No Oven Spring
(Originally posted this earlier today as a reply on another thread but have been advised to re-post it here for better visibility).....
Hi Guys... My wife and I moved to Indonesia (islands of Bali & Lombok) a year ago and I've been trying to make SD as its little available in Bali and not at all in Lombok. (As are most of even the simplest things we are used to having in our USA kitchens - either extremely hard to find or simply not available here!) I’ve spent several months now attempting to correct my low oven spring - all to little avail.
Here's my (3rd World) Odyssey....
1. I have one of the few gas ovens here in Lombok (I bought it for bread making) as most Indo's only use stove-top gas burners. From day 1 bread was pale and not browning so.
a. Started using a thick 18" x 18" marble stone - no change.
b. Suspected low oven temp and got an oven thermometer (yup... temp on full Hi maxing out only 300 (-) F!
c. Started using broiler too for last 10 minutes of 1 hr preheat and now can get to 500 F! (Turn it off a few minutes before loading loaf as, even using lowest rack, top overcooks if I leave broiler on). Okay... so now I can start at around 460 - 475 F after opening/loading bread and temp drop after loaf loading is no less than to 450 -460 F which I can maintain w/out turning broiler on again - (close enough for government work.)
--- (Mising my Thermador!) ---
2. Flour supply is limited here. Found one supplier ("Bogasari") and made some nice masonry products. Found a different Bogasari flour (this time a "Bread Flour" according to label - no other info on content. Continued making bricks. Found a 3rd (local) flour - same result.
3. Made same recipe many times (not switching as attempting to rule out issues one by one and wanted fewest variables @ time). Finally gave up on original recipe and used David's "Unoriginal" adaptation of Susan from SD recipe (thanks S & D!) and tried both retarding before bulk ferm, retarding after bulk ferm (i.e. after various proofing times of - 1/2 hr; & 1 hr; & 2 hrs); and also w/out retarding - no real change in oven spring , regardless. Tried baking retarded loafs cold from frig and also allowing more proof time before baking. Boules continued to look like steroidal pancakes.
4. Spent a day searching for and finally found some crazy looking grey parchment (thanks Bill from Carrefour!) in my attempt to lessen handling by using a paper peel. Started using a banneton thinking that containing the dough while proofing might help keep shape and thus better spring. (I'm making smallish boules and using a 7" wide bowl with good shape & fabric liner (an old T Shirt!) with good helping of rice flour/bread flour mix - works fine. A bit less horizontal "rise" and a touch more height to loaves but still disappointing looking 2 1/2 inch high pancakes.
5. Decided flour may be the issue so travelled to Bali and visited several bakeries. Found "Sriboga" "Hime" flour (www.Sriboga-FlourMill.com) with "Mositure <14%"; "Protein - Min 12.5%"; "Dry Gluten - 12-13%"; "Ash - Max .46%" (great!!). Had to buy minimum 25 kilo sack so also bought a vacuum sealer and a small freezer so I could store it long-term. Loaves look a little better with new flour but still a disappointing 3" or so high and nowhere near the SD I used to make years ago.
--- (Laughing now...) ---
6. Starter (100% hydration) seemed fine but turned my attention there. Started a 2nd batch to use as a control (this time with both addition of both a little organic ww and some organic whole grain ww flour as well as a bit of rye to make sure I got good mama critters in 2nd batch . Both batches look really healthy - doubling or tripling in about 8 hours or less depending on feeding and temp. Changed my feeding from 1:1:1 (S:W:F) to 1:2:2 to make sure starter was good and active (and peaking) at time of incorporation into dough mix. Added about 10% Rye for next 10 days or so of feeding original starter to give it an extra bump. Both look happy as clams - lots of activity, good bubbles, perfect smell not over or under fed or used at off-peak and both performing similarly in breads -so ruling out starter.
7. Using bottled water only and scrupulously careful with sterility of prep utensils and starter containers. Tired 2 different bottled waters. No change.
8. Tried a variety of mixing methods (bought only mixer I could find in Bali with bread hook - 2 funny looking hook/"screws" - but works well enough. Compared hand mix to machine mix - with varying lengths of gluten development & mix times with both methods. Tried autolysing and not autolysing for various times after initial mix. Do let dough rest a few minutes after bulk F and first gentle forming into rounds (before final careful/gentle shaping into boules).
9. Tried bread pans to "force" more vertical rise. Still little oven spring (see comparison photos of last ones)
10. Got a thermometer which measures both inside temp and humidity. A bit high at 81 F so adjusted room temp with AC during bulk & proof to about 78 F which should be fine.
11. Played with a few different fold techniques (used number/times David called for in his recipe first, then tried more and less folds - always doing my best to handle dough very gently at all stages - without loss of gaseousness from bulk and/or proof ferments. No real change.
12. Played with a few different stretching techniques for final boule shaping. No change.
13. Adjusted both bulk and proof times up and down, hoping I was overproofing. No change (rats.... really hoped that was the culprit!)
14. Made sure my water temp and flour temp were good (was using the flour from freezer without letting it come to room temp first) - stopped doing that. Same results
15. Switched to Susan from SD's "My New Favorite Sourdough" recipe (July 8, 2007) thanks again S! A bit quicker and easier prep on this recipe (vs. David's marvelous 3 build protocol) Still have spring issue!
16. Have tried both "magic" cover technique and various others (pan of hot water in bottom of oven, spraying with mister, etc.) No change.
---- (Note slashes - no ears, just ragged scars that did nothing (I'm thinking probably the result of so little spring) ---
Tried various baking regimes (including on the stone w/out pan) - settled on this one as easy to get from banetton to oven with least handling.
So much trial and error... so little spring!
17. Bought a new oven but have not had time plumb & install it (in our other/Bali house) - will try but doubt it’s the issue.
I am plumb out of ideas on how to fix this. So disappointing - not used to this kind of baking failure. Any ideas anyone?
PS: Got a few suggestions on my original post (elswhere) so moving the following 2nd post here too:
Thanks so much for your suggestion - most appreciated. It's interesting because in looking at my post pictures I noticed that the only large holes in the bread were at the top of BOTH loaves. So...I did and "autopsy" (or maybe it was a crustectomy?...[smile]) on those two loaves (one a boule and the other made in a loaf pan) to see if it was coincidence or not. I discovered that it is in fact consistent through the entirety of both loaves - big bubbles at near the tops (and lots of them), none very far below that - anywhere else in either loaf. Leads me to think you are right and that, despite my experiments with shorter fermentation periods, they are in fact still over-proofed. Does this logic make sense - that the loaves have in fact deflated(i.e. the larger bubbbles/holes which might have been in the dough earlier during proofing have collapsed due to the relatively greater weight of the (more) dough above, and thus only the upper bubbles/holes made it through to the finished loaves? If so, my guess is that too long a proofing (not bulk fermentation) is the culprit. Anyone else have any thoughts on this?