Author Topic: Making Failbread  (Read 1555 times)

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Amasi

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Making Failbread
« on: November 22, 2011, 01:40:26 PM »
I'd really love to be able to make my own bread. Problem is, whenever I try it, the bread always ends up going flat and stodgy instead of nice and fluffy. Could anyone clue me in  to what I'm doing wrong? I'm a complete amateur when it comes to the kitchen, but I'm trying to learn.

Could it be I am not letting it rise long enough? Last time I made bread it looked like it rose well but I think it collapsed when I went to move it into the oven. Or it's not warm enough while its rising?

O'Dell

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Re: Making Failbread
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2011, 01:47:58 PM »
It's not the temperature because the bread will just take longer to rise if it's cool. The following resource says that the problem can come from letting it rise too much so that it collapses in the oven.

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/tips/bread-troubleshooting.html

BTW, I always use King Arthur brand flour. More expensive that other brands but I get very consistent results with it.
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Aggiesque

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Re: Making Failbread
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2011, 02:08:25 PM »
Not sure if it helps any, but I left mine rise 1 inch over my bread pan, no more.

If you have a breadmaker, those things hate me and I have no advice.
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EMuir

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Re: Making Failbread
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2011, 02:18:49 PM »
Make sure your yeast is still good, make sure it's in a warm enough place to rise ( I use a heating pad on low under mine), and if all else fails, add vital wheat gluten (no more than 1tbsp per loaf), which adds protein and rise.

buvezdevin

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Re: Making Failbread
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2011, 02:26:16 PM »
Does the recipe you are using give an indication of how much rise to expect, I.e. Dough should double in size?  Dough may rise, but not as much as needed in the specified time per recipe so a reference to volume increase expected is included in most recipes I have used.  If it isn't rising as much as needed, it may be yeast is old, or needs different handling (some are "fast" some not, and exposure to water at too high a temp or other factors can inhibit yeast action), or you may need more time due to temperature, etc.

Also, does the recipe you are using include the step of punching down dough after first rise, and then going through a second rise?
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cicero

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Re: Making Failbread
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2011, 02:34:55 PM »
it might help if you post your recipe and the steps that you take.

if it rises well and then appears to collapse while you move it - you may be letting it rise too much. or you may not be kneading it enough. I found that with bread recipes, the best recipes are those that give you instructions like "knead until the dough becomes elastic" rather than "knead for five minutes", or "let rise till double in bulk" and not "let rise one hour".

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kkl123

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Re: Making Failbread
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2011, 02:36:37 PM »
Could be a lot of things.  Are you using anything except "bread flour" or "all purpose flour"?  That has a lot of gluten in it, and gluten is the protein that becomes stretchy and elastic as you knead, and traps the gas bubbles, making the bread light.  If you're using, say, all whole wheat flour, expect brickbats.  Or adding a lot of rice flour or rye, or any of a number of other flours.  Soft wheat flours, like the southern biscuit flours (White Lily, etc.) also don't have enough gluten to rise properly in a bread dough.

I'm guessing, though, that it's a problem with over-rising, which tears the gluten fibers and then the bread collapses.

My very favorite bread book is the one written by James Beard -- I'd suggest you try the basic recipe for white bread in that (http://jamesbeard.org/index.php?q=recipes/show/Home_Style_White_Bread ), and divide the dough into two parts for the final rise in the pan. Let one get really risen and the other just about 1.5x the original volume.  Bake and compare.  If you're using bread flour or AP flour, I'm almost sure that's the issue.

Shirley Corriher's book, Bakewise has a really good chapter on what's going on with flours, gluten proportions and bread troubleshooting.  Borrow it from the library if you're the analytical type (she also has very good recipes!).

More:
http://artisanbreadbaking.com/problems/
http://books.google.com/books/about/Beard_on_bread.html?id=AkJvQgAACAAJ

jedikaiti

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Re: Making Failbread
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2011, 02:41:48 PM »
It's not the temperature because the bread will just take longer to rise if it's cool. The following resource says that the problem can come from letting it rise too much so that it collapses in the oven.

