Many of us in Latin America have problems finding other flour than all-purpose,
be it unbleached or bleached.
I have baked the soft Sandwich Bread with all purpose, bleached flour (Gold Medal,
11% protein), and the result was nice and tasty.
Now, I tried Rose?s Basic Hearth Bread (which I used to bake with a bread flour that
isn?t sold anymore), using all purpose, unbleached, 13% protein “Nacarina” flour.
The crumb was softer, and the crust a lot thinner, but also crisp and golden. The bread
kept for a week, well wrapped, in the fridge, and tasted great, with a crispy crust, after
The only problem were the bubbles int he dough:enormous, BIG, blisterlike air bubbles,
that made shaping very difficult; The dough also deflated a lot when I burst some of the bubbles
while slashing it. You can see that the boule isn?t very tall, and one burst “blister” on
In spite of this, for the first time i can consider myself satisfied with the slashing! And my
family loved the taste. We ate the whole boule with lunch.
The holes were anything but lovely, because the bubbles were enormous.
They were everywhere, and that made shaping very difficult. It was like
trying to force a playful being into a specific posture (position? I am not
sure of the word). Do I make mayself clear? The dough was like a bubbly,
restless child, that won’t keep quit for a photograph.
Perhaps the all-purpose flour needs less yeast and more kneading (still
I don’t know when enough kneading is really enough). tThe crumb was soft;
it resembled sandwich bread a bit, but less substantial and chewy.
Of course, I prefer to use bread flour, but you seldom find it here. That means
I have to keep on with my experiments!
Julie - 30 September 2009 11:54 AM
Silvia, nice boule! Remember, large holes are a desireable hallmark of many types of artisan bread. Were the holes more or less evenly distributed, or were they mostly near the top?
If they were evenly distrubuted, Rose’s shaping techniques can help give the bread a firmer “skin” and attractive shape, while still maintaining those lovely holes. Review her bread video for tips.
If you want to decrease the size of your holes, you could try increasing gluten structure, either through a higher protein flour or through more kneading. This will also give the bread a more chewy texture.
If the holes were mostly at the top, check that you are not overproofing- an indent made with an oiled fingertip should fill in slowly. Also check that you are developing gluten adequately.
I agree that more kneading could make my dough forget its unruly, bubbly,
but still, the size of the blisters is amazing. Never before have I seen
something like these.
Julie, I also need to learn when the dough has had enough kneading.
Even when I used Bread flour, I didn?t know when to stop; I just used
the time suggested by Rose.
Julie - 01 October 2009 02:59 PM
The dough was like a bubbly, restless child, that won?t keep quit for a photograph
That made me laugh- yes, indeed, I can picture both the child and the dough!
From your description of the soft crumb and large holes, I would imagine that more kneading might help. Also, make sure to carefully, but thoroughly, deflate the dough before the final shaping (you want to reduce the size of the bubbles, but not totally annihilate them). Good luck!
Excuse me for my delayed answers.
The las two weekends I continued with my (forced) experiments with AP Flour.
Both times I have been forced to refrigerate the dough for very long periods,
and at least, for two times. When (finally!!) baking time approaches, the
shaped dough won?t rise; in the oven, however, it does, as a matter of fact,
very *explosively*. Yesterday, the slashes burst and vomited a knot of
dough. Sounds gross, but actually, it looked interesting. “Like a Clay
sculpture”, my mother observed. The bread had a beautiful golden brown
color; the crust was delicious, thin and crisp, as it always is. The crumb was a bit too
dense, not chewy and with a good flavour. We enjoy the bread with “european-style”
butter or just a drizzle of olive oil.
After a careful dissection of a piece of the last boule, I have a couple of hypothesis
about my breads behaviour.
It seems to me, that perhaps I fold the dough in an inappropiate way, because
some of the voids or knots remind me of the folded dough. Also, during the last
(almost failed) rise, the dough doesn?t loose its folded appearance. Am I making
About kneading the dough:
I patted the dough and tried to remember the feel of my daughter’s
butt, but failed. The dough resembled more a cellulite-ridden thigh, with all the bubbles
and dimples. Anyway, I did knead it longer, and I managed to get a windowpane, even if it was
a cobwebby one. I even had to call my daughter and show it to her, though she seemed
I wish I could buy bread flour again; I want to have my “normal” hearth bread again, even
if I know now that you can get a great crust and good flavour with AP flour.
