TROUBLE-SHOOTING BREAD DOUGH

Anyone who cooks and bakes very often is likely to have entertaining stories to tell about cooking activities that went wrong. I’m no exception to that rule.

Because baking bread involves a degree of what some call “art,” there’s bound to be some recipe flops here and there. What we want to avoid are regular disappointments with how the dough rises or how our bread tastes.

Like any other skill, each of us will have unique details in our approach to baking bread. Those individual abilities will emerge over time.

However, there is also quite a bit of science behind bread baking. We know for sure that yeast expels carbon dioxide as it feeds off sugars. That’s what makes bread dough increase in volume.

We also know that yeast is more active in a temperature range between 105 degrees (Fahrenheit) and 112 degrees. At temperatures of 115 or higher, the yeast dies.

This information helps us refine bread baking methods to achieve high-rising loaves that look beautiful and taste fantastic!

If your bread-baking efforts aren’t as successful as you’d like, here are four tips that may help you identify what’s hindering your success and giving you more “entertaining” baking stories than you really need!

  1. Dry, dense loaf: this may be caused by using too much flour. In my earliest bread baking days, I thought bread dough should have no hint of stickiness when it was ready for the final rise. The dough shouldn’t be so sticky that you have to scrape it out of the pan. However, it’s okay if it sticks to your hands a bit. You want adequate moisture for the yeast to do its final work and for the bread to be soft. If it seems necessary to add flour during the final kneading, do so sparingly and just a tablespoon or two at a time.
  2. Dry, dense loaf: It’s also possible that you’re packing your measuring cup when you measure flour. Spoon flour into your measuring device and level it off with a knife or other utensil. You can also weigh flour (a skill I have not yet mastered). Keep in mind that different types of flour have different weights when measured. Check out King Arthur Flour’s Ingredient Weight Chart on their website for details.
  3. Dough deflates when it’s time to bake it: This indicates that the dough sat too long, and raised too high before it was placed in the oven. It’s also possible the dough was too wet and didn’t hold its shape when it was moved.
  4. The loaf flattens when it’s sliced: Be sure to use a sharp knife when you slice bread. A serrated edge works best for me. Don’t press down on the loaf as you slice. Let the knife gently cut down into it. Depending on the type of bread you’re baking, the loaf may need to cool a bit longer before slicing it. I know! What a challenge for those of us who love bread straight out of the oven!

 

FIVE REASONS YOUR BREAD DOUGH WON’T RISE

There are nearly as many bread recipes as cooks out there. If you’ve found a recipe that works well for you, I applaud you!

It has taken me many years and plenty of flour to find both a recipe and method that work well for my family and me.

If you’ve struggled to produce a light, fluffy, tasty loaf of bread, I have good news. This method works! And here is why:

  1. The yeast is warm enough to be activated.
  2. There’s just the right amount of flour.
  3. Two 15-minute kneading cycles help develop the gluten in the flour.
  4. The final rise is completed in a warm environment.
  5. I preheat the oven to 350 degrees (Fahrenheit).

These five steps are critical to achieving the high-rise loaf that’ almost too pretty to eat! I’m happy to explain each one.

  1. Yeast will not activate until it’s exposed to a temperature of at least 95 degrees (Fahrenheit). However, that’s the minimum temperature to get minimum yeast activity. To fully activate the amount of yeast your bread recipe calls for, the liquid it’s dissolved in should be between 105 degrees and 110 degrees (Fahrenheit). That is the optimum temperature to stimulate yeast activity. If the liquid is more than 112 degrees (Fahrenheit), the yeast will die. That temperature is too hot. Use a digital thermometer to verify that your recipe liquid is in the ideal temperature range. Your yeast will bloom! And do activate the yeast in water that contains sweetener of some kind – sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc.
  2. As your dough raises, the yeast needs moisture to remain active. If you use too much flour, the yeast doesn’t have adequate moisture, which will hinder the rise. The loaf will be flatter, dense, and not nearly as tasty.
  3. There are bread recipes that don’t require kneading. Typically, the rise times for those recipes are three-plus hours. These types of recipes generally produce a low-rising loaf. If you want to create a high-rise loaf of bread within two hours, include two 15-minute knead cycles in your dough prep method. This develops the gluten in the flour you use, which goes hand in hand with a high rise.
  4. Since the yeast in your bread recipe will be active throughout the dough prep and final rise, it’s essential to keep the dough in an environment that doesn’t rob the heat yeast needs to continue working. Most ovens are an ideal place to complete the final rise. If desired, you can warm the oven slightly before placing your bread pan inside it.
  5. Once your bread dough rises to the top of the pan or an inch or so above it, you can set the dough aside (on top of the oven works well) and preheat the oven to 350 degrees (Fahrenheit). When we’re in a hurry, it’s tempting to put the dough in the oven before it reaches 350 degrees. However, doing so may hinder the final rise, as that warm temperature provides the last little push yeast needs to bring the bread dough to its loftiest height.

