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Dough

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I made some plain white bread the other day and it came out fine. However, I tried to make it again today and the dough just didn't seem to react the same. When baked the crust came out harder than before. Do you think that I overworked the dough? Here's my recipe:
4 cups of sifted flour. (Both times)
2 cups of water @ 102 degrees. (Both times)
1 package of yeast (Both times)
1/2 cube of salted butter (Both times)
I sifted the flour into a bowl. Then I made a well in the middle for the liquid.
I put the yeast into the water and mixed it up. Then I added the mixture to the flour. I worked the dough until it became elastic. Although the dough did seem to break apart more than be elastic. Then I put it in a plastic dish to proof for 2 hours. Before it was only one hour. After proofing I punched it down and worked it some more. The dough was then placed in the container again to rise for 1 hour. Before 30 minutes. I then molded it and placed it in a greased metal casserole dish. I sliced the top and poured the melted butter over the dough. The bread was baked at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. Just like before. The crust wasn't as brown as before. In fact, quite light. My fiance said that it tasted good. But, I have my own higher standards to fullfil. I hope that I have given enough information for someone to evaluate. As always, thanks for the help.
Dale Angelo Iannello
Wanna be Pastry Chef
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Dale Angelo Iannello
Wanna be Pastry Chef
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post #2 of 14
Same type of flour both times?
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
Yes, all purpose white flour.
Dale Angelo Iannello
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Dale Angelo Iannello
Wanna be Pastry Chef
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post #4 of 14
Measuring flour by volume is always an iffy proposition. (A "cup" of flour can vary by weight to a huge degree.) If you want precision and consistency, weigh your dry ingredients.

That said, ambient humidity will make a difference with bread dough. Some days you'll need more flour and some days you'll need less.

What did you do with regard to controlling the humidity in the oven?
post #5 of 14

Over proofed maybe?

Did you put it in the same spot to rise? Did you wrap it in the same fashion? Temp of room? Time of day? Rainy? Summer? Winter?

Dough is a cranky thing depending on humidity and heat plus handling too much or too little. (Yeah, it's pretty much just cranky) You get more consistent effects using a mixer with a dough hook, but I had to make up to 10 loaves a day, including cinnamon rolls (by hand as well) for the AM service. Single loaves or small batches work fine by hand. I've got a small Sunbeam hand mixer that has dough hooks and works just fine.

I've also used a bread mixer for the main kneading process. It works in a pinch but don't like baking it in the little bread "pan" they provide though.

Since the only blaring difference seems to be the proofing time, my first guess would be that it sat too long. You can punch dough down when it gets close if you can't deal with it at that particular moment, but only a couple of times.

The yeast process in bread is a chemical reaction. Like a fire that stops burning when it runs out of wood. Yeast feeds on sugars, produce gas and when they don't have any more it stops.

The main idea in the chemistry of dough is that the yeast makes the little air pockets to a point during proofing and then finishes making them during the baking process. No leavening means something like Matzoh (Jewish cardboard crackers...LOL) as compared to Pillsbury.

I've had to deal with a couple of over-proofed batches of bread and the result came out similar to what you described.

Like you mentioned, it's not necessarily bad (unless you let them go WAY long and the buns basically deflate into a little wrinkly mess when you breathe on them), but like you, I can't stand not doing my personal best every friggin time! :cool:

Hope this helps.

April
post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 
April,
Wow! My clock for this post says you were up at 0305 hrs. Now that's early. I did put the dough in the same container, in the same spot. However, the time of day and the temperature was different. So, over-proofing is most likely the culprit. Thanks for your help. You're awesome!

Castironchef,
I didn't know that you could control the humidity in the oven. Mmmm, do you mean like adding a pan of water or something like that? I am definitely going to purchase a scale though. I was reading in my bread book (It's like one of those 1/2" thick book with overviews. Not much depth.) that a scale is a nice thing to have. I'm still saving up for the "Bread Bible." I'm going to make some sugar cookies today. I've got that down to a science. Thanks for all of your help.
Dale Angelo Iannello
Wanna be Pastry Chef
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Dale Angelo Iannello
Wanna be Pastry Chef
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post #7 of 14
I'm curious where you got your recipe (or as bakers would call it - formula) from. It's a question of sifting the flour - I've never seen a bread formula that calls for sifting the flour and I just find it odd. Also, recipes rarely call for salted butter; rather they call for unsalted and specify a quantity of salt to add.

But, here's the thing; there is a huge difference between a cup of flour - sifted and a cup of sifted flour. (Another good argument for weighing dry ingredients.) Assuming you did the sifting the same way both times it wouldn't necessarily cause your dough to react differently.

I'm not clear on the fermentation times either. Did the times double because you simply left it twice as long or did you need the extra time because the dough hadn't risen enough in the second batch?

