Why did my French bread neither rise nor bake properly?

  • Why did my French bread neither rise nor bake properly? Aquarius_Girl

    Failed miserably at the first bread bake.

    I have this oven: Bajaj 28 Litres 2800TMC Oven Toaster Grill
    I tried this recipe: Baking the Perfect Loaf of French Bread

    Instead of using 4 cups bread flour, I used 3 cups whole wheat flour. Replaced 2 teaspoon active quick rising dry yeast and 2 teaspoon salt with 1.5 teaspoon active dry yeast and 1.5 teaspoon salt. Used 1 1/4 cups warm water

    Do not have a machine so kneaded the dough by hand all the time, followed the resting times as mentioned in the recipe.

    Place this dough in a large lightly oiled bowl (I use Pam spray). Turn dough over so that all sides have a thin coating of oil. Cover with plastic wrap and set in warm place for 1 1/2 hours to let rest and rise. Dough should almost double in size. While the dough is rising, about 1 hour into the rising stage, preheat your oven to 450F

    My oven has only 250 Celsius maximum setting, so I preheated for 15 minutes on that temperature without a stone. My dough did NOT rise during the resting period of 1.5 hours. At least I didn't notice any visible changes in the dough size. Room temperature was 32 Celsius.

    If you are using a long cast-iron pot or covered baker: -> Before closing the lid on your pot/baker, put 1/4 cup of water directly in the pot. Cover immediately.

    I did that and didn't notice any visible steam. Then I put the dough inside on the baking sheet.

    Check temperature of the bread – internal should be 190-210F. Remove and let cool before cutting into it. Repeat with other loaf.

    I had set the temperature to be 200 Celsius since it hadn't mentioned the temperature of the oven while baking. It is here talking about the temperature of the bread. Should I have read it as temperature of the oven? :redface:
    Moreover, it didin't rise a bit in the oven even. Was it supposed to?

    (For convection ovens- bake 8 min covered, 10-12 min uncovered. Check temperature of bread) To re-crisp the crust, put in 375F oven for 5 minutes.

    What should I have covered here with what? I baked for 20 minutes at first. The dough surface was hard and the internal of the bread was NOT cooked. I baked for another 10 minutes and the bread crust got hardest. Internals weren't baked yet.

    I suspect that my fault was either improper measurement of yeast (don't have a teaspoon), or wrong temperature, or both.

    Please guide in detail.

  • If your dough did not rise at all during the resting period I suspect there is something wrong with the yeast. Have you checked the expiry date? Also, as you are a beginner at this, I think it would be wise to follow the recipe exactly and not, for example, substitute whole wheat flour like you did. While I have not tried this specific recipe, reading through the comments it seems most people are very happy with it. My suggestion is to buy new yeast, perhaps a different brand if you can find it. Then try the same recipe again, but follow it exactly, using the prescribed amount of white flour. If the same thing happens and the bread does not rise at all during the 1 1/2 hours resting time, don't bother baking it. You will get the same result. Oh, and buy a teaspoon so you can measure the yeast exactly. It is quite important.

  • There are some previous questions with good answers like this one, or this that go into much more detail than I'm about to.

    You said your bread didn't rise with the first rise, if you don't have a first rise you can't go onto the next step. If your yeast was old, or the temperature was cold in your kitchen or you used cold water in the dough, or the yeast came in contact with salt then its action could have been slowed down drastically and it would take much longer to get a rise. I've had a first rise take up to 4 hours in the past because of these factors. The times given in recipes are just guidelines, you have to be result-driven. Active dry yeast also takes longer than quick yeast to activate. When using active dry instead of quick yeast you would get better results by mixing it with the water before mixing in. I'd recommend using quick yeast as it's milled into smaller grains and you can mix it directly into the flour.

    Of course your yeast may have simply been dead, or killed by salt or heat. Get some good fresh yeast and store it in the fridge to keep it fresh long-term.

    Also, using all whole wheat flour isn't going to produce anything like a baguette. Whole wheat flour is very heavy compared to white flour and will take longer to rise. A half and half mix would work better. I'd recommend sticking to the recipe first, then gradually modifying it over time until you get your desired result.

baking bread
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