You followed all the instructions down to the letter. You took your time and carefully followed each step. But then, after all that hard work, you cut that first slice of heavenly bread only to find it is dry. So, you ask yourself, where did I go wrong? Why is my bread dry? And on and on with the questions.
The leading cause of dry bread is because you started with a dry dough. Did you add too much flour? What about the type of flour? Was it correct? Did you add additional flour when you were kneading it?
Dry dough is typical for new bakers. However, with some practice and helpful hints, you will soon be making award-winning loaves of bread that will be requested for years to come.
Are you overbaking your bread? Baking bread for too long will cause your bread to lose moisture which will dry it out. Be sure that you are following the time directed closely. And remember, every oven is different and will cook at a different temperature. You can test your bread by tapping it at its base; if you hear a hollow sound, it’s probably done.
Using a thermometer is the best way to know precisely when the interior of your bread loaf has reached the correct temperature. For most loaves of bread, that internal temperature needs to read 190 – 210 F.
If you are a beginner baker, it is recommended that you use a thermometer. Here’s the one that I use from Amazon. At least until you have a few loaves of bread under your belt and you get a feel for what you are looking for. Then you can try your hand at the tap test method. We don’t want to see your hard work go to waste with overdone bread!
Now, about that thermometer. An oven thermometer is also a great tool to ensure your oven is cooking at the actual temp you have it set to. Remember, not all ovens are the same. If you are cooking your bread at too high a heat, your bread will be done on the outside before the inside. Meaning you will have to cook for longer to get the dough cooked through, making your bread dry.
Same thing if your oven is cooking at too low of a temperature. Cooking at a low temp means your bread takes longer to cook, which will cause the exterior of the bread to dry out before it is fully cooked. When it comes to baking, do yourself a favour, and make sure you have a thermometer on hand! You will be glad you did!
It’s tough for beginner bakers to tell what type of dough they want when they are making different types of loaves of bread. If your bread is sticky, you think, ‘just add more flour.’ But, adding flour may not be the correct answer. Adding more flour than the recipe calls for will dry the dough. When you have a dry dough, you will probably end up with dry bread.
Instead, if you have a sticky dough, try kneading a bit longer. Be patient and keep kneading the dough until it becomes less sticky. Try to remember all dough will have some stick to it. It takes some time to get used to handling it correctly.
Every baker has a beautiful workspace with a dusting of flour as they prepare their masterpiece. You have heard that flour on the workspace will keep your dough from sticking, but not everyone agrees. If you flour your workspace, just put down a light dusting of flour and only when shaping bread. Never add flour to the table when kneading. Adding flour when kneading your bread will add more flour to your recipe and ruin your dough.
Remember, the more you knead your dough, the stronger the gluten will become and the less sticky it will be. You don’t need that layer on your workspace. Be patient, and only add flour as a last resort if your dough is still sticky after 8-10 minutes of kneading. And even then, add sparingly.
Another reason why your bread is dry is that you did not knead it enough. When you don’t knead your dough enough, it will be crumbly and not fabulous in texture. So make sure that you knead until your dough passes the windowpane test.
What is the windowpane test? Take your dough and stretch it out until you can get it paper-thin without tearing it. Can you see the light through it? If so, it will pass the windowpane test.
This is true. Sometimes you will find that the yeast you have is not active. When yeast is old or has died, your bread will not rise. That means the loaf of bread you just worked so hard on will not be any good. Instead, you will have a dense, crumbly dry loaf of bread on your hands.
How do you know if your yeast is any good? You just got it, so it should be, right? It may not be, so it is good practice to test it before adding it to your dough. It’s easy enough to do.
Simply stir it into some warm water (100-110F) and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. If you see that yeast has started to bubble up and swell, you know your yeast is active and can be incorporated into your dough. However, make sure you do not use too hot of water, or you will kill the yeast before it gets to work in your dough.
Active dry yeast, instant yeast and bakers compressed yeast are all different types of yeast, so they must be treated differently.
Active dry yeast needs to be bloomed in warm water.
Instant yeast is more powerful and can be added to the dry ingredients without activation.
Bakers yeast is less powerful, so you’ll need around double the amount of active dried yeast to proof the bread. It can also be added to the dry ingredients. Find out more about yeast in the types of yeast explained post.
It could be low-protein flour that is making your bread dry. High-protein flour is a must for good bread. This type of flour produces plenty of gluten. If you don’t have enough protein, you won’t have a strong gluten structure unless the dough is developed for a long time. This means that your bread won’t rise well and not taste as good. Using low-protein flour to make dough can cause the bread to be dry and crumbly.
After all your hard work, you are ready to taste-test your wonderful creation. But hang on, not so fast. Cutting into your bread too soon can be a reason why your bread is dry. Yes, even one little slice off the end.
Cutting into the bread before it is entirely cooled will cause it to lose internal moisture leaving the bread to escape too quickly, leaving you with a dry loaf. Be patient for a little bit longer; it will be worth the wait. Now, if the entire loaf is going to be eaten at once, well, that is a different story. Go ahead and dig in and enjoy!
How you store your bread can be the answer to why your bread is dry. You spent all that time making this bread; make sure you store it properly so you can enjoy every slice!
You can freeze the bread. Freezing is recommended over the refrigerator. The refrigerator will actually pull moisture from the loaf and leave you with a hard and dry -not-so-perfect loaf of bread.
You can slice it or put the remainder of the loaf into the freezer. You will want to make sure you have it completely wrapped in plastic wrap to protect it. If you are not going to use the remainder of the loaf in one sitting, slice it before storing it. That way, you can take out what you need without any going to waste. You don’t want to freeze your bread a second time. It won’t be any good.
It’s very easy to defrost your bread. Take out the loaf or how many slices you want, and pop them in the microwave, put them in the toaster, or if you have the time, allow them to sit and come up to room temperature.
Another option for storing your bread is using a good old-fashioned bread box or bin. You will find that a bread box will extend the life of your fresh loaf of bread for a few days. Storage boxes work because they allow sufficient airflow around the bread to decrease mould-causing humidity. You can even wrap it in a tea towel to reduce airflow further.
Following these simple steps and helpful hints will help you make the best loaf of bread. After all your hard work, we don’t want you to get to the end and wonder,….. why is my bread dry? We want you to be able to enjoy that first slice of heaven to the fullest.
We know it sounds complicated and time-consuming. Yes, it is easier to buy a loaf of bread from the store. But that is just not as rewarding as taking a few ingredients and mixing a lovely ball of dough and turning it into a tasty treat that is sure to please everyone. And, let’s not forget how warm and homey the smell of baking bread is as it fills your home! It’s worth all that effort.
Hi, I’m Gareth Busby, a baker, bread baking coach and college lecturer. I’m here to help you make better bread and learn about the baking industry.
Suite 2646 Unit 3A,
34-35 Hatton Garden,