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Potato-yeast bread: too doughy, not enough flavor

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mrh224's picture
mrh224

Potato-yeast bread: too doughy, not enough flavor

Hey guys,

I've been studying in NZ and my recent boyfriend is a Maori who has discussed his love for Rewana Bread or bread made with potato yeast that is a local specialty.  Similar to a sourdough, this bread uses a starter: 1 cup water, peeled potato, 1 tsp sugar, and some flour.  Over the next three days you feed it potato water and sugar, and Ive been throwing in a bit of flour to help maintain the batter like texture.  My "bug" as its called here is about 5 days old, bubbly, and it looks like all the pictures online say it should, plus it has the nice yeasty smell that it should.  Now, when I take my bug and add it to flour and a bit of salt I got rock hard bread with a sourdough tang.  The next time I tried, I included lukewarm potato water and some sugar to help give it the hydration and rise it desperately needed.  After an overnight rise I put my bread in at 175 C for about 45 min.  The top is golden brown, and quite crisp.  The underside is white and squishy, and of course tastes doughy, no sourdough tang at all.  (Note: traditionally this bread is baked in a tin, but I have been baking it in a round glass baking dish because that's all I have.) The bread did rise and has plenty of holes, so I don't think my starter is at fault, but I'm not sure what to try next.  

Do I lower the temp? I read that maybe I can put it lower in the oven... cook it longer... idk.  Any help would be appreciated

 

Mirko's picture
Mirko

is very hard to help you without to know your recipe, mixing time, bulk fermentation and final fermentation.....

But 175°C sound very low, I baking my bread at 235°C for app. 40 min.

Mirko

mrh224's picture
mrh224

My recipe:

3 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup starter, 1 cup potato water, 2 tbs sugar= soft dough that does not hold shape, and shouldn't bc its supposed to be cooked in a tin.  I kneaded my dough for about 10 min, proofed it in my oven at a very low temp (covered in the glass dish which has a lid) from 8:30/9 to 6:45 am (apprx 10 hrs)

However, after talking to the pastry chef at work today, I have decided to buy a metal tin instead of glass, which apparently needs more heat to cook through.  Fortunately the crumb looks good, so all I think I'm going to do is up the temp, and switch pans.  She also suggested I up the temp in the beginning and make it quite hot, then turn it down a bit later.  What do you think?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Flour requires some salt, but the potato as well.  

A batter recipe then.  

Tell us more.  Got a "bug" link?

mrh224's picture
mrh224

Yes, there is 1/2 tsp salt.. sorry I forgot to mention... I have been getting information from the pros though.. apparently I need equal parts bug and flour, so all I need to do is increase the amount of bug I use.  

http://curiouskai.blogspot.co.nz/2007/01/rewena-bread-beginning.html

http://curiouskai.blogspot.co.nz/2007/01/rewena-bread-conclusion.html (my bug looks like this one!!!!)

Here are two blog posts from a maori girl learning from her mom.  First one is about the bug, second is about the bread.  This blog has the most information about it that I have found.

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

it sounds as though the problem lies in the baking, not in the making.  Nor do I think that the glass dish is the problem; people regularly use glass loaf pans with great success..

Some ideas for your consideration:

1. The real temperature inside the oven may be quite different than the set temperature.  Rarely does an oven produce the set temperature exactly.  Almost all ovens have some variation; some are off by as much as 20-30C.  And temperatures vary from one location to another inside an oven.  So, buy an inexpensive oven thermometer and check your oven's temperature, as compared to the set temperature.  You may find that your oven's actual temperatures are something less than the set temperature.

2.  Without knowing specifics of your oven, I can't say with certainty that it produces more heat from an upper heating element than it does from a lower heating element.  The coloring suggests that it may.  Or, perhaps the baking dish should be set on a rack closer to the bottom of the oven than in your previous bakes.

3. Check the internal temperature of the loaf to help estimate doneness.  An inexpensive instant-read thermometer will let you check the temperature at the center of the loaf.  For this style bread, something in the 90-95C range ought to be close.  You can experiment to find the sweet spot.

4. This suggestion has nothing to do with the baking.  Try introducing another fermentation cycle between kneading and shaping the bread.  This fermentation / rise / proof (often called bulk proof or bulk fermentation) should proceed until the dough has doubled in volume.  When it reaches that stage, gently degas it, shape the loaf, and then let the dough nearly double in volume a second time (aka final proof) before baking.  Letting the dough go through the bulk fermentation and final proof helps build flavor and prevents the crumbliness that seems to affect breads which have just one rise.  Since doubling in volume is difficult to gauge in a bowl, put the dough in a container with straight vertical sides for the bulk fermentation.  You can mark the starting position and the level that is twice that height so that you can see when the dough has indeed doubled in volume.  You will have to eyeball the final proof, since you can't do that in a straight-sided container.  However, the finger poke test will help you ascertain whether the dough is under- or over-proofed, or proofed just right.

Best of luck with your future bakes.

Paul

mrh224's picture
mrh224

Thanks for taking the time to be thorough... I will definitely consider doing some of these things next time I make bread.  Hopefully it turns out :)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

remove a small portion (it contains the multi-culti bacteria and yeast you waited days to grow) and feed it potato water/sugar and flour.  Add enough flour to make a soft dough.  Let it start to rise and when about half way risen, chill it.   It's good in a few days and then use all or part of it into a potato bread recipe or the recipe given.  Save some to feed or twist some dough off the resulting loaf to let rise part way and store in the fridge.   The article talks about the flavour not being right, but I think that will improve as it is used and refreshed just like an "old dough" or "pate fermente" recipe.  

The links are all too familiar in getting a sourdough culture growing and the problems involved with early bacteria growth and fake death (low activity) after such a growth.  Once the starter is growing, keep in mind it is a live culture and it multiplies and runs out of food.  When first fed it is mild, and as fermentation progresses the aromas and flavours get stronger.  Activity is slow to be seen but when the bacteria and yeast reach large numbers, their collective activity shows up in the gas coming off them.  This gas raises the dough.  When you pinch off a section of dough for the next loaf, it is important that that dough piece (now a starter again) is allowed to ferment, reaching or coming close to a peak of activity before adding more water and flour.  If the dough starter is mild and flat looking with low activity, let it ferment more before diluting(feeding/mixing/increasing the size) of it.  Add salt to the dough (for baking) after pinching off a dough starter to save for the future.