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Old 05-21-2013, 08:03 PM   #1
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Why can't I make bread?

Anything I make with bread dough or bread-like dough (soft pretzels, bread, bread rolls, croissant, etc) always turns out bad tasting (either like nothing, or the leavening agent...), dry, cracked, and it never browns evenly.

I can follow recipes fine on the internet usually, but anything I try to make out of bread just does NOT work.

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Old 05-21-2013, 08:15 PM   #2
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Old flour? Dirty oven? Or are you talking about premade bread products?
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Old 05-21-2013, 08:25 PM   #3
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Unlike cooking, baking is an exact science. You can't do a pinch of this, some of that. You do need fresh ingredients and proper untensils. Dry measuring cups for dry ingredients. Liquid ones for the wet ingredients.

Post a typical bread recipe that you use and what steps you take. It makes it easier to see where the problem may be.

And welcome to DC. You have a question? We have an answer.
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Old 05-21-2013, 08:40 PM   #4
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Tell us what recipe doesn't work.
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Old 05-22-2013, 05:10 AM   #5
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I agree with the others that it would help to see the recipe.

Two things do come to mind old or stale ingredients and using too much flour.

Baking bread is one of those things that can be difficult to learn without actually watching someone else do it. If you see someone else make bread you can get a feel for the texture that you are trying to achieve. If you do not have a baker that can help you the next best thing might be a UTube video on bread making.

Good luck and don't give up!
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Old 05-22-2013, 05:28 AM   #6
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I'm new at bread baking. I have learned that one must try the same basic recipe a number of times while making minor changes in order to get a nice end product.
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Old 05-23-2013, 06:27 PM   #7
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Welcome to D.C.!
The short answer to your question is that there isn't a short answer. We need to see the recipe for starters. I am certain that some good suggestions will follow.
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Old 05-24-2013, 05:33 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Addie View Post
Unlike cooking, baking is an exact science. You can't do a pinch of this, some of that. You do need fresh ingredients and proper untensils. Dry measuring cups for dry ingredients. Liquid ones for the wet ingredients.

Post a typical bread recipe that you use and what steps you take. It makes it easier to see where the problem may be.

And welcome to DC. You have a question? We have an answer.
French Bread Rolls to Die For Recipe - Allrecipes.com This. I don't have bread flour, but I wouldn't think all-purpose flour would make something as terrible as I got. It was like chewing on raw dough... It tasted like dough, not bread. It was definitely baked at the right temperature and for the right amount of time. But it was all dry and cracked and white on top instead of being nice and golden and smooth like I'd think it should be. I followed those steps exactly.

And just so we're clear it's not only this recipe. Any time I make anything with dough like this it gets screwed up.
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Old 05-24-2013, 06:35 PM   #9
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I read the recipe and watched the video for these rolls.

If you achieved the same results at the various stages in the video then I am thinking it could be that the temperature in your oven is off or that you may have used more flour than needed.

If everything else you bake comes out fine then the oven temp is probably not the issue.

The use of too much flour is a little tricky. Recipes for yeast breads normally give a range of amounts for the flour because the moisture content in the flour can vary and the humidity in your kitchen will vary. I would experiment with using less flour the next time. If you get a slightly sticky dough that you can finish working with greased hands then I would stop adding flour at that point. It may be a half cup less or a quarter cup less. The only way to tell is from experience and experimentation. Make some notes on your recipe card each time you make them until you get the desired results. By the time you are sick to death of rolls you will be turning out perfect rolls every time!
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Old 05-24-2013, 07:19 PM   #10
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Unlike cooking, baking is an exact science. You can't do a pinch of this, some of that.
Actually you're right. The book Ratio describes what the exact relationships are. The various elements of the recipe must match up.
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Old 05-24-2013, 07:29 PM   #11
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I'm new at bread baking. I have learned that one must try the same basic recipe a number of times while making minor changes in order to get a nice end product.
No, actually your first recipe should work, maybe not perfectly but at least good enough to enjoy eating and to inspire you to make better bread.

One critical factor is your oven: is it the right temperature? Don't accept the setting of the thermostat, buy an inexpensive oven thermometer to double check your thermostat.

Also, get the right pan for the bread you're making. There are big differences in outcome depending on whether you're using a Pyrex dish, or a light colored baking pan, or a dark colored baking pan. (Thanks to America's Test Kitchen for that last lesson!)

You should be able to zero in on producing good bread within 3-4 bakings. My own specialty is focaccia and I've never had a bad batch, only "better" and "great!"
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Old 05-24-2013, 07:31 PM   #12
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You cannot simply replace bread flour with AP flour and expect the same result. Bread flour has a higher gluten content than AP which is needed for bread making.

Be sure the water you are using is the correct temperature, you can kill the yeast if it is too hot and if the water is too cold you won't get a good proof on the yeast. Are you getting a good rise on the dough? If not then the it could be your yeast.

Also be sure you are kneading the dough enough to develop the need elasticity.

Hope this helps.
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Old 05-25-2013, 03:27 PM   #13
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I made the dough for yeast dinner rolls in my bread machine last Thanksgiving, then shaped them for the second rise and they were absolutely perfect. Definitely use fresh yeast; I check the temperature of the water with an instant-read thermometer.
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Old 05-25-2013, 06:58 PM   #14
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Ok just so everyone knows, all of my ingredients are less than a month old. I bought some of them the week before i made the bread.
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Old 05-25-2013, 10:58 PM   #15
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Ok just so everyone knows, all of my ingredients are less than a month old. I bought some of them the week before i made the bread.
I went back to your original post. Salt can give a lot flavor to any bread product. Just add it to the dry ingredents and mix well.

