Friday, January 4, 2013

Don't 'Blow' That Bread

 We've noticed for some time now that many of the loaves of bread we make in our automatic breadmaker have their beautiful tops collapsed while they bake. To combat the problem - thinking the breadmaker itself was at fault - we set the machine to make the dough only and we removed it, kneaded it manually, folded it into a conventional oven pan, let it rise again and baked it normally.

 Trouble is, the top still collapsed.

 We first noticed this with a lovely herb bread, a concoction of chives and cottage cheese. It seemed to produce a beautiful loaf when we tried it years ago. But most recently, the loaf collapsed about 2" when it was baked. It didn't matter whether we let the breadmaker finish the loaf or took it out and baked it in our regular oven.

Now I love a yeasty loaf, light and airy and filled with  the mustiness that yeast gives. I suppose I like it too much, We've found that was the problem, being a little too liberal with the active dry yeast.

The recipe for our one pound loaf calls for 1-1/2 teaspoons of active dry yeast. I did a little research and found when others had this problem with a collapsing loaf, they cut back on the yeast by about 1/3 and the problem was solved.

That's it! I used an even teaspoon this time and the loaf returned to its beautiful rounded shape. If the top isn't mushroomed, it just isn't right. Every one of our last half dozen loafs had collapsed to varying degrees. This one is perfect again.

Who'd have thought the remedy would be so simple? I was adding a little extra yeast, thinking that it was just more of a good thing, a little flavor boost. But it causes the dough to stretch, to inflate beyond normal (and it looks beautiful during this phase!) but once the heat is applied, all that extra volume disappears.

So, lesson learned. Watch the amount of yeast you use. If anything, go a little light. Who's going to complain about using less? The end result is more bread.

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