The Fresh Loaf

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Amylase helps the crust?

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SpartanArtisanWantabe's picture
SpartanArtisanW...

Amylase helps the crust?

I have been wondering why my bread crusts were coming out pale. After discovering that using a shorter preferment time gave me better crusts. I speculated that the starter and dough were consuming all the sugars before the bake. After reading a lot about enzymes and amylase processes and generating the amylase enzymes to break down the starches I decided to give the dough a chance to amylase before adding the preferment. I had been trying to short cut the cleanup by just adding additional water and flour to my preferment letting it rest and then add in the salt. But.... it appears that mixing the flour and water seperately gives the amylase enzymes a chance to develop and convert more of the starches into sugars leaving more left over for crust formation and carmelization.


Does this make sense or am I off base here?


How long does it take to fully develop the sugars in flour?


Could the acids in the sourdough preferment be inhibitting the amylase enzyme processes when adding the flour and water directly to the preferment?


I was pleased with the results in the attached pictures. This bread is free shaped and baked on a stone with no additives just starter, flour, water and salt.



Chuck's picture
Chuck

While I don't know one way or the other about your amylase theory, my own personal opinion is you're making this way too complicated.


Each recipe author has their own preference for crust color; crust colors from various recipes can vary greatly. It's up to you to modify the recipe a little bit to produce the crust color that's right for you. What you consider "too light" crusts may in fact be what the recipe author intended, and it's now up to you to tweak it a little bit.


If your crust colors seem to be off consistently -and especially if your crumb often seems "underdone" too- check your oven temperature with a separate oven thermometer that you can buy for a few dollars (be sure to take multiple readings and find the "middle"; just one reading can be very misleading). The number on the oven controls is frequently off, often by 50F or sometimes even more, even on "brand new" ovens.


One quick way to "tune" crust color without changing anything else is to change the baking time one way and the baking temperature the opposite way so the two changes mostly cancel out. For example instead of 20 minutes at 450F, try 30 minutes at 400F. If you get it right, nothing much will change except the crust color.


A second quick way to "tune" crust color a little darker is by adding either some sugar/honey or some  malt (either diastatic, which also affects the texture, or non-diastatic, which affects the color and maybe the flavor but not the texture).


Yet another way to "tune" crust color or texture or appearance is with washes. An egg wash before the loaf goes in the oven will make the crust darker, the same wash used for just the last few minutes of baking may make the crust shiny, and so forth.


And to make a crust lighter without changing anything else, "brute force" may be the method of choice. Specifically, just cover the top of the loaf with tinfoil for the last part of the bake.

SpartanArtisanWantabe's picture
SpartanArtisanW...

Good tips for tuning the crust color to match ones preferences. I tried some of these and none were work working for me. The crust was coming out pale no matter how long or hot I seemed to bake it. Based on some research and other threads here I think that the yeasts in the starter were consuming the majority of the sugars available to them and leaving little to carmalize in the crust development. Addiing the sugar/honey/malt would definately make more sugars available for carmalization and you are right that is probably a much simpler fix. I am discovering that getting there without adding sugars is more complicated. I think when I can get enough remaining sugars in place in proofed loaves then I can play with temperature and time to determine how much carmalization or browning happens.

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

Hi,


at room temperature it takes a lot of time to break down a good amount of starches, assuming the flour has a good  enzimatic activity (that is not always the case). A too acidic environment inhibits amylase activity, so the sourdough won't help.


You bread is already very nice, but if you want to run a test mix together all the salt with the water and the flour that didn't go in the preferment, then let rest at room temperature for 12 hours (or however it takes for the preferment to ripen) and finally proceed mixing everything together as usual.


Adding some rye flour in the salted dough helps, too (it has a lot of active enzymes).


Salt will inhibit proteolitic activity and save your dough from becoming a glue, while still permitting amylase to do its job.

SpartanArtisanWantabe's picture
SpartanArtisanW...

So the amylase enzymes in the rye will add to those in the flour and help break down the starches into sugars, and the salt will inhibit the protiens from being broken down during the long rest on the counter? Proteolitic activity is a new term to me but I am assuming this has something to do with breaking down the protiens and preventing good gluten formation.

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

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