If you’re in the process of finding a traditional bread recipe and method that works for you, these tips can help you achieve the kind of beautiful loaf you might hate to cut into!

BREAD MACHINE PUMPERNICKEL BREAD

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BREAD MACHINE PUMPERNICKEL BREAD

  • Author: Loretta

Description

Whether you enjoy this dark, delicious bread over the holidays (it pairs wonderfully well with cheese or cream cheese) or as a menu staple, you’ll love both the flavor and ease of baking found in this recipe!

If you’ve used rye flour in the past, you know the loaf doesn’t raise as high as a loaf of white bread. That’s because the gluten structure in rye bread is different than the gluten structure of wheat. This is the reason a loaf of rye bread doesn’t raise as high as a loaf of white bread.

This recipe combines dark rye flour with white all-purpose flour to help produce a nice light loaf. Using the white flour also moderates the taste rye flour adds to the loaf. If you prefer a strong rye flavor, use the dark rye flour, which is made from the whole rye grain. Light and medium rye flour contain less of the rye grain, but still produce a tasty loaf of bread.

Molasses is also available as mild or full flavor. Using the full flavor will result in a darker, stronger flavor bread.

You may eliminate the maple syrup or use sugar as a substitute. For my family’s taste preference, we enjoy the flavor the syrup adds. It also contributes to the nice brown appearance of the bread.

If you don’t have caraway seed on hand, this bread is still very tasty and wonderful without it!

Choose your preferences and enjoy this lovely rye bread!


Scale

Ingredients

Liquids:

1 cup + 2 Tablespoons of water

1/3 cup molasses (either mild or full flavor)

¼ cup maple syrup (or regular syrup)

1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast

Dry ingredients:

2 Tablespoons butter

1 ½ teaspoons salt

1 cup rye flour (choose dark, medium or light)

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

3 Tablespoons cocoa

1 ½ teaspoons instant coffee granules

1 Tablespoon caraway seed (optional)


Instructions

We will reserve the molasses and add it once all the other ingredients have been added to the bread machine.

Warm the water to a temperature range between 105 and 112 degrees (Fahrenheit) Blend syrup with the water and check to make sure the liquid is still at least 105 degrees. Once the temperature range is correct, blend the yeast with the liquid. Set aside as you prepare the dry ingredients (allow it to sit at least 5 minutes).

Measure and blend flours, salt, cocoa and instant coffee granules. Reserve caraway seed to add during your bread machine’s final mix/knead cycle.

Place yeast mixture into the bread machine canister. Add flour mixture and melted or chopped butter. Set your machine to a cycle of 15 minutes mix/knead, 20 minutes rest, 15 minutes mix knead. In the final 5 minutes of the last cycle, add caraway seed.

Once the final bread machine cycle is complete, you can either bake the bread in the machine or place the dough into a bread pan and allow it to raise for 30-40 minutes.

Once the bread has risen (it will rise to near the top of the bread pan), bake it in a pre-heated 350-degree (Fahrenheit) oven for 35 minutes. When the bake time is complete, remove the bread and place it on a cooling rack for approximately one hour. If you can’t wait for it to cool, it’s perfectly okay to slice and enjoy it while it’s warm!


Notes

I recommend that you warm your utensils – especially the container used for the yeast mixture and your bread canister – to help boost yeast action. You can also use white wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour. White wheat is a whole grain flour that looks like regular white flour and produces a nice, light loaf while still giving ample nutrition. You can also use all organic ingredients, which also contributes to the overall healthy content of the loaf.

