If you grew up in a household where your parents made homemade bread, then you remember how good the house used to smell. If you didn’t grow up that way, then you’re in for a lovely surprise. Baking homemade bread is a bit of a lost art, and like every form of art, it takes practice to perfect. So if you’ve tried your hand at baking bread and your loaf decided to misbehave, here’s what you can do about it.
Baking Homemade Bread: Problems & Solutions
Problem: Bread Crust Splits on Top
Some bread is supposed to split and crack a bit on top as it bakes. However, if the dough it over-mixed or the oven is too hot, the crust can burst when it is not supposed to.
Solution: Allow your bread dough sufficient time to proof. If blisters form and burst on the crust, the dough may not have been properly fermented. This means the yeast may not have been able to rise properly due to temperature. Also be sure the oven is set to the proper temperature and not overly hot.
Problem: Bread is Too Dense and Heavy
Bread gets its light and fluffy texture from air bubbles created during the rising process. If bread is too dense and heavy, it may lack liquid or yeast, or the dough may contain too much salt.
Without enough moisture and yeast, the dough will not rise properly as it bakes or turn out as light and airy inside.
Solution: Be sure the dough recipe is followed correctly, and allow the dough adequate time to rise. Your recipe will tell you how long you should it proof, but if it doesn’t, you can count on a rise time of at least an hour. The sough should double in size.
Problem: Bread is Too Doughy or Gooey
A common mistake in home bread baking is under cooking the bread. Your loaf should look lightly browned and slightly separated from the sides of the pan when it is done baking.
Solution: You can check for doneness by tapping the top to see if it sounds hollow. If so, tip the loaf out of the bread pan and do the same to the bottom. If it sounds hollow too, the bread is fully baked. Another way to test bread is by inserting a toothpick into the center of the loaf as you would a cake. If it comes out clean, the bread is finished.
Problem: Bread Crust is Too Dark
A dark bread crust is usually a result of of the oven being too hot.
Solution: Check your recipe and preheat your oven to the specified temperature. Some recipes will even call for a higher temperature for the first 15-20 minutes of baking, then tell you to turn the temperature down for the remainder of baking time. If your recipe calls for this temperature change, follow it.
Problem: Bread Crust is Too Light
Light bread crust is typically a sign of under-baking.
Solution: Try spraying your bread loaves lightly with a mist of water to get a darker color and better texture to the crust. Double check your oven temperature and make sure that it is the temperature the recipe calls for.
Go Forth and Bake Bread
Baking bread is supposed to be a fun experience, so don’t stress out if you don’t get the perfect loaf the first time you bake. Play around with your recipe and follow these tips. Also, consider adjusting your recipe or baking time if you live at a higher elevation. Otherwise, get to baking and enjoy some homemade bread!