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Old 12-20-2003, 08:50 PM   #1
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bread is not soft enough

my bread always turns out really 'heavy' & not very soft. After a sitting for a day, even though i keep it covered, it basically turns into a brick.
i'm trying to make a loaf of bread that has a very crunchy, hard outer crust, but is very spongy & soft on the inside. i can give more details about my processes if it will help.
ps. this is about my 5th loaf i've ever made, so i'm pretty new to this.
thanks,

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Old 12-21-2003, 12:00 AM   #2
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well, i tried an "experiment" tonight, and it worked out pretty well.
the bread recipes i use always instruct you to let the dough rise in a bowl, then punch it down and let it rise again. I was just thinking that by punching it down you're taking away all the airspaces which essentially make the bread soft, so i tried just making the dough, kneading it, separating it into the appropriate amount of pieces, letting it rise once, and baking it. i eliminated several steps, cut down on my preparation time, and the bread turned out much lighter, fluffier, and softer.
Yeah!
Next time i'm going to try doubling the amount of yeast i use. I'll see if this helps or not.
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Old 12-21-2003, 07:12 AM   #3
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Carnivore;
I think you may be overwoorking your dough. When I first got married, I was the bread baker in the family as my wife looved the fresh Italian and French breads I made. I HATE to bake and showed her how so I wouldn't have to. Her first several efforts were dense and heavy. So we did one together and the woman was throwing that dough around like a rodeo rider bulldogging a calf. She was WAY overworking it. Now, her breadsare always beautiful.
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Old 12-21-2003, 11:54 AM   #4
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thanks for the tip BubbaGourmet,
...although this might be the first time i've been accused of overworking ANYTHING

one nice thing about making bread is that it's hard to feel to bad if you mess it up since the ingredients are so cheap--not quite the same feeling as say, overcooking a whole beef tenderloin (ouch).
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Old 01-08-2004, 12:18 AM   #5
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Carnivore, I too, as you may recall, was having exactly the same problem as you are: heavy, dense breads that dried out too quickly.

"Way back somewhere I'd read and instruction that "wetter is better". I ignored that for a long time, but finally took that advice and Voila! - got the results you are seeking!

Now I make my dough as soft as I can get away with and not have a mere pancake. As I use the "rustic" approach (nno loaf pan), my laoves don't rise as high as before, burt the improvement in quallity more than makes up for it.

For a thicker, harder crust, bake at a high temp (400) and/or mist the loaf liberally with water a couple of times during the baking process. I like a very thin, crsip crust, so bake at 335 (on the recommendatin of a local chef).

After these many months, I'm finally getting some decent bread.

Oh, as for storage: BW shoed me that keepping the loaf in a closed zip-loc bag maintains freshness much, much better!

Also, Fleischmann's Rapid Rise Yeast claims only one rising is needed, but I seem to have better luck with two. I don't totally flatten the first rising, however.

Let us know your progress.
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Old 01-08-2004, 11:54 AM   #6
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oldcoot, i think you're right on all points. i recently asked my aunt, who regularly makes bread, if she had any pointers, and her recommendation as well was to reduce the amount of flour i'm using. I think this is very confusing for people like me who are just trying their hand at this, as every single bread recipe i've used to this point calls for WAY too much flour or not enough liquid. i was making one the other night that called for 3 cups flour, only put 2 cups in and the dough was already so stiff i could barely work with it. Also, when a recipe uses the term "moderately stiff" when describing how the dough should be, it is not a very good use of the term IMO.

I just bought a new book on baking (bought if for the bread recipes and techniques) and am having more luck with the way they recommend to do things. The recipes call for the breads to be baked at higher temps (as you suggested--400-425) and i'm getting much crisper crusts now. i will have to try spraying with water during baking.

I'm starting to realize how many variables there are in bread-making--enough to make your head spin after awhile, although i suppose it comes as second nature to some.
But my breads are turning out better as well, so I guess there's hope for us all!
Thanks for the tips oldcoot.
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Old 01-08-2004, 09:01 PM   #7
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one more thing...

i also wanted to say that i use the same 'rustic' approach as oldcoot, in that i don't normally like to use loaf pans--i prefer more 'natural' shapes to my breads :D Although i wonder if cooking the dough in a pan has an effect on the crust or doneness of the bread?? It seems as though every factor affects it in some way, so i wouldn't be surprised...
also, i've had more success in getting softer breads by extending the rising time, sometimes two-fold (2 hours first rise, and 1 hour second rise has been working well lately).

oh, and my sourdough starter is finally working!! i finally tried oldcoot's advice (posted in a different thread) of feeding the starter daily with flour and water, and it's definitely alive!
Last thing...I'm within a few loaves of getting to my "break-through" bread recipe. I'll be sure to post the recipe once i get it down.
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Old 01-09-2004, 06:04 PM   #8
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Thank you for the tips peoples, thought it was just me, that my homemade bread becomes tough after a day. An afternoon of bread making and ice cream making tomorrow, will let you know how it goes. Must get me a water spray thingie tomorrow!
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Old 01-09-2004, 08:01 PM   #9
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Hey fellas, don't get the idea I'm sany kind of expert on this bread thing - I'm as much in the dark as you - if not more so!

I've minimized my recipes to make smaller loaves, as there are only the two of us, and I hate dry, stale bread - no matter who has baked it.

For the loaf depicted below, out of the oven minutes ago, the recipe was:

2 Cups flour

1 pkg Fleischmann's Rapid Rise Yeast
1 tsp sugar
6 fl oz water, 110 F
Mixed these 3 and let stand 10 minutes

1 tsp table salt
3 Tbsp butter, cut into small pieces, cold
2 Tbsp Honey (I heat this in the microwave for 10-15 seconds, makes it much easier to measure)
1 egg

Mixed all other ingredients with 1 cup flour until smooth and stringy (Kitchen Air with paddle). (reserved a little of the egg to brush on surface) Then added balance of flour using dough hook and mixed until just came together.

Turned out on lightly floured board and kneeaed just enough to stop sticking, formed ball in bowl and let rise about 1 1/2 hours (cool day today)

Turned out on board again, flattened slightly with my hand and rolled into laof shape, placed on sheet seam down, and let rise aboout an hour. Brushed with egg.

Texture is not quite as light as I'd like, but not bad. Probably should have used more butter, maybe milk instead of water. (Both are supposed to improve softness)



baked @ 350 F for 40 min.

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Old 01-09-2004, 08:12 PM   #10
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Here's a shot of the texture. A moderately thick, crisp crust- not too hard. Texture is a tad on the heavy side.

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