The Fresh Loaf

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What is wrong with my crust??

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CB85's picture
CB85

What is wrong with my crust??

Ok, sorry about constantly asking questions here...I feel bad with the constant questions and never answering anything! But I am hoping for help with this "problem". I am starting to get my sourdough bread almost to where I am almost starting to be happy with it...except the appearance of the crust. The bread tastes good and the crust is good and the oven spring is good and everything, but the just looks so...odd. Ashy gray almost, and dull and almost wrinkly. 

I have been spraying the bread with a mister during baking (for about the first 10 minutes) and I thought that maybe I was overspraying so today I did it a little differently and just steamed the bread with a cast iron pan and water (for about the first 12 minutes.) The steam wasn't too impressive so I did spray the bread very lightly once. The crust is a little better...but not great. And the part that really looks better is where I sprayed the bread! 

I also considered that maybe I was overproofing the bread. My final rise has been in the fridge at about 42 degrees for usually almost 22 hours. It doesn't appear overproofed but I thought maybe the dough being cold was making it firmer, and it was actually overproofed. So today I reduced the final proof by about 5 hours...didn't seem to make much of an improvement. 

I am using the Vermont Sourdough recipe...with a little added rye flour, but light rye, not whole grain. I even considered that this might be the crust issue, but I really don't think it is.

If I can get a good enough photo of the crust that shows the detail I will try  to post it, but until then, any ideas?

 

gnglueck's picture
gnglueck

I experienced this a few times and if I'm understanding your problem correctly I think you may be over kneading your dough. Not sure, but I do know that if you are useing any kind of pre ferment wether it be sourdough or an old dough method you have to be careful not to over mix your dough especially if you are using a kitchen aid mixer or similar machine. I recommend kneading doughs with pre ferments for a maximum of 8 min. with a dough hook usually 4 on a low speed then 4 on a medium speed. If you knead by hand this shouldn't be a problem at all...Also you should let your dough come to room temp before placing in the oven. Hope this helps....

Happy Baking!

CB85's picture
CB85

this is one thing I hadn't considered, so it is worth a try to work with that a bit. I do usually mix with my kitchen aid mixer...and I follow that up with stretch and folds too...maybe too many. Now that you are saying that, I do remember one loaf I made a while ago before I noticed this problem. Incidentally I hand mixed that loaf and I remember remarking at how good the crust was on that one. Thanks for the idea!

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

corrected pretty easily.  Dough at 42 F for 20 odd hours is pretty long.  I do 36 F for 18 hours and that  is stretching it in the summer.  When the bread is out of sugar is is pale.  In order for the labs and yeast not to run out of food you can put some white malt in the mix.  The added enzymes will break the protein bonds ad ,make plenty of food available.  Red malt will give the crust color.   3 g each should do the trick and talke that problem away.  But steam and temperature are usually the culprits.  Preheat to 500 F and turn it down to 460 F,2 minutes after loading the dough Then bake with mega steam for 13 more minutes. 

Use 2 of Sylvia's steaming pans, half full of water with dish towels rolled up in them and a 12" CI skillet with lava rocks half full of water  Make sure that you allow the oven to come to 500F and then 15 minutes for the stone to get there as well since it lags the oven temperature.  Make sure you are baking to 205 F in the middle of the bread too.

Happy baking,

CB85's picture
CB85

The crust isn't pale at all...it's pretty dark. Its as if there is a white/gray haze over the top almost! Like a crackly, bumpy haze. 

But I can see that I am being too super conservative with the steam! Wow! :)

CB85's picture
CB85

I cut the proofing time down to about 12 hours in the fridge...and the crust does look a little better. I also used the pan for steaming and sprayed the loaves a bit. Unfortunately, I also either hydrated too much or maybe didn't develop the gluten properly, not sure which, but the loaves are a bit flat. AND I slashed too deep. Normally I don't care about this kind of thing but I am supposed to be making this loaf for a friend. They probably won't notice the flaws...but I will!

phaz's picture
phaz

cut back proofing time a little more. I think as the crust gets better, the flatness should follow.  you may still be over proofing a bit.  for steam, I usually throw a half to 3/4 cup of water in a broiler pan set on the bottom of the oven.  that will last about 5 minutes, and when gone, another half to 3/4  cup water.  that should keep the crust soft for  the first 10 to 15 minutes of the bake and get some blistering of the crust.  you're almost there!

CB85's picture
CB85

that I am still over proofing, but I don't think that is why it was flat. I have made this recipe a bunch of times already, usually proofing a lot longer, and i usually get a lot more volume and oven spring, than I did this time. There are two reasons I think the loaf was so flat. One being that I usually stretch and fold a couple more times than I did this time. Secondly, and I realized this after I posted, I think the final starter build might not have been quite ready to use in the bread yet. I had to pop it in the fridge a couple hours to help my mother with some errands, and I think maybe I didn't let it  go quite long enough.

Thank you so much for the help! I will try this bread again tomorrow/saturday, and I hope it all comes together this time!!

CB85's picture
CB85

No, I definitely messed up more than the crust here...I just cut the loaf. It was waaay denser and chewier than usual. I don't know. I'm going to have to have another try....

CB85's picture
CB85

I cut the proof time down to 15 hours and I used a steam pan and sprayed the loaves a bit. The crust is a good color (except for the haze). The oven spring was really good, except that it looked like i may have underproofed a tad (bit too much of a tear in the slashes) but not too bad. The crust is at least pretty smooth this time but the haze is still there. I am going to go with I am not steaming the bread properly and see if a bigger steam pan helps?

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

This might be the problem with crust haze.  You can spray anything else but not the bread.  Put a kitchen towel in the pan with the water as you preheat .  This will put ofgf plenty of steam.

CB85's picture
CB85

That could be the problem...as I ALWAYS spray it! Thanks, I can't wait until "next time" to try this! 

BreadBro's picture
BreadBro

I used to have this problem. Originally, I would steam my breads by pouring some boiling water into a pan, and then spray the walls of the oven with a mister 3 times every 2 minutes. This would produce the same effect you're describing - bread covered with a dusty, grey haze. 

I changed my method to dumping boiling water into a pot and then immediately closing the oven without opening it for a full ten minutes. This fixed the problem. Looking back, I think the water hitting the loaf caused the crust to turn pale.

CB85's picture
CB85

The first method you described is pretty much exactly what I do!

I will try the new method...soon! Thank you!