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Trouble with crumb structure on high hydration sourdough loaf

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Daniel Rennal's picture
Daniel Rennal

Trouble with crumb structure on high hydration sourdough loaf

So I've only recently been experimenting with high hydration loaves, and have had mostly good results.  The loaf I baked last night, however, was not the best.  It definitely lacked on oven spring, and the crumb was way too closed and spongy.   I didn't write everything down this time, but so far as I remember I made the leaven at about 1 AM, which was 50 G starter, 150 G all purp flour (heartland mills), and 150 gram king arthur whole wheat.   When I checked it at 10:30 AM the leaven was active and floated in water.   I made enough dough for two fairly large boules by mixing 1150 grams of flour ( a mixture of all purpose flour, bread flour, whole wheat, and a little coarse rye,) and 850 grams water, coming out to about a 74 percent hydration, not including the leaven...which I used 220 grams of.   I let the dough bulk ferment while stretching and folding during the first few hours for seven hours total, then I let one loaf (the one the in picture,) rise at room temperature for 3 and a half hours and baked it that night, the other loaf proofed in the refridgerator for about 18 hours and was immediately thrown in the oven....it looks slightly better, but probably isn't a whole lot better.   Any suggestions?  I'm thinking this may have overproofed...causing the tight crumb structure, or just not enough practice shaping wet dough...

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tchism's picture
tchism

was over proofing but loaf formation could also be playing a part. Higher hydration can be tough to get good formation.

 

Daniel Rennal's picture
Daniel Rennal

Thanks!   Yeah I figured I was probably over proofing, I guess it's always better to be too soon than too late with these doughs.  

Maureen Farndell's picture
Maureen Farndell

Hi Daniel. I always make 75% hydration and use a dutch oven (cast iron pot) and that works very well and the crumb looks very much like yours so I'm not so sure that yours has anything "wrong" with it. I think the crumb looks super soft and spongy and the at the end of the day....... if it tastes good thats what counts. If you figure out how to get a more "hole-y" crumb at a high hydration level I would be very happy to hear it 'cause I have also been trying. 

(humph!...... still think it looks good!)

golgi70's picture
golgi70

All things considered.  I don't think its your hydration that caused any problem,  which comes at about 76% but with all that whole grain I don't think that's too high.  You did though only pre ferment 8 percent of the total flour which is a bit on the low side.  I suppose that is why your bulk ferment took 7 hours opposed to say 3 or 4.  

The crumb structure actually looks quite good from what I can see.  How much of the total flour was white and how much was wheat/rye?  All in all if you want the really large open fluffy crumb you just won't get it once your adding  a significant amount of whole grain.  But in return you get superior flavor to a white dough.  If you tell more of the flour proportions there could be more to be said.  

All in all I think its a fine looking loaf of bread

Josh

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I let the dough bulk ferment while stretching and folding during the first few hours for seven hours total, then I let one loaf (the one the in picture,) rise at room temperature for 3 and a half hours

I think I would have added some more folds before the final proof.  Letting the dough final proof for 3.5 hrs seems too long without folding to maintain shape unless the room was rather cold.  Try reversing the rise letting it first rise ferment for a longer period of time and as the dough starts to rise,  start in on folding regularly.

I tend to think of sourdoughs as one long rise with a lot of little folding interruptions.  Letting the dough just rise without any structural help while the gas is accumulating is inviting it to relax too much.  Folding becomes more important as the dough ferment progresses.  Keep an eye on the original (flat) dough size and compare to it as the dough rises and folds are added.  The last rise should not double as compared to the previous fold but to the original lump.  If the dough tries to tear during folding, stop, rest 10 min and then finish shaping the loaf for a smooth stretched surface. 

The retarded loaf could have also used another fold either before or shortly after chilling.  This is what is meant by sourdoughs requiring more "hands on" than instant yeast loaves.  Sourdoughs tend to stretch and become more fluid with the fermentation, much more so than non-sour doughs.

The loaf crust is nicely browned all around so the oven placement looks good.  Try folding more but be gentle, that ought to help.  

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

as preferment  25g in the starter+150 AP + 150 WW = 325 g  plus 1150 g in nteh dough = 1475 g flour total 325/1475 = 22%  So I donlt think that is a poblem being too low.  i think Johsh had a Lucy Math Freeze :-)  Like Josh i donlt get you 7 hours of bulk ferment on the counter either.  Did your starter double in 6 hours?.  Hydration seems fine for somemuch whole grain in teh nix.  Your crumb looks like mine does with 30% whole grains and an 18 hour retard right after shaping.  Looks fine to me.  What was the spring and bloom like?

Happy Baking

golgi70's picture
golgi70

But I read down where he mentioned using 220 g levain in final dough along with 1150 more flour.  So I assumed the levain was 100% hydration.  Looking back its hard to know because he says the levain is made up of 50 g starter 150 ap and 150 wheat but no water is specified.  If it was 220 starter at 100% then total flour of 1260/110= .0873 or 8.7 %.  

That's how I got to my math results but now that I look back I assumed 100% hydrated starter and its not specified.

Bread Looks Good to me

Josh

Daniel Rennal's picture
Daniel Rennal

Thanks for the input guys, I'll take these all into consideration on my next bake for sure.   I guess I can be a little bit more specific.  For one, there was water in the leaven...300 grams, forgot to put that in there, although I'm sure you assumed it was a typo.   In the past I've only let the dough bulk ferment for 4 or 5 hours at the most, but that was with my house being around 76 degrees...my house was around 70 this time so I tried to take that into account while at same time trying to feel and smell the dough to tell when it was ready.   There was probably only a total of 200 grams stone ground whole wheat, maybe 150 rye, a few hundred grams white bread flour, and the rest was all purpose flour.  The oven spring on the loaf that proofed at room temp was only okay, it was one of those moments when I sighed slightly while removing the top of the la cloche.   The loaf that slow proofed in the refrigerator did quite a bit better in the oven, immediately springing up and beautiful color on the crust (also a bit more open in the crumb, which I think is due to the cold rise.)  I'm trying to figure out how to send more pictures to my computer...sorry, new at the photography thing...I'll see if I can get the rest of the pictures up...definitely more happy with the second loaf though...but also feel much better about the first after reading your comments!  thanks.