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My bread is turns out to be very dry

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hello All,

            I recently started to bake bread at home. My issue is that the bread is turning out to be extremely dry just after a day.

Following is the process that I use:


* Activate the (approx 2 teaspoons) fleishmans active dry yeast in lukewarm water ( about 2 cups) for about 7-8 minutes

* Add about 4 cups bread flour to the water + yeast and knead it in the kitchen stand mixer for about 10 minutes.

* Let the dough sit for one hour.

* Punch and knead the dough again for 3-4 minutes and set in the baking tray.

* Let the dough sit for another one hour

* Bake at 400 deg F for 30 miutes

* Cool for around 2 hours before slicing.

What am I missing? What are all the checks that I can do throughout the process to make sure that the bread doesnt dry, is light and fluffy.


Any input will be appreciated.




post #2 of 12
The problem probably isn't with your recipe but with what you do with the bread after you bake; when you first cut, how you store, etc. So, I'd like to know more about what you do and don't do before giving you much advice on your real question.

More generally, your formula is fairly mainstream, but the first part of the method isn't very good. If you're going to use the sort of dry yeast which comes in packets, start by dissolving and proofing it in something less than half the water you plan to use.

Measure all your "dries" into the mixer bowl, add the yeast/water and start mixing. Then add more water until you get the right texture. The idea is not to use too much or too little water, but the right amount. The right amount is largely determined by the general humidity of the environment and the specific humidity of the flour. One of the great advantages of small batch bread baking is the ability to make that adjustment on the fly.

As long as you stay within the minimums and maximums of any given recipe, you'll be fine. And remember that you can always add a little extra moisture or flour during the knead. The more you bake, the better your sense of what's "best" will become, and the easier it will be to hit it in the beginning.

I'd also like to see you start eyeballing your rise levels, and "window-paning" gluten development, instead of relying too heavily on the clock. The clock is your friend and should keep you from going way to short or too long, but the rate of dough development depends on a lot of conditions and the clock can only tell you so much. It's not a substitute for your own sensory apparatus, just a backstop.

post #3 of 12

Using a preferment will help.

post #4 of 12

Two more ideas:  


Potato breads stay moist awhile, and they're easy and tasty.  


Longer fermentation breads usually keep better.  The process you describe is just about the fastest possible.   In my experience, that kind of bread (I'm thinking e.g. of "Cuban bread" in the NY Times cookbook) is great right out of the oven, but stale the next day.  This makes it fine for dinner parties but not daily use.


Try starting with only a half teaspoon of yeast, and then eyeballing your rise levels, as BDL suggests.  The traditional test is that it's finished rising when you push a finger in, and it doesn't spring back.  Try a second rise before shaping the loaf.  



post #5 of 12
Originally Posted by thetincook View Post

Using a preferment will help.

How so?

Offhand, I can't think of many pain de mie formulas using preferments. This recipe is definitely pain de mie; and even if there are quite a few ways to jam a preferment into ordinary white, sandwich bread it's not necessary. I could be wrong, but think you guys (tin and Colin) are getting a little too sophisticated for the OP and type of bread. I'm all in favor of pains au poolish, de campagne, sourdoughs, etc., but they're not at issue.

Assuming a certain level of technical competence, the straightforward way to get a richer, moister bread is to add fat -- usually in the form of milk, butter and/or oil. But the assumption is not justified, and I didn't want to start with recipe changes before finding out if the OP over-bakes, cuts into the bread too soon, stores in an open paper bag, etc. Working out technique kinks before tweaking recipes seems to work well for beginners most of the time. It's a good idea to kill bad habits before they become habits.

Edited by boar_d_laze - 10/3/11 at 8:48pm
post #6 of 12

This would be why the _Joy of Cooking_ recipes I started out on all have milk and butter -- it was years before I realized you could do without them.  I wonder if sweeteners also help hold moisture.


Re fermentation, there's a wide spectrum of rising times.  I'm not urging the two-day processes I prefer, just allowing the yeast enough time to accomplish its work.  The fermentations specified by the OP are ultra-short, especially for a loaf.  Novice bakers generally aim too much for speed.



post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hello BDL, Colin,

                      Thanks for reviewing my method and my issue. I beleive that you guys asked some very good questions and had some really good comments.


                      Colin's comment of the bread good for same day use as soon as the bread is out of the oven and stale the next day is very right. When i taste the bread the same day just after I cut, the bread is so soft and so good to taste that you don't get in store bought breads.


                    But after a day or two, the bread is dry and not that soft. I wonder what the store bought breads or restaurants have in their recipe to have the breads soft even after the bread is kept out for a few days.



