Community Message Boards
Results 1 to 16 of 16

Thread: bread failure

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Location
    Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA
    Posts
    2,486

    bread failure

    Can you help me figure out what I did wrong? I have a very basic understanding of making bread from scratch, and have made a simple white bread many times during some of our sailing trips that always came out well. So I grasp the basics.

    It's been years since I've baked bread from scratch and now I want to start doing it on a regular basis. I chose I recipe I found on this forum.. here's the recipe:

    Makes two 8"x4" loaves
    1 1/3 cups raw old-fashioned rolled oats (106 grams)
    OR
    2/3 cup raw steel-cut oats (106 grams)
    WITH
    2 cups boiling water (omit if using leftover oatmeal)
    1 tablespoon salt
    OR
    2 cups leftover oatmeal plus 2 3/4 teaspoons salt

    2 teaspoons active dry yeast
    1/2 cup warm water (about 105-110 degrees)
    3 tablespoons honey
    1/4 cup olive oil
    5 cups finely ground whole wheat bread flour
    Extra water for sprinkling


    Cook the oatmeal in the water until it begins to thicken (don't wait until it's thick enough by yummy breakfast standards); add the salt and set aside for several hours or overnight. If you use leftover oatmeal, bring it to room temperature.

    Dissolve the yeast in the 1/2 cup of warm water.

    Mix the honey/molasses and oil into the oatmeal and add the mixture and the yeast to the flour. Mix well. If the dough is very stiff, resist the temptation to add more water just yet -- the dough will draw water from the cooked oatmeal. However, if the dough is unincorporated and is more like chunks of wet flour, add 2-4 tablespoons of water and mix thoroughly.

    Cover the mixing bowl and let sit for 20 minutes. This will allow more water to be drawn from the oats and will allow for better gluten formation.

    Knead the dough for about ten minutes until soft and supple. If the dough is still too stiff (i.e. when you pinch a chunk of the dough you feel it in the muscles in your hand) add a little more water gradually either by wetting your hands as you knead or by sprinkling a teaspoons or two onto the dough as your mixer kneads. Form the dough into a ball and place it smooth side up in the bowl. Cover and keep in a warm, draft-free place**. After about an hour and a half, gently poke the center of the dough about 1/2 inch deep with your wet finger. If the hole doesn't fill in at all or the dough sighs, it is ready for the next step.

    Press the dough flat and divide in two. Shape it into balls and let them rest, covered, until very much softer, 10-15 minutes. Shape gently into hearth-style or standard 8"x4" pan loaves. If you'd like, sprinkle a greased loaf pan with rolled oats before placing the shaped loaves in them. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
    Let the loaves rise once more in a warm place until they test ready and bake about 45 minutes

    Being on a boat, I don't have a mixer, so did everything by hand. I had brand new yeast that has a January expiration. When I kneaded it, it became kind of sticky and elastic near the end, which I figured was good. After I let it sit for an hour and a half, it did not look to me as though it had risen very much, so I stick my finger in as instructed and it did not fill back in, so I continued.

    I made the two balls and let it rest for 15 minutes to "soften." It looked the same to me. I shaped into loaves and waited for it to "test ready." It seemed to rise a little but not much. After baking they were like lead footballs. DH will eat anything that even looks like bread so he liked it, but I would throw it away. Really.

    Any clue what I may have done wrong? Or is this kind of bread just totally dense. Like... throw it at someone and it would hurt them dense.

    Editing to say I used rolled oats and also that I sifted the flour and measured very carefully.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Medford, MA
    Posts
    2,280
    My initial suspicion would be that maybe the liquid was too hot, and killed the yeast? I've done that many a time.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Location
    Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA
    Posts
    2,486
    Quote Originally Posted by veschke View Post
    My initial suspicion would be that maybe the liquid was too hot, and killed the yeast? I've done that many a time.
    Interesting. That was the one step I was not methodical about in the sense I didn't put a thermometer in it. I just stuck my finger in and thought if it was warmer than my body temp but didn't actually feel hot it was ok. Next time I'll pull out my candy thermometer to test. Thank you!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Nebraska
    Posts
    1,505
    I always disolve my yeast in the warm water (105-115 degrees) with the sweetening (honey in your recipe) and let it sit to see if it bubbles up and is active...then I proceed. Sometimes even yeast with an expiration date in the future will not be good...
    EmptyNestMom
    Grandma Pam to 3


    No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.-Proverbs

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Location
    Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA
    Posts
    2,486
    There was definitely no bubbling. It just dissolved into a creamy colored liquid. Does it need the honey or sugar to bubble?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    7,874
    I think the sugar helps it to get going, but it does need a little something to feed on. Flour works too.

    Something I learned at a King Arthur class was if you store your yeast in the freezer you will vastly extend the shelf life. I buy yeast at costco in 2 lb packages, and it takes me probably 1 1 /2 - 2 years to get through it, even baking regularly. I have never had trouble with it being active.

