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Kitchen Queries

Welcome to Kitchen Queries, where the nigella.com team will answer your cooking or food related questions.  We’d love you to submit some of your recipe problems, dilemmas or queries for us to get our teeth into!

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  • Bread Not Baked Properly

    Hello! I have a problem baking bread and I was wondering if you could help me out. Whatever recipe I use I always encounter the same problem that the bread is very dense at the bottom of the bread. It looks and tastes almost doughy. I have tried longer baking times and higher temperatures, but than the bread gets very dark. Can you help me out, what I am doing wrong? Thanks. Rebecca

    From the nigella team:

    Unfortunately there are several potential causes of a heavy loaf so you may need to look at each stage of your breadmaking. The first thing to check is that the flour used is bread flour, or strong white flour, which has a higher gluten content than the regular flour used for baking. The gluten stretches as the yeast forms carbon dioxide bubbles and this gives the open structure of a loaf of bread.

    However the gluten also needs some help in stretching, hence the bread dough needs to be kneaded after it has been mixed. There is a possibility that the dough isn't being kneaded enough - when the dough is ready it should spring back quickly if you press it with your finger. If you are using a free standing mixer to knead the dough then there is a small possibility that the dough has been kneaded too much so check it regularly (dough usually needs 8 to 10 minutes on low speed).

    The bread may also not have had enough time to rise before it is baked. If you are using a traditional 2-step process for rising then this is the second rise (or proofing), after the loaf has been shaped. The dough should have roughly doubled in size and also if you press it lightly with your finger than it will leave an indentation (try to press in a place where it won't be seen).

    Finally, if you are baking the bread in a tin then the bread should be removed from the tin and put it on a wire rack to cool. If the bread is left in the tin then any steam inside the loaf can't escape and will condense into water again, making the base of the loaf slightly soggy.

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