If your second batch wasn't a smooth, homgenous, elastic mass, it was probably too dry. With bread doughs you measure the flour and add enough liquid to get the consistency you want. Because of all the variables that is very often not exactly what the formula calls for. It comes down to experience and knowing what the dough should look and feel like. That you only get with practice, practice and more practice. Keep at it though, the rewards are well worth the effort. Also, try another formula, this one seems a little suspect to me.

Jock
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks Jock,
I got the recipe from this cheap bread book. I think the dough was maybe too dry too. Also, I was busy, that's why I overproofed the dough. I'll keep trying though. Thanks again.
Dale Angelo Iannello
Wanna be Pastry Chef
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Dale Angelo Iannello
Wanna be Pastry Chef
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post #9 of 14
I'll second Jock's comments. Getting the dough right is a bit of an art, and like any art, it takes practice to get right. I've made scores of loaves, and they get a little better each time. The comment about humidity was spot-on, and the age of your flour will change the amount of liquid required, as well.

That said, having a good formula to start with can really help. My favorite book is The Bread Baker's Apprentice, by Reinhart. Very good forumals, and great full-color pictures. He's also very descriptive about what your dough should look and feel like after you're done kneadeing it. I just made his NY Deli-style sourdough rye loaves, and they were nothing short of spectacular.

I'll also second the note about a scale for weighing your dry ingredients. It will help your consistency immensely.

-Joe
post #10 of 14
If you're making a plain white sandwhich bread, the dough was probably too wet. 18 oz (4.5oz/C) of flour to 16 oz of water would be something like 88.8% hydration. Sandwhich bread is usually around 62-65%. If you were unhappy with the results, it's very likely that it was overproofed. To get good bread you need to extend the fermentation for as long as possible without overproofing. Which is partly why wild yeast starters are popular with bread nuts. They're not nearly as ravenous as commercial yeasts and the lactobacteria that comes along with the yeast will also digest the flour into more flavorful components. The easiest way to extend fermentation is to mix up the dough and pop it into the refrigerator overnight. Even just a few hours will make some difference. You can either benchproof it in your pan in the refrigerator or do it after it comes out. Be gentle with your dough if you want the artisanal looking crumb with variously sized holes. None of that 'punching down and squishing out all of the air bubbles' stuff.

People like to say that humidity will play havoc with your bread, but as long as I'm using a scale to measure out my flour I get consistent results. 66%-ish hydration is a good all purpose dough that can be used for sandwhich bread to pizza. It's also easy to measure out without resorting to a calculator. 3 parts flour, 2 parts water, 1/4-1/2 tsp kosher salt and 1/4 tsp yeast per 4.5oz/130g flour. I like to use half bread flour, half all purpose for white doughs.

Hydration, by the way, is the percentage of the water by weight to the flour by weight. I've read that sandwhich bread should be in the low to mid 60s, pizza and baguettes should be around 70 and focaccia should be 80-100. You don't have to follow these numbers, of course.

To find the amount of water you need for a known quantity of flour:
flour * hydration % / 100.
To find the hydration % from a recipe:
water * 100 / flour.
post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 
Stavrogin,
Wow! Have you written books on bread? It sure sounds like it. The other day I made some wheat bread. It came out quite nicely. But it was a little dense. What was that you said about not punching down the dough? Is that why my bread is so dense? I have to get me a scale. Thanks for your insights and help.
Dale Angelo Iannello
Wanna be Pastry Chef
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Dale Angelo Iannello
Wanna be Pastry Chef
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post #12 of 14
I haven't written any, but I like to read (I don't want to say consult) Shirley O. Corriher's Cookwise and Peter Reinhart's various books occasionally. It could be harsh punching down. Since you said it's quite nice, it probably was. There isn't anything bad with a close crumb, as bakers like to call it. It's just gone out of fashion lately.

People like to 'fold' nowadays, instead of punching down. Very gently, fold the dough into itself without trying to force any air out. You'll usually see flattish bubbles under the 'skin' of the dough.

btw. If you've been using the hollow thump method to test your bread, try switching to an instant thermometer. 200-205 degrees is done.
post #13 of 14
It likely hast as much to do with the whole wheat as any physical abuse you visited on the dough. I agree with Stavrogin, about "punching down" dough. What you are trying to do is degas the dough. This can, and IMHO should, be done very gently. I find the turning the dough out of the bowl is often enough.

As to you dense whole wheat bread, welcome to the club! The higher the percentage of whole grain flour, the trickier it becomes. I have a fairly tried and true recipe I arrived at while experimenting with a cyberpal. I'll post it tonight.
At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals.
www.kyleskitchen.net
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At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals.
www.kyleskitchen.net
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post #14 of 14
DALE:
Good afternoon. Dale, Stavrogin is correct in telling you that you are employing to much hydration. Approx. 60% to 65% is the accepted relationship of liquid to flour. Now then Dale, I noticed you did not state the salt amount. This has a lot to do with your problem. Does your recipe state this ingredient?????. If so did you mixed it in or no !!!.
Good luck & have a nice day Dale.:chef:

~Z~BESTUS.
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