The Fresh Loaf

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loaves dry and crumbly

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Patf's picture
Patf

loaves dry and crumbly

I make white bread and wholemeal bread, and the last 6 months or so both have been dry and crumbly, with a space between the top crust and the crumb. I haven't changed anything in method or ingredients.

For the white I use Allinsons, and the wholemeal, Doves Farm organic.

For 1.5kg of flour, 4packs of dried yeast (32g)

I've tried using more oil (sunflower) but this hasn't made any difference.

Can anyone suggest a reason/remedy? I wonder if the quality of the flour has changed? Too much yeast?

My bread used to be rather more dense and chewy.

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Patf,

In practice, current UK flour is quite likely to have changed in the time period you mention, as the poor weather resulted in a dreadful wheat harvest in the UK last season.   This has meant a greater reliance on imported wheat in the grist of a typical UK bread flour this year.

The fault you describe may well come about because of a lack of development in the dough.   It also indicates excess final proof.

I'm not an expert in dried yeast, but generally work on active dried yeast needing half as much, and instant yeast a third as much as fresh yeast.   For fresh yeast in the bread types you list, you might look at 1.5 to 2.5%, so I suspect you have got too much yeast in your formula, yes.

Do you monitor your dough temperatures?   Control of this aspect would be a real help to you.

Best wishes

Andy

Cob's picture
Cob

Whoa!

That's an inordinate amount of yeast! You do not have to double, triple, whatever when baking with yeast. Remember yeast regenerates itself, quickly too, given happy conditions.

A top between the top crust coming away from the dough usually means it's overproved. To a lesser degree, it can also mean not enough tension created when you shaped the loaves, and so the gas isn't well redistributed. Last time I used a kg of flour, I used 1/4-1/2 tsp instant yeast for an overnight rise at RT.

I'm a bit sketchy, because I've never used 1.5kg flour, but a tsp instant yeast can over a kg of flour in good time. Are you happy to give your bread enough time to rise? If so, you can cut your yeast drastically so that it's equal to 1 tsp active for white bread, and for better flavour.

Over excessive yeast dries out the crumb, don't ask me why, but that's what Dan Lepard says. And by experience, I have found this very true.

As for WM loaves, now they do need more boost, so I would use a full yeast, but even then, not double yeast for double flour and so on. I've heard dried yeast is overestimated, so 7g instant yeast/15g fresh should be about 8g dried active.

You can cut yeast by good judgement/practise but that only comes with experience. Andrew Whiteley says between 2-10 kilos, yeast should be cut by a third, more than 10 kilos, more and by a half. That's the only rule of thumb I have with me.

If it were me, I would try 15g dried active to lift all that flour at RT but expect double the rising time at ambient temperature. And remember your final rise will be far quicker. If you do not have the time to wait for the first rise, have you considered a sponge-dough? This way half your flour (should be half at least) will be fully fermented, and you can happily let your dough rise normally after mixing knowing there is plentiful yeast in the sponge to feed on the new batch of flour.

Cob's picture
Cob

Oh and btw, I have used, as little as 1/4 tsp fresh yeast to lift 250g-500g white flour for 24 hours easily. I don't know what that is in terms of dried active, but that's an 1/8 tsp instant.

Patf's picture
Patf

for your replies. I did wonder about the flour quality, because I once used some cheap wholemeal flour from a well-known UK supermarket and the result was very crumbly.

As to the yeast - the type I have is Vahiné levure boulangère  (I'm in SW France) and it recommends one sachet to 500g flour. So I put another in to make sure! I'm afraid I'm impatient, which isn't a good quality for a breadmaker.

Also here the temperature of my kitchen varies from very hot as today, to below freezing in Jan/Feb.

I'm going to reduce the yeast, and perhaps try again the local farine complete, which is nothing like UK wholemeal, and weak in gluten.

I can get fresh yeast, but it's a long journey.

tgrayson's picture
tgrayson

Have you tried more water? The yeast is at 2%, which is fine.

Patf's picture
Patf

we tried more water, and it just resulted in a longer time to develop the strength of the dough.

Today we made some buns with orange juice instead of water, and they seem to have more of the texture we're looking for.

tgrayson's picture
tgrayson

How long is "a longer time"? What is your hydration percent?

The yeast percent is well within normal range; yes, better bread can be made with less yeast, but it isn't causing your particular problem.

Cob's picture
Cob

Yes, a baker need patience. But more than that, advanced planning. No one sits about watching dough to rise, thankfully. Bake regularly, or bake enough, and you know to 'put dough on' all the time.

More water should not take longer, in fact the opposite. Yeast likes sloppy, wet conditions. I would disagree, I would reduce the yeast because you are making a bulk dough.

I actually prefer drier (made with less water) WM loaves, but they seem to prefer sloppier conditions too.

But, yeast does have a drying, desiccating effect on dough. Cut the yeast, and the water retention should improve. Also a wickedly good addition is rice flour, or some freshly made, or instant, mashed potato flakes or even potato flour for ease. Substitute 10-20% of the wheat flour. They have a humectant effect on dough, holding moisture extremely well in a crumb.

Your french flour could be cut with Canadian to give your dough boost. "Crumbly" is definitely a feature of softer british and french flours. Is it at least 12% protein?

Patf's picture
Patf

i might try that, thanks . You can buy it in the supermarkets here.

But first I'm going to try reducing the yeast.

Cob's picture
Cob

Patf,

You can use fresh mashed potato, even leftovers. Just watch the salt/butter/milk/cream in the leftovers though and take that into account. It works really well. And no, leaves absolutley no flavour if used in low amounts.

Must comment, 2% yeast is cool for supermarket, mass produced bread made to a tight timescale where flavour is of minimal priority. And I believe the 2% figure refers to fresh yeast, not dried active, which is double the strength. In truth, patf is using 4% yeast. In the making of sweet, enriched dough, it would be permissible for such a lot of yeast.