Why has my bread stopped rising?


HI there
I bake in a relatively high altitude of 1000 metres or more than 3000
feet (Blue Mountains in New South Wales, Australia).
It took me some adjustment to cope with the higher altitude than I was
used to, but I finally found that baking at 140 degrees Celsius for
around 35 minutes produced a perfect loaf. I'm using 2 cups of hard
baker's flour to 1.5 cups of mixed-grain.
The air up here is usually dry but for the past month we've had
unusually high humidity. Would that explain why, all of a sudden, my
bread rises by only half to two-thirds its normal volume on its second
rising .. and doesn't improve at all during the baking. I'm getting
bread which is almost half its normal height. It was gluggier than
normal also, till I dropped the baking temp down 10 degrees to 130
degrees Celsius.
Is there a way to compensate for this? I guess the situation isn't
helped by the fact that Australia is only now starting to recover from
a prolonged drought which has, reports suggest, led to production of
flour with less than normal levels of protein.
Reply to
anthony

I'm at ~1100m (~3600') in Calgary in a very dry climate.
That's awfully low - do you mean 240C?
A few years ago, after baking bread for over 25 years, I experienced failure after failure. I decided to go back to basics and got out the baking books and followed a basic recipe to the letter. Result? A perfect loaf. I think that over time, one can become sloppy or experience "recipe drift" (especially if you use cup-measure rather than weighing your ingredients)and it might be worthwhile your going back to first principles. I suggest that you weigh out 500g of bread flour (no additions of other stuff), 325ml (or grams) of water, add 2tsp of salt and use 2tsp of instant yeast (or equivalent). This is a basic recipe for a 65% hydration loaf which should work with hard wheatflour (that's what I'm used to here). If this produces a decent loaf (and it should) you can then start fiddling with the flour proportions. You can also look at:
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you have any problems with bread, post on alt.bread.recipes where you will get stacks of advice.HTH Graham
Reply to
graham
OK, thanks Graham; I'll give that a try. By the way, the 140C is correct .. anything higher and I bake the outside hard, leaving the dough gluggy inside. 140C corresponds to 285 Fahrenheit. Cheers
Reply to
anthony

Try pre-heating the oven to 230C with a cast iron casserole and lid in the oven(I use a Le Creuset - without the plastic handle). When the dough is ready, plop it into the pot and put the lid on. Bake my recipe (or equivalent) for 30 minutes and then remove the lid and bake for another 15 minutes. I'd be surprised if you don't like the result and it's not gluggy inside. It's based on the New York Times method of a few months back.
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people bake from cold but I've never had good results with that method.Cheers Graham
Reply to
graham
Thanks for your check-recipe, Graham I used it with just the plain unbleached hard bread flour and that simultaneously cleared the oven, yeast and flour of being at fault. Only one culprit left -- the bag of multi-grain flour which must have come from a dud (or protein-reduced) batch as I'm now sure it was that which was wrecking my efforts. Best wishes and thanks again .. your recipe produced totally delicious bread! I handmixed it but next time I'll try doing the first mixing stage in my daughter's bread machine before transferring to the baking tin and then to oven after the second rise. Cheers
Reply to
anthony

I'm glad it worked out! Now if only there was a recipe for calorie-free bread.... You should check alt.bread.recipes from tme to time as well. There's a great bunch of bread-bakers who post there. By the way, I generally sieve my whole-wheat flour with a fine kitchen sieve to remove the coarser bran particles. It is thought that they pierce the gas bubbles in the dough so that you end up with a denser bread. If I want to make a multigrain loaf, I usually make a normal bread dough and throw in flax and sunflower seeds. I can't stand the millet seeds they put in multigrain mixes. Graham
Reply to
graham

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