Bread contains just a few basic ingredients, yet problems can arise if the dough is not mixed correctly, ingredients are over or under used, or the bread is baked at the wrong temperature. If you know how to prevent or fix these problems, you can successfully make your own homemade bread.
Hard crusts in yeast breads can be the result of too little fat in the mixture, such as shortening or butter. It could also mean that there wasn't enough time to allow the yeast to proof if the yeast wasn't a fast acting type. Crusts that are irregular, choppy or folded over instead of being smooth could be the result of adding too much flour to the work surface when rolling out. Also, if the bread wasn't rolled out sufficiently, air pockets may form resulting in a lopsided surface after baking.
Wrong colour crust
If the bread has a very dark crust on the outside, check the formula. Too much sugar in the dough, including white sugar, honey and molasses, can lead to a dark crust. Also, if the oven temperature was too hot during baking the bread can bake too quickly, resulting in a too-dark crust. Check the oven temperature and calibrate as necessary. If the colour isn't dark enough, too little sugar may have been added. An increase in dairy products in the dough can also help with more even browning.
Tough and heavy interior
Baked bread that has a tough and heavy interior may have been over baked. Not allowing sufficient time for rising can also lead to a heavy finished dough. If the bread is a quick bread, there may not have been enough baking powder or baking soda in the mix for leavening. Over mixing the dough can also lead to a tough bread.
Dry and crumbly interior
In yeast breads, a dry interior can be the result of processing the dough too long in a mixer or food processor, or kneading too long by hand. Over-proofing the dough by letting it rise for much longer than required can also be a reason. In quick breads, a dry interior can be cause by an inadequate amount of either liquid or fat in the mix. A crumbly interior for both the yeast and quick bread recipes can be the result of not enough liquid or too much leavening.
Flavour depends on fresh ingredients so check the expiration dates of all ingredients before using them. This includes flour, eggs, dairy products, spices and the leavening which may include yeast, baking powder or bicarbonate of soda. Recipes call for specific ratios of ingredients, so too much of one item can affect the flavour of the finished product. Over-fermentation of the yeast can also lead to an off flavour, as is too much leavening in quick breads.