to bake for home bakers.

    Truer words were never spoken, Kyle.

    Ironically, when people first make the more to "artisan" or hand-formed breads, the first thing they want to make is a baguette or French bread. They don't realize how advanced that is over, say, whipping together a typical recipe and plopping the dough into a loaf pan.

    Beginners, IMO, should eschew slack doughs altogether until they get some time-in-grade, and feel confident in being able to manipulate these highly-hydrated doughs.

    I do disagree, slightly, with your figures though. 65% is more typical of a standard lean dough French bread, such as a pane de champagne. Baguettes are much slacker, typically running in the 70s, Eric Kastel's baguette with pate fermentee, for instance, runs 74%. And they can be a lot wetter. Peter Reinhart's pane d'acienne, for instance, runs an incredible 79%. Compared to those, a 65% hydrated dough is a cinch to work with.

    Something they don't, unfortunately, stress enough is that most modern bread making books usually have the recipes/formulas arrange in order of difficulty. The idea is, if you work your way through them you'll be developing skills that serve you as you move on to more advanced breads.

    And, as you so aptly note, if you've only baked a bread one time, then you haven't learned how to bake it.
     
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  7. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    Nadine, if you could pm to me your regular email addy, I'll send you a copy of my chart for dough.  It lists the "correct" amount of water for doughs ranging from 4C all the way to 8C.

    -T
     
  8. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    I wouldn't mind taking a look at that chart myself, Kokopuffs. Please send me a copy: [email protected].

    Thanks.
     
  9. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    Brook, item sent.  For the 6C loaf, subtract 2 TBS water from the poolish and also 2 TBS water from the "remaining ingredients".
     
  10. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Thanks, Koko.
     
  11. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    Subtracting the 4 TBS of water from the 6C recipe will enable you to use less that 1/2C flour for dusting - assuming the use of KA Unbleached Bread Flour.

    I know nothing about other flours since I live in the very deep south and don't have convenient access to them and artisinal flours as well due to huge shipping costs.
     
  12. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Nothing wrong with King Arthur that I know about, Koko. I used it for a long time before switching to Wiesenberger; and that primarily because they are local, and I can get 25# bags right at the mill.

    It'll be interesting to see if that adjustment holds true for a different flour.
     
  13. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    Many times I've been wnating to get Weisenberger but due to shipping...

    Look, I'm spoiled having lived not far from the Rocky Mountain Flour Mill where, in 2001-02, I got 50# bags for less than $15.  You ain't hallucinating, either, on the price.
     
  14. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    Well, I did it: just orderd a 25# sack from the mill and I'll give feedback on the recipe and flavor once baked.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2010
  15. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Just out of pernicious curiousity, Koko, what did the shipping run on that?
     
  16. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    $19 from Kentucky to south Georgia, making it $34 for 25#s.  KA costs around $18-21 cheaper- just to be real.  And included with the deal was/is 1 pound of SAF Red Instant Yeast.  Shipping is killing mills ...  or at least restraining them.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2010
  17. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Ain't that the truth. But it's not just the mills. Seems like anything you buy on-line, nowadays, the shipping is more than the products. Or a significantly high proportion. 

    Even worse, I went over to KA's site, to do a comparison. They're $1.25 more for five pounds than Weisenberger. They don't list bread flour in #25, but the all purpose is about double Weisenbergers. Bad enough. But the KA site charges more for flour than you'd pay for it in a local supermarket---by about the same buck and a quarter. And you have to pay shipping on top of that. 

    Something ain't right.

     
     
  18. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    I'm wondering, Terry, if it wouldn't make sense for you to drive up to Nora Mills, in Helen, Ga.

    They're more expensive (on-line about 12 bucks for ten pounds). But their flours are stone ground.

    I'm thinking that in the end it would cost you about the same, what with gas and all. But you'd have a great trip to the mountains, get to explore Helen (a recreated Bavarian village), and stock up on what you need.

    I mean, if you're going to have to spend money on transportation, you might as well enjoy it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2010
  19. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    You're dirving me to drink, man!
     
  20. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    Checkout KA's in-store prices which are significantly lower than their online $$'s.  Really.