The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

The science behind oven spring?

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hamletcat's picture
hamletcat

The science behind oven spring?

Some of my loaves I seem to be able to get a good oven spring from and others I can't.  When I accidentally overproof the dough noticeable by a slight decline in rise before baking, the loaf collapses even more.  And sometimes the rise is fine but in the oven I get no oven spring; the loaf stay the same size as it did before going in.  I know these are two separate issues, but what exactly is the science behind getting an oven spring?  How does it work exactly?  

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

the temperature of their maximum activity (releasing even more gases than during proofing), then they die, but in the meantime gases expand and make the bread swell. Of course if the gluten sheeth is already compromised any attempt to expand it may (and very likely will) make it break.

BetsyMePoocho's picture
BetsyMePoocho

hamletcat,

If you are using a recipe that you have had good "spring" in the past maybe check your yeast for freshness.

Otherwise watch your rise times closely and how you shape your loafs.... i.e. are tensioning the dough's surface correctly, but not causing it to tear.

After the first rise is over I generally divide the dough and form into round tensioned balls being careful not to tear the surface.  Then allow about a 20 minuet relax/rest time and form whatever type loaf I am making.  Again tensioning the surface without tearing it.  Another rise then bake.

Here is an excellent video, I think, for forming/tensioning rounds, batards, and baguettes..... I'm certainly not implying  you don't know how, but just a suggestion.....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmxDKuGLWuE

Another thing you might check is the gluten formation of your dough.  Are you kneading the dough sufficiently? The formation of the gluten strands is what I've been told is the key to good "oven spring".  Does your dough after kneading pass the "window pane" test?  I really feel that, after proper ingredient percentages, kneading to form the gluten strands is critical.

I'd also suggest that it might help to revert back to a simple flour, water, salt, and yeast dough.  Keep baking it until you get results and repeatability that make you smile.  I've had to do that form time to time.... 

Below is a photo of a high-hydration Ciabatta that had good "puff" in the oven....

Keep on, keeping on....

 

 

yy's picture
yy

The two issues you mentioned are not at all two separate issues. It sounds you overproofed your dough in both cases, but to different extents.

When a loaf hits the oven, the gases trapped inside (that were released by fermentation) expand due to the heat, blowing up your loaf like a balloon. However, like a rubber balloon, your dough only has a certain amount of stretch in it before it tears, lets the gas inside escape, and deflates.

In the first case you mentioned, by overproofing your dough, you had already "blown up your balloons" fully (meaning you had allowed the fermentation to go on too long, collecting too much gas inside the dough - please forgive the dumb metaphor). Thus, in the oven, they popped, and your loaf deflated. In the second case, your "balloons" didn't have much more room to grow in the oven because they were already near their maximum capacity. As a result, they did not expand much further even after being exposed to high heat.

Next time, try proofing your loaf for a shorter amount of time, or, if you need to stick to the same schedule, decrease the amount of yeast in your recipe. It may take a few tries before you get the hang of when the right time is to bake. I would suggest searching something called the "poke test" here on TFL, which is a way you can gauge readiness by poking the dough with a finger.

hamletcat's picture
hamletcat

Thanks everybody.  This helps a lot.  That video is great.  Currently I am using my bread maker to do the initial mixing and gluten development.  The whole process takes about 2 hrs.  I then take it out and let it rise for about 12hrs.  I am wondering if I were to try shaping during the 12 hr rise sometime, at what point would I do that?  I guess what I am asking is how long do you let the dough rise before you shape it?  

WoodenSpoon's picture
WoodenSpoon

is entirely based on variables only you control, there is really no answer without knowing how much leavening agent you use, if its levain you use how mature it is, the temp of your kitchen the temp of your ingredients the temp of your fridge, what you plan to do with it after shaping ie proof and bake, pop it back in the fridge overnight..

BetsyMePoocho's picture
BetsyMePoocho

hamletcat,

Hummmmmm,,,, You are using a bread maker to do the initial mixing and kneading???  And the entire process takes about two hours???

Then you take the dough out of the bread maker and let it rise for twelve hours???  Is this rise on your kitchen counter?

1. There may some "rise" time in the two hours in the bread machine.  You should get your BM manual out and find out.  

2.  You should also get comfortable with the "windowpane" stretch test and check the dough when you take it out of the machine.  This will guide / help you determine if you actually have formed some gluten strands.

3. Then a twelve hour additional "rise"...... I really think that your dough has "expired" by now.  

Your real issue may be with using the bread machine.

I'd suggest using the same dough recipe, mix up a batch, hand knead it to form good gluten, do a 1 1/2 to 2 hour first rise, form a loaf, allow a 2nd rise for about 45 min to an hour, then just bake it.

Don't worry about steam or anything else.... this is just a base line test loaf.  It should tell you if your bread machine technique is the issue.

Hey, it might be a fun experiment....

 

 

 

hamletcat's picture
hamletcat

Thanks, I think I will try that and see how it turns out.  The reason I do a long rise is because I can't use sugar in my bread recipe.  I was just trying to make sure the yeast had enough time to work on the starch.

BetsyMePoocho's picture
BetsyMePoocho

hamlecat,

I might be wrong, my wife tells me I am most of the time, but I understand that, although sugar does contribute to dry yeast "wake-up" it is mainly for taste and/or color........ 

Reason I say that is all my ferments, either poolish or biga, are just flour and a tinny bit of dry yeast.  They will sit out on the kitchen counter over night (14~16 hrs) and the next morning they are always happy, happy, happy.

Please keep in mind that the little experiment I suggested yesterday is not to make the "dream" loaf, but just a test to find out if the bread machine is contributing to the issue you are having.  As many correct folks on this site have said there are a lot of variables based on your particular environment  to bread making.  

Have fun and keep climbing this vertical learning curve......

 

hamletcat's picture
hamletcat

Thanks.  I usually eat my mistakes anyways before I subject them to other people.  My BM is ready to die any day now anyways, and I want to try doing loaves by hand, so you've given me a good starting point.

BetsyMePoocho's picture
BetsyMePoocho

hamlecat,

Gotta say "you have a great attitude"...... I've also eaten bunches of mistakes... part of learning....  So I've been told.

Anyway, if the old bread machine is on it's way out.... think about getting something like a Kitchen Aide.  They are reasonably priced and do a good job as long as your recipe isn't huge or doing large quantities of bagels.  

I used one for years until I got a Hobart N50.  Just be sure to get a "Spiral Dough Hook".  Amazon offers them for both the N50 or KA 5quart models.

Stay happy.....