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/tips/bread-troubleshooting.html

BTW, I always use King Arthur brand flour. More expensive that other brands but I get very consistent results with it.

I concur on that - my BF is a trained chef, and he SWEARS by it. The last time I used any other brand, my zucchini bread turned into inedible zucchini bricks. I just wish the King Arthur folks would run some coupons or something!
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Amasi

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Re: Making Failbread
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2011, 02:48:00 PM »
Thanks for all your replies so far. I will try replacing my yeast, since the stuff I've got will be getting quite elderly now. I'm not sure that's the whole problem though, because even when it was new I didn't get any decent bread.

Here is the last recipe I used:

Wholemeal bread

1 1/4 cups hot water
1/4 cup honey
3/4 cup milk
3 teaspoons active yeast
4 cups wholemeal flour
2 cups high grade flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
50g butter
oil

Combine hot water honey and milk. Leave to cool until lukewarm. Sprinkle yeast over and leave for 10 minutes or until frothy. Combine 3 cups of the wholemeal flour, high grade flour and salt in a bowl. Set remaining cup of wholemeal flour aside. Cut in butter until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre of the flour. Add frothy yeast mixture. Stir until well mixed. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, using part of the reserved cup of flour for this. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic. If it is still sticky, add a little of the reserved flour, kneading until smooth or until dough springs back when lightly touched. Lightly oil a bowl. Place dough in bowl and brush lightly with oil. Cover and leave in a warm place until double in size. Punch dough down in the centre, then lightly knead. Divide dough in half. Shape into ovals. Place dough in two greased 22cm x 13cm loaf tins. Cover and leave until dough rises to top of tins. Bake at 200C for 40 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped on base of bread.


I think the only thing I changed about it was I probably used all purpose flour instead of high grade. Prior to this I had only been trying to make white bread (I am not sure where I put the recipe), which also didn't turn out very well. I'll probably go back to trying simple white bread until I actually get some success!

kkl123

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Re: Making Failbread
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2011, 03:26:51 PM »
Ah, the recipe is too heavy in whole wheat/whole meal flour (try no more than 1.5 c whole meal to 2 c white bread flour); the honey may be inhibiting the yeast, and the salt content looks a bit high, though I didn't calculate it out.

If I were going to try to rescue this recipe, I'd add 1 Tbsp (15 ml by volume) vital wheat gluten and 1 Tbsp more liquid to the recipe per loaf as a starting point.  I'd probably also do this as a sponge method bread rather than as a straight dough, as that gives the gluten more time to develop.

To proof your yeast, mix 1/4 c (60 ml) warm water (100-110oF/37-40oC) with 1 tsp (5 ml by volume) white table sugar (not demerara or brown sugar or honey) and stir till the sugar is dissolved.  Add 1 package (0.6 oz, 17g) yeast and stir again.  Place in a warmish spot and wait 10 minutes.  You should have close to 1/2 c of yeasty, bubbly water at the end of 10 minutes.  If you don't, buy new yeast, or feed the current bunch another 1/2 tsp of sugar and 1/4 c warm water and wait about half an hour... it should be close to 1 c (240 ml) by volume at that point.  Just substitute your "rescued yeast" for 1/2 c of liquid and the package of yeast in the recipe.

Do you prefer whole wheat bread? I'll look you out some easier recipes if you do.  Do you cook imperial or metric, or is the recipe you used ok because you've got both types of measuring devices?

(edited to fix paragraph problem)
« Last Edit: November 22, 2011, 03:29:59 PM by kkl123 »

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Making Failbread
« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2011, 03:58:12 PM »
If you're using, say, all whole wheat flour, expect brickbats.

I make 100% whole wheat bread all the time with no issues.

