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First Bread - am I kneading enough?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

I've never been much of a baker, but made my first foray into baking bread this weekend with a classic, simple boule. For the most part was pretty pleased (see picture). Nice crusty exterior, and soft doughy interior. However, I felt the doughy interior was a little thicker than I wanted. Not quite the airy, fluffy bread I imagined. Is this a result of not kneading enough? I don't have a mixer, so did it all by hand. Appreciate any advice.First bread. Pretty happy with the outcome. Probably could have kneaded the dough a bit more, but all in all solid but simple bread.

post #2 of 17

You didn't supply enough information to get much back in the way of targeted advice. 

 

Don't worry about the recipe, but go through the rest of your process.  Tell me what you saw and felt, as well as telling me how long (you think) things took by the clock.

 

A closed, cake-like structure can result from a lot of things.  With new bakers, it's more likely the result of flaws in how you deal with the rise(s), and in "formation," than from other technical mistakes.  The most common mistakes are "punching down" too enthusiastically; allowing the loaf too much rise (makes for flabby dough); and collapsing the loft when forming loaves.  Under-kneading is another fairly common error, and more common than over-kneading -- especially when not using a mixer.

 

Don't worry.  Every home baker does 'em all while learning. 

 

BDL

post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 

Once I had the flour, salt and water in the mixing bowl, I added the yeast and waited for it to dissolve in the water. Maybe 5 minutes or so. After that, I kneaded the dough in the mixing bowl for about 10 minutes, then covered the top of the bowl with a dish towel to let it rise. It didn't feel like I was kneading/punching too hard, but I'm a novice baker so clearly don't have much of a yardstick to measure against.

 

After 15 minutes, I removed the dish towel and poked the dough to see if it was firm. My indent did not spring back. 

 

I then transferred the dough to a lightly floured area and kneaded for another 10 minutes. Covered again with a dish towel and I let it sit for an hour. 

 

Preheated the oven to 450F at the beginning of the hour. 

 

After that hour of sitting, I rolled the dough into a neat ball, cut an x into the top of the dough, and placed it in a dutch oven. The dough felt a little sticky, but I didn't add more flour. I covered the dutch oven and placed in the oven. After 10 minutes I lowered the temp to 375F. After 20 minutes I removed the cover. And then let it bake for another 20 minutes - 50 minutes of baking in total. 

 

I removed the bread from the oven and let it sit for about 10 minutes too cool before removing from the dutch oven. 

 

That's about it. Definitely cooked all the way through, just not quite as airy as I had hoped.

post #4 of 17

Your dough may or may not have been kneaded enough.  The first ten minute knead was probably more of a mix (distributing the ingredients evenly) than a knead (developing glutens).  The second knead (the real knead?) might have been on the short side. Or not.

 

Describe how you manipulated the dough;

  • Did you fold and turn?  Or,
  • Did you stretch and slam?
  • Did you handle the dough gently or with authority? 
  • How did you know it was time to stop kneading?
  • What did the dough look and feel like when you were finished kneading (either time)? 
  • Did you do the window pane test?

 

Speculation aside, there's an obvious, very large flaw in your technique:

After that hour of sitting, I rolled the dough into a neat ball, cut an x into the top of the dough, and placed it in a dutch oven... I covered the dutch oven and placed in the oven.

 

Yeast converts starches to sugars and creates carbon-dioxide gas as a by-product.  The gas is trapped in the dough and forms little bubbles in it (sometimes called "cells").  When you collapse the dough to "punch it down," or to form loaves, you should press out the excess gas, but not crush the cells.  Following formation and before going into the oven dough needs a chance to rise again, so the gas released by the yeast can refill old cells and create new ones.  The larger and stronger the cells, the more open the bread will be. 

 

No more rolling into a ball.  Perform loaf formation more gently in order to retain some loft from the previous rise; and give the formed loaves some time to recover and take some more rise -- before going into the oven to finish rising (called oven spring) when the heat gets to them.  