              I did the window pane test just this last time and the bread this time was a little bit better but I still am not satisfied. But you had a good question of what do I do after baking. Last time I also mixed 2 flours. 2 cups of bread flour with 2 cups of all purpose flour. It doesn't rise as much as bread flour.


               After baking I take the bread out of the oven. I don't take the bread out of the bread making pan. Keep it in the pan at room temp for about 2-3 hours before I start to cut. Once I cut the bread, I store the bread in a 1 gallon storage bag, tie it up & keep it outside at room temp. After about a couple of days outside, I shift it to inside the fridge.


                          Few things that I am planning to try is BDL's suggestion of adding only half the water needed, Colin's comment to add some kind of fat as suggested Milk/Butter. I am also planning to proof for longer than the 2 hours. I am planning to mix all the dough for a loaf in a mixer and then place it in the fridge over night. Allow it to rise the next day and bake. See how it pans out.




post #8 of 12

I didn't know that potato breads hold the mostiure longer than most.

Thanks for the tip about the length of freshness for the different kinds of breads.

post #9 of 12

Bread drying out is one thing home bakers have to deal with because we don't use a lot of chemicals/preservatives found in store bread.   a few notes:


1> replaceing 1/4 to 1/2 cup AP with potato flour will help hold moisture.  most supermarkets have potato flour here, but can certainly find it on-line.

2> a lean dough will dry substantially faster than a rich dough, you may want to look for a clasic 'milk bread' or egg/challah recipe as the fats/sugar keep moisture and delay staling.

3> not sure if you are but dont slice the whole loaf. only slice off what you are using and leave the rest of the loaf intact to reduce cut surface area.

4> 3 days is about all the life you are going to get out of a fresh lean dough, I actually rarely run into this as my family loves bread and I bake 2 loaves every 3 days and rarely have anything left. 

5> Whatever you have left after 3 days just cube and make croutons or slice and dry in a 200F oven and grind into bread crumbs.  Crumbs can be frozen for a few months with no loss of quality if dryed well.  Croutons last a week in a zip lock, if they get a bit soft just toast in the oven for 10 mins and they are crispy again.

6> the fridge is a no-no it will actually dry out the bread faster.

post #10 of 12

Another thing to check is your oven temp. (I always have a thermometer in my oven, it can be a bit of an eye-opener if you've never checked! ) It's possible that you're over baking a tad, and that will contribute to drier bread. Also, you can check the internal temp of your loaves when you think they're baked; I bake all of our bread, and I pull my loaves when the largest loaf (I don't scale, I portion loaves by eye and usually wind up with one larger loaf....lazy moi...) has a central internal temp of 185 F. or so. (Just plunge in an instant-read thermometer into the center of the loaf.) My bread is simple white bread; soft and with some added fat. The experts will tell you that a 'lean' loaf should be taken to a slightly higher temp....but I'd rather err on the side of slightly under baking with my bread.


I bake four loaves at a time, for two people, so I freeze my bread. I wait until it's completely cool, wrap it in heavy plastic bags, and blast freeze it in the coldest spot in the freezer. Works like a charm. Bread is never in the freezer for longer than two weeks or so, and the quality is excellent.


I hope that's at least a bit helpful, baking your own bread is such a great thing to do.



"The satisfactions of making a good plate of food are surprisingly varied, and only one, and the least important of them, involves eating what you've made" - Bill Buford, Heat


"The satisfactions of making a good plate of food are surprisingly varied, and only one, and the least important of them, involves eating what you've made" - Bill Buford, Heat

post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 


    Thanks for all your suggestions. Any ideas how to make it more soft. Does it depend on what flour you are using.

    One more thing I wanted to find out is how to confirm that the dough is ready and does not have more or less water or is under or over kneaded.




post #12 of 12

So how are the loaves turning out?


In my experience softness of the finished product is mainly a function of fat, as BDL notes above -- assuming you're already using white flour.  It's worth trying one of those _Joy of Cooking_ recipes, with milk and butter, to get a sense of the results -- they are tasty, toast well, and are enjoyed by children.


Other folks may have a better counsel on water.  Doughs vary. If you can knead it properly, it should be OK.  


On kneading, check out  You can see a dough in a few minutes going from the initial shaggy-mass stage to well-behaved, smooth and elastic.  So really the answer is when it looks like that, when it has an almost flesh-like springiness and falls in smooth curves, you're done.  


If you're worried about over-kneading -- that is, the dough is not where you want it to be but it's starting to resist you -- just let it rest, or even go through a whole rise, and come back to it.  That was really my longer-fermentation point: the yeast will do a lot of the work for you, if you give it a chance.



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