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HELP!

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

I'm having a problem and hope there's an answer out there somewhere. Living now in Switzerland, I've found my bread recipes aren't turning out like they did in the US. Anything I try making either is rock hard on the outside and raw in the middle or just plain won't rise. This happens when I use my bread machine or from scratch and in the oven. At first I thought maybe the altitude was problem but it's not as far as I can tell. I'm around 1,621 feet (494 m) above sea level. Then I thought maybe it was because I'm using US measurements from my American recipes with an oven that's metric but I convert the temp into American temperature - 400° F = 200° C. - but that doesn't seem to be the issue either when I cook other things. So what's the problem?

If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME stuff, why didn't he just buy dinner?
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If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME stuff, why didn't he just buy dinner?
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post #2 of 17

When it comes to baking water can be an issue, as well as humidity.  What is the difference in humidity compared to where you used to live?  

 

This may sound silly but a good place to go for baking issues is America's Test Kitchen.  I listen to their free podcast and people are always calling into that show with baking questions like this.  Maybe that will help?  Sorry I can't be more useful.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #3 of 17
When abroad, including some parts of USA also, I find flour differences to give me fits and require altering technique. Are you sure yeast is OK; that would be first thing I'd check. What about temperature of room where you are riding the bread?
post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 

Humidity here isn't much different than my home in NH. Made the same recipes in FL when living there but of course the AC was blasting! I know the water here is great right out of the faucet as well as the many fountains dotting the city but not sure how it's treated.

 

Thought of the yeast as well but, even though it's a diffrent brand than I'm use to, it's always well within expiration dates. Usually I end up using about half the package before buying new and tossing the old one, even if there is still plenty of time left.

 

I'm at a loss.

If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME stuff, why didn't he just buy dinner?
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If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME stuff, why didn't he just buy dinner?
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post #5 of 17

other obvious things:

did you proof the yeast to make sure it works.... because it does sound like a yeast problem.

are you using all purpose or bread flour?  European flours are often weaker in protein vs N. America.

If using AP flour you should get and add gluten to fortify.

lastly, 250ml is slightly larger than 1 cup but that should not be problematic if you completely converted to metric since everything should work out proportionally.

 

Luc H.

I eat science everyday, do you?
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I eat science everyday, do you?
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post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 


Have proofed the yeast so that wasn't the issue but...the flour. Did not know that about European flour. I've used mainly all-purpose flours in most of my recipes with no problems. But gluten I've never thought of. How much would I use and is it in addition to the flour measurement or included in the amount?

If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME stuff, why didn't he just buy dinner?
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If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME stuff, why didn't he just buy dinner?
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post #7 of 17

There are several types of so called gluten out there: gluten flour and vital gluten (that's what you want) but they go under several names (don't know about Europe).  From the nutritional label you can tell the difference though.  You are looking for gluten that has minimum 50% by weight of protein (it can go up to 80%).  Take the protein weight on the nutritional label divide by the weight of a portion to determine that number.

 

My rule of thumb to fortify flour to make bread is to add 2 tsp of gluten per cup of flour.  You can adjust from there.  European AP flour may require 1 tbsp per cup.  If you use weight it comes out roughly to 9g of gluten per cup (150g of AP flour).

 

I Hope this solves your problem.  Good luck!.

 

Luc H.

I eat science everyday, do you?
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I eat science everyday, do you?
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post #8 of 17

You should probably give your step by step method and see if we can troubleshoot from there.

post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 

Sorry for the late reply. Been traveling.

 

This is a recipe I use a lot. I use it for pizza dough, cinnamon and raisin bread, an Italian loaf with mozzarella cheese in it, dinner rolls, etc.

It calls for 2 pkgs of dry yeast in half a cup of lukewarm water with a pinch of sugar for five minutes. While it is activating you mix half a cup of sugar, half a cup of lukewarm milk which is then mixed with the yeast and water. Then add four eggs and half a cup of shortening. Blend in six and a half to seven cups of flour...one to two cups at a time.

Then, depending on what I am making the dough is allowed to rise, punched down and allowed to rise again. Or rolled out, let rise twice then divided in half, rolled out, brushed with butter and sprinkled with sugar, cinnamon and raisins. Rolled up, ends tucked and allowed to rise again. For the mozzarella I add Italian herbs to the dough and wrap it around a chunk of cheese, allow it to rise twice, shape into a round and baked.

Baking temp and time is 350 degrees F for 45 to 50 minutes.

 

Back in the states there was never a problem. Here? Ugh.

If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME stuff, why didn't he just buy dinner?
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If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME stuff, why didn't he just buy dinner?
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post #10 of 17

I cannot absolutely tell you for certain what is wrong but I can tell you this.  You are trying to make a quick brioche.  In normal circumstances brioche is made using a sponge.  If the sponge is good, meaning very alive and robust, the brioche is good.  Your "sponge" is in step one, or yeast proofing, so to speak, which brings me to the next point.