Too dry was another comment you made. Sounds like too much flour. In bread making, if a recipe calls for five cups of flour, does not mean that all five cups have to be forced into the liquid ingredients. Knead the dough as you work the flour into it. Once you add your liquid yeast to the dry ingredients, slowly bring in the rest of the flour. When about all of it except for the last cup has been used, dump it out on your workboard. Flour your workboard generously. Start kneading the dough after you flour you hands. Don't worry about that last cup you didn't get to mix in. The dough is picking up the flour on your worksurface. Just keep your hands floured. Once the dough no longer feels sticky and is smooth, shape into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place in a warm area of your kitchen. If you have a light in your oven, it gives off just the right amount of heat to help the dough to rise. Check it in a couple of hours. It should have doubled in size.

Gently press the dough down and reshape in the pan you are going to bake it in. This time cover it loosely with plastic wrap and allow to double again. In the meantime, preheat your oven. It should rise above the top of the pan. Some folks brush the top of their dough with butter. It keeps the crust soft. Bake until done.

You have received some very valuable tips. Check the thermostat on your oven. Buy an inexpensive oven thermometer. What color is the bottom of you pan? Darker pans will bake faster than lighter ones and will brown sooner. And make sure you knead your dough for at least 15 minuts or until is no longer sticks to your hands and is shiny. Good luck.
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Old 05-27-2013, 07:10 PM   #16
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Bought some bread flour because why not, right?

I've always used a real oven thermometer that gets replaced every year or two. I don't even let the temperature get 10 off
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Old 05-27-2013, 10:06 PM   #17
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Okay...hear me out. My suggestion is going to be a bit "out of the box," but here goes.

Borrow a bread machine but make sure it is one that has the "dough" feature. Or, if you wish, buy one at a consignment or thrift store. They are plentiful at these places, and for only a few dollars. You're not going to use the machine to bake your bread. It's going to do some of the "heavy lifting" for you.

I'm recommending this because, perhaps, you might be encouraged if you have at least a moderate success making bread.

Now, here's the meat of what I want you to do.

Choose a basic recipe for loaf bread. Nothing fancy or elaborate. For most bread machines, select a non-bread machine recipe that makes 2 standard loaves. Put those ingredients in the machine and set it to the aforementioned "dough" cycle.

What should happen is that the dough will be mixed and kneaded by the machine, then you will remove the dough, shape it into the pair of loaves, put them in their pans and let them rise for their second and final time.

What I do, and want you to do, is to put a glass cereal-sized bowl filled with water in the microwave and cook on HIGH for 4 minutes. Let stand in the microwave for about 2 minutes to allow the interior of the microwave to warm up. What is being created here is a "proofing box."

Place the pans of bread dough into the warmed microwave oven and allow to proof for the recommended time. DO NOT open the oven's door during this time. This environment will be safe for about 1 hour.

Once the dough has finished its final rise, bake as your recipe recommends.

What I'm trying to get across here is that if you can get over the "hump" with even a small success, you will come out on the other side with a fresher and more positive attitude toward baking your bread.
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Old 05-27-2013, 10:18 PM   #18
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Thanks to all of the suggestions in this thread. I've made a very acceptable bread for once. I made about 5 bread rolls. They taste good for an experiment.
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Old 05-28-2013, 02:28 PM   #19
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Okay...hear me out. My suggestion is going to be a bit "out of the box," but here goes.

Borrow a bread machine but make sure it is one that has the "dough" feature. Or, if you wish, buy one at a consignment or thrift store. They are plentiful at these places, and for only a few dollars. You're not going to use the machine to bake your bread. It's going to do some of the "heavy lifting" for you..
Great advice! That is how I learned to make bread. I bought a breadmaker and after a while I wanted to have a more "bread loaf" shaped loaves then machine turned out. I then only used the dough cycle and finished the loaves by hand. This taught me what the dough should feel like, whether it's too dense, too spongy. Add moisture, or add more liquid. I live in a very humid climate and learned very quickly that my recipe amounts for flour might need adjusting. It was a great way to learn my way around bread making. Now I just use my stand mixer because I know what I'm going for.
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Old 05-28-2013, 03:07 PM   #20
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French Bread Rolls to Die For Recipe - Allrecipes.com This. I don't have bread flour, but I wouldn't think all-purpose flour would make something as terrible as I got. It was like chewing on raw dough... It tasted like dough, not bread. It was definitely baked at the right temperature and for the right amount of time. But it was all dry and cracked and white on top instead of being nice and golden and smooth like I'd think it should be. I followed those steps exactly.

And just so we're clear it's not only this recipe. Any time I make anything with dough like this it gets screwed up.

I'd be wary of a recipe that calls them "french bread" rolls when that's not really what they are. Using fat in bread dough changes the texture (shortens it) making it softer and less chewy. What most people think of traditional chewy, crusty "french bread" uses a "lean" dough.

I'd switch recipes. Your rolls should not taste like dough or be white and cracked.

King Arthur flour (which is the choice of maky professional bakers) has a good baking book and good recipes on their website: King Arthur Flour - Search Results for dinner rolls

A cool store and catalog too.

If youwant to make a kicka$$ loaf of crusty bread without much work, try thhis recipe: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/di...mrex.html?_r=0
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