Common Bread Problems

Common Bread Problems
Poor bread volume, dense bread
Your bread isn’t rising, or it did rise but it sank back down, leaving the dough dense and heavy:
  • Not enough yeast
  • Yeast is past the ‘best by’ date
  • Too much salt or too little liquid
  • Under-proofed
  • Over-proofed
Sticky bread, bread sticks to pan
When your bread is finished baking it won’t come easily out of the pan:
Strange, sour taste or smell
Your bread has a fermented, alcoholic smell or taste to it:
  • Too much yeast
  • Over-proofed
  • Under-baked
A couple things to do if you catch yourself making any of the above errors while you’re mid-recipe:
  • Oops! I added too much yeast/salt/flour: Most bread recipes follow a pretty similar percentage based formula. If you determine the percentage of each ingredient in your recipe you can adjust accordingly.
    • Example: Your bread recipe calls for one teaspoon salt, you add two. You could then double the other ingredients. You’ll make more bread, but is that ever a bad thing?
  • Don’t rush the proofing process. The reason most recipes explain what you’re looking for (for example, ‘the dough is done when it is doubled in size’) is because proofing times will vary based on the temperature where you’re baking and your dough temperature. Times are helpful, but bread is picky, and you’re always better off keeping an eye on it yourself and going by look rather than time.
  • Don’t add more yeast than the recipe calls for. There’s a point where it won’t add anything to the proofing process (yeasts eat sugars in the recipe, the more yeast you add the less sugar there is for them to eat) and you’ll be wasting your ingredients without speeding anything up.
  • Clean and grease your pans well. It takes a little more time, but it’s better than the heartache of sticky bread!
  • Double check your oven temperature. As always, just because your own says it is 420° F that doesn’t mean it is. Test your oven temperature with a secondary thermometer so you know if it runs a little hot or cold. Bread is very temperature sensitive.

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