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This past weekend I was fortunate enough to be gifted a standing mixer.

My first project was James Beard's white bread. The end characteristics that I wish to improve on were:

  • When attempting to de-loaf the bread to tap the bottom, the top crust was hermetically sealed onto the loaf pan
  • It smelled yeasty instead of a nice baked smell. It didn't necessarily taste as yeasty as it smelled
  • It was very, very dense

Some thoughts on why it had these issues:

  • I was advised to mix for 5-10 minutes. I mixed for a solid 10 minutes
  • For the 2nd proofing, I was advised to go 40-60 minutes. I barely went 40
  • During mixing, toward the start, I didn't feel I had the best we/dry mixture. I played around a bit with the water and flour. When I took it out to place it in the bowl for the 1st proofing, the dough was very sticky

Any suggestions to make better bread?

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  • Was the recipe written for using a mixer? I find that if I try to use a "regular" recipe for a stand mixer I usually need to add 1/4 to 1/2c bread flour to account for the bench flour that would've been used. – Joe Jan 20 at 17:23
  • It called for all purpose flour, and it didn't say to only mix by hand. – Jason P Sallinger Jan 20 at 17:32
  • When I say '"regular" recipe', I mean one that's intended to be kneaded by hand. Unless it specifically says to put it in a mixer or some other appliance to knead, there's an assumption that it's going to be kneaded by hand. (and so, there would be a floured countertop, and you'd end up incorporating more flour than what's specifically measured out for the dough) – Joe Jan 20 at 17:38
  • Ah, I gotcha. Good point. I will take a look. – Jason P Sallinger Jan 20 at 18:09
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  1. In my experience, bread pans should be well oiled. Bread just won't come out otherwise. Even my brand new teflon pans needed a bit of oil or they would stick.
  2. Bread fresh from the oven can smell quite yeasty. After it has been allowed to cool that should temper quite a bit. The steam and yeastiness doesn't seem to dissipate as well when the loaf is too dense.
    Which takes us to 3.
  3. There are many reason you could have bread that is too dense but they generally come down to two things: Not enough gluten or not enough rising. If there isn't enough gluten then there is nothing to hold on to the CO2 the yeast produce. Not having enough water or not kneading/resting long enough can cause this.
    Rising can be insufficient if your yeast is inactive or doesn't go long enough. As you had a powerful yeasty scent it seems unlikely that your yeast was dead.
    When you are kneading don't worry about the time as much as the consistency. You want the dough to be smooth and elastic. It should pass the "windowpane test". That is, you can stretch it into a nearly transparent sheet. 10 minutes could be long enough but it varies depending on the fineness of the flour and how much water is in the dough.

40 minutes is on the very low end for proofing. If your recipe has a lot of yeast and water and the room is very warm 40 minutes may be enough. You should expect an hour. Again- the time isn't as important. You want your dough to have doubled in volume- however long that takes.

Good luck. Even though it's frustrating to have bread not turn out it isn't that hard to get right after a couple times and you get bread that is better than you can buy.

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It appears to me that all you need is to give the dough more proofing time. Also, make sure that your pan is generously dusted with flour before placing the dough in and baking.

For the yeasty smell, the fix is quite simple; use less yeast.

This may seem like an ignorant piece of advice, but I'm serious. I used to follow pizza dough recipes that end up smelling way to yeasty. I didn't want to reduce the yeast amount, as I thought "that's what's written in the recipe, any less and the dough won't be as good", but over time, I've come to realize that a smaller amount of yeast can accomplish the same level of proofing (with more proofing time).

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