 

STOCK UP ON HOMEMADE BREAD MIX

Looking for a way to keep bread baking in your summer schedule?

By preparing dry recipe ingredients ahead of time, you can quickly stir up bread dough and keep healthy, wholesome bread on your table.

You can take nearly any bread recipe and create a mix that helps you streamline your baking process. Here are two recipes to help you get started.

WHITE BREAD MIX

Container: My number one container preference for bread mix is a wide-mouth glass canning jar. You could also recycle a jar that once contained spaghetti sauce, pickles, etc. Make sure your jar will hold 4 cups.

Measure and sift together:

3 ½ – 3 ¾ cups all-purpose or bread flour

1 ½ teaspoons salt (I recommend Himalayan pink salt)

Measure but DO NOT add to flour mix:

1 ½ teaspoons yeast

Place measured yeast in a small plastic container or bag and put it in the jar with the flour mixture.

Store the mix in the refrigerator or the freezer (freeze if you won’t use it up within three months).

When it’s time to bake the bread, you’ll need:

1 cup water

1/3 cup milk

¼ cup sugar (can substitute honey or maple syrup)

3 T butter or oil

Find full baking instructions at here: https://bakeyourbestever.com/soft-white-bread.

 

 

WHOLE WHEAT BREAD MIX

To store, I recommend using a jar, as noted above. In summer, whole grain loaves of bread are especially prone to turning rancid, so be sure to store this mix in the refrigerator or freezer.

 

Mix together and place it in the jar/storage container.

3 ½ cups 100% whole wheat flour (I recommend white wheat for the flavor)

1 ½ teaspoons salt (recommend Himalayan pink salt)

1 T Gluten (optional)

Measure, but DO NOT add to flour mixture.

1 ½ teaspoons yeast

Place the measure yeast in a plastic storage container or bag and put it in the jar.

When it’s time to bake the bread:

1 ¼ cups water, ranging from 105 to 110 degrees

¼ cup sugar, honey or maple syrup

2 T butter or oil

Read full baking instructions at here: https://bakeyourbestever.com/whole-wheat-bread/.

 

If you find you have time to bake multiple loaves of bread that you can freeze, all my homemade bread recipes freeze well. You might consider measuring out all your dry ingredients ahead of time and setting up a streamlined baking process. Here are some tips:

  1. If you don’t mix dry ingredients ahead of time, start assembling all your recipe ingredients to ensure you have the supplies you need.
  2. Set up a separate area in your kitchen – on the counter or an extra table, etc. – for working with wet ingredients and dry ingredients. This just makes it easy to keep all dry ingredients together, and all wet (remaining) ingredients together as you prepare the contents of each loaf. It’s less likely you’ll forget to add something.
  3. If you don’t have enough bread pans to use a different one for each loaf, you can easily rotate between two or three pans. Plan to soak the pan in water for 3 or 4 minutes after your baked loaf is removed.
  4. For easy access, recipes can be attached to your fridge with a magnet or otherwise set up so you can easily read them without stopping and picking them up. My recipes are enclosed in plastic sleeves to help keep them clean.
  5. You might consider mapping out and writing down the timeline for each loaf, as in what time ingredients go into the bread machine, what time the first dough should be ready for the final rise, etc. This can help avoid under- or over-kneading, under- or over-baking loaves.
  6. Check your bread machine for instructions about run time and any need for cooling down between operations.

TOO BUSY TO BAKE BREAD?

Don’t you believe it!

We have so many bread baking options and tools that nearly anyone will be able to make bread baking work with your schedule.

The first step: decide which type of dough preparation best fits your time schedule and tastes.

When I began my bread baking journey, I wanted to know how to make delicious bread in a short time. Through trial and error, I learned how to use my bread machine for a hands-off dough mixing/kneading process that allows me to bake picture-perfect loaves in about 2 hours. Since I work from home, this process easily fits into nearly any day when I have either a morning or afternoon to mix up the dough, raise it and bake it. I can make white bread, whole grain bread, six-grain bread, dinner rolls, sweet rolls, etc. all with this same easy process.