 

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 5/13/13 at 4:15pm
post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the info

post #6 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gaucho View Post

Once I had the flour, salt and water in the mixing bowl, I added the yeast and waited for it to dissolve in the water. Maybe 5 minutes or so. After that, I kneaded the dough in the mixing bowl for about 10 minutes, then covered the top of the bowl with a dish towel to let it rise. It didn't feel like I was kneading/punching too hard, but I'm a novice baker so clearly don't have much of a yardstick to measure against.

 

After 15 minutes, I removed the dish towel and poked the dough to see if it was firm. My indent did not spring back. 

 

I then transferred the dough to a lightly floured area and kneaded for another 10 minutes. Covered again with a dish towel and I let it sit for an hour. 

 

Preheated the oven to 450F at the beginning of the hour. 

 

After that hour of sitting, I rolled the dough into a neat ball, cut an x into the top of the dough, and placed it in a dutch oven. The dough felt a little sticky, but I didn't add more flour. I covered the dutch oven and placed in the oven. After 10 minutes I lowered the temp to 375F. After 20 minutes I removed the cover. And then let it bake for another 20 minutes - 50 minutes of baking in total. 

 

I removed the bread from the oven and let it sit for about 10 minutes too cool before removing from the dutch oven. 

 

That's about it. Definitely cooked all the way through, just not quite as airy as I had hoped.

 

Knead for about five minutes then cover and allow your dough to rise for an hour.  Dump the dough back onto the table and slap - flatten it down.  French fold and allow to rise for twenty minutes.  Slap - flatten and FF once more.  Roll into a boule to develop final tension, then shape, final proof half and hour and bake.  And was the dutch oven preheated like the oven was?
 

And don't forget to slash your final proofed dough just prior to placing into the oven.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the further advice. No, the dutch oven was not preheated. Guessing that would be wise, based on your ask. I'll have to look up what a french fold is. I'm unfamiliar. 

 

Really appreciate all the advice.

 

Cheers! 

post #8 of 17

15 minutes seems like an awfully short rise, especially for a boule. I always think of a long, slow, preferably cool rise for that kind of bread. I can't explain the science of it but I would think a fast rise would effect the texture.  

post #9 of 17
15 minutes seems like an awfully short rise, especially for a boule. I always think of a long, slow, preferably cool rise for that kind of bread. I can't explain the science of it but I would think a fast rise would effect the texture.

 

Terry,

 

You misunderstood Gaucho's post.  He allowed 15 minutes between mixing and kneading, or -- as he referred to it -- between the first and second kneads.  The theory behind the 15 minutes between mix and knead was probably to allow even and complete hydration.  The rise time after the knead was an hour.  

 

The "correct" rise time depends on a great many things; and I'm no fan of using the clock to control the amount of rise anyway.  But I agree with you that under most circumstances 15 minutes would be too short for texture and taste both.

 

When I bake European style breads (boule, miche, batard, baguette or whatever), I usually take three rises.  Of those, if time allows, one will be "retarded."    

 

BDL 

post #10 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gaucho View Post

Thanks for the further advice. No, the dutch oven was not preheated. Guessing that would be wise, based on your ask. I'll have to look up what a french fold is. I'm unfamiliar. 

 

Really appreciate all the advice.

 

Cheers! 


Checkout a website called "The Fresh Loaf".

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply
post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

 

Terry,

 

You misunderstood Gaucho's post.  He allowed 15 minutes between mixing and kneading, or -- as he referred to it -- between the first and second kneads.  The theory behind the 15 minutes between mix and knead was probably to allow even and complete hydration.  The rise time after the knead was an hour.  

 

The "correct" rise time depends on a great many things; and I'm no fan of using the clock to control the amount of rise anyway.  But I agree with you that under most circumstances 15 minutes would be too short for texture and taste both.

