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Why is my bread so dense?

I've recently started baking and almost every loaf of bread I've made has been heavy and dense.

I'm guessing it's one of three things:

1> Over kneading
2> Under kneading
3> Failure to properly rise

I've followed several different recipes, (say 5 or 6) with consistently poor results. The bread tastes fine, it's just a bit ... "dense".

Thoughts?

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  1. I had this same problem when I first started making my own bread. After taking a baking class at a local bakery my results improved dramatically.

    Part of my problem was definitely under-kneading. I find that kneading consistently for 10 minutes works well. The other part was rising time, I wasn't giving it enough. Now I let the dough rise for two hours (sometimes more) in the warmest part of my kitchen. The bread is still slightly denser than what you'd buy at the store, but I like it that way. It's still way less dense than the heavy, chewy loaves I was making before taking the class.

    1. I would guess it's one of two things, or a combination. Not allowing to rise properly or the dough is too dry.

      What type of bread are you making?

      2 Replies
      1. re: kengk

        White Bread/French Bread/Baguette/Bolillo

        Ironically, the best loaf I've made was the most complicated, a rye bread with a sponge.

        It was purt near purrfect!

        1. re: DoobieWah

          The sponge technique is a great way to get your yeast going and helps a lot with getting a proper rise. You can use this technique with most any sandwich loaf you make.

      2. Another hint is to weigh your ingredients. If your proportions are off, your bread can be dense. If you weigh everything, including the liquids, you can get standardized, reproducible results.

        1 Reply
        1. re: bcc

          Could not agree more.

          When you measure a cup of flour, is it sifted, spooned, scooped, or what? Depending on how you fill your measuring cup, a cup of flour can be anywhere fro 100 to 250 grams of flour, which means you could be adding twice as much flour to a dough than is actually required, and that dough will take forever to rise.

        2. I'd go with 2 and/or 3. Don't go by the rise time suggested in the recipe but by the description (it can be way off, especially when it's colder). If there isn't a good one, depending on the type of dough, try the windowpane test for the first go through on the kneading. Then you can tell the bread has risen enough by poking it. If it doesn't come back quickly,it's risen enough.

          1. I had this problem when I first started baking yeast breads. For me it generally was a result of too much flour.

            The cure was getting more comfortable working with doughs that have some stick and proper measuring.

            I also think I had issues with not allowing enough time for dough to rise.