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Disastrous Bread

 
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Amber



Joined: 31 Jan 2005
Posts: 29
Location: Brisbane

PostPosted: Sat Jul 30, 2005 7:17 am    Post subject: Disastrous Bread Reply with quote

I have never had much success baking bread, but I thought today (a beautiful warm Saturday) I would give it another go.

I have just made the world's worst bread-dough. It is tough and unyielding and won't rise... much. I used fresh yeast and bottled water so that the chlorine in the tapwater wouldn't interfere with anything, but it's terrible.

So I'm requesting good bread recipes and any bread-making tips you might have.

Meanwhile, I am not sure whether to throw my dough out or not!
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Colin



Joined: 30 Jul 2005
Posts: 1
Location: MI, USA

PostPosted: Sat Jul 30, 2005 1:15 pm    Post subject: Re: Disastrous Bread Reply with quote

Meanwhile,
Quote:
I am not sure whether to throw my dough out or not
![/quote]

It would probably be best to start over; once dough gets to a bad point it's difficult to bring back.

For your first few loafs use only the essentials: flour, water, salt, yeast.
Was the bottled water you used cold? If so that could prevent the dough's rising. Use warm water, not too hot though, or the dough becomes difficult to work also.

Good luck.
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Deborah



Joined: 13 Jul 2005
Posts: 12
Location: San Diego, CA USA

PostPosted: Sat Jul 30, 2005 7:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that you added too much flour to your dough. The dough needs to be elastic when you knead it and some what soft but not sticky. It takes a bit of practice to know by feel how much flour you need to add to the dough because alot of it depends on how dry your flour is, and ambient humidity. I would suggest that when you try to bake bread the next time to use a good dry yeast. I use SAF-Instant which I always have good results with. As far as the fresh yeast that you were using, fresh yeast is a living organism, and perhaps your yeast is old and therefore no longer viable. In other words, it's no longer alive anymore. Fresh yeast is somewhat temperamental. If I have fresh yeast and don't know how good it is I always proof it before I use it in the bread.
King Arthur Flour has alot of good recipes for bread. You might want to try this one called White Bread 101.
www.kingarthurflour.com/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/47325
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Sat Jul 30, 2005 7:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The first concerns I'd have is what kind of flour you're using and if the yeast is active.

Your flour should have a protein count of at least 3gm (all-purpose). 4gm (bread flour) is better. If you're in the American South there are soft wheat flours in use that are well suited to thing like biscuits that will NOT have an adequate protein content to form gluten and will not, as a result, make good bread. Likewise, if you're using a flour that is not milled "white" wheat, it may not have adequate protein to form gluten. In that case you'll need to add some "white" wheat flour. A good ratio for a beginning breadmaker would be 1 part whole wheat, rye or oat flour to 3 parts of conventional milled "white" wheat flour. Alternatively, you can add a product that's called "gluten" or sometimes "vital wheat gluten" to what you're using.

If your flour is adequate the next consideration is is the yeast fresh enough to be active. The best way to determine that is by "proofing" it. To do this, take the yeast and dissolve it in the water and add a small amount of the flour called for in the recipe to make a "sponge" in a large, graduated measure. The sponge should be about as thick as cake batter. Note where it sits in the measure and let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes. When you check on it again, it should be bubbly and have risen considerably in the measure. If it has, proceed with your recipe adding the sponge to the remaining ingredients. Make sure to knead it adequately to develop the gluten.

Gluten is CRITICAL to good rising. When you start mixing your dough you can look at it and see that it has a quality that some recipes describe as "ragged". I prefer to think of it as "disorganized". The gluten has not yet formed. This is a process like carding wool if you're familiar with that concept. You need to knead or move the dough around until it has organized itself into long, strong, straight strands of gluten that will hold the gases produced in baking and result in the rise. As you work the dough you will actually be able to see and feel that it becomes smooth and responsive and "organized". If you take a small pinch of it off and gently stretch it, it will thin out but resist breaking. Artist breadmakers are able to create doughs that are so strong that they can stretch it out to a "window" that will retain its integrity even as it's so thin they can see though it.

