Baking the perfect loaf of bread is more difficult than it may seem. Balancing all of the ingredients to create the perfect recipe is a fine art that requires a lot of trial and error. A common problem with bread-making is that the loaf is too dry and crumbly after cooling. This means your dough was too dry during the kneading and rising processes.
Crumbliness is a sure sign that the bread dough was too dry during kneading. If your dough is cracking it is too dry. This problem can be solved by increasing the amount of water used during kneading or by increasing the amount of oil added to the recipe. When adding water to the dough, only add a few drops at a time. If you add too much water, add a little more flour to offset the wetness. Add oil one teaspoon at a time while kneading.
It’s possible that the flour you’re using lacks what is called gluten strength, either because of age or poor quality. Gluten is the part of the flour that causes the dough to be elastic and to hold the gasses produced by yeast as the dough rises. There may not be enough gluten in the flour you are using. If this is the case, add a teaspoon or two to the dough during kneading. You can also change the flour you are using for that bread recipe to see if a different flour type works better.
High Altitude Adjustments
If you are baking at a high altitude (3,000 to 4,000 feet) you may have to make adjustments to the recipe. The first is to cut the amount of yeast called for in the recipe by 25 percent. If you are baking higher than 4,000 feet, you may have to cut the amount of yeast used in the recipe by half or less. There is less air pressure at higher altitudes and this may be allowing the bread to rise too much too quickly. You can also cut rising time. Gauge the rising time by how quickly the dough takes to double in size. If the recipe requires that the dough rise for 30 minutes but the dough has doubled in 10 minutes, bake the bread after a 10-minute rise or punch it down and allow it to rise again.
References and ResourcesBreadExperience.com: Bread Making Tips
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