But maybe your routine takes you away from home, and maybe no two days are exactly the same. If that’s the case, you can make use of mixing dough and refrigerating it until you’re ready for a final rise and baking. Refrigerated dough will probably take 60 to 90 minutes to raise and be ready to bake. Generally, a two-pound loaf of bread bakes within 30 to 35 minutes.

You can shave the mixing time in half when you create a “bread mix” by measuring out and sifting together all your dry ingredients (except your yeast) and keeping them on hand till you’re ready to bake. Refrigerate for freeze your mixes so they don’t become stale. When you’re ready to mix dough, prepare the liquid ingredients, add the dry ingredients and mix it all together.

If you want the health benefits of sourdough bread, you can mix/knead your dough in 15 minutes, place it in a bread pan and allow it to rise for approximately three hours, then bake it for 30 minutes. This type of bread baking is completed over a span of about four hours. It delivers a delicious, soft, moist bread that adds some beneficial gut bacteria to your diet. It is also easier to digest than breads baked with commercial yeast.

One other sourdough bread baking option involves using a recipe that calls for lightly kneading your dough two or three times throughout the day. These types of bread typically have a strong flavor because the dough ferments throughout the day. For those who enjoy the tang of a strong sourdough taste. Once ready to bake, the dough requires 30-40 minutes baking time.

Among the ways I help speed up baking time is to begin by laying out all my equipment (bread machine, measuring cups, measuring spoons, digital thermometer, spatula, etc.), then gathering all the recipe ingredients, and then start mixing it all together. This helps me avoid measuring mistakes or leaving out a recipe ingredient.

There’s no question that, in the beginning, baking bread might take you somewhat longer because you’re learning a process that fits you, testing out different recipes, etc. What you’ll find in the long run is that baking bread is one of the healthiest, most rewarding tasks you’ll ever do for your family and yourself!

Don’t wait any longer – start baking your own bread!

 

100% WHOLE GRAIN SOURDOUGH STARTER RECIPE

If baking whole grain sourdough bread is one of (or your only) bread baking goal, you’ll find it’s not complicated to develop a starter. It just takes time.

You will also find that a whole grain starter has a stronger flavor than a starter developed from all-purpose flour. If you’re new to sourdough bread baking, it may take some time to find the right mix of grains and exact starter flavor/intensity to suit your taste. Trust me when I say it’s well worth the time it takes to explore your options and zero in on your preferred flavor.

Here’s the super simple sourdough starter recipe:

½ cup flour (any variety)

1/3 cup water (use filtered water or allow your water to sit on the counter overnight so the chlorine evaporates)

Don’t skimp on the water or your mixture will be too dry and not ferment properly.

In a small bowl, thoroughly mix the flour and water. Do NOT use a metal spoon. Silicone or wood is preferred.

Once mixed, place the flour/water in a glass container. A quart jar works very well. Wide mouth is ideal but regular mason jar works, too.

Cover the jar with either a paper towel or cheesecloth secured with a rubber band or the jar ring. I use a screen that fits inside my jar lid. You just have to keep the jar open so the fermentation can progress.

Allow the mixture to sit for 24 hours.

The next day, Day 1, you may or may not see some bubbles forming in the flour/water mixture. Either way, mix another ½ cup flour and 1/3 cup water and stir it into the jar.

On days 2 and 3, remove (pour out) ½ cup of the mixture. Place it in a container (my favorite is a pint jar) and cover it so it doesn’t dry out before you can use it. Mix ½ cup flour and 1/3 cup water; stir it into the starter.

Day 4: by now you should be seeing bubbles in your starter. You may also detect a “fermented” odor coming from the jar. It’s time to “feed” the starter 2x/day, as close as possible to every 12 hours.

Day 5-7, “feed” the starter 2x/day, removing one-half cup each time and using the same ½ cup flour and 1/3 cup water to replace it. On day 7, the starter will be ready to use to bake bread.

The amount of starter you use in your bread recipe will vary according to the amount of flour and size of the loaf you’re making. Watch for more information on how to modify a bread recipe to convert it to a sourdough bread recipe.