The only other thing I'd mention is that sometimes rising takes longer than you expect or the recipe you're using indicates. When that happens it's a GOOD thing — the longer dough takes to rise the more flavor it will develop. The important thing is to watch the dough and not the clock. Is it twice its size yet? If not give it more time.

Let us know how your next attempt goes. And keep in mind that the ingredients in basic bread dough are very cheap. If you have to feed them to the birds or put them on a compost pile and start over again, it's not so much invested in learning to make good bread. [/i]
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Barbara



Joined: 13 Nov 2004
Posts: 899
Location: Gold Coast Australia

PostPosted: Sat Jul 30, 2005 10:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use yeast granules as I've never had success with fresh yeast (yet - I will keep trying) and I always weigh the flour. I often leave it to rise in the fridge overnight.
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tomatoes



Joined: 30 Jul 2005
Posts: 10
Location: Colorado

PostPosted: Sat Jul 30, 2005 10:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

can you save out a bit of dough, mix it with some warm wter and see if it will make a sponge?
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Papacat



Joined: 31 Jul 2005
Posts: 1
Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2005 5:17 am    Post subject: Re: Disastrous Bread Reply with quote

Amber "requesting good bread recipes and any bread-making tips you might have":
here is what changed my skills: http://frenchbread.free.fr/

Go ahead and try the Sourdough starter - it's easy and pretty much works like it's described there! The other recipes are ok, but the Sourdough beats them all.

Boris
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Amber



Joined: 31 Jan 2005
Posts: 29
Location: Brisbane

PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2005 12:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for all your tips! There were a few things there I wasn't aware of.
I am pretty sure now that I need to get different flour. I was using the flour I use for baking biscuits and cakes, which, from your descriptions, doesn't sound like the right stuff for good bread.

I was talking to my mum and she said the recipe should have some sugar in it to activate the yeast, but my recipe called for no sugar at all (I'm not averse to blaming the recipe :p). She herself has started using spelt flour in her bread-machine and says it's more nutritious.

I am going home to my parents' in a few days and I will have another go with a recipe from your suggested links. Will let you know if I am more successful. I really want to conquer the bread-making frontier Smile
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2005 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A little sugar can't hurt but Colin is right that the proper ingredients of French bread (and we all know the French baguette is the sine qua non of all bread) are flour, water, yeast and salt. Active yeast (which is a live organism) can extract sugar from the flour. In fact, breaking down the flour into sugar and turning it into alcohol is part of the process of developing the gases that make bread rise and give it great flavor. A small amount of sugar can give active yeast a boost but it can't do a thing for expired yeast. OTOH, too much sugar presents a whole different set of challenges to getting sweet doughs to rise successfully.

Spelt flour is really nutritious and a godsend to lots of people who are gluten-intolerant but that's the issue: spelt is another lower gluten flour. Add it in small amounts as an enrichment to your milled white flour. At least at the start.

The most important thing that you mentioned is baking with your mom. There's nothing like a hands on tutorial from someone who knows what they're doing. I think you'll be in good hands! Wink In any case, the sense of achievement of making a great loaf of bread is such a wonderful thing that I'm glad you're continuing in your quest.
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Sarape



Joined: 15 Dec 2004
Posts: 583
Location: Anniston Alabama USA

PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2005 4:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don't through away the dough!

If it doesn't rise or if you think you've ruined it for various reasons, make flat bread. Just roll it thin and put some corn meal, or flour on a baking sheet and bake until brown on one side and then you can flip it and bake till brown on the other side.

I make flat bread (crackers) every other weekend and never use yeast.

This is the quick-n-dirty or army approach to making bread. Of course, I'm not claiming the result is superior to yeast bread.

However, one benefit is that the flat bread never spoils. I have flat-bread crackers I made a year ago. I can rejuvinate them by putting them in the oven in an aluminum tray with the pilot light burning and that dries them out and makes them crisp.
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