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Old 01-05-2008, 11:51 PM   #1
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Question Dense Homemade Bread - HELP!

Every time I bake bread from scratch, it turns out very dense and heavy. Am I doing something wrong? Is there something I can do to make it lighter or is that just the way homemade bread is? I'm new to this, so I'm clueless. Thanks in advance for any help you can give!

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Old 01-06-2008, 05:39 AM   #2
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Dense bread could be caused by a lot things--are you using your oven or a bread machine? What type of flour--white, whole wheat--bread flour, or all purpose? What are you doing for rising the bread? How dependable is your oven temperature?

If you can answer this and post your recipe, I think you will probably get some help.

No, not all homemade bread is dense at all. I make lots of bread every week, and its anything but dense.
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Old 01-06-2008, 12:30 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply! Honestly, I'm not sure how true my oven temp is...but it hasn't mattered whether I make bread in the oven or in the Bread Machine. This particular time was in the oven using a recipe that came with the new stand mixer I got for Christmas. It tastes good, just dense. I used white, all-purpose flour as called for in the recipe below:

RAPID MIX COOL RISE WHITE BREAD

6 to 7 cups all-purpose flour 1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 Tbsp sugar 2 cups very warm water
3 1/2 tsp salt (120 to 130 degrees F)
3 packages active dry yeast

Place 5 1/2 cups four, sugar, salt, yeast, and butter in mixer bowl. Using dough hook, mix about 20 seconds on Speed 2. Gradually add warm water and mix about 1 1/2 minutes longer.

Continuing on Speed 2, add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and mix until dough clings to hook and cleans sides of bowl, about 2 minutes. Knead on Speed 2 about 2 minutes longer.

Cover dough with plastic wrap and a towel. Let rest 20 minutes.

Divide dough in half. Shape each half into a loaf. Place in greased 8.5X4.5X2.5 inch loaf pans. Brush each loaf with oil (I used EVOO) and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 2 to 12 hours (I refrigerated for 2 hours).

When ready to bake, uncover dough carefully. Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes. Puncture any gas bubbles which may have formed. Bake at 400 degrees F for 25 to 40 minutes. Remove from pans immediately and cool on wire racks.

Hope this helps and thanks again!
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Old 01-06-2008, 01:15 PM   #4
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One thing is I dont think your kneading it enough or letting it rise enough. Next time I would start with mixer then take out dough and knead it by hand at least 5-10 minutes or untill the dough is smooth and satiny. Put in pans cover and let rise at room temperature of about 70 degrees until it has doubled in size then bake as usual.
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Old 01-06-2008, 01:35 PM   #5
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Almost forgot after you knead the dough put in a greased bowl cover and let rise until doubled then punch down knead a little, shape loaves put in pans let rise again until doubled and bake.
Here is a good place to learn about bread making
bread101_intro
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Old 01-06-2008, 02:05 PM   #6
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I use a stand mixer and it does make a dough very quickly - I don'y knead seperately, although I'm sure that will help.

Don't put it near the fridge, yeast needs to stay warm to work. As jpmgrew says, leave the dough for an hour for first rise. I leave my dough on top of the stove while the oven is on. Divide and shape, then leave again (at leadt 40 mins in a warm place. I wait till get to the size i want, then bake.
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Old 01-06-2008, 02:12 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miniman View Post
I use a stand mixer and it does make a dough very quickly - I don'y knead seperately, although I'm sure that will help.

Don't put it near the fridge, yeast needs to stay warm to work. As jpmgrew says, leave the dough for an hour for first rise. I leave my dough on top of the stove while the oven is on. Divide and shape, then leave again (at leadt 40 mins in a warm place. I wait till get to the size i want, then bake.
Mixers work great but 2 minutes sounds awful short.I like to knead by hand because there is just something about using your hands that I think makes it better.You really need to knead well to get the gluten working. No pun intended.
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Old 01-06-2008, 02:19 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpmcgrew View Post
Mixers work great but 2 minutes sounds awful short.I like to knead by hand because there is just something about using your hands that I think makes it better.You really need to knead well to get the gluten working. No pun intended.

I agree. I would knead for 5-10 minutes in the mixer at speed 3 or 4. I do bagels at speed 4 for 7-10 minutes. Many recipes say when you are machine kneading, to knead for half the time given for hand kneading.

Also, don't over knead. You'd have to be a really needy kneader to knead more than it needs.
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Old 01-06-2008, 02:22 PM   #9
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I'd start with less flour, try that, see how it works. Do everything you have been doing before the same way. Let us know what happens.
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Old 01-06-2008, 02:24 PM   #10
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I use a KitchenAid Mixer for my bread making, entirely. I used to love doing it by hand, until the KitchenAid took over my kitchen...now it does everything I can possibly get it to do--so, I don't think the mixer is your likely problem. I do have the dough hook on quite a bit longer--perhaps a total of 7 minutes, and I usually have the machine knead the dough on medium (4 -5) speed.

People usually refridgerate their dough for 1) increasing the flavor or 2) b/c they have time to make the dough now and time to bake it tomorrow or the next day. Your recipe has the dough sitting out for about 10 minutes? That's not enough. Dough will rise more slowly in a refridgerator--it will still rise, I've had freezer bags of dough bust from it rising in the fridge--but in order to have the dough be light and airy, you really need to get it to room temp if you are going to refridgerate it. That will take at least an hour, depending on the temperature of your home.

Sometimes, when I am in a bit of a hurry, I will preheat my oven to its lowest temp, about 165/170, and then shut the oven and place the dough in the oven to warm it up from the fridge. You have to keep your eye on it, but this will work.

Someone else mentioned, I think, that you only have one rising here, and its in the fridge. I agree, the dough should be risen and and reshaped, then allow it to rise in its pan.

I always tell people to make sure you put an oven thermometer in the oven. I was surprised at how far off my temp was, and it was causing problems with my baking that I hadn't attributed to it. But I suspect allowing the rising to occur, as said above, so it doubles in size and rises over the top of the pan, will help.

I also use instant yeast, much easier, and I check that I am not getting the water too warm--no hotter than 110, or the yeast will die.

And yes, that's a heck of a lot of flour and I've never made bread with that much yeast (or salt). Try halving the recipe.

You can overrise too, so keep an eye on it! Overrising will result in the bread falling and--accckkk!--dense bread.

What the heck, even dense, warm bread is great with butter and jam :)

Practice, it gets better. And here's a website I like too Welcome to the Fresh Loaf | The Fresh Loaf

HAVE FUN!!!
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