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Apr 2, 2010 05:26 PM

Bread dough question - can I salvage my dough?

Hi there. I'm a newbie at making bread, but I love Italian Easter bread (the one with the colored eggs in the shell baked into the top) so I thought I'd give it a try.

I have a KitchenAid mixer and used that to mix and knead the dough. Now my dough rose verrrry slowwwly and its kinda dense. My mom used to make bread when I was a kid and this dough doesn't look right -- kinda dry.

So I googled, etc. and from what I can tell, I probably added too much flour and the dough is doing a super slow rise because its too dense.

My question is, can I salvage this dough by throwing it back in the mixer with a little water? To basically, make it less floury and dense? Then do another rise, shape, and go?

I've already shaped it into a braid (despite its denseness) but the second rise is also crazy slow.

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  1. Did you bloom the yeast to be sure it was fresh before starting the dough?

    2 Replies
      1. re: AkL

        Sorry I didn't get back here sooner. Crazy work week. For future reference, though, you might try working some water in by hand. I wouldn't recommend the mixer, as it will overwork the already too glutinous mass (glutinous, because there's too much flour for the amount of liquids. Flour is the source of gluten.) It would also help to do the next rise in a very moist environment. You can put a dish of boiling water in the microwave and heat it a bit more before putting the bread dough in to rise. If you have a gas oven, just the pilot light will provide some warmth, and you can put the dish of boiling water below the dough bowl, refreshing it as necessary to keep the box humid, maybe every half hour or so, until you get a good rise. If all you have is an electric oven, try preheating the oven to warm, turning the oven off, then placing the dish of boiling water on the rack below the bread dough bowl, and refreshing the boiling water for fresh steam every so often. Moisture will help with rising a dense dough.

        As a general rule, I always add slightly less flour to a yeast dough, then gauge whether it needs the full amount. There are so many factors to making yeast bread rise--the humidity of your dry ingredients, the atmosphere, accuracy of measuring, the amount of gluten in any particular flour, temperature of ingredients, freshness of yeast--it's really a process that benefits from experience. You will get a better feel for it the more you bake. It's very rewarding, the smells, the compliments of friends and family, the incredible flavor. I hope you won't be discouraged in the future!

    1. Glad to hear you've jumped into the bread pool, Akl. I think, just an idea, that you'll have to start over. Bread making is a hands-on learning process. Amyzan is most likely on to the problem - did you use fresh yeast?

      Also, just an idea -- better to start with a "wet dough" and have to add more flour as you go, then mix in too much - it's turns dense - and have no way of adding water.

      As I said, it's a learning process, but very rewarding. Don't give up. If this is for Easter Sunday, you have plenty of time to do another round.

      To address the issue of putting it back in the mixer to add water: flour has a gluten/protein that may be overworked if you do that, and result in a very dense/tough loaf.

      I admire your trying to do this. I've never tried to do that bread, but it looks so pretty!

      1 Reply
      1. re: breadchick

        oh well. dang. good thing my family loves me, they might get some tough bad bread. :) Thanks everyone!

      2. I'm afraid that it's too late to rework that dough but it will probably taste good even if it will be somewhat dense

        1. I've done this with ordinary bread a few times, because I don't have a scale at home and no matter how lightly I spoon my flour into the measuring cups, I always seem to overmeasure.

          It'll taste fine, but it won't have the volume or inner texture that it ideally might. And, yeah, working more water into it will likely just toughen it.

          Eat it, enjoy the flavour, and make a mental note to compensate next time you make it by going easier on the flour. :)

          1. The rate at which your dough rises is a factor of more than just the yeast. The ambient temperature, relative humidity, how the dough is handled during fermentation, gluten structure and hydration all have an affect on how the dough performs. In many instances, as long as the dough has not advanced beyond its initial fermentation stage, it is possible to increase the hydration and "salvage" the formula. The risk is that you might over knead it in the process - it can be touchy.
            I believe the bread you're working on is "Lambropsomo" - a Greek easter bread. Because it's a fortified dough and you have a lot of time and ingredients invested already, I'd suggest you try adding some water, about two tablespoons at a time, and perhaps another half teaspoon of proofed yeast and move forward. If it doesn't work you haven't lost much more than you would have if you tossed the current batch in the trash and you'll still have time to work on another version before Sunday.