 

When I bake European style breads (boule, miche, batard, baguette or whatever), I usually take three rises.  Of those, if time allows, one will be "retarded."    

 

BDL 


Correct.  But for my loaves, I use very hot water in both my poolishes and doughs.  By the time my poolish has been mixed with the remaining ingredients, the loaf comes out of the oven within three hours because I ain't got all d@mn day to wait for it to do its thing!

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply
post #12 of 17

Just to chime in, I've had great results retarding the final rise overnight: not only do you get better flavor, but you have more control over timing.  Whenever you feel like it the next day, you get the oven hot and transfer the risen loaves from fridge to oven.  While it's surely possible to over-proof in the fridge it has never happened to me.  8, 16, even 24 hours seems OK.  

 

Everyone who makes bread experiences the impatience Kokopuffs describes.  For me, learning to use the fridge has taken almost all the anxiety and impatience out of the process.  My current favorite is Reinhart's Pain de Campagne (BBA) with a retarded final rise.  The initial pate fermentee can be made in 10 minutes in the mixer, and then left in the fridge for 1-3 days. Take it out, make up the full dough,  do the initial rising, then shape loaves, cover, and into the fridge for baking the next day.  So the only parts I need to time and watch are the initial rising and the actual bake.

post #13 of 17

Whew!

 

I was really concerned about the amount and nature of the yeast he was using to get the dough to rise in 15 minutes!

post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Colin View Post

Just to chime in, I've had great results retarding the final rise overnight: not only do you get better flavor, but you have more control over timing.  Whenever you feel like it the next day, you get the oven hot and transfer the risen loaves from fridge to oven.  While it's surely possible to over-proof in the fridge it has never happened to me.  8, 16, even 24 hours seems OK.  

 

Everyone who makes bread experiences the impatience Kokopuffs describes.  For me, learning to use the fridge has taken almost all the anxiety and impatience out of the process.  My current favorite is Reinhart's Pain de Campagne (BBA) with a retarded final rise.  The initial pate fermentee can be made in 10 minutes in the mixer, and then left in the fridge for 1-3 days. Take it out, make up the full dough,  do the initial rising, then shape loaves, cover, and into the fridge for baking the next day.  So the only parts I need to time and watch are the initial rising and the actual bake.

 

Alright, so by the time your dough is placed back into the fridge, it has fully risen for the last time, fridged overnight, and then placed into the oven for the final bake?

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply
post #15 of 17

It does the final rise in the fridge.  Make up the full dough, do its initial rise as usual, shape the loaves, cover, and immediately put in the refrigerator.  

post #16 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Colin View Post

It does the final rise in the fridge.  Make up the full dough, do its initial rise as usual, shape the loaves, cover, and immediately put in the refrigerator.  


So the final rise in the fridge, fridged for however long - a day or three - removed from the fridge and baked immediately?  No warm up time to room temperature?

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply
post #17 of 17

I've never taken longer than 24 hours in the fridge for the final rise, and it's usually more like 12.  Beyond 16 hours I'd take a peek to be sure the loaf was not over-rising.  (The dough is active in the fridge, it's just a lot slower.)

 

Yes, I go from fridge to oven immediately.  (The oven is a steamy 450 degrees F, so it's not clear to me why 35 versus 65-75 degrees initial temperature makes much difference as long as the loaf is adequately risen.)  Comes out fine.  Indeed for something like Pain de Campagne, this method gives me not only deeper flavor, but also the open crumb and slightly springy texture of a good French baguette.  The non-retarded version has closer, finer texture.

 

I have seen recipes that call for a spell to warm up between fridge and oven.  I'm sure there are learned discussions of this over on the Fresh Loaf.  I would also defer to Peter Reinhart's books, because I learned this trick from him.  One of the killer breads in _Bread Baker's Apprentice_ is Pane Siciliano, which uses both a pre-ferment and a retarded final rise.


Edited by Colin - 5/15/13 at 8:54pm
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