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Old 02-23-2011, 11:42 PM   #1
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Dense homemade bread, pls help!

Hi there. So for starters I will write down the recipe that I have been using.

500 grams All purpose flour
300 mls water
5 grams instant yeast
10 grams salt
35 grams butter

Bring everything together and knead for ten mins. Leave to rise for an hour and a half. Knock out the air once it's doubled in size and shape (I try rolls)
Leave to rise till doubled in size in a warm place then carefully put in the oven so as to not knock the air out. Oven is on 175 degrees c.

So problem is that my bread is coming out still rather dense. The second rise the rolls looked wonderful and then when they came out of the oven they seemed to of shrunk a little. I'm certainly a beginner but have done a lot of reading because I would really love to master this skill to some degree.

Please help me!!!

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Old 02-23-2011, 11:52 PM   #2
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On first blush I would guess that it needs to rise some more. The times in the recipe are generally a good starting point but YMMV depending on the heat of the kitchen, the freshness of the yeast and probably a ton of other factors. For starters I would proof the yeast first to make sure that it is very "alive". Just stir it into a little of the liquid in the recipe, add a small amount of sugar and watch for bubbles. If it "comes alive" it is a good yeast and ready to be used in your recipe. If it is a little lethargic well maybe get some fresh stuff. The process should take about 5 minutes in warm water or milk. I do this every time I make bread from yeast. If the liquid is too hot it will kill the yeast also resulting in a very dense loaf as the loaf won't rise at all. Hope I haven't been too obvious here. There may be other reasons for your challenges.
Also, rolls tend to get more lift if they are touching each other or the side of the pan. It gives them something to hold on to. If they are placed entirely separate from each other they will tend to spread out more.
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Old 02-24-2011, 12:25 AM   #3
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Thank you for your answer joesfolk! I will certainly check that the yeast is alive and kicking before trying my next batch of rolls.
I also read that you can over knead and over prove the bread? Can someone please help me with what the signs are that i should be looking for in case that is what i doing wrong as well? Thanks!
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Old 02-24-2011, 12:54 AM   #4
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I can't say that I have ever over kneaded bread. It seems to me that it would have to take an awfully lot of kneading to do that. But 10 minutes of kneading will usually do the job. As for proofing the dough, push one finger into the risen dough to a depth of about an inch. If the indentation mostly stays the dough should be right. If the dough deflates either you were too rough with that finger (not likely) or the dough was over inflated. Generally if the dough has doubled in bulk it will be right though I sometimes purposely allow my dough to rise a little higher for a lighter loaf. I once forgot about a loaf that I left in a warm place and when I went back for it it had exploded all over the place. ( Usually an overinflated dough will just deflate itself, not explode.) Keep practicing with the dough. You will soon learn to tell a good dough while you are mixing it. It has a certain feel to it. I can't really explain that. Best of luck.
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Old 02-24-2011, 03:18 AM   #5
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All what joe said + keep the salt away from the yeast and use Italian 00 flour.

Ps when I am making Wholemeal bread using british flour I crush 1/2 a ascorbic acid tablet into a little water and add it to the mix.
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Old 02-24-2011, 04:07 AM   #6
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Billy, I'm going through this journey with you. I have been baking for years but am new to baking bread. I got LOTS of good advice in this thread:

Just plain bread?

One of the first things I found out was that water that's too hot kills the yeast so it doesn't rise enough. The first batch I made chronicled in the thread above was also very dense like you're describing. Water that's too hot may be the culprit. If not, check out some of the other advice I got.

For checking the water temp, do you own a candy thermometer? If so you can use that to check the temperature of your water.
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Old 02-24-2011, 05:10 AM   #7
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Try baking at 190 deg. c. A substantial portion of the final rise should be accomplished by the oven spring that occurs during the first 15-20 minutes in the oven. Over rising prior to baking can lead to oven collapse instead of oven spring. At 23 deg. c room temperature, a 1/2 hour second rise should be adequate.
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Old 02-24-2011, 07:25 AM   #8
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See DC thread Oven Spring
for some interesting perspectives.
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Old 02-24-2011, 08:07 AM   #9
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My bread is coming out more dense than I would like, also. I can't seem to get those large holes in my Italian/French breads. I called King Arthur up (they have a fantastic help service) and they also suggested over-kneading. They also suggested wetting my hands with water to punch it down and shape the loaf. I had been dusting my hands with flour. They thought maybe I was drying the dough out too much and said to keep it as wet as possible. I'm going to try these ideas out on my next loaf.
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Old 02-24-2011, 11:22 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billylid View Post
Thank you for your answer joesfolk! I will certainly check that the yeast is alive and kicking before trying my next batch of rolls.
I also read that you can over knead and over prove the bread? Can someone please help me with what the signs are that i should be looking for in case that is what i doing wrong as well? Thanks!
Overkneading? Never for whole grain flours. But you can overknead white bread. Ten minutes of aggressive kneading should be enough.

Overproofing? Not on the first rise, but once you have shaped your loar, you CAN let it go too long. Try to put it in the oven when it's just short of doubled in bulk. Otherwise, it can collapse on itself, and almost surely will have unsightly air pockets inside.

Also be careful of underbaking. Even after more than 60 years of baking breads, I still err on the side of an extra 5 minutes in the oven. When I'm dooing free-form baking (not in a sided pan) I still turn the loaf over and tap the bottom to make sure it has a hollow sound.

And I can't emphasize enough that you should just barrel on, and practice. The more bread you bake, the better you will get at it, and the more self-assured.
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