One of the first things I learned when I started baking bread was how to bake a door stop I'm not sure what kind of bread you are tring to make, but I have a suspicion as to what is causing the density problem. Too much flour/not enough water. If your dough is smooth, silky and easily handled, the flour water ratio is skewed too far towards the flour end of the spectrum.
The finished dough should feel tack but not sticky, kinda like the back of a Post-It note. Can you post the recipe you're using?
This is one of the Recipes that I have used and most have been close to the same just a white bread is all I am looking for but as you said NOT A BRICK OR DOOR STOP........
Basic White Bread
Don’t let the name fool you. There is nothing basic about this white bread recipe. That’s because it’s made with Robin Hood Best For Bread Homestyle White Flour. So you know it will bake a higher rising, more even-textured loaf. As for the taste, we promise you’ll enjoy it as much, if not more than, the smell of this delicious bread baking in your oven. It’s been a favourite of ours for over 70 years.
1 tsp sugar 5 mL
1/2 cup water, warm 125 mL
1 envelope (8 g) active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp/11 mL) 1 envelope
1 cup milk 250 mL
2 tbsp butter or margarine 30 mL
2 tbsp sugar 30 mL
1 1/2 tsp salt 7 mL
1/2 cup water, warm 125 mL
5 1/2 cups ROBIN HOOD Best For Bread Homestyle White Flour 1375 mL
DISSOLVE 1 teaspoon (5 mL) sugar in 1/2 cup (125 mL) warm water in large bowl. Sprinkle in yeast. Let stand 10 minutes, then stir well.
HEAT milk to lukewarm. Stir in butter, 2 tablespoons (30 mL) sugar, salt and 1/2 cup (125 mL) warm water. Add milk mixture and 2 cups (500 mL) Robin Hood Best For Bread Homestyle White Flour to dissolved yeast mixture. Beat with wooden spoon or electric mixer until smooth and elastic.
STIR IN 2 1/2 cups (625 mL) of remaining flour gradually. If necessary, add more flour to make a soft dough which leaves sides of bowl. Turn out on floured board. Round up into a ball.
KNEAD dough, adding more flour as necessary, until dough is smooth, elastic and no longer sticky (about 10 minutes).
PLACE in lightly greased bowl. Turn dough to grease top. Cover with greased waxed paper and tea towel.
LET RISE in warm place (75°-85°F/24°-29°C) until doubled (45-60 minutes).
PUNCH DOWN. Turn out onto lightly floured board and divide into 2 equal portions. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
SHAPE each portion into a loaf. Place seam side down in 2 greased 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" x 2 3/4" (1.5 L) loaf pans. Cover with tea towel.
LET RISE in warm place until dough rises 1 1/2" (3 cm) above top of pan in centre and corners are filled (45 to 60 minutes).
BAKE at 400°F (200°C) on lower oven rack for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from pans immediately. Brush top crust with butter if a soft crust is desired. Cool on wire racks.
QUICK NOTE: This recipe makes 2 loaves. For 4 loaves, simply double all of your ingredients.
I noticed 2 places in the recipe where they allow for the addition of more flour. If you used all of the flour called for in the recipe and added more flour as you kneaded the dough, you likely ended up with too much flour. This leads to doorstops Bread recipes are more guidline than gospel. The conditions in your kitchen are likely different that the conditions in the kitchen where the recipe was developed. Maybe the recipe was developed in a very humid environment and you live in the desert. This will effect your bread. In a swamp the flour will bring a lot of moisture to the party all by itself. In the desert it will bring hardly any. This means you need to adjust the recipe to accommodate your kitchen.
What I like to do is reserve a portion of the flour before I begin kneading. I can add more as I need to and still use only the original amount. The most imprtant thing is to learn how the dough should feel in order to deliver the desired results. Generally speaking wetter is better, if you want to open up the interior of your bread. The more you practice, the more educated your fingers will become.
KwyleW , you hit it on the head. Follow the recipe to some extant but the feel of the dough while kneading will determine the amount of flour you will use! I realy think it is all about feel when you knead by hand and also mixer.
Practice in baking breads just makes us smarter fools so enjoy.....Doug.....
When I saw 5 1/2 cups of flour and only 1 1/2 cups of liquid I thought there must be a mistake. That's reeeealy dry - only about 37% hydration. The addition of all that dairy pretty much guarantees a close crumb but definately more liquid is called for. I like Kyle's description of the dough - like the back of a post it note. :chef: