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Question: How to firm up my brown bread recipe...

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I have a question regarding my brown bread recipe. When I make my bread it comes out rather... moist and cake like. If that makes any sense. It's not a dry bread. It helps if it is refrigerated for a few hours. That makes it slice easier. It has a tendency to crumble easy, has to be cut in thick slices about 1/2 inch to an inch or the slice usually breaks, and it does not toast. I like the bread very much, its a good hearty heavy bread. I just wondered if there was anything I could do to the recipe to perhaps make it a little drier so it holds together more when slicing/handling and perhaps get it stable enough to toast. The recipe is as follows:

450g/1lb Odlums Coarse Wholemeal
2 level teaspoons Bread Soda
25g/1oz Odlums Pinhead Oatmeal
4 tablespoons Shamrock Demerara Sugar
100g packet Shamrock Chopped Walnuts (optional)
50g/2oz Butter
1 tablespoon Treacle
400ml Guinness ( I just use one 12FL bottle of guinness though here in the states, which is about 1 oz less than what is called for)

Is it the treacle making it moist and cake like? Or the amount of guinness?

Thank you all for sharing your wisdom!

post #2 of 11

Two questions.  First is what is your knead time? Second, do you have an aversion to white flour?

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
No knead time. Its a very wet "batter" almost. I mix the dry with the white and the resulting wet mix I pour into a bread pan and baked. I have no aversion to white flour. But it would be a completely different bread if I were to use white flour.
post #4 of 11

I've seen a lot of those no-knead recipes incorporate gluten.  I'd bet if you knead some or incorporate gluten it would begin to get closer to what you are looking to achieve.  You could also experiment with shifting to an organic winter wheat, which is typically higher in gluten.  These of course assume that you want to keep the no-knead route but you should be resting that dough at least overnight, 18 hrs is probably best

post #5 of 11

Um, I'm not a baker, however, the recipe appears, to me, to be a quick bread, not a yeast or fermented product, more along the lines of a banana nut bread.


From what little I know, there is little gluten in the ingredients to be developed and there doesn't appear to be much, if any, binding ingredient, such as eggs.

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Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
post #6 of 11

I guess that's what's throwing me.  The goal seems to be a hybrid between the two worlds...(although I hadn't realized that you still need yeast to provide the mechanical action in no-kneads, learn something new every day!).  I have never had a batter bread that wasn't crumbly and I don't see any way around that other than some gluten development or adding gluten?  Maybe try to shift the recipe to a no-knead yeast based one?  You should have enough in the flour to at least get a crumb, although it's still going to be soft. 

post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Very insightful replies, thank you! It is pretty much a quick bread, and because of that it doesn't seem to handle well. I was hoping to firm it up a bit more like a yeast bread would be but without completely altering the recipe it appears as that is a no go. I may just play around with my other brown bread recipes both yeast and no yeast and see what frankenbread I can cook up. smile.gif Thank you for the insightful replies!
post #8 of 11

This is a bit of a muddle in terms of what you mean by "brown bread."  Brown is a color, and not necessarily a particular class or type of bread.  Your recipe is for an "Irish" soda bread made with Guinness; and yes, those tend to run crumbly.  What are you trying for? 




post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 

Yes you are right. By brown bread I meant Irish brown soda bread. Well my biggest desire is to make it less "crumbly". I would ideally like it to be firmer so when I slice it, it doesnt fall apart. Thick slices half an inch or thicker hold together fair but not great. If I could get it to slice thinner or even have the half inch slices be firmer so they are not as fragile that would be ideal. But with the volume of liquid in it that may be a pipe dream.
post #10 of 11

I don't think moisture is the issue but lack of anything binding it really.

post #11 of 11

It's not a type of bread I've made much, but I recall reading a lot of complaints about other people with the same problem doing similar recipes.  The first thing I'd do is take a look at Sodabread Info, then investigating the boards at The Fresh Loaf for similar breads.  Since the subject has been extensively blogged you might try a Google search using the terms Irish, soda, bread, and Guinness; and looking for people who talk about getting the right degree of sturdiness.  Then there are the usual food sites. 


At it's most cohesive, traditional soda breads have a sort of scone like texture, and you're not going to get more slice integrity than that unless you develop the glutens. 


If you really are using Odlums, you should know that it's very, very soft and doesn't have much in the way of gluten to develop, no matter what you do.  The first change I suggest trying is switching from Odlums to either a good AP flour (maybe even King Arthur AP, which is very hard as APs go) or a mix of 3/4 AP with 1/4 whole wheat, or even 50/50.  Harder flour may do enough for you to solve your problem... Or not. 


In the traditional sense the more whole wheat flour, the more "brown" the bread, but the more whole wheat the more other issues you raise.  If you want "brown," you might think about replacing 100ml of the the Guinness in your recipe with a three tbs of molasses.  As it happens, molasses enhances Guinness hugely.


Another first adjustment is to cut down the beer to around 275ml - 300ml.  You want a dough you can work at least slightly.  Your recipe calls for nearly 100% hydration, you might want to cut that down to 75% ish.  Wet and sticky are fine, as long as the dough is at least somewhat workable.  


If you're open to a chewy, dark, yeast bread -- sort of like pumpernickel, but without rye and with a bit of Guinness flavor you can use one of the several on the Fresh Loaf, I can teach you how to improvise your own recipe, or I could even write one for you.  Once you know the basic ratios and techniques, good crust and crumb are easy.  Creating your own bread becomes mostly a matter of nailing down the flavor profile -- which may or may not be quite as simple.  But, if you don't have a good grasp of the basics like pre-ferments, "touch," kneading, multiple rise, and formation -- those are things you have to learn first.



Edited by boar_d_laze - 6/7/12 at 10:58am
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