How to Fix 10 Common Bread Problems

How to Fix 10 Common Bread Problems

1. My Dough is Not Rising

A lot of people think that dough won't rise unless you let it sit for a few hours and place it in a very warm place. Actually you don't need anything special to make the dough rise. We recommend always using instant yeast as it is the most reliable, followed by plain cold water (if using warm water, be sure to knead the dough by hand for 10 minutes or by machine for 6 minutes). You don't need any warm place, just set it aside and it will definitely rise in an hour or two. If not, it's probably because of the yeast - fresh yeast can be unreliable. Also, if you use hot water or add acidic ingredients and certain spices, it will kill the yeast.

2. I Feel I Need to Boost My Dough’s Rise

You don't need a fancy proving drawer to get a good result - usually, if you want a boost, all you need is warmth. If you want to be scientific, water at about 35°C will cause dough to rise immediately. Many modern ovens can be set to a very low temperature, and then you can prove it in about 30 to 40 minutes. You can even put the dough in a cold oven and turn on the light - the heat from the light is a great way to get the dough to rise. You could also try adding a tsp of sugar, as it will give the yeast extra nutrients.

3. My Loaf is Heavy and Soggy

A couple of things can cause this, but it's mostly due to the way the bread is baked. We often recommend that people go to their local supermarket and buy an inexpensive marble cutting board to use as a baking sheet. Warm it in the oven by turning the heat up to the highest it can go.

Always shape your loaf on a nonstick silicone sheet, then when it's proven, stick it directly to the hot stone and reduce the temperature of the oven to around 180 to 200°C. Most loaves get soggy on the bottom because they weren't heated, but you can simulate this at home with a hot stone.

4. The Dough Sticks to My Hands and The Work Surface When Kneading

The solution depends on the type of bread you're making. Things like focaccia have a runny dough to give the bread air bubbles. To make the dough, pour it into a greased bowl and let it rise, then pour it out on a floured surface and then, sprinkle some more flour on top so the dough is almost covered before quickly preparing it for the tray.

For a regular loaf, the more you knead, the less sticky it will be. The dough is always wet and sticky at first, but, once you knead it for five or six minutes, it becomes less sticky, and as it forms a crust, it becomes more shiny, which is where the gluten is formed . Eventually, you'll find that the dough is no longer sticky and your hands come out clean from the kneading motion. If it looks like it's taking too long, just dust it with a little more flour.

5. I Am Not Sure If My Dough is Overproved

Several things can lead to overproving. Usually it's because the yeast has been sitting too long, not necessarily exhausted, but the air bubbles have become too large, or it may have lost its structure. Generally once you shape your loaf, if you let it rise for longer than 40 minutes, it goes into the overproved condition, which will give you a bad loaf. If you want to stop this from happening, don't let the dough double - once the dough has grown by two thirds, it's ready to go in the oven since it will continue to grow in there, and you get what you call "oven springs". A good way to tell whether your dough has proved sufficiently is by denting it with your finger. It should spring back to its shape gradually. If the indent doesn’t go away, usually it’s not proved enough but if it springs back really quickly it means its started to overprove and there’s too much air in it.

To Be Continued…

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