Hello from Carlsbad. I have tried twice to make sourdough and the basic bread recipe from your book. Everything works fine until the final rise where they become a wet sloppy mess that spreads. What am I doing wrong?
Hi Nancy, Sorry that you are having problems with your bake. I suggest that you reduce the water by 10%. Different brands of flour absorb different amounts of water, so by reducing it by the final prove it should be more stable. Best of luck and happy baking!
I’ve made your ciabatta bread twice and I wanted to make it again but I’m not sure my container is right. I’ve used two different tupperwares, one was tall and narrow and the other was shorter but wide. What would be better? Both were square.
Do you have a specific container that you use all the time for your ciabatta? Thanks Emily
Hi Emily, Well done on baking the ciabatta it can be tricky as it is a wet dough. Don’t worry too much about the container its just to help give you the rectangular shape without having to handle the dough too much. Given the choice of container I would use the shorter but wider tub. Keep baking, it will get easier the more you practice. Happy baking and stay safe! Paul
Hey Paul, I am an Australian chef and love holidaying in France. The baguettes there are out of this world! As someone who always fancied himself as making pretty decent bread, these guys really put me to shame. So what I want to know is how they get such an amazing crumb, so strong, yet with such incredibly large bubbles throughout? Any tips or knowledge to achieve this quality in my baguettes would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Jayson
Hi Jayson, The bread culture in France is fantastic, they often buy their bread twice daily. I have spent time in Paris visiting some of the best bakeries and one of the secrets is the amount of time the dough is left to rise. Some of the bakeries I visited gave the baguettes two lots of 24hr proving. So the initial dough is left in the fridge for 24 hours, then it is shaped into baguettes and left in the fridge for another 24 hours before being baked. This long slow prove allows the flavour to develop. To achieve the irregular crumb structure it is the amount of water added to the dough, combined with the slow prove. You can find my version of baguettes in my book the The Weekend Baker and in the bread section of this website. Happy baking and stay safe! Paul
Hey Paul, I am baking profiteroles for 25-30 minutes and they are still not puffing up and remain a bit raw on the inside. Thank you in advance, Munazza
Hi Munazza, Thanks for getting in touch with such a great question. To help the profiteroles rise you need to take your time when making the chow pastry and beat it well at all stages. You can pop an oven tray in the bottom of the oven and as you put the profiteroles in the oven pour a jug of water into the hot oven tray. This will create steam and help them rise. Also make sure your oven is hot enough and bake for a little longer if they are not cooked in the centre. I hope that this helps you create perfect profiteroles. Happy baking and stay safe! Paul
Hey Paul, I made your lemon drizzle slices, which were delicious, but mine sunk slightly in the middle of the tray and when cutting there was a hole through the sponge where it had dropped. What am I doing wrong? Thanks Connie
The three main causes of cakes sinking in the middle are as follows:
1 - the cake wasn't put straight in the oven as soon as the mixture was ready.
2 - the door was opened too soon before the cake has set.
3 - there was too much raising agent in the cake causing it to rise and then collapse.
Holes in the sponge can be caused by insufficient creaming of the sugar, butter and eggs. Or the oven being too high and too much raising agent being used.
I hope that helps. Happy baking and stay safe! Paul
Hey Paul, As a regular watcher of The Great Baking Show I noticed that all the bakers weigh ingredients instead of measuring them. Is there a significance to this practice? Hope you're having an awesome day. Thanks Mia from the US
Hi Mia, Thanks for your message and thanks for watching the show. I always weigh ingredients using digital scales. For me they are an essential piece of my kitchen kit. It's more accurate and helps create the perfect bake. Happy baking and stay safe!
Hi Paul, Good afternoon, my husband uses your recipe to make a bloomer loaf quite often. Because of the situation at the moment I am unable to buy any quick action yeast, I did manage to find some dried active yeast but of course it has to be activated. How would the recipe differ? Thank you. Sue
Hi Sue ,
When using dried active yeast it needs reactivating. For 500g of strong flour use 1tbsp of dried active yeast, 1 tsp sugar and 150ml warm water. You need to dissolve the sugar in the water then add the yeast and stir well. Leave for 10-15 min then use with the additional water from the recipe. Enjoy, happy baking and stay safe!
I would love to make a Chocolate Yule Log for Christmas, but I am afraid it will crack on rolling. What are your best tips for success? Thanks Sarah
If you are making a roulade as the base for the yule log it will crack a little as it is a flourless sponge. To minimise the cracking I always cover the roulade with a damp tea towel whilst it is cooking. Happy baking and Merry Christmas! Paul
Hi Paul, I hope you are keeping well in this current troubled time. I'm new to baking and have used sachets of dried yeast but today I was given a wedge of fresh yeast! But now I have a few questions. How do I store it? Can I freeze it? How do I use it in comparison to the sachets? Stay safe and many thanks. Graeme Lee
Hi Graeme, Fresh yeast can be stored in the fridge for 3 weeks. You can freeze it but the results are not as good and you may need to increase the amount you use from frozen. If you using fresh yeast you need 3 times the weight of dried. So if the recipe says 7g dried yeast you need 21g of fresh yeast. Enjoy, happy baking and stay safe!
Hi Paul, Is it possible to make bread without salt? Thanks
Hi, Yes this is possible, but it will effect the taste and structure of the loaf. Salt has two functions, not only does it add flavour, but it also inhibits the growth of the yeast. This slows down the rising process allowing the gluten to strengthen and give the bread a better crumb and crust. You only use 1-2 tsp of salt per 500g of flour. Which is a very small amount once the loaf is baked and sliced. Enjoy, happy baking and stay safe!
Annie from London asks:
Hi Paul, I am on my school holidays and am planning to do lots of baking. One of my favourite recipes is your banana and chocolate bread, it’s the best banana bread recipe I have tried. I want to bake a loaf to take to my family next week and wondered if it can be frozen. Thanks Annie
Hi Annie, I am so glad you like the recipe and are enjoying baking during your holidays. Yes my recipe can easily be frozen. Simply bake as the recipe says and then once baked and cooled completely, simply wrap it in baking paper and a food bag and pop in the freezer. Enjoy & Happy Baking!
Nancy from Canada asks:
Hi Paul, I have tried twice to make sourdough and the basic bread recipe from your book. Everything works fine until the final rise where they become a wet sloppy mess that spreads! What am I doing wrong? Thanks Nancy
Hi Nancy, Sorry that you have been struggling with bread making. I would suggest that you reduce the amount of water you add by 10%. I have found that different brands of flour absorb different amounts of water so by reducing it at the final prove it should be more stable. Best of luck & Happy Baking!
Hi Paul, my friend and I made a sourdough loaf today using your recipe. It tasted delicious and had a really good crust, but it was a bit dense. Can you please give us some tips on how to make it a bit more open in texture? Would greatly appreciate your advice. Thanks Carol
Hi Carol, I am so glad you that you tried the recipe and that you enjoyed the taste. To get a more open structure you need a wetter dough. Although this is harder to work with you will find that the structure will be more to your liking. Give it a go and fingers crossed you will see a difference. Happy Baking!
More baking basics
Here are some of my top tips to ensure your bakes are perfect every time.