I have been baking homemade bread for a long time and hate those puny slices of a commercial sandwich loaf when I can have a bakery style version. Over the years, I have had my successes and failures until perfecting recipe and technique. However, if your attempts produced less than a satisfactory product, then let me share some of my baking secrets for homemade bread with you that can give you better results.
Here are some reasons that your attempts when making homemade bread may have failed. The first is how you treat your yeast. You can kill the yeast by using too hot water when trying to grow it. Instead, you want the temperature hot enough to test on your wrist. If you notice the water is hotter and practically burns your skin, the water is too hot. Another solution is to use a baking thermometer and strive for water temperature of 110-115 degrees if you are still uncertain.
The bread is too heavy and dense or just too dry. The reason this happens is because you added too much flour. The solution is stir in the flour gradually. Most of the time, I use a wooden spoon or whisk and start with about three cups of flour to my proofed yeast, oil, sugar, and salt. Then I gradually stir in more or less of the flour until I get soft, pliable dough.
The dough is too sticky even when you used the same recipe that worked for you in the past. The reason you’re experiencing this is due to the weather and humidity. Some people make the mistake of incorporating more flour to solve the stickiness problem, but end up with hard dough. Keep in mind you need to adapt to the weather when baking bread and add just enough more flour to make the dough pliable. Another trick to prevent accidentally going overboard on the flour is to pour a little of the cooking oil on your hands when nearly ready to shape dough for the growing stage.
Your bread crust crumbles everywhere. I found that using cake yeast contributed that problem. I always had the best luck baking homemade bread with active dry yeast. The crust always stayed on the bread instead of falling all over the place when cutting it as it did while using the fresh cake yeast. Another explanation is your oven temperature wasn’t hot enough. You also may not have mixed the ingredients enough before sending your loaves to grow.
You may have made bread with a bad texture that is too-open instead of more uniform. The reason this is happening is because you added too much liquid or kept overkneading the dough. Don’t bother rinsing out your measuring cup for the last bit of yeast or cleaning out the remaining milk because it does affect the texture, which is another of these baking secrets for homemade bread.
Bread that seems to deflate in the pan after growing is another problem you may have. The reason this type of thing happens is because you kept your bread growing too long when it should have gone to the oven.
Have you ever found those white spots on the crust? If so, another of my secrets to homemade bread is to always make sure the dough is properly covered. Any naked section of your dough can cause that problem.
These are just a few tricks that I’ve picked up with these secrets to homemade bread such as my vinegar bread that could help you avoid some of the same mistakes that I made when starting out.