Also, know that you will achieve the best baking results with sourdough bread by implementing these two practices:

  1. You can bake sourdough bread in a regular bread pan. It will rise beautifully and may give you a larger loaf than you achieved with commercial yeast. However, you will have a somewhat tougher crust. I don’t know the science behind this, but the crust is better if there’s a source of steam during the baking.
  2. To resolve this crust issue, consider investing in a bread cloche. The cloche cover traps steam as the bread bakes, giving a crispy crust. Cloche price ranges start at around $50 on up to $360+. The main feature is a tight seal, which traps the steam.

 

BREAD MACHINE SOURDOUGH TIPS

If you’re taking the sourdough plunge, you will soon find there are as many sourdough starter, sourdough bread recipes and ways to use sourdough discard as there are cooks!

That being said, be aware that some recipes and methods found in online posts and videos may not be as tried and true as they appear.

The first sourdough recipe I tried had far too much water. Of course, by the time I added enough flour to even things out, I didn’t have enough starter in the mix and my bread was a flop. I’ve learned that, in general, the bread baking flour to water ratio is 5:3, five parts flour to three parts water. Each batch of bread dough – sourdough or not – will vary somewhat in the amount of flour required. However, using equal amounts of flour and water/starter in a bread recipe will result in a very unsatisfactory dough.

If you’re attempting to modify a bread recipe you like, begin by mixing small amounts of flour into the recipe liquid. My sourdough bread recipe calls for 3 2/3 to 3 ¾ cup flour along with 1 cup water and 1 ½ cups sourdough starter. I begin by mixing flour into the water, into the starter, then mixing the two. You’ll get a moister, lighter bread if you don’t overdo the flour. Sourdough bread dough can be somewhat stickier than bread made with commercial yeast.

If your sourdough goals include producing whole-grain bread, you may want to develop a whole-grain starter, but you don’t have to. (Find this starter recipe at www.bakeyourbestever.com)

You’ll find that, generally, sourdough bread is baked at temperatures of 400 degrees (Fahrenheit) or higher. These high temps assist the rise of your bread. To further aid the dough’s rise, preheat a pan along with your oven. At the same time, you put the dough in the oven, add a cup of hot water to the hot pan. The resulting steam will help slow the browning of the crust and give the loaf optimum time to rise before the crust shapes up.

Whether you’re baking your bread in a regular pan or shaping it in rounds, you’ll want to slash the top of the dough, creating an “ear” on the top of the dough. Why?

The intense baking temperature used for sourdough bread causes a rapid rise of the loaf. Slashes in the dough will allow the rising energy to push up and out through the slash. Without a slash, the energy will erupt at some other point in the loaf (ask me how I know!), distorting its shape. It may also hamper the full rise of the dough.

While the taste of the bread – and it’s very healthy benefits – is more important than how it looks, it’s still a good practice to make the slashes. You can purchase a baker’s lame or use a sharp knife to make the slashes.
If you’re taking the sourdough plunge, you will soon find there are as many sourdough starters, sourdough bread recipes and ways to use sourdough discard as there are cooks!

That being said, be aware that some recipes and methods found in online posts and videos may not be as tried and true as they appear.

The first sourdough recipe I tried had far too much water. Of course, by the time I added enough flour to even things out, I didn’t have enough starter in the mix and my bread was a flop. I’ve learned that, in general, the bread baking flour to water ratio is 5:3, five parts flour to three parts water. Each batch of bread dough – sourdough or not – will vary somewhat in the amount of flour required. However, using equal amounts of flour and water/starter in a bread recipe will result in a very unsatisfactory dough.

If you’re attempting to modify a bread recipe you like, begin by mixing small amounts of flour into the recipe liquid. My sourdough bread recipe calls for 3 2/3 to 3 ¾ cup flour along with 1 cup water and 1 ½ cups sourdough starter. I begin by mixing flour into the water, into the starter, then mixing the two. You’ll get a moister, lighter bread if you don’t overdo the flour. Sourdough bread dough can be somewhat stickier than bread made with commercial yeast.

If your sourdough goals include producing whole-grain bread, you may want to develop a whole-grain starter, but you don’t have to. (Find this starter recipe at www.bakeyourbestever.com)

You’ll find that, generally, sourdough bread is baked at temperatures of 400 degrees (Fahrenheit) or higher. These high temps assist the rise of your bread. To further aid the dough’s rise, preheat a pan along with your oven. At the same time, you put the dough in the oven, add a cup of hot water to the hot pan. The resulting steam will help slow the browning of the crust and give the loaf optimum time to rise before the crust shapes up.