My oven allows me to set it to 100F which is perfect for proofing yeast and raising bread.  But I used to make bread on laundry day - the top of the dryer was the perfect temperature.

I proof my yeast - 1/3 cup warm tap water in a coffee mug, 1 tbsp sugar, stirred in, add 1 tbsp or 1 package of dry active yeast and place in the 100F oven.  Let the yeast grow until it is almost to the top of the mug.  Add to your recipe.  Mix everything and knead it then put it in a bowl in the oven to rise until double in bulk, about 1 hour.  Once it has risen the first time, turn it out, knead it to remove large air bubbles then divide into the number of loaves in the appropriate sized loaf pans that your recipe calls for.  Shape and let rise until just above the top of the pans - my method takes about 35 minutes.  Remove the bread from the oven, preheat to the required temperature and put the bread back in once the temperature is up to the required level.

Things that may be contributing:  you are making more loaves than the recipe calls for or the pans are larger than the recipe calls for and the bread is rising too much before baking; you aren't letting the oven heat to the correct temperature before putting the bread in, which causes it to rise more while the oven is heating up, then causing it to collapse because it is too high; your yeast might be old or inactive.

ETA:  Just saw your recipe - mine is even more simple:

5 cups flour (all purpose or whole wheat or combination of both - just adjust the rising time to get the double in bulk rises)
1/4 cup margerine or butter
1.5 tbsp salt
Yeast from above
1 2/3 cups ice water

Mix the flour, butter, salt together and add the yeast.  Slowly pour in the water (I use a kitchenaid mixer.  Mom always used her Cuisenart food processor with the plastic blade.)  Knead for 3 to 5 minutes in the mixer.  Follow the rising procedure above.  My bread pans are old head cheese pans - the sides are higher and they make a really nice loaf of bread.  They probably help with the support, too, because the loaf doesn't rise a lot above the sides of the pan.  Bake for 30 minutes at 350F.
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O'Dell

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Re: Making Failbread
« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2011, 06:23:13 PM »
It's not the temperature because the bread will just take longer to rise if it's cool. The following resource says that the problem can come from letting it rise too much so that it collapses in the oven.

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/tips/bread-troubleshooting.html

BTW, I always use King Arthur brand flour. More expensive that other brands but I get very consistent results with it.

I concur on that - my BF is a trained chef, and he SWEARS by it. The last time I used any other brand, my zucchini bread turned into inedible zucchini bricks. I just wish the King Arthur folks would run some coupons or something!

Oh I know! I do tend to snap up a few extra bags when it's on sale...typically around the holidays in my area. It freezes well and I always have some on hand. (Let it warm up to room temp before baking with it if you do this. Cold flour adds some to the bake time. doh! :D)

Amasi: when I make whole meal/wheat yeast breads, I usually add gluten. It helps to keep it lighter. You can find it in the baking section and there are instructions on how much to use per cup of flour. You might want to try that.
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Outdoor Girl

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Re: Making Failbread
« Reply #12 on: November 22, 2011, 07:35:33 PM »
Forgot to mention...

The purists will say the flour should be weighed, not measured by volume.  If you are going to measure by volume (cups), spoon the flour into the cup and use a knife to level it off.  Don't tap the cup to get it to level; it will take some of the loft out of the flour.  I don't usually spoon the flour because I have a large container so I just stick the cup in deep and lift out a cup, then use a knife to level it off.
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jedikaiti

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Re: Making Failbread
« Reply #13 on: November 22, 2011, 07:56:46 PM »
One random question that occurred to me - do you live at altitude, by any chance? If you are, the recipe (and most/many baking recipes) will need to be adjusted a bit.
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still in va

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Re: Making Failbread
« Reply #14 on: November 22, 2011, 08:58:43 PM »
i also use King Arthur Flour for baking...all purpose, bread, and whole wheat, depending upon the recipe.

i also, now, use their SAF Instant Yeast exclusively.  it's never let me down.  ever.