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 Bread Help

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  • Total Posts: 186
  • Joined: 6/10/2007
  • Location: Freeport, IL
Bread Help Wed, 03/10/10 11:56 PM (permalink)
Every time I bake bread, I get the same results.  The crust is so hard, teeth could be broken.  The bread inside is rubbery and there's always this smell as if I tried to ferment something that just shouldn't be fermented for consumption.  I get these results a lot, too. 
I let the dough double in size, even though it took about 4 hours instead of 1 1/2 like the recipe suggested. 

I swear, one of these days I'll post a success in this forum--I really will.  When that day comes, I'll have 20 pictures of whatever I made from every different angle.  I'll have hot women posing with the food, too.  And then I'll come to this forum 3 times a day just to post a reply and keep the thread bumped to the top for a solid month--or until the mods tell me to knock it off or face a perma-ban. 

Really, I'm not that bad a cook, it's just some stuff eludes me.  Tonight I made a bean soup.  I experimented a bit, I'll admit, and on a scale of 1-10, I'd rate it a 3.  Sure, I'll eat it but I'm not gonna brag about it.  Tonight's bread, though--damn, it sucked!

    • Total Posts: 93
    • Joined: 6/5/2009
    • Location: Maryland
    Re:Bread Help Thu, 03/11/10 3:01 AM (permalink)
    That sounds kind of weird. Can you post the recipe you used?

     And here's a web page I think is pretty good. And it has a decent recipe.

    The off taste and the four hour rise may mean the yeast is not right. But post the recipe and I'll try and bake the same bread and see how it turns out. 


      • Total Posts: 6227
      • Joined: 4/24/2005
      • Location: Tonka Bay, MN
      Re:Bread Help Thu, 03/11/10 10:41 AM (permalink)
      Sounds like you have bad yeast and using too much. Throw it out and go buy fresh. I make bread many ways but have kind of settled on the no knead principles using less yeast and a long ferment (overnight in the fridge). I have the books from these authors...

      Here on is where I have chronicled my learning experiences...

      Making Bread, Breaking Bread

      This week I am going to bake some Irish soda bread.

        • Total Posts: 186
        • Joined: 6/10/2007
        • Location: Freeport, IL
        Re:Bread Help Thu, 03/11/10 12:49 PM (permalink)
        Sure thing.  I got it from this food blog here.

        I'll get some fresh yeast this weekend.  I'm determined to actually make edible bread!  I'll check out those books, thank you.

          Re:Bread Help Thu, 03/11/10 2:36 PM (permalink)
          You can experiment and improvise when cooking, but in baking you have to follow the rules exactly.

            • Total Posts: 74
            • Joined: 10/21/2009
            • Location: oklahoma city, OK
            Re:Bread Help Thu, 03/11/10 2:50 PM (permalink)
            as the other responses indicate sounds like yeast past its prime. you can test by mixing yeast with 105 to 110 degree water and a pinch of sugar or flour. it should get foamy within a few minutes. if you're testing before making a batch you can use the test in your mix. water too hot or direct contact with salt will kill yeast. also yeast comes with a "use by" date printed on the package and many stores pay no attention to removing the poor dead yeasties from the shelf.

            let me know if you want help with an easy bean soup or two. no point in having the yeast and the beans both picking on you.
            <message edited by appycamper on Thu, 03/11/10 2:53 PM>

              • Total Posts: 1440
              • Joined: 4/5/2004
              • Location: kansas city, MO
              Re:Bread Help Thu, 03/11/10 3:02 PM (permalink)

              The more you bake and get an understanding of the formula of bread making, the more improvising you can do while baking. 

              I use instant yeast (SAF) almost exclusively. It is mixed with the flour, then the other dry ingredients are mixed in, then your liquids. The liquids can be at cool room temperature, or warm without harming the yeast.  If a recipe calls for one packet of active dry yeast, 2 1/4  - 2 1/2 tsp. of instant yeast can be substituted without proofing. 

              A very good book for understanding bread formulas is The Bread Baker's Apprentice. I have never had a failure from that book. 

              Ted, are you trying to make the Masa Bread that is first on the blog?


                • Total Posts: 93
                • Joined: 6/5/2009
                • Location: Maryland
                Re:Bread Help Thu, 03/11/10 6:52 PM (permalink)

                Sure thing.  I got it from this food blog here.

                I'll get some fresh yeast this weekend.  I'm determined to actually make edible bread!  I'll check out those books, thank you.

