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Old 06-12-2016, 05:50 AM   #1
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Bread, Dough and extreme frustration...

Ok so I'm not normally a bad cook, most things come right the first time I try them, including complex cakes and the like but...

I can't make bread.

This is so frustrating for me. I've finally got the temperature right for the yeast and I get a good rise but I can't get the dough right.

I can never get my dough to look like the dough in almost every youtube video I've watched. It simply never happens. The dough is either much too sticky that I can't kneed it, or much too stiff and it 'tears' as I kneed it and kneeding it for 30 mins doesn't result in a silky elastic dough.

I'm using the Great British Bake off reciepe as they are normally a good place to start:

700grams strong bread flour,
450ml luke warm water
7g Dried active yeast,
2 tablespoons of salt.

Mix the dry, make a well, add the liquid.

But I had to add more flour for it to be kneedable and now it just 'tears' and rips as I kneed it. It also feels somewhat stiff but I've no idea what is too stiff or not.

I dont want to add more water, as even now, when I kneed it hard and ir rips and tears, it gets sticky again and I have to dust more flour to continue to kneed without it getting stuck to my fingers...

:(

Any advice?

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Old 06-12-2016, 06:29 AM   #2
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Looks like you are missing some kind of fat/shortening to me.

Try out this simple recipe. 100% scientific repeatable results...

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French Bread

INGREDIENTS

2 1/4 cups warm water
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons sugar
6 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon yeast

INSTRUCTIONS
In stand mixer bowl add yeast, water, and sugar.
Allow yeast to bloom. 5-10 minutes.
Add remaining ingredients and knead using dough hook until dough ball cleans sides of bowl. Add additional water or flour as needed to reach desired consistency.
Place dough ball in greased bowl and allow to double in size. Punch down and form into loaves. Allow loaves to double in size again.
Place into cold oven and set to 400 degrees. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes.
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Old 06-12-2016, 07:55 AM   #3
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The liquid amounts are more of a guideline actually. Depending on the humidity your flour has been exposed to, as well as the current humidity, you may need a little more or a little less.

If you want a dinner roll or soft breadstick type bread, you'll get the best results with a slightly sticky dough. You'll want loaf bread dough a bit firmer. For hard breadsticks or crusty bread, you'll want a firmer dough.

And I agree with you missing some kind of fat, but it sounds like you are getting either too much or too little liquid as well.

Keep trying, you'll eventually get it, and you'll get to the point that you'll be able to tell just by the feel of the dough whether you are going to have a great batch of bread or an okay one or if you need to toss it and start over again.
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Old 06-12-2016, 08:07 AM   #4
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Bread doesn't require any fat to make a good dough. I've made several with no fat of any kind.

I make ciabatta with the same ingredients that the OP uses. It is a sticky dough, but it's supposed to be. However, I usually start most of my dough with a sponge or poolish to give the yeast more time to ferment and add flavor to the bread. I will let the poolish ferment on the counter overnight, then make the dough and bake the next day.

I also have never kneaded for 30 minutes. At most I knead for about 8 minutes, then the rest is just folding and resting or rising.

I have started using an autolyse before kneading too, which seems to help. For the autolyse, add the remaining flour, water, and yeast to the poolish and mix just until the dough starts to come together, then let it rest for 30 minutes before adding salt. Salt is a yeast inhibitor, so adding it later allows the yeast more freedom to do it's job. Then about 8 minutes more mixing to blend in the salt and bring the dough together, followed by 8 minutes of hand kneading. No more kneading is done after this.
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Old 06-12-2016, 08:07 AM   #5
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I just looked at the GBBO french bread recipes in case the OP just left the fat out and they do NOT use any type of fat other than for greasing pans. So, it's got to be the liquid the OP is using, either too much or not enough.

If the dough is too wet, knead in a little bit of flour until it gets smooth and silky. Just add a bit at the time though. You don't want to add too much (see below).

If the dough is too hard, flatten it out and sprinkle with a little water and knead to get a smooth, silky dough, this may or may not work, sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. It's easier just to not add all the flour at once, hold back a good handful. I'd say around 1/3 cup but I don't know what that would be in grams.
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Old 06-12-2016, 08:14 AM   #6
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The recipes I saw for the GBBO do use a sponge or a sour-dough starter, so I'm wondering exactly which recipe the OP is using, or if he/she is skipping a step. However, one of them did add salt to the sponge mixture, which I would never do, a tiny pinch of sugar maybe but never salt.
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Old 06-12-2016, 09:14 AM   #7
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The GBBO recipe I'm using is from the book "The Great British Bake Off. How to Bake." page 105 "how to make a perfect white loaf".

I didn't know salt acts as a yeast inhibitor. I do know many recipes use fat of some kind, but I believe traditional French Recipes do not.

I was following what I thought was a sure-fire method, as the book bills it as such. However, the loafs came out ok. Just not great. They aren't too tough but the bread is denser than I expected.

I suspect that I needed a little more water, (or less flour) but when I watch videos I get confused as people handle these doughs without it leaving a mess on their hands. Silky and smooth is a difficult description to aim for when you haven't felt what that means!

I kneaded for much longer than the recipe asked me too because the dough was not, to my mind, elastic, it would tear and rip as I tried to stretch it, but perhaps I was trying to stretch too far!?

My stand mixer is broken at the moment so it is all by hand at the moment for me!

Part of me wants to hunt out a totally by weight recipe, as professional bakeries weigh the liquids rather than measure them by volume, but that may be going a bit too far?

What is a poolish? (goes to google)

Thanks for the advice and once I have an Idea I'll defo try that recipe at the top...
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Old 06-12-2016, 09:47 AM   #8
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I read Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza by Ken Forkish. I thought it gives pretty good explanations for the home bread baker, and I think will answer a lot of your questions.

After reading it, I decided that a lot of breads are way more work than I'm willing to put in, and am sticking with fairly simple dutch oven breads. We have an excellent, reasonably priced bakery a few miles away, next door to a produce market that I like. I might try a ciabatta again, though.
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Old 06-12-2016, 09:55 AM   #9
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I'm surprised at the amount of salt in the recipe. Two tablespoons seems like a lot.
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Old 06-12-2016, 09:58 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
I'm surprised at the amount of salt in the recipe. Two tablespoons seems like a lot.
I noticed that too. Could have been adapted from an old sea-going hardtack recipe. arrrrrgggghhh :)

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