Whether you’re baking your bread in a regular pan or shaping it in rounds, you’ll want to slash the top of the dough, creating an “ear” on the top of the dough. Why?

The intense baking temperature used for sourdough bread causes a rapid rise of the loaf. Slashes in the dough will allow the rising energy to push up and out through the slash. Without a slash, the energy will erupt at some other point in the loaf (ask me how I know!), distorting its shape. It may also hamper the full rise of the dough.

While the taste of the bread – and it’s very healthy benefits – is more important than how it looks, it’s still a good practice to make the slashes. You can purchase a baker’s lame or use a sharp knife to make the slashes.

From start to finish, my sourdough recipe takes right at four hours. Once the temperatures are warmer and we have more humidity in the air, the rise time may be somewhat shorter. You can use an overnight rise for sourdough. I’ll share more on that as I make more bread that way.

There’s certainly a learning curve when you work with sourdough bread. However, I’m finding that all the health benefits and the delicious taste of the bread make it all worthwhile!

 

 

SOURDOUGH FACTS AND BENEFITS

It still seems amazing to me that, within a couple of weeks, I’m hooked on sourdough. That was the last thing I expected to happen when I set out to explore what sourdough was all about.

 

My hesitation was rooted in a lack of information. The only sourdough breads I had ever consumed were served in restaurants. While they were tasty enough, they couldn’t hold a candle to the breads and other baked goods I’m making now.

 

Here are some sourdough facts I never knew. They may help you decide if you want to try your hand at baking with sourdough.

 

  • The “yeast” that initiates sourdough fermentation is found in the flour.
  • Sourdough starter isn’t limited to using in bread; it can be used in baked items such as cookies, cake, pastries – anything that contains flour.
  • Fermentation processes the starter’s flour, making it easier to digest. It also reduces the sugar spike regular bread causes when we eat it.
  • Sourdough starter has two ingredients: water and flour. Use filtered water so nothing used to treat tap water affects the fermentation.
  • Sourdough bread keeps at room temperature far longer than regular bread. My sourdough bread sat on the counter for one week without any molding issues.
  • Why the longer shelf life? Bread baked with a sourdough starter has its own culture of microbes – good bacteria – which fight off bad bacteria, the kind that brings on mold.
  • While it takes 12-14 days for your initial starter to be ready for baking bread, for the rest of the starter life its refrigerated and “fed” 1x/week.
  • Why do you need to feed sourdough starter? Once fermentation begins, the yeast must have something to “feed” on, the flour. Unless it’s fed, it will eventually die off.
  • What does “feeding” involve? Mix water and flour then add to the starter and stir it into the starter. It takes about 5 minutes to complete this.
  • Isn’t all this “feeding” pretty inconvenient/time consuming? No and no. When you start developing your own starter, you’ll feed it 1x/day for 7 days. For an additional 5 days, you feed it 2s/day. Regular feedings – 12 hours apart – are best. If you miss a feeding or fall behind on the time, it’s okay. Just don’t make that a habit.
  • Don’t use a metal bowl to mix feedings or house your starter. The fermentation is an acidic reaction and will eat through the toughest metals. The metal will dis-color and the starter will take on an unpleasant metallic taste.
  • Don’t use a metal spoon to stir feedings or when handling starter. Either wooden or Teflon spoons or Teflon spatulas are recommended.
  • Flour and water used in sourdough starters can be measured by weight or volume. Weight is highly accurate; volume will be most convenient.
  • While all-purpose flour works fine, bread flour is preferred by some bakers because it has extra protein in it.

 

If you decide to enter the sourdough arena, don’t be discouraged with the time it takes to get a starter established and learn how to use it. I assure you the final products are well worth the effort.

 

You will also learn that every baker has some of their own unique takes on creating/using starters. Explore what works best for you – and enjoy!Cannot get other user media. API shut down by Instagram. Sorry. Display only your media.

COST OF SOURDOUGH STARTER

It will cost about .13/week to maintain your starter and about .13 cents each time you use it.

COST OF SOURDOUGH STARTER

It will cost about .13/week to maintain your starter and about .13 cents each time you use it.