Another bread failure - flying saucer bread!

lpinkmountainApril 25, 2012

I can't seem to make a free form loaf of bread to save my life! I'm trying to adapt some of my favorite bread machine recipes to baking outside the machine because I don't like the hole the paddle makes. I've made this bread several times before and baked it in the machine--we love the taste and texture. It raises up great in the machine. But today when I tried to make it as a free form loaf it was a spectacular failure, just like it always is with me and these breads! Oh, and it looks streaked inside but that's just the lighting.

I did the dough in the machine but took it out for the final rise. The dough was VERY wet and sticky, a lot stuck to my hands, and I wondered if I should have kneaded in more flour when I was shaping it. I kneaded it into thirds twice, and then shaped it just like they show in all the artisan bread videos online, and put it into a round casserole to bake. Like I said, it was sticking to everything. It looked OK for a minute or two in the casserole, but just like always for me, the bread did not hold its shape, it just relaxed into the bowl. It flattened out and never rose more than it did, so I finally had to bake it.

It tastes good and has a good crust, but the indside is not chewy at all, it's just soft and fluffy.

Here's the recipe

Multigrain bread (makes a 1 lb. loaf)

3/4 cup plus 2 TBLSP of water

1 TBLSP butter, softened

1 cup unbleached white bread flour

3/4 cup whole wheat bread flour

2/3 cup 7 grain cereal, softened with some of the water

2 TBLSP packed brown sugar

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. bread machine yeast

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Needed more glutin....either some vital wheat glutin, or less whole wheat and more white.....and probably needed just a little more white flour.
How much water did you put on the cereal? That's all part of the total liquid you know.
One of my rules of thumb at least!! Is 4 cups of flour per every 1 1/2 cups of liquid....and any cereal that is added is measured as part of the 4 cups of flour.
My that account you were waaay short of made sort of a "whole wheat muffin"..LOL!
Linda C

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 3:09PM
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If the rule is 4 cups of flour per 1.5 cups liquid, then it would be 2 cups flour per .75 cups liquid. That is just about the ratio for the bread I made--3/4 cup water + 2 TBLSP--1 cup white flour, 3/4 cup whole wheat flour and 2/3 cups whole grain cereal. I moistened the cereal with some of the water from the recipe. But since conditions change, I'm wondering if adding a little more flour will harm the bread next time I make it.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 3:38PM
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I have a gluten free baseball bat baguette. New sport?

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 3:42PM
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First of all - that is not a failure! If it tastes good and has a good crust that's a really good start. It looks like you have some nice sized holes in a bread with whole grains - nice. I get healthy brown cake sometimes.

Have you tried adding some gluten to your flour? That helps with rise and chewiness. Also I've recently been playing with Pain a l'ancienne - I think you posted on that thread too. The wet doughs seem to need to be handled very gently - you might want to take it out of your machine earlier. It took me a couple of tries to get that lift and fold method but it seems to work. And though every bit of me wants to knead more flour into it NOW I don't.

And FWIW 'Beard on Bread' has a 'french style' bread recipe. It is a stiffer dough. And I find it easy to experiment with that recipe adding whole wheat flour and bulgar.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 4:00PM
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LOL Jessica, that cheered me up!! :) Misery loves company!

My bread is just too limp!
Here's my Christmas stollen, which tasted good too, but at the highest point was only about 2.25 inches. And then here's my pain l'ancienne, which exploded in the casserole and got its shape from the bowl and the lid. My breads just don't have any backbone!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 4:28PM
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If your bread has no "backbone" I think that your problem might be that you are not pinching to seal enough. You want a tight skin.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 4:40PM
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1. Your loaf has many of the characteristics of being over-proofed which may have happened in the bread machine and/or once it was in the casserole dish. If you use an instant-type yeast (i.e. Bread Machine Yeast as stated in the recipe) choose the QUICK Dough cycle instead of the regular dough cycle.

A common error is placing the wrong amount of dough in a pan/casserole. Your casserole dish may be too large for the amount of dough and it over-proofed during the final rise and didn't have enough yeast action left for oven-spring. I suspect this is the culprit... If you want to pan your 1-pound loaf (or approximately 2-1/2 cups flour in the recipe), choose a medium-size loaf pan 7-1/2x3-1/2 -inch. This isn't enough dough for a standard-size loaf pan - 8-1/2x4-1/2-inch. That pan size should be about 1-1/2 pounds of dough or about 3 cups of flour.

2. I don't let dough rise in my bread machine - even on the dough cycle. I take it out as soon as it's finished kneading and let it rise in a dough-rising bucket. This is the only way I can be certain when the dough has reached "double". Bread machines are a timed rise and dough rises according to the ambient temperature, moisture in the air and the dough, and the strength of the yeast - not a timer. In fact, I would only allow this dough to raise to just UNDER double due to the low amount of high-gluten flour and the large amount of 7-grain cereal.

3. Did you add any bench flour while handling or shaping the dough? The raw flour left in the dough can cause the streaks. You can eliminate this by handling the dough with oiled hands. Another cause for streaks is improper mixing and improper shaping. I never use bench flour but use my Silpat for forming dough. Another alternative is to oil your counter instead of using bench flour.

