Originally Posted by rebel heart
How cold is the warmest you've made it in? I know some people are kicking ass making bread but all my stuff comes out like hard tack. I never want to make bread in the summer, and in the winter cabin
temps are 60f-70f.
Bumping into the conversation, if you don't mind: initially I didn't have much luck with baking bread either. My friends would lend me books
, give me instructions, etc but not enough was going through my head
I guess. Then I came across this book: http://www.amazon.com/Bread-Bakers-B.../dp/0471168572
. It hit a note with me as I have engineering background and the explanations of flour types, yeast types, chemical processes that happen during bread making, varioues insights, and recipes
themselves were technical enough for me. Now it's my bread bible and I cannot recommend it enough to other people.
Regarding your bread coming out as a brick: are you using yeast that hasn't expired yet? If so, make sure that you knead it well in the beginning (if using mixer, on med speed about 3 min, followed by about a minute by hand). Mixing gives the dough elasticity and extensibility. Just don't overmix as that will make the dough resistant to rising and staying risen. In general, then, leave it to rise, then fold, then leave it to rise, then fold, shape, leave to rise, and only then put it in the oven. Rising time in general should be about 1-1.5 hours. This way you give plenty of opportunity for yeast to ferment the dough. Note that making some breads, like french baguettes and ciabattas follow slightly different patterns.
The best temps for fermentation are 75F - 78F, but after reading this book, I can bake bread at temps all the way down to 38F-42F (though I have to hug the dough at night to make it rise