Trying another batch of bread.

tami_ohioNovember 16, 2012

Here we go again. I have another batch rising. I'm using the microwave heated first with hot water to do the rise. It should be getting close, it's been almost an hour. I'll have to open the door to check it tho, so I'm waiting at least that long before I check it. I don't want to let the heat out. And I used more yeast this time. Dumb me didn't read the label on the bag of bulk yeast that said 1 T = 1 package of yeast. I didn't need to try to weigh i last time after all! Oh well, at least the last batch tasted good, even if it didn't rise well.


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Tami, that's the nice thing about bread, even if it's not perfect it's still pretty darned good.

I've over proofed my share of loaves by "multi-tasking" and forgetting the dough, but even that makes good breadcrumbs!

Just keep on baking and it gets easier and better. Bread is pretty forgiving.


    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 2:07PM
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Although I've used the microwave method in the past, and there is a book written based entirely on this method so you can speed the rising of the dough, I have to caution using it.

1. You can get the temperature inside the microwave too hot if you aren't careful. Most people don't take the temperature inside the microwave before popping their dough into it. Yeast will begin to die at 115-degrees F. Yeast grows best around 75-85-degrees F. When temperatures exceed 85-degrees F, the dough can develop an "off" flavor.

2. The next potential problem is you can't always maintain a constant temperature. The temperature is highest when you add the dough, and will continue to fall. A constant temperature is optimal for dough.

The goal isn't speed, and there is nothing wrong with a long cool rise, which develops flavor. If you want speed, find a recipe using a fast-acting yeast which eliminates the first rise. You cover the dough for a 10-minute resting period after kneading to allow the gluten strands to relax before you form the dough for the final proof and eliminate the first rise entirely. This is one of the reasons fast-acting yeast products were developed - that and you could add them directly to the dry ingredients and skip proofing the yeast in water/sweetener.

This is also a problem when the "pre-heat the oven method" is used. In this method the oven is turned on for a few minutes to warm the oven, the oven is turned off, add the dough. Potential problems:

1. The oven temperature may be too hot if the oven temperature wasn't checked, and some of the yeast killed.

2. The oven hasn't been heated long enough to penetrate the entire oven in order to maintain/hold a good proofing temperature for a long period of time, so the temperature may be too hot when the dough is add, and then falls quickly during the proofing. Once again, a uniform temperature is best, not a falling temperature.

A better method is to leave the light on in your oven for a constant low temperature. Turn it on when you start making your dough so it has time to warm the entire oven. Be sure to test the temperature in different areas of the oven. In my oven it is best as far away from the oven light as I can get it, and the temperature is too hot close to the light.

If you want to add humidity, place a shallow baking pan or dish on the bottom rack and add hot (not boiling) water TO the pan as a safety measure. Don't fill the shallow pan at the sink and walk it to the oven. You could slosh the hot water all over yourself.

-If you use a dough-rising bucket for proofing dough, it's a perfect little environment which maintains the moisture from the dough, so adding humidity isn't necessary, and keeps drafts off the dough. You are also able to quickly tell when it's "doubled" in bulk. If you pat 1-quart of dough into a dough-rising bucket, when it reaches the 2-quart line, you know it has doubled in bulk.

-Cold dough is actually easier to handle when forming for the final proofing.

-Cover the dough with a sheet of plastic wrap. If you handle your dough with oiled hands the dough won't stick to them and the dough won't stick to the plastic wrap. You can also give the plastic wrap a shot of vegetable cooking spray to keep it from sticking.

-Avoid using damp towels over dough. The skin of the dough can get too hydrated from the excess moisture in the cloth and it can affect the flavor and texture of the dough.

-Punching dough down after the first rise is an important, and often ignored, function. How to: Oil your hand/fist. Plunge it slowly down the center of the dough. Now pull the dough on the outside of the container to the center. Do this all around the ball of dough. You are essentially turning the dough inside out. The cooler outside dough has been moved to the center and the warmer inside dough to the outside. This breaks up the gasses and redistributes the yeast.

-At this point you need to scale (weigh) the dough and divide it, if necessary. If you are making two loaves you can now have equal amounts by scaling the dough, and they will bake evenly. Scaling dough balls for dinner rolls, hamburger or hot dog buns, sandwich rolls, etc. will make them all the same size and they will bake evenly.

-Rounding the dough after the dough has been punched down is the next step. This is done by laying the dough on a flat surface (I use a silpat so I don't need bench flour). With both hands, pull the top of the dough down to the bottom, shifting the dough a quarter turn with each movement until the dough is a nice smooth ball. This gets the gluten strands running all the same way and the tight ball helps hold gasses inside the dough ball. Cover (a sheet of plastic wrap or turn the mixing bowl over it) and let the dough rest for 10-15 minutes so the gluten strands have a chance to relax before you form the dough.