    Next time, dissolve your yeast in cool water (not warm, I think it is too easy to get it too hot by accident. I have killed lots of yeast. The lady who was teaching my class from KA said to use cool water.) with a small amount of the flour from your recipe, or a teaspoon or so of sugar.
    “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed
    door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”

    Helen Keller (1880–1968)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    737
    I never take the temperature of the water. I test on my wrist like you do with baby's milk. Another thing you might want to check is expiry date of your bread flour.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Alaska
    Posts
    3,155
    That bread is not going to be light and fluffy but here are a couple things that might help. I think adding 5 to 10 tbs of vital wheat gluten would help it rise better. The bran or germ or something in whole wheat flour has sharp edges which tend to cut the gluten strands during kneading. It helps to start out with more gluten than in just the flour itself. Also, I prefer to use a sponge method when working with whole grains - proof the yeast, add all the ingredients except only add a couple cups of flour (and hold back on the oatmeal or oat flakes) and let the sponge sit and work for a day. Then add the rest of the flour (and oat flakes or oatmeal) and knead as usual.
    Last edited by Anne; 11-15-2010 at 02:48 PM.
    Anne

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Lone Star State
    Posts
    20,662
    I would suspect the whole wheat flour was a softer wheat (adding vital gluten would help) and/or the water was too warm. I think I was a serial yeast killer when I first tried bread, thinking that I wasn't activating the yeast if the water wasn't warm enough. WRONG! You are always better if the water is a little too cool. Yeast will activate at room temp, it will just take a little longer to rise. If you scald it, it just dies.

    The yeast will not foam right away. It will take a few minutes, at least, to start the foaming. A bit of sugar or flour will give it something to feed on and help it get going. In this recipe, you could put a little of the honey in the water you dissolve the yeast in. Use a tsp to 1 T, but not the whole amount.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    708
    What is name of this recipe? Please. I'd like to go see the stuff others have said about it. Thanks.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Arlington, WA
    Posts
    5,648
    I always use an instant read thermometer to check temp. My temp judgement is not good enough. I add a few grains of sugar like Emptynestmom said, to 110-120 degree water. If it ( yeast, water, sugar) doesn't bubble up in a few minutes, then your yeast is dead or marginally alive and it's best to get fresh yeast before investing time and ingredients. that bread has a lot of oats in it and It will likely not be a light airy loaf, not that there's anything wrong with that.

    I've made a lot of bread and have found my idea of a "warm "rising place is not warm enough. My house is usually around 60 degrees and things go too slowly. I've put dough in a slightly warm oven, or the bread bowl in hot water in the sink covered with a towel to get things going. I've kneqded by hand but tend to add too much flour so have had better luck with a bread machine or a food processor with a dough blade. too much flour will make your bread heavy also.
    "If the world were a logical place, men would ride side saddle." Rita Mae Brown

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Location
    Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA
    Posts
    2,486
    Quote Originally Posted by catbatty View Post
    What is name of this recipe? Please. I'd like to go see the stuff others have said about it. Thanks.
    I'm sorry, I didn't realize I left this off when I pasted in the text. It's called
    100% whole grain oatmeal bread
    and it's from Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book. I try to put the person's name in the file when I save it but I didn't on this one. It was from a bread thread on this forum but I can't find it now. But here's what she said in the post:

    "Very yummy, moist and dense. I doubled the recipe (to take on a camping trip) and added a mix of sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds to the final shaping. It wasnt at all difficult to make!"

    I bought new yeast today, just in case. And it is also quite possible that my warm environment wasn't so warm, as it was somewhat cool here on the boat yesterday. Thanks so much for all of your thoughts and ideas! I will try again this week, and this time choose a recipe that is not 100% whole grain and see if I have more success and it's more to my liking. DH likes my "mistake" though, so I don't think it's going to go waste.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Missouri
    Posts
    7,090
    Honestly, if the water just felt warmer than your body temp, but not hot, you did not kill the yeast. I never use a thermometer. If it feels very warm to touch (like a nice warm bath), you are good to go, (and cooler is definitely not going to hurt anything).

    My guess, especially since you said there was no bubbling, is that your yeast was not good. I generally start with the warm water, yeast and whatever sweetener (sugar, honey, etc...) in the bowl for 5 min. If you don't have bubbling by then, you haven't wasted much, and you can start over with fresher yeast.
    kathyb


    Less rhetoric, more cowbell!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Location
    Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA
    Posts
    2,486
    Thanks Kathy. The more I've thought about it I really don't think the water was too hot, it was just mildly warm. I had just bought the yeast from Whole Foods, but it's expiration date was in just a couple of months. I thought maybe that was normal (haven't bought yeast in a long time), but I bought more at another store a couple of days ago and I think the expiration was like 2 years away! So I think the yeast was not so good. I will definitely "feed" it and test it in the future, that's a great tip.

    I had some of the "failed" bread today and it really wasn't so bad. Very dense but still moist. I toasted it and put peanut butter on it and it was good. I don't think it was as risen as it should have been but it wasn't a complete failure.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Lone Star State
    Posts
    20,662
    Yeast can get too warm in shipping or in storage and I suppose it can just age too fast for other reasons too. I've had that happen too, but not since I started buying the pound bags of yeast. That's another reason for buying it in bulk -- if it's good (and I haven't had any that wasn't), you have good yeast for a long time. And I think you've discovered the fix for less than stellar bread -- toast it. Peanut butter, cheese, some garlic butter, more toasting and make croutons, dry it and make bread crumbs -- many options, but toasting seems to be the key.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Arlington, WA
    Posts
    5,648
    I have the LK bread book too and made many of the loaves in there. I don't make much bread anymore, can't afford the calories. there was a ww bread that used cottage cheese and worked very well. featherpuff bread I think it was called? I had good luck with most of their recipes except for the desem one. never could get that to work.
    "If the world were a logical place, men would ride side saddle." Rita Mae Brown

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •