I love the smell of homemade food. It could be fresh baked cookies, a roast in the oven, or even sauerkraut simmering on the back burner all day. It makes me appreciate all we have. And somehow, just maybe, I am loving on my family like all the women before me did.
You see, I grew up surrounded by strong women who knew their way around the kitchen. As a child there were very few nights when I didn’t sit at the dinner table with home cooked food in front of me. And my Grandma Ho-Ho (a name that stuck when Hazel was a bit too hard for my 2 year old self to say) could cook for two or fifty like it was just another day.
But my all time favorite kitchen smell… fresh baked bread! I mean really, how can anything else compete.
Over the years I have tried several different recipes in an attempt to recreate Grandma Ho-Ho’s famous homemade rolls and cinnamon buns.
Although a bit time consuming, making bread isn’t too terrible hard. That said, there are some bread making problems that can occur from time to time. Don’t let fear stand in your way. Learn how to troubleshoot and solve many bread making problems before they stop you.
Troubleshooting & Tips For Making Bread
Dough Doesn’t Rise
We’ve all had it happen. We’ve put our dough bowl under a towel to rise, only to come back an hour later to nothing. Here’s where you could have gone wrong.
Either you didn’t add the proper amount of yeast, or more likely, your yeast has expired. Because I buy my yeast in bulk, I store an airtight container in the freezer. This will allow you to keep yeast for months past the expiration date. Always proof your yeast before adding all your ingredients.
To proof yeast combine yeast, 1 tablespoon or sweetener (sugar, honey, maple syrup), and 1 cup of warm water in a small bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes or until it bubbles. Add active yeast to recipe.
Your water is too hot or too cold. Hot water over 130 degrees will destroy the yeast enzymes. Too cold on the other hand will slow the process down making you wait much longer for the dough to rise.
You used too much salt. Salt will actually inhibit or slow down yeast activity. I always mix my salt with my flour, never letting the years come in direct contact with the salt.
Bread is Dense or Too Compact
This is probably the number one bread making problem I see. Dense bread can result from not letting your dough rise long enough. Don’t be too hard on yourself, we’ve all tried to rush the process. And if you truly were patient (good job!) if your room temperature is below 80 degrees you might need to increase the rise time. Keep in mind lower temperature slow yeast activity.
To check that your dough has sufficiently risen, poke two fingers gently in your dough up to your middle knuckle. Remove. If the indentations remain, the dough is ready. If not, cover your dough and give it more time.
It is also possible your oven was too hot which will cook the bread too fast, browning the crust, will not letting the dough continue to rise and cook properly.
If your bread is dense and gummy, it indicates you took your bread out of the oven too soon and it is under cooked.
Crust is Too Thick
If upon slicing your beautiful loaf of fresh baked bread you notice your crust is super thick, there could be several issues.
First, your oven temperature maybe too low. Be sure to always preheat your oven for even baking. If this continues to be a problem, consider hanging an oven thermometer inside your oven to check your oven settings.
It is also possible you used too much dough and/or your dough dried out. Measure flour accurately. And always cover your dough and keep out of drafty areas when rising.
Bread is Crumbly
There are several things that can cause bread to be too crumbly.
Most often it is a matter of using too much flour. Be sure to follow your recipe and measure flour accurately.
If you know you got the flour right, then it is possible that your bread did not have enough gluten. Some flours have more gluten than others. Bread dough works well for, well, making bread. Obviously, right?!? If you are using a lower gluten flour or all purpose flour you may want to add dough enhancer or vital wheat gluten to your recipe. (As a general rule, use 1 teaspoon of wheat gluten per cup of flour.)
Another possibility is that you did not knead your dough long enough. Remember, this is your opportunity to get your frustrations out! Kneading allows the water to interact with the flour. Scientifically, the two proteins in flour, gliadin and gluten, line up and create a matrix that traps gas and allows the bread to rise. So roll those sleeves up! And get kneading! Bread dough needs to be kneaded for at least ten minutes.
Still Having Bread Making Problems
Hopefully, I have addressed your bread making problems in the post above. If not, please leave me a comment below, and we will tackle them together. Or if you see something I have forgotten, drop me a line and let me know.
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