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Bread! again....

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 


   I am attempting to make my bread lighter.. I have read about 200 articles, and am apparently missing something.. everyone says.. you CANNOT make wonder bread at home, because they inject air, fluff the dough etc etc.... however.. I buy FROZEN dough at the store, let it rise, bake it, and it is 4 .762 times better than wonder bread, light airy, fluffy and delicious.. yes, slightly heavier than sandwich bread, but not NOTICEABLY so....  my question is... why cant I make this at home?   I have attempted different flours, different yeasts, and even "slightly" different recipes...   EVERY loaf of bread I make, weights 87 lbs and is about as light and airy as a BRICK and if you cannot tell I am getting frustrated..;.

   Other forums, ppl tell me I am doing something wrong...     really?......


   More kneading time, less time, different flour, different yeast, different RISE times OR.. just letting the bread maker do it all AND bake the bread.. and I get the same thing from it.. an 82 lb loaf of DENCE bread I could use as masonry in my ancient brick house...   I have even tried NOT kneading the bread after the first rise... kneading it once putting it into the pan and letting it rise to about 1 1/4 inch above the pan and dropping it into a 350 degree oven..... it still needs a small backhoe to lift it out of the pan when its done baking.. fortunately I have one of those or I'd never have saved my bread pans.....

   I buy frozen bake and serve loaves of Rhodes bread... thaw it out, let it rise, and get a PERFECT loaf of bread every time...  these little frozen loaves are approximately 7 inches by 2.5 inches when frozen, and rise to fill a standard bread pan to about an inch over the top.. I have also tried removing about 1/3 of the bread I have made to form a loaf the same size, and let it rise the same amount.. but it usually doesnt make it.. those that HAVE risen enough are STILL dence, course and unpalatable... well, maybe they are palatable if your starving, but they are not something I want to serve with thanksgiving dinner....




   My last attempt was slightly deviated from the simplest recipe...

3 cups King Arthur bread Flour

1/2 cup milk

1/2 - 2/3 cup hot water (enough to make dough smooth)

1/2 stick melted butter

2 tablespoons sugar

1 1/4 teaspoon salt

1 packet of dry yeast


   Mix yeast with a tablespoon of tepid water and wait 5 - 8 minutes until water looks foamy...  pour all ingredients into the bread mixer except salt and turn bread maker on "dough" setting...   once  ball forms, mix in the salt and allow the bread maker to do its thing...

    once kneeded, risen, and kneeded again, remove from breadmaker and form into loaf in breadpan.. allow to rise to desired height and bake...  VOILA!!     Bricks!

   LOL... I tried it by hand, kneeding less.. JUST until it seemed to be mixed well and was elastic.. let rise, then gently formed into loaf... let rise and baked...   MORE BRICKS!!

    I tried "punching" it down more vigorously and forming into a loaf before baking...    ALL resulted in Bricks... my new Shed is half done!!!   At least the wife cannot complain that I didnt build her a new garage for her car!  I think, I if cut this in slices with my DeWalt I can even shingle this new garage!


If anyone has any advice beyond the standard I would LOVE to hear it.. I really want to make my own bread....  I truly believe that Rhodes BakeNServe cannot have cornered the market with the ONLY means to make light fluffy sandwich bread...   Thanks for taking the time to read this!!!


post #2 of 10

Your problem is very likely loaf formation.  It's something which bites a lot of beginners on the backside.  There are some other possibilities as well, and I'll try to address the mostly likely culprits.


You need to keep a lot of "surface tension" when you pull the dough down and form.  That way the loaf holds its shape and "springs" up in the oven, instead of falling into a flat, dense "slipper." 


After the last rise before formation, very gently form the dough into balls of loaf amount).  Try to lose as little air as possible.  Hold the ball in one hand, and use the other to pull the skin down from the top to the bottom, do this a few times all round the ball until the skin is very tight -- again, retaining as much air in the ball as possible.