It's the techniques that make all the difference between good bread and wonderful bread. Unfortunately, they are rarely noted in recipes ;-).


    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 8:08AM
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I haven't cut it yet. Of course, it finally finished the second rise while we were out to dinner and it flattened out some, but it did rise like is should have. I have made bread in the bread machine for years. For some reason, every time I try it now, it doesn't work. The machine works, the bread just doesn't come out right and can't be eaten. I have given up on it. This happend before with a different machine. I assume it is operator error, but who knows. I will keep trying. DH said I just don't have any luck making bread. This from a man whose mother made great bread, and any thing else she cooked/baked! But he happily eats my efforts!

Thanks for the tips Grainlady.


    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 8:45AM
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I sincerely appreciate that you so generously share your knowledge, Grainlady. What would take so much time for me to compile is right here in an easy to understand voice thanks to you.

DS and I started some sourdough starter today~hoping ready for Thanksgiving.

Take care and thanks again! Good luck, Tami!

Cathy in SWPA

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 8:46PM
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I also, bread maker of many years, fearless baker....have had 3 semi failures making bread in the past month.
Rises, looks great, shape it and it doesn't rise as I would expect....not much oven spring.
I will admit to buying "no name" flour....but I have done this lots and added vital gluten and it's been fine. These last 3 times I just made the bread. I have to think it's the flour. but I have a big batch of brioche rolls that were as expected....wonderful.
Just bought some KA flour....we'll see.....

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 9:08PM
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I have periodic failures that can't be linked to anything at all, the yeast is fine, the flour is King Arthur, my kitchen is no colder than usual. It happens.

I keep my house no warmer than 55 in the winter, usually colder than that, so I do have some problems with sourdough and occasionally in dough that doesn't rise well (or hardly at all, LOL). I usually shape it, put it into the pans and turn the oven on to preheat. I set my pans on the back of the stove and the heat from the oven helps the rise. My mother turns the oven on the lowest setting (175F, I think), lets it heat, then turns it off and puts her dough into the oven with a pan of warm water to rise with the door shut.

You'll find the method that works for you, just keep trying!


Tami, any number of things could be causing problems,

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 9:45PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

55 inside? Brrr! makes me cold just thinking about it.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 8:33AM
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Sounds like things were going well until it over-proofed and fell while you were out. Bread is the most humbling food we make in our kitchens, in my opinion. I can make the same recipe week in and week out for months, and then one day it fails completely.

Lora Brody, of the famous dough enhancer products, and Millie Apter have a bread machine cookbook entitled "Bread Machine Baking: PERFECT EVERY TIME". I made a recipe from the book with cornmeal in it and it failed. I made it two more times determined it HAD to work, and it failed those times as well, even though I made major adjustments such as using new yeast, careful measurements and ingredient temperatures, different kind of cornmeal, baked in the bread machine and out of the bread machine..... I put the book in the next donation box we put together for the Salvation Army. "PERFECT EVERY TIME" my big ol' bottom....

Here is my best use for failed bread, or bread heels and less-than-perfect slices... I put too many good-for-us ingredients in bread to waste it, even when it doesn't turn out well. I have a small collection of recipes that use fresh or dry bread crumbs which includes cookies, pancakes and waffles.


1/3 c. butter (I use coconut oil)
6 T. cocoa powder
2-3/4 c. medium-fine soft bread crumbs*
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 c. chopped nuts, optional
1/4-1/2 c. chocolate chips, optional
1 egg
2 T. water
1 c. brown sugar, packed (I use palm sugar)

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F and grease an 8-inch square pan. Melt butter and cocoa powder together over low heat, stirring occasionally. If using a microwave, cook on LOW power for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes or until melted; stir to combine. Cool.

In medium mixing bowl, combine bread crumbs, baking powder and nuts. In separate bowl, beat eggs and water together. Stir in cocoa mixture and brown sugar, beat until combined. Combine cocoa mixture with bread mixture until all ingredients are moistened.

Spread evenly in prepared pan. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until done. Cool completely on a wire rack. Makes 16 brownies.

*Do NOT use commercial dry bread crumbs. Bread that is at least 3-days old works best. Using a food processor, blender, or by-hand, shred bread into medium-fine crumbs.

[Grainlady Note: You can make half a recipe, keeping the whole egg in the recipe if you'd like, and bake it in a loaf pan (a good time to fire-up your toaster oven).]

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 9:38AM
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Thanks for the encouragement! I forgot to check the box for replies to be emailed to me, and I wasn't home much yesterday, so I kind of forgot I posted this. We haven't been home long enough to taste test yet.

Annie, I am freezing at 69�! No way I could handle 55�.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 11:55AM
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