 

Rich doughs like a brioche require more rise time.  Note that whenever you read that something requires a longer rise time you should read it as touchy.  This means there are many factors influencing the yeast activity and it needs to be brought to the correct combination of temperature, pH, and sugar.  Deviate on one of those and your yeast suffers a bit, deviate on two of those points generally spells disaster.  For example, refrigerator doughs can rise when brought out of the fridge, but they need to be brought to room temperature.  If there is just a bit too much salt this can cause the yeast to die off before it comes to room temp.  While the correct room/dough temperature may be able to withstand a too low pH, a combination of low temperature and low pH might just kill the yeast before it becomes viable.

 

Too long I know.

 

I don't know why it worked in the US and now it doesn't work there.  I would make absolutely sure the yeast is proofed correctly.  Do not go by time, and make sure the temperature in your kitchen is a bit on the warm side, I dunno, 75F perhaps?  Keep your oven on and allow the yeast to proof on the warm stovetop.

post #11 of 17

For rich dough like that: more time and/or more yeast... of then up  to double the "normal" amount.  There are also special yeast - osmotolerant yeast - that tends to perform better than regular yeast.

post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianShaw View Post
 

- osmotolerant yeast -

 

New word day for me. :)  Thanks!

post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 

Well...the good news is (for whatever reason) the dinner rolls I made earlier this week came out spot on as did the Hot Cross Buns made for Easter. Also been playing with a variation on Irish Soda Bread. Made it twice and it turned out fine. Not sure what the heck is going on with the recipes I used in the states so I guess they get put to the back of the file to maybe get tried at some other point in time.

Thanks all for the many suggestions!

If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME stuff, why didn't he just buy dinner?
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If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME stuff, why didn't he just buy dinner?
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post #14 of 17

Perhaps it's your oven. Do you preheat the oven?  Maybe you could try calibrating your oven.  Here are some tips that might help:

 

http://www.recipetips.com/kitchen-tips/t--1100/bread-baking-guide.asp

 

Have you tried a no-knead bread?

 

post #15 of 17

@American_Suisse Please do not give up on your recipe as it is all about the tweaking for the country you are in. The flours are different in Europe and all depending on the country the "type" number of the flour will be different. I know that in Switzerland you will have to take a look at the type number. For your recipe I would suggest to use type 550 or 812 as these are specific to yeast and bread baking. As the number goes up so does the ash content and addition to darker flours such as rye. 

 

Type 405  ~9% protein  US equivalent: pastry flour  French equivalent: 40
Has no specific flavour and can be used for cookies and other confectionery, pies, to thicken sauces etc.

Type 550  ~11% protein  US = all purpose  French = 55
Stronger in taste and is usually used for yeast based bakery

Type 812  ~14% protein  US = high gluten flour  French = 80
Fair flour used for bread baking

Type 1050  ~15% protein  US = first clear flour  French = 110
Strong flavoursome taste, high contains of protein and as a dark flour is best used for bread baking

 

Type 1600  ~13% protein  US = white whole wheat  French = 150

High ash type flour

 

@Luc_H is correct in that European flours are NOT the same as American flours as the character of the gluten are quite different between the two. The protein content might be listed as around the same in the above chart however, the European flours of a ~11% protein will perform more like a medium protein American flour that is ~9%. Also the flour is more course as a result of "straight milling" rather than massive sting, grading and batching that they do in North America.

 

This is why I suggest the type 550-812 for your recipe.

 

Hope this helps :D

post #16 of 17
Thread Starter 

@Cerise- Aaarrgh! I hate the word preheat. Lol! I heat my oven before doing anything. Usually 15 minutes. I have checked the temp using three different thermometers and they all came out within two and three degrees. Not bad I think. I have never tried that baking method shown in the video. Something to look forward to. Thanks!

 

@Fablesable - Thanks for the info. Never noticed the numbers on the flour here. I will check for that next time I hit the store and give the recipe another try. Fingers crossed!

If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME stuff, why didn't he just buy dinner?
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If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME stuff, why didn't he just buy dinner?
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post #17 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by American_Suisse View Post
 

@Cerise- Aaarrgh! I hate the word preheat. Lol! I heat my oven before doing anything. Usually 15 minutes. I have checked the temp using three different thermometers and they all came out within two and three degrees. Not bad I think. I have never tried that baking method shown in the video. Something to look forward to. Thanks!

 

@Fablesable - Thanks for the info. Never noticed the numbers on the flour here. I will check for that next time I hit the store and give the recipe another try. Fingers crossed!

I apologize.  I'm sorry.  I'll never say it again. :lol:

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