You’ve always wanted to bake your own bread, but maybe you’ve encountered some problems along the way. Don’t worry. You are not alone. Many rookie bread bakers make the same mistakes. We’re here to help you understand what went wrong and how to bake that perfect loaf of bread the next time around with these solutions for the most common bread baking mistakes.
I Didn’t Read the Recipe: If you are a cookie or brownie baker who just started baking bread, it’s tempting to simply toss all the listed ingredients in a bowl and turn on the mixer. However, time, motion, and temperature are a huge part of building bread.Read and follow all the directions for mixing, kneading, proofing, and baking if you want that loaf to turn out like the picture.
I Only Kneaded It for a Couple Minutes: Kneading bread allows the gluten in the bread to start to stretch, creating that beautiful crumb inside the loaf during the baking process. It isn’t just about blending the ingredients. When you don’t spend the right amount of time kneading, your loaf may never rise resulting in a dense, doughy bread that acts like play-dough even after being baked. Set the timer and work your dough for the amount of time mentioned in the recipe.
I Used Hot Water to Activate the Yeast: Which means you killed it.Yeast is a member of the fungus family and is actually alive. When it grows and expands in your bread mix, it adds volume, texture, and flavor.However, it is super sensitive to heat and will die when it gets too hot. When the recipe says use warm water to activate your yeast, test the water against your wrist.It should be warm, but not more. Room temperature will slow the activation down, but won’t harm the yeast cultures.
It was Sticky, So I Added More Flour: Most bread dough begins as a sticky, wet mass that is impossible to handle.That doesn’t mean that you need more flour in order to achieve that stretchy, shiny, and soft dough that the recipe talks about.Adding more flour alters the chemistry of the mix and can prevent the bread from rising properly or may result in being under-baked. If it’s sticky, knead it some more.Only add a dash of flour if you have reached the end of the kneading time and it is still clinging to your fingers.
I Let it Rise Over Night: Most recipes will tell you to let it proof for 30 minutes, an hour, or maybe two.Very few recipes say to let the dough sit overnight.If your dough is allowed to rise too much, the yeast in the dough can actually overextend and ultimately die.While the rise may look impressive, the over-proofed loaf may collapse during the second knead or while shaping it.
I Put it in the Oven to Proof: Yes, your bread needs a warm place to proof if it is to attain its perfect rise.However, too much heat can kill off the yeast.The right temperature for proofing is between 80F and 100F.If you set your oven to the Warm setting, it’s probably too hot. You can turn on the oven, let it come to temperature, and then shut it off. Use an oven thermometer to determine when the temperature falls below 120F so that your bread will rise and the yeast stays healthy until the baking process begins.
I left My Mixer on for 30 Minutes: The wonderful part of electricity is that we don’t have to wear out our arms when beating eggs into a meringue.
However, when you attach the dough hooks and let your stand mixer knead your dough, it’s much easier to over-knead it. If your dough leaves the soft, shiny, pliable stage behind and becomes stiff and doesn’t spring back after being poked, it won’t rise.
As a beginner, it’s wise to knead by hand until you develop a good eye and hand for properly kneaded dough. You’ll be better able to see when your stand mixer has achieved a good dough without going too far when you have some experience under your belt.
I Cut the Loaf while it was Still Warm: The baking process actually continues after you pull your gorgeous golden loaf out of the oven.It smells divine and would taste awesome if you just slid the knife…don’t do it. The bread continues to absorb moisture, firm up its interior structure and develop flavor while it cools down.
If you slice into that hot bread, it can become a bit gooey and the rest of the loaf will turn stale almost immediately. Have patience and wait for your bread to completely cool before slicing, and enjoy its fully baked perfection for several days.
I used All-Purpose Flour: Well, you were likely disappointed.Bread flour has a much higher gluten content which enables your dough to stretch, rise, and maintain its shape during the baking process.
You really can’t do anything to your all-purpose flour to make a better loaf of bread.You don’t have to buy flour from a fancy baking boutique, but it should be labeled as bread flour.
It Looked Done…but Wasn’t: If you pulled your bread out of the oven because it had that beautiful light golden color and had developed a nice crust on top, it may not have been fully cooked. Maybe you discovered that it was moist inside and tasted not quite right.It needed to bake longer. Your oven may not have been hot enough.
Use an oven thermometer to test the real temperature of your oven before putting in the dough to bake.The other possibility is that the bread you baked really should have a dark brown crust, possibly appearing just a shade or two lighter than looking burnt.With the right temperature and following the time listed in the recipe, you are more likely to enjoy a successful bake.