Hi Jacob (and everyone else here),
First of all, thanks a lot for your very good website. Not just for baking, although that's what I need most help with considering I'm kinda new at that. It's always good when a chef explains his/her thought processes, almost like a magician explaining magic tricks. I was a kitchen hand in a fancy restaurant back when I was a teenager, and I learnt a lot by just asking "why are you doing that?" instead of "what are those ingredients you need again?". I get the same ah-ha feeling with your videos & podcasts, so keep up the good work!
So, anyway. I've baked a few "ok" breads when I was living in The Netherlands. But I've moved to Singapore, and I haven't managed to bake anything reasonable. My oven's better than the one before, so that's not the issue. I think the climate is spoiling all the fun!
This is the jungle, so it's always around 33 degrees Celsius around the house with 100% rel. humidity. Here's my issues:
- Doughs with "normal" amounts of yeast rise very very quickly, but have no oven spring at all (might be because of other factors too).
- Doughs with lower amounts of yeast rise normally, but bread still ends up too dense & wet (like wet cardboard, even though there are bubbles & lots of air).
In general the crumb doesn't "crumble", it still resembles dough after baking. The crust is perfect though, especially with your ice cubes method. I've used varying amounts of whole grain wheat and plain bread flour. I'd like to use whole grain as much as possible, but I know that might be problematic considering hydration ratios etc. (mostly I've tried ~60%). I've tried stretch & fold instead of hand kneading; that increased air bubble size but not cardboard-iness. I don't have a probe thermometer, so I don't know the internal temp of my bread, but with the oven set to 230 C at first, then 180 C for half an hour it should be ok, right? I do allow it to cool, might be not enough since it's really slow.
I'm willing to experiment, so throw anything at me that you think might help :) ... should I just reduce the amount of water? Proof in an air conditioned room? Proof only in the fridge? Add sugar? Less salt? Different oven temperature?
Thanks a lot for your help!