Although you may have selected a good flour and the rest of your materials may be first class in every respect, it is still possible to make a failure of your bread. Now to avoid making a failure after a selection of good materials, it will be necessary to guard against such troubles as sour bread, spots in bread and ropey places in bread, each will be dealt with separately and the cause of each and how to avoid the cause.
Sour bread is by far the most frequent cause of poor bread stuffs.
There are several causes of sourness.
1st. The cook or housewife will make her dough in a bowl or vessel that has some old dough or other foreign matter in it which has become sour, the dough soon takes up this sourness and once in the dough it works rapidly and the result is your bread stuffs is not good, it is more or less sour. To avoid this sourness thoroughly clean the bowl or vessel and give it a good airing.
2nd. In making your dough you will get it too warm thus causing the yeast cells to work so rapidly that they work themselves to death, then sourness takes place and your bread stuff is sure to be a failure. To avoid this all that is necessary is to be careful and not get your dough too warm, dough should be made luke warm in summer and blood warm in winter. A little practice and being careful is all that is necessary to get the temperature right, it is easy to learn and you will soon get it.
3rd. In making the dough you get it too cold, and then set it close to the fire leaving one side of it to the fire too long, it getting too warm, the yeast cells in the warm dough work themselves to death causing sourness to start up, then when you work up your dough to make it into loaves you work the sour dough all through the other dough, consequently your bread is sour in places. To avoid this do not let one side of your dough stay towards the fire but turn your bowl or vessel around a little every once and awhile.
Spots in bread are caused either from the dough getting too warm in one place as just described, causing sour bread in spots, but in case of spots the dough gets so sour that it turns dark, or in mixing you do not thoroughly mix, leaving hard lumps in the dough, the yeast cells do not have much affect on these lumps consequently they do not whiten or get soft and the result is lumps in your bread. To avoid spots treat same as to avoid sourness and mix dough thoroughly.
The cause of rope in bread is still puzzling many good bakers, but after careful study it is found to be more or less caused from the flour, therefore if you are bothered with rope in your bread the best thing to do is to try a new brand of flour.