Put the ball on the board, pat it gently into a (roughly) loaf shaped oblong; and transfer to your loaf pan.  Allow it to take its last rise before baking.  If you like, you can cover the loaf with saran wrap and let it rise overnight in the refrigerator (called a retarded rise), for more flavor and better oven spring.  Of course, you can take the last rise on the counter also.  You don't need a complete doubling, because you want some rise in the oven.  So instead of  a100% increase in volume, go for 75%.


Into a thoroughly preheated oven (at least 1/2 an hour, an hour is better).  Bake your bread, let it cool and let's see what you've got.


Then, let's take it from there.




PS.  It's probably not a big issue -- if an issue at all -- but KA bread flour is extremely hard and does best with long and vigorous machine kneading.  You might find AP flour a bit more friendly.


PPS.  I'd also like to know if your kneaded bread passes the window pane test.

Edited by boar_d_laze - 12/6/11 at 5:35pm
post #3 of 10

BdL's advice is good.  I also have to say that's a lot of butter for 3 cups of flour, and a lot of sugar.  You actually need *any* of either ingredient.  I would scale them back until the bread is working for you, and then add to taste. 

post #4 of 10



I used to be just like you. I didn't understand baking, particularly the magic of bread. So, when I did bake a loaf I would slavishly follow the recipe. Sometimes I got a great bread. More often it was mediocre or poor. About three years ago I got seriously into bread making, and made an effort to understand both the art and the science of it. With the progress I've made I figure, gimme another 20 years or so and I'll call myself a baker. wink.gif


Be that as it may, I learned much of what I know (and, keep in mind, I am still learning) from several books. I'll list them for you at the bottom of my post.


That said: I agree with both BDL and Colin. Given what you've said, the culprit is likely with loaf formation. However, for a loaf, I would increase the surface tension differently. Keep in mind that some things are not a right/wong difference; merely a difference between two rights.


1. As he indicated, and contrary to the frequent instructions that you  "punch down" the dough, try and degass as little as possible.


2. Gently form the dough into a rectangle with the long side slightly shorter than the length of the pan.


3. Fold the top third into the middle. Then fold the bottom third over the top---sort of like folding a letter. However, draw this second fold around to the bottom of the dough, stretching and tightening the surface. If necessary, pinch the seam to seal it.


Note: This is the same way you'd start several free-standing shapes, such as batards.


4. At this point the rolled dough will be longer than the loaf pan. Fold the edges under, equally from each end, so it will fit in the pan. Transfer to the pan, seam down, let rise, and bake.*


A note on rising: I disagree slightly with BDL on this. Yes, you do want some oven spring. But you also want the dough higher (about an inch) than the sides of the pan when you pop it into the oven.


*A note on pan preparation. Again, there are different strokes for different folks. The way I do it is to lightly butter or oil the pan. Then dust it with either semolina or corn flour. They release perfectly that way every time.


BDL's suggestion for retarding fermentation is a good one. Literally any bread benefits from such treatment. However, if you follow his directions, first spray the film with oil, then loosely cover the dough with it. Otherwise it will be the devils own work getting it off without messing up the formed loaf.


Suggested Reading:


The Bread Baker's Apprentice or Crust & Crumb, by Peter Reinhart. Both are good, but you don't need both. BBA is probably the better of them for a beginner.

Ultimate Bread, by Eric Treuille & Ursula Ferrigno. Good instructions and some very interesting recipes.

Artisan Breads, by Eric W. Kastel. Part of the CIA's At-Home series. The general information and instructional data is first rate. The formulae, unfortunately, leave something to be desired.


There are many others, and I learn from every bread book I read. But those four are, IMO, particularly worthwhile.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #5 of 10

Your formula is very similar to Peter Rienhart's for simple white bread except he has 1 large egg in his, I actually use his formula all of the time for making bread using either a regular bread pan or pullman pan and I have been getting great results.

There are a few things that I do different however ...

1) I don't use a bread machine ... or mixer for that matter, I do however use a scale and at a minimum I weigh my flour, butter and sugar

2) I use warm water not hot (it's my understanding that hot water causes the gluten to tighten)

3) I put the yeast directly into the dry ingredients without proofing it and mix everything together before adding the liquid.

