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Need advice adjusting bread recipe

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Okay, first of all I'm not really sure what the problem is so I'm gonna be as detailed as I can.

I live in the Philippines. I learned how to bake at roughly sea level. Portions of the city are below sea level but since we were on the fourth floor of a building. The kitchen was air conditioned, roughly around 18-20 C if I remember right. Not sure about humidity.

Now I'm in my home town, which is about 5,000 ft or 1,500 m above sea level. Since its cooler here we don't really need air conditioning inside buildings. Average temperature of the kitchen is usually around 18-21 C as long as nothing is cooking on the stove top. The over doesn't really contribute much to the heat in the kitchen. Since air flows in from outside and isn't regulated by air conditioners and such, humidity changes depending on the whether but since I'm in a tropical country humidity is often high.

The first thing I did was try the recipes I've done already. Even though the altitude was different, I wanted to see how it would turn out so I know what needed to be adjusted. But the problem was that the dough/gluten never properly formed.

Even following the exact same procedures I did back when I was learning - I even have the same kind of mixer we used in school - the dough always remained sticky. Whether mixing with a machine or kneading by hand, I've never seen the gluten develop completely and the dough remains sticky. The only solution seemed to be adding more flour but with a recipe that calls for 500g of bread flour I ended up adding 70-80g of flour (in small increments) before the dough became easier to knead.

But even then, after kneading for a while, it starts to get sticky again until it starts sticking to my hands and the work surface. But if I stop kneading just when it's not very sticky, the gluten is only halfway developed, sometimes less. If I keep adding more flour I'll get a different kind of bread than what I was aiming for in the first place since I've already increased the original amount of flour by more than 10%.

When I ferment, proof, and eventually bake, everything goes more or less well. Though the end result is, as expected, different from what I wanted, both with and without the addition of the extra flour. I've done this almost ten times already and the results are always the same, with the dough remaining sticky. I've also tried other bread recipes and the results are the same.

Does anyone know what's causing this? Thank you.
post #2 of 8
You seem to already know both the problem and the solution. Humidity and its affect on tour bread recipe. Higher humor you must be compensated by less liquid or more flour. I prefer to add more flour until the dough comes together correctly.
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
I see. I guess I was overthinking it. That and the fact that increasing the flour by 15%, possibly even 20% since 15% still isn't enough, seemed quite daunting. Altitude adjustment, as far as I'm aware, wouldn't need more than 10-20g but humidity is something I've never really learned to adjust for since I have no way of measuring humidity.
post #4 of 8
Please forgive my phones automatic "correction ". Higher humor was meant to be higher humidity. But you seem to have figured that out. 🙂
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Pretty much, yeah. I write stories a lot during my free time so I've seen quite a lot of strange auto-correct moments.

But does humidity really affect dough that much? I'm not sure of the humidity back at the school (air conditioning and all that), but I think we average roughly 77-78% humidity. I know that's high but is the effect really that great?
post #6 of 8
Sometimes, though, when a tough goes sticky during kneading it will settle out with additional kneading. I see that with a favorite high hydration pizza dough recipe. It is really wet and requires up to 20 min of machine kneading to form a decent dough.

It's difficult to really say which is the most significant issue you are experiencing. You may need to try both and see what affect on the quality of the final product. Fine tuning a recipe for local environment or raw product variability takes time and experimentation as you must already know.
post #7 of 8
I live in a low humidity environment and often have to do similar bread recipe fine tuning!
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
I've been baking bread for years but mostly from what I learned from self-study so I'm pretty inexperienced with the more technical aspects of baking, such as making adjustments. It's why I tried to adjust a recipe that's made for sea level, so that I could see first-hand how different the outcome was and what I needed to do to adjust it.

Looks like the sudden change in humidity threw me off since I was expecting to only make altitude adjustments. The humidity didn't occur to me at all in the beginning. I've tried kneading/mixing it for a long time but it never settled so most likely it is the humidity. I just didn't think it would affect it so much.
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