Disaster!

Hi all,

I baked a sourdough loaf yesterday having followed the recipe and instructions. My loaf turned out with a nice crust but it was very dense and heavy.  Any suggestions.

The oven I have is a fan oven. I baked the bread at 450f but it started to brown within a few minutes so I reduced the tempreture to 400f and baked the loaf for about 40 minutes.

I can't seem to bake bread which is light.  All my loaves so far have been heavy and dense :-(  Help!

Ger

4 comments

Can you describe on what kind of surface you are cooking (e.g. pizza stone, light baking sheet, heavy baking sheet, Pyrex pan, cast iron pan, etc.)

Hello Hugo - Previously I used baking tins and for my latest disaster I used a large earthenware square stone. I also had a tray with some water in it as suggested by the recipe.

Hello Gerald,

If you could let us know which recipe and instructions you were following, that might help.

Just a comment on recipes and instructions.  Until you get the hang of it, it is best to follow the recipe as accurately as possible for ingredients and measurements although there can be a need for minor variations due to the type and grade of wheat used for your flour.

As far as instructions go, and in particular the time schedule given, that is another thing.  The time-line in particular will vary depending on the activity of your starter and the temperature that you are working at.  The times can be much shorter or longer depending on the temperature that the author was working at and, unfortunately, they rarely include this information.  Unless you are working in a temperature controlled environment, it will also vary throughout the year.

So, a couple of things that you have to learn through practice is to understand the development of the dough and the strength of the gluten and the proper proving of the loaf.  I would think that dense loaves suggest underdevelopment and/or underproving.

A properly developed (wheat based) dough should be able to be stretched into a very thin sheet without tearing (window test).  A properly proofed loaf should appear significantly larger that it was when first shaped (I am loath to use the term doubled in size because of the many possible interpretations of what that means) and if you give the surface a gentle poke with a finger or knuckle, the indentation should spring back slowly.  If it springs back quickly the loaf in under proofed and if it doesnt spring back at all then it is over-proofed.  Once again the test is a bit subjective and requires practice to get the hang of what you are looking at and it could be worth letting a loaf over-proof just to see what happens.  The baked product will still be fine to eat, just a bit manky. And hey, you're not all that happy with what you are producing at the moment.

Let us know how you go and good luck with your projects.

Farinam

Hello Farinam,

Sorry for delay in getting back to you.  We are just back from a short break.

I found the problem. :-)   It was my own fault.  We use a "fan assisted oven"  and the recipe was for a standard convection oven.  The loaf browned quickly and following the instructions and timing when the loaf appeard to be done I took it out of the oven.  It was cooked on the outside but a little doughy on the inside.  Another few minutes would have done the job LoL.

I didn't go to waste!  We sliced it up and used it for toasting bread.  Surprisingly it tasted great.  So, now I am off to bake another one using the correct temperture.  I will let you know how this one turns out.

Cheers and thanks for your help and information.

Ger & Clare