hi all i am teaching myself to bake bread all went well but i couldnt get the baking right my first loaf i over cooked abit to much but the 2nd loaf seemed to have perfect colour and sounded hollow when tapped but when it was cut open it was very heavy and doughy. i used bread grade flour. is there anything i can do to tell if i have a light and fluffy loaf or a better grade of flour to use
the perfect loaf
There are any number of possibilities, but I have two initial suspects. The first is the bread flour. Did you knoead this dough by hand? Given the high protein level in bread flour it is very difficult to properly develop the gluten by hand. Without proper gluten development you are likely to end up with a dense loaf. The second suspect is underhydration. When it comes to open, airy bread, wetter is better. If your dough wasn't trying to stick to you, you probalbly didn;t have enough water in it.
Just another self taught bread baker's opinion :)
Why don't you walk us through your formula and procedures. That way we'll be in a better position to help.
There are any number of things which could have prevented you from achieving your desired results. I tend to lean towards under-kneading (not going to "windowpane"), as well as mistakes in rise/punch-down and loaf formation if only because these are so common with beginners. But I'd need to know a lot more about what you did to give you an educated guess.
Australian "bread flour" is not the same as American "bread flour" aka "high gluten flour." Our flour tends to be much "harder" (higher protein-gluten content) and less starchy than Europe's and yours. If you think of Ozzy "bread flour" as equivalent to American AP, you won't go far wrong. Consequently, any advice about flour types which doesn't take cognizance of national differences is probably best discarded.
Moving on, I'm also not ready to point a finger at hydration levels, because I'm assuming you're using a proven recipe. As you develop some experience you'll learn to make on-the-fly adjustments to hydration based on touch. For the meantime, if your ratios are in the same neighborhood as the recipe's, they should be good enough.
If you want specific advice, you're going to have to supply a specific description of your recipe and your technique. So far, there isn't enough information.
Hope this helps,
You know what Felix Unger said...:) I've always found bread recipes to be more guideline than gospel, espcially when it comes to hydration. In NYC there are days when my kitchen is like a swamp and others when it's like a desert. I think KYH suggested, the recipe in question would be a good place to start.
In addition to the recipe, I'd like to ask about how you went about baking and cooling the bread. The heavy, gummy thing you experienced could be the result of insufficient oven-spring or of not permitting the bread to cool completely before cutting. Or both. Or it could be the recipe....
Incidentally, if you're needing to make conversions from one flour type to another, plus deal with weather conditions and all that, you should start doing things by weight. 360g of bread flour and 360g of AP flour will have very different volumes but can be almost perfectly substituted for one another in a hearth bread.