                Just read the recipe and I hope its the masa bread recipe you were trying to make. The thing that stuck out was the inclusion of hot water into the dry ingredients. You don't want hot water, you want lukewarm, like appycamper wrote, about 100-110 degrees max  is what you are looking for. Hot water just kills the yeast, and if its not fresh to begin with, it will take a lot longer to rise because there are too few yeast cells  and it will make a real bad smell.  Also, if you put the yeast directly on top of the salt you added into the mixing bowl and then add the hot water, it becomes a yeast bloodbath, as the salt and the hot water will both kill the yeast. And if the room where the dough is trying to double is a little chilly, that could also slow down the rise. 

                The great thing is that even if its frustrating, its a pretty cheap mistake, maybe a couple of bucks.  And with just a little more patience, it will all come together and make something real decent to eat. 
                Here's some small small tips. 

                Put all the dry ingredients, except the yeast in the bowl and mix them together with a whisk. This spreads out the salt so its a little less potent. 

                When you're mixing the dough and after a few minutes of the dough coming together it seems dry, add water by the teaspoon, and then wait for a bit to see if that helps and go on from there. The key is very small steps.  If it seems too wet, add some dough by the level teaspoon.  In recipes the amount of dough and liquids are pretty close approximations as the flour may hold different levles of moisture at different times of the year; so they may need very slight adjustments. 

                The recipe for the masa bread says that the dough should be soft and springy after kneading. Springy to me means that when you poke the dough slightly with your finger the indent should pretty much  bounce back. If you poke it after its risen this indent should bounce back only a little.

                 If your kitchen is a little chilly, start your oven, let it run for about twenty seconds and then shut it off. This is just a little bit of warmth. You don't want it hot in there, just give it a little bit of warmth.  Put your dough to rise in the oven.

                After the dough has risen you don't want to flatten it too much. Just gently depress it a little to get some of the gas out. As you shape it , don't be overly rough, as you do want to keep some of the gas in there. Too much gas makes overly big holes in the bread, too little gas makes the bread too dense. 

                And a really good website is King Arthur flour. 

                The reason being, if you make one of their recipes, which are actually pretty good, and it doesn't go right, you can call or email them and work out what the problems are. Pretty good outfit to deal with and they've helped me quite a bit. 

                  • Total Posts: 430
                  • Joined: 5/26/2003
                  • Location: Burlington, NC
                  Re:Bread Help Thu, 03/11/10 8:52 PM (permalink)
                  Sorry you are having such a tough time making bread. Hope you can hang in there until you have that "ah-ha" moment and know how you produced a successful loaf.

                  That masa bread seems to me to have too much liquid in it for the amount of flour. I would advise that you start off with a simple loaf or try the No Knead method that was mentioned above. Also, 4 hours is way too long to rise unless you are doing a long, cool rise in the fridge as in the No Knead method.

                  Are you kneading the dough by hand or in a heavy duty mixer? By hand, dough should be kneaded a minimum of 8-10 minutes and by machine, 5-8 minutes. Kneading helps to develop the gluten in the flour which helps the loaf rise tall and have a light crumb - in other words, you don't end up with a doorstop.

                  You need to learn what fully risen dough looks like:
                  while the dough is rising, poke a finger in the middle of it about as far in as your first knuckle; if the dough mass immediately starts filling up the hole you made, it hasn't risen enough and let it rise another 20-30 minutes; if the hole you poked remains a depression and doesn't start filling up with dough, it has risen enough.

                  Now you can turn our the dough and knead it a few times to degas and distribute the air in the cells of the dough. Then you form the dough into a loaf, place it in a greased loaf pan, cover it with plastic wrap and a clean towel and let it rise again in the pan. The second rise is usually not as long as the first rise. When the dough has risen to the top of the loaf pan, you can turn on your oven to preheat, and then your loaf will be ready to bake.

                  Don't trust just the time and the thump on the bottom of the loaf to tell you when the bread is fully cooked. Buy an instant read thermometer and stick it in the side of the loaf thru to the middle. Regular loaves should read 190 F to be fully cooked and hearth breads that are baked on a cookie sheet or on an oven stone should register 200 F.

                  I hope this helps. Please post any further questions you  have so we can help.


                    • Total Posts: 186
                    • Joined: 6/10/2007
                    • Location: Freeport, IL
                    Re:Bread Help Thu, 03/11/10 11:57 PM (permalink)
                    Lots of great info in this thread!  Thanks!  This weekend, I'll actually follow the advice and do it as close to the book as possible. 

                    As for the bean soup, it's actually a lot better today at work.  It just needed an overnight sleep in the fridge to get happy. 

                    I shall conquer bread--I shall make bread that is edible!

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