AnnieMacD - 02 October 2009 06:02 PM
Sylvia, to know if your bread is sufficiently kneaded, in addition to the windowpane test (mentioned by Carolita above) it should feel ‘as smooth as a baby’s bottom’. That is if it’s white bread with no seeds of course. It will be lovely and silky and slightly shiny.
Annie, I have problems with my arms and hands, and have to use the mixer to knead,
so it?s the mixer who?s getting the workout. The dough also gets its share of praises
(can be also threats…), encouragements, sweet promises and Mozarts.
Should I (I mean, the mixer) keep kneading more than 12 minutes? Past the slumy windowpane
Annie, if the dough was underproofed, why didn?t it rise *at all* during proofing? The indent test
showed it was underproofed (indent remained).
And why doesn?t the dough “meld” into one uniform mass instead of keeping all the folds?
I mean, after the first folding, the dough turns into a homogenous mass, but not after the last.
Thanks to the evils of industrialized bakeries*, it?s getting more difficult to make friends with
“the baker”, to ask him for some bread flour. Anyway, I hope that after thos week I
will be having it again. Unfortunately, I?ll have flour, but no oven!!! Life isn?t perfect!.
*Thanks to industrialized bakeries, even the biggest failures are considered delicious by family
AnnieMacD - 12 October 2009 08:20 PM
Sylvia, you are too funny! I certainly know about the cellulite pocked dough but you must keep kneading! I can guarantee you that it will magically transform to the ‘baby’s bottom’ smoothness. Honestly, it will - I hope you’re giving it a good work out (you too should be getting a good work out) and a good talking to. Still on the baby theme, your ‘exploding’ loaf, I call the pregnant loaf as it burst out from its skin. This is almost certainly due to under-proofing. There is just too much oven spring.
You say that you cannot get bread flour - is there any chance of finding vital wheat gluten? Can you buy some bread flour from a bakery? I’m sure these are stupid questions but had to ask.
Good luck with your next batch and let us know how it goes.
I folded the dough, but perhaps it was just too much for it.
And I let it stand about 2 hours before baking.
I mean, the dough *had* to wait for 2 hours, because
my oven had died, and I had to run to my mother’s house to
use her oven.
Julie - 13 October 2009 01:14 AM
Silvia, I’ve enjoyed following your progress!
Refrigerating the dough can really slow down the final proofing, it has to come all the way up to room temp, then undergo a full proof on top of that.
Also, if you had to refrigerate one batch of dough twice during production, did you redistribute the yeast (move it around/ knead or take turns in the dough)? Even with redistribution, I find that sometimes a dough will “tire out” and take longer than expected to finish the last rise, especially if it has been two or three days in the making.
...I patted the dough and tried to remember the feel of my daughter’s
butt, but failed. The dough resembled more a cellulite-ridden thigh, with all the bubbles and dimples…
That made me guffaw! I’m still chuckling
Nothing constructive to add to the comments already made, I had similar issues with my first sourdough starter and recipe many years ago, but didn’t have a great resource to go to find some answers like this site. I just wanted to let you know that you made me smile, and that you’ll probably find the answers you seek with some more experimentation and the help of the folks that work on the dough and yeast more than I do.
...I mean, the dough *had* to wait for 2 hours, because
my oven had died, and I had to run to my mother’s house to
use her oven…
Heh! Lucky you have a family member close to home, I can see me asking one of my buddies now (although most of them know and appreciate that I bake a lot and make cakes for their special occasion needs):
Me: Chris, whazzup?!?!!
Chris: Nuttin’ man, did you see the Steelers Sunday?
Me: Yeah, Ben Roethlisberger made Favre look like a high school rookie!
Chris: Yeah, and it didn’t hurt that the spread at 27-17 helped me make the office pool spread!
Me: yeah they were awesome! (pause) I need to ask you a favor…
Chris: Sure , anything, whatcha need?
Me: well, I was baking a loaf of bread when the power went out, soooo… Whatcha doin’ for the next few hours?