4) I don't use the grocery store packets of yeast ( you can order a 1lb. bag of yeast online keep it in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer and it keeps for a very long time and it's a lot cheaper).

5)I knead my simple white bread by hand ... if you could call it kneading, I have watched a million videos on how to do this and they never really made much sense ... why would I need to do all of that folding?

   Think of kneading dough as working out a knot in a sore muscle, so don't knead the dough massage it until it becomes smooth and you can't feel any lumps or "knots" if you will.

6) For shaping your dough for it's first proofing I just get it into a rough round ball and then on opposite sides of the "ball" I do a motion kind of like scooping up a double handful of water which causes the skin on the dough to tighten and after each "scoop" I give                the dough a slight turn and repeat until the skin is smooth and tight looking, then I oil a large bowl, put the dough in, oil the top of the dough and cover until it has at least doubled. I then do what you do I knock the dough down place it into my pan (making sure it's as    even as I can make it cover it and let it rise again)

7) Get an oven thermometer and an instant read thermometer (home ovens are notorious for being off, I know mine is way off whenever it's above about 400 degrees)


I read through your post about 6 times but I didn't see what temperature you are baking at and for how long ... when using a bread pan 350 is usually the magic number for about 20-30 minutes


Another thing to try is instead of using milk try using buttermilk.

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 

OK, Keeping the "skin" tight is not something I have tried. i will give that a go...


   As far as the window pane test... I am not exactly sure what that means, except that if I stretch the dough, it is stretchy enough to let light through and get quite thin???  I have no idea if thats what I am looking for or not...


   I have to set my oven on about 335 to get it baked clear through by the time the crust is right.. if I set it higher the bread is too dark and the crust is too hard.. maybe thats an issue?

   I use hot water because the milk i use is cold, once mixed together they are only luke warm. i have tried buttermilk with the same results.. you'd be amazed at the things I have tried...   i have even added a full CUP of sugar and half the yeast in the attempt to make the loaf smaller and yet still rise to the 1 inch above the pan mark...


   KA means king arthur flour, i managed to figure that out, but what is AP flour? if i can find it I will try it!!!!


   I have quite a mix of ingredients on the shelf at this point, I will go try (each) of the folding methods and other tips and see what difference it makes...   I want to thank each of you SO MUCH for replying with helpful ideas..


    the bread is not terrible.. I had it for toast this morning, it tastes FINE, it just weighs a lot.. two pieces of this toast and you wont need bacon and eggs to go with it!!!!  LOL


post #7 of 10

Being able to stretch the dough enough that you can see light through it without it tearing is what the window pane test is so your spot on with that one ... AP stands for All Purpose

How long are you letting the bread machine "do it's thing"?


Just for grins and giggles try this


Put all of your dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl including yeast, get all of your wet ingredients to temperature, put it all together and mix by hand, once the dough is holding together fairly well flour your countertop so that the dough will not stick and knead it by hand until you get the consistency I mentioned in my earlier post (you will probably need to add more flour as you knead)   you want the dough to be tacky not sticky .. yeah I know it sounds wierd but basically you want it kinda like play dough it will cling to your hand but it will come off without leaving any behind

Put that into an oiled bowl and cover until it has doubled in volume .. don't really go by time if it's cold it will take a lot longer and in turn that will throw everything off


Without getting too deep into bakers percentages you should be getting enough dough for about a pound and a half of bread .... what size pan are you using?

If your using a standard 9x5 pan (I think that's the right size) it's a good chance your not letting your dough proof enough .. crowding the pan so to speak.



I just looked at your formula again ... is your dough fairly wet?


I use almost the exact same formula you do except I use 4 3/4 cups flour .. or actually I use 21.5 ounces of unbleached bread or all purpose flour plus bench flour when kneading and I get 2 one pound loaves or one pullman loaf .. I think it's around 13x4x4 or something.