4. Did you wait to add the 7-grain cereal towards the end of the kneading or with the ingredients? When I add a multi-grain cereal (which is a common add-in for the breads I make) I add about 1/3 c. per loaf of the dry cereal towards the end of the kneading - at the add-in beep. I don't like the texture when I soak the cereal. There are sharp edges on the coarse-grind cereal blends that can cut the gluten strands if you add it early in the mixing/kneading. It's better to add all "chunky" stuff in breads AFTER the gluten is developed.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 5:45PM
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You might also try dividing the dough into fourths and make four small loaves or baguettes. You might have better luck with other shapes. Personally, I would bake it in a loaf pan if the problem persists. I always put VWG like the others in my bread dough, especially when I add whole grains.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 6:05PM
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Thanks for the tips!

It did double in bulk during the first rise in the machine. It looked great, much better than it looked for the second rise. Then the machine "punched it down" and I took it out (I was using the whole wheat bread cycle). I did the "lift and fold" type kneading a couple of times with just a wee bit of flour and tried to pinch it, but it was definately slack. I put it in the casserole for the second rise--it kinda rose but not very much. I put a wet paper towel over it that kind of stuck to the sticky dough, and when I removed it, it sort of "degassed" the bread and it went "blat." I tried to get it to raise a little more for a while, but by pressing in on the dough I could tell it was starting to get "over proofed" even though it wasn't rising, so I finally just said what the heck and baked it. I may try it again adding the cereal at the beep time. I just couldn't figure it out, because it looked so wonderful during the first rise. I hardly did a thing to it for the second rise and it just pooped out!

The bread wasn't streaked, it just looks that way due to my poor camera/lighting, etc.

You know back in the day I learned to knead bread until it has the consistency of an earlobe. With these artisan breads it seems more like the consistency of paper mache!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 6:06PM
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L, if it's "free form", why use a pan at all? Just form your loaf on a baking sheet or a piece of parchment if you prefer.

I form mine on parchment, put a half sheet pan in the oven to get hot and put a cast iron skillet on the bottom rack under it. When the bread is ready I slide the parchment onto my plastic cutting board and then just slide it off onto the hot pan.

I pour a cup of warm water into the pan below and close the door. I get bread that looks like this one, I just baked it today:

It looks a bit funny on the top because I got a little heavy handed with the "slash" and instead of a "tic tac toe" crosshatch on the top, I cut too deeply and got little squares that stuck up, LOL.

If it helps, though, I got this ciabatta last week, with a America's Test Kitchen recipe. Long recipe, lots of steps, good flavor and crust. Flat bread.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 7:19PM
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If I had put that bread dough free form alone on a pan, I would have had focaccia--without even trying! That's the problem, my loaves can't stand up on their own!! You can see the shaping of the casserole dish I baked them in on both my whole grain and pain l'ancienne!

Oh, and Grainlady, could I maybe experiment with the pain l'ancienne and just add some of the 7 grain cereal to it? I guess I should treat the cereal like an "add in" like raisins or something.

Or I should just give in and use my carpy little bread pan. Here's Annie's maple oatmeal loaf done in a loaf pan. I can make that kind of bread it seems.

I just like a lot of chewy crust!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 7:59PM
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I love bread and your breads look great to me. So does Annie's.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 8:08PM
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Yes good looking bread. Does not look like a flying saucer that I saw, the last time when I was abducted by those space aliens. :-)

Very nice backsplash in the kitchen.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 8:21PM
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Sorry I can't help you Pinky. I just make 2 kinds of loaves regularly, both panned. I've been no-knead a few times; in a hot cast-iron pot. I tried a free-form once, (2 loaves) and they didn't rise properly either. But I blame that on my slashing technique. I deflated the poor things.

But like Dcarch or (Archie), I was going to comment on your backsplash too :)

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 9:57PM
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Instead of using a wet paper towel, use a sheet of plastic wrap that has been sprayed with PAM so it won't stick to the dough. The plastic wrap will help hold the moisture from the dough in as well as keeping drafts off the dough as it raises, and additional moisture is unnecessary. Covering with a wet paper towel or cloth is no longer suggested. It contributes too much moisture primarily to the skin of the dough. -Grainlady

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 5:28AM
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BF tried to cheer me up. He said, "Who cares what it looks like, it tastes good." Then he went on to say, "That's going to make some weird looking sandwiches though . . . "

I still need to work on my technique. So far all the breads I have made have been tolerable, but truthfully, none had a really good crust or texture, and a lot of them taste kinda yeasty, which has been my experience with the bread recipes in Beth Henspergers "The Bread Lovers Bread Machine Cookbook." You can't fault her for ingenuity though, there are over 350 recipes in there and they all sound delicious! That appeals to my adventurous side. So far we've had some delicious bread but a lot of stuff has been so so, like the Greek bread made with evaporated goat's milk. I still have the rest of the can in the freezer, won't be making that bread again!

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 7:42AM
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Lpink, I made that Greek bread. I was pretty excited about it, hoping it would taste like the bread I get at my local Greek Festival. I was especially interested because it had sesame seeds in the dough rather than just resting on the top crust. But I was sorely disappointed. I made mine with cow's evaporated milk and felt the milky flavor was too strong. There also was an underlying sweetness that just didn't seem to belong, in my opinion. We finished the loaf, but I've never wanted to make it again.

I don't have much luck baking Beth Hensperger's recipes in the machine. I think there's too much yeast and the loaves tend to overproof then collapse during the baking cycle. I have better luck when I use active dry yeast and cut it by about 1/4 tsp. I also do better when I just bake them in my oven.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 7:55PM
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It seems to me that a yeasty taste is not normally from using too much yeast (within reason, of course) but from the bread rising in too warm a location.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 9:18PM
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