Bread Problem Solving

Baking Temperatures
Oven temperatures that are too high will tend to burn your product externally while leaving the interior raw or under-baked. This can result in gumminess or collapsing of the finished product.  Oven temperatures that are too low will cause the product to dry out resulting in a shorter shelf life of the finished baked product. To remedy these common issues, make sure you check your oven temperatures and have your ovens calibrated about once every year. 

Also, pay special attention to the manufacturer’s recommended bake times and temperatures and you’ll produce high-quality baked goods your customers will return for again and again.

Ingredient Weight
No two people measure ingredients the same way, which makes weighing ingredients is the best way to achieve consistent results. Measuring leaves room for error and inaccuracies. One person may measure a specific ingredient by over-filling a cup while another person may level the cup with a spatula, plus measuring liquids accurately requires you to look at the measuring vessel at eye level. 

Weighing all ingredients, including water, is the most accurate method of producing consistent finished baked products on a daily basis. You choose whether you want to use pounds and ounces or kilos and grams. Either way will give you excellent results but, weighing your ingredients will always be more accurate than using measuring cups and teaspoons.

Dough Temperature
Dough temperatures are critical and can affect aeration potential and leavening action. Use a dough thermometer to check your batter or dough temperatures at the completion of the mixing cycle. Readjust your water temperature either up or down to bring the finished dough or batter temperature back into spec. Be aware that tap water temperatures fluctuate as the ground water temperatures change with the seasons.

In yeast raised dough systems, dough that is too warm or too cold will not ferment properly. When cold, the dough will tend be bland due to lack of fermentation and when hot it may taste and smell sour and bitter due to excess fermentation. Cold dough will tend to slack out and spread where as hot dough will tend to rise very quickly and gas out. Cold dough will also tend to be darker than normal after baking, (less fermentation so more residual sugars for color) and the hot dough will tend to be more on the pale side, (more fermentation burning off sugar so less color).

Water Levels
If your dough is very wet or soft, try decreasing the water level. If the dough is too stiff and difficult to work with you can increase the water level making it more manageable.  In most cases the water level in your dough will be listed as a “variable” so you can make minor adjustments at the bowl. 

If you’re using a mix and can’t solve your issue, call your manufacturer’s representative. Although it may seem like low priority task, one of the most important things you can do is to track every mix or product that comes into your bakery. Start a tracking sheet that includes the mix, base, or ingredient name, date of arrival, manufacturer’s product code, manufacturer’s batch code and any other pertinent information that might be unique to the product. If you do have an issue with a product, you will have the information available for the manufacturer.