Not sure if it's allowed to scan and post them here but I can scan and send you the pages with the formula that I use from Peter Rienhart's book The Bread Baker's Apprentice if you would like.

post #8 of 10

What you're doing (i.e., stretching the dough) is pretty much the windowpane test. It's merely a way of checking gluten development, and you seem to be ok there.


Highlander's method of tightening the skin on a ball is the more traditional way (as opposed to doing it all in your hands, as BDL suggests.) It's probably a little easier for beginners to do it on a board.


"Hot" is a relative term. Generally speaking, anything from 120F down is fine. After that there's a danger of killing the yeast. Temperature of the liquid should not effect the gluten; I don't know where you heard that. With milk, a few seconds in the microwave warms it nicely.


A comment on Peter Reinhart's recipe. The reason the yeast goes directly into the mixture is because it calls for instant yeast---which does not have to be bloomed. So you mix it with the other dry ingredients, then add your liquids, and, voila! Ready to go.


AP stands for all-purpose. We've had discussions about what various flours are, and how to best use them. You would probably benefit from doing a search and reading some of those threads. But, in brief, there are three common forms of white flour: pastry (or soft) flours; bread (or hard) flours; and all-purpose, which is a combination of those two. How a flour fits in a category has to do with it's protein content, and, for various reasons, there is some overlap. One example: Because southern wheat tends to be softer, it often happens that an AP flour has the same, or higher, protein content than southern-milled bread flour.


There are other nuances, as well. So it's a good idea, once you find a flour you're happy with, to stick with it. For instance, there's nothing wrong with King Arthur flour. I used it for a long time. But Weisenberger works better for me, so that's what I stick with. The fact that it's less expensive, and that the mill is only 40 minutes away, are just gravy.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #9 of 10

BUTTER!  the butter should be added cold at the END of the kneading, when the gluten has already formed. 

Try it, it works.  In which case the larger quantity of butter will not be detrimental to the lightness of the dough, BUT WILL ACTUALLY MAKE IT LIGHTER. 

As I understand it (and I'm NOT a baking scientist but a very experienced home cook and made tons of light bread for years) the melted butter is absorbed by the flour and discourages rising and makes it all heavy, but after the gluten has formed in kneading, the flour doesn;t absorb it, esp if added in cold slivers, but it coats the gluten and the layers of gluten slide more easily over each otyehr, allowing a better rise. 


Anyway, try it, it really makes a difference.

Besides, not punching the dough, folding well, keeping the outer layer on top when rising and on ythe bottom when folding

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 

yes, my finished "loaf" is a little large compared to the ones I buy frozen at the store. I will slightly increase the recipe so that i can do two loaves..

my pans are 5x9.. I have two newer non stick pans, two older tin pans with square bottoms, and two glass bread pans... tbh... i like the tin ones best.. not trying to be old fashioned.. but the pam, or butter does not seem to stick to glass well, and I often have a hard time removing the bread.. and the non stick coating on the newer pans seems to always be... oily.. even after i scrub them.. and I am not really a fan of having old oil or grease in the pores when it again comes time to cook in them... the tin pans clean VERY nicely, scrub out well, and hold the layer of cooking spray or butter very evenly...  anyhow... 

   the breadmaker spends... fifteen minutes??? "kneading" the dough? i have never really timed it.. but I i have watched it and have never felt truly happy with the job the little paddle in the bottom does...   After kneading, rising, and kneading again, the dough is usually handleable, very much like playdough, but I think a little less sticky than you are talking about..   I will do it by hand following these instructions next time and see how that goes.

   I was originally using all purpose flour for my recipes, and truthfully they seemed to come out even heavier if thats possible.. which is why I switched to bread flour.  Everyone willing to try to help told me that was my whole problem.. :(

   Yall have given me several ideas to try, and I am itching to go try them.. but have to get an engine in a firebird, and a new rear differential into a truck first...   I will give this another major effort within a day or two and let you know how it goes!! Again, Thank you for the replies!!!! 

   I am going to figure it out or die trying! (Most likely from throwing a bread brick and having it bounce back and hit me)


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