Originally Posted by indesertum
^ this i need help with my crumb structure. way too dense
I'm not an expert, but I believe this can have various explanations - wrong temperature - not enough yeast - not enough sugar to feed the yeast - yeast killed somehow (too much salt?) - not enough salt - not enough time for the yeast to work (ie, rise) - dough too dry - dough too glutinous or not glutinous enough - incorrect kneading Try this simple recipe (makes for two baguettes or 6 minis): 1 1/2 cups warm water 1 tbs sugar 1 tsp salt 4 cups bread flour 2 tsp dry yeast Mix and knead the dough (you can use bread machine if you have one). Important: Add water or flour to make sure it's a smooth ball. If you poke it with a finger, it should feel elastic. If the surface of the dough ball feels slimy and sticks to your finger, it's too wet, and you should add a pinch or two of flour, knead thoroughly, and try again. If the ball feels hard and lumpy or breaks where you poke it, it's too dry, add tbs of water, knead, and try again. Then for first rise, let sit in warm covered place (e.g., the machine) for 1 1/2 hours. Afterwards, punch down the dough, let it rise again for 45 minutes. Dump it out onto work surface, divide into two (or 6 for mini-baguettes) slightly flattened ovals, and let rest (covered) for 20 minutes. I use very-slightly oiled-up ceran wrap as a cover. Shaping: Flatten the oval, making it roughly rectangular. Fold the long sides on top of each other, and pinch the seam. Flatten. rinse, repeat. I like to poke into the flattened dough with my fingers (before I fold) to create little cavities, no idea if it helps, but it doesn't harm. If you do this right, the dough will naturally lengthen. You can also roll it up instead of folding it repeatedly. Once you're done with this, roll the dough back and forth to lengthen it and make it cylindrical. When you're done, roll it seam side down and cover again. I like to do this on parchment paper, but you can use some other surface I guess. I like to oil the resting surface slightly (but I guess you can use a floured towel or something), and sprinkle it with corn meal, and re-use the ceran wrap as cover. Let rise for 1 - 1 1/2 hours, it shouldn't quite double in size. Baking: About 15 minutes before you want to start baking, preheat oven to 400 deg F. I like to use a pizza stone. When you're ready to bake, wash the dough/log with water, i.e., spread water onto it, e.g., using your hands. With a sharp knife, cut fairly deep (about one third down) diagonal slashes across the log, about 3-4 inches apart. Remove the stone from the oven (if you use one). Sprinkle it generously with corn meal if you are placing the dough directly onto it. If you use parchment paper, moisten it and transfer it onto the stone. Put the stone back in the oven. Bake for 15 - 25 minutes. It should show a nice reddish brown colour on top, when you tap it, it should sound hollow. Turn off oven, open door a few inches, leave bread inside to cool for 5 - 10 minutes. Then pull it out and let it cool on a wire rack. Tricks: Put multiple mini baguettes inside at the same time, and pull them out at different times to see what is the optimal baking time. You can preheat to slightly more than 400 degrees, and then reduce once the dough is inside, to account for the temperature drop when you open the door. You can place something like a cast iron pan inside the oven and pour boiling water inside the hot pan, right after you placed the dough inside, for additional steam.