I have been negligent on keeping up with my posts this week but I just couldn’t help it. There have been some changes that needed to be taken care of and I can’t believe it’s already Friday. I didn’t want to let down my Friday Basics and for today I’ve chosen to share with you some common troubleshooting in baking and how to prevent them. Whether it is in making cakes, pies, bread, cookies or even quick breads and custards.
- Dough is rising too fast: Kitchen is too warm; transfer to cooler location. If you use instant yeast (also known as quick-rise, rapid-rise), then it is predictable your dough rises 50 percent faster than active dry yeast, which allows too little time for the bread to develop flavor. My advice, go with the dry yeast.
- Dough is rising too slowly, or is not rising: Kitchen is too cool, or water in which yeast was proofed was too warm or too cool; transfer to warmer location. Or, yeast is too old and no longer active. After opening yeast, keep it in the fridge and don’t forget to check the expiration date before using.
- Bread lacks flavor or tastes too yeasty: Dough was proofed too long. Common with instant yeast.
- Bread is dense and too moist: Bread was not proofed long enough.
- Bread look slack: Dough was overproofed, or the oven was insufficiently heated.
- Bread is too hard and chewy: Bread was overbaked at too low a temperature.
- Bread caved in: Rose too fast because of too much leavening.
- Bread is too dry: Baked too long or not enough fat or liquid.
- Bread is underbaked in spots: Oven was not hot enough; oven heats unevenly.
- Bread is too dense or tough: Batter or dough was overmixed.
- Cookies spread too much during baking: Butter was too soft when added, or dough was placed on hot baking sheet.
- Cookies are burned on bottom: Cookies were too thin, oven was too hot, pan was too thin or too low in the oven, or pan was not rotated during baking.
- Cookies did not bake evenly: Pan was not rotated during baking.
- Cookies fell apart when removed from pan: Cookies were removed too soon.
Pies and Tarts
- Pie or tart is sticky and hard to roll out: Too much water was added, use extra flour when rolling; dough is too warm, put it back in the fridge for 30 minutes before proceeding.
- Pie or tart dough is stiff and hard to roll out: Not enough water was added to dough, or dough is too cold, let it warm up a bit.
- Blind-baked crust pie or tart dough did not hold its shape: Too few pie weights were used for blind baking; dough did not rest long enough or was too soft.
- Blind-baked crust dough shrank in pan: Dough was not chilled long enough, or was stretched too much when lining the pan. I always freeze my crust, lined in the pan for 15 minutes before baking it, and it works every time.
- Pie or tart crust is not fully baked on bottom: Crust was not partially baked before filling was added; especially with custards and juicy fruits.
- Pie or tart crust is dense rather than dense: Butter and dough were overworked.
- Cake did not rise: Ingredients were overmixed, knocking too much air out of batter.
- Cake is cracked in the middle: oven temperature was too low.
- Cake is high on the edges but is sunken in the middle: oven temperature was too high.
- Cake stuck to pan: cake was too hot when removed from pan, or pan was not properly prepared.
- Cake is soggy on the bottom: Cake was left to cool too long in pan.
Custards and Soufflés
- Custard is lumpy: Custard was overcooked on stovetop or was not strained.
- Custard is grainy or watery: Custard was overbaked.
- Custard is too wet in center: Custard was underbaked.
- Bread pudding is dry: Bread did not sit long enough to absorb the custard before being baked.
- Soufflé did not rise: Soufflé batter was overfolded and air was knocked out, or oven was not hot enough.
- Soufflé is dry: egg whites were overwhipped, or soufflé was overbaked.
Source: Essentials of Baking