The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Too much oven spring

  • Pin It
PeterPiper's picture
PeterPiper

Too much oven spring

I'm having trouble with my rustic bread recipe.  I do three proofs and am getting great crust and crumb.  But I can't develop an ear, even following all the directions for a good score, because the bread has so much oven spring that it blows out.  The final proof is a full double in volume.  I'm using a pre-heated skillet as steam pan, and spraying the inside of the oven and loaf twice in the first 3 minutes.  Any recommendations? Here's the final product:


Rustic Rosemary 2


Rustic Rosemary 1

dausone's picture
dausone

My first guess would be that there is not enough surface tension in the dough. Try reshaping multiple times and see if that helps. What kind of flour are you using? Which leads to my next guess. Try experimenting with adding a bit of vital wheat gluten to the mix to toughen up the surface.

PeterPiper's picture
PeterPiper

I'm worried that tightening and shaping too much will destroy the nice structure I'm building in the bread.  If I go the route of vital wheat gluten, what percentage should I use?

PeterPiper's picture
PeterPiper

I forgot to add that I'm using GM All Trumps with a little Bay State Big Yield AP.  Also, I'm adding a little olive oil to the mix.  Do you think that is loosening the surface tension?

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

If you like the bread and don't want to change the crumb, then I'd be happy with what you have, and look for an ear on another type of bread.   That loaf looks wonderful!

dausone's picture
dausone

I agree with Paddy. Every type of bread is going to give you different results. Experimentation is also fun and can produce some unexpected surprises, both good and bad! :) If you got a good thing going as they say...


I usually only add vital wheat gluten when I am making a loaf with whole wheat or rye flours and I usually only add a tsp or so to the mix. But I don't know if your flour needs it. I don't have any experience with those particular brands. Also not sure how the olive oil would contribute to surface tension.


And as for shaping, again it depends on the bread. I usually shape three times, letting the dough rest for 15 minutes or so in between shaping, being mindful not to degass too much so that I can still have a nice crumb structure.


Just keep in mind, Im no bread expert! So I could be way off on this... ;)

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

I don't have answers for you but I think your loaf looks great!


judyinnm's picture
judyinnm

What exactly is the complaint?  I want your recipe and step-by-step instructions on how you got this lovely loaf of bread.  How would a "leaf" improve this?


(I think you're just bragging.)

PeterPiper's picture
PeterPiper

Thanks everyone for the compliments.  Funny, I think this is one of my less pretty breads, and certainly a non-flattering picture with bad lighting. But thanks nonetheless.


Here's the kind of structure I was hoping for.  Funnily enough, this is from my Irish soda bread, which is a quickbread, but it creates great crispy ears.


Irish soda bread


 


I'm not disappointed with the rustic bread--I think it has good flavor and structure.  I was just hoping for a much more defined ear.  I've been tweaking this recipe for a while and have recently switched to a hands-only method, and have fallen in love with it:  no mixer, no flour on the bench.  It's scary at first but once the gluten strands really form, there is magic in your hands and the board cleans up.


I use a poolish for this bread, and mix it up with all the liquids and let that sit for 15 min. before I do my final mix.  Then I slap and fold for about five minutes, give it another 15 min. rest, then set it for the first proof.  Second proof is an hour or so later, and it gets a gentle fold.  Same for third proof, where I then fold it into a batard and set on the parchment.  I bake at 525 for 7 minutes with a steam pan and water spray at the beginning and at the 2 minute mark.  After 7 minutes I drop the oven to 425 and bake for 35 minutes, then shut off the oven and open the door for ten minutes before taking it out.  Here are my measurements.


Rustic Base - 69% Hydration - 525˚ then 425˚, 40 min.


Poolish


Water 225g
Bread Flour 150 g
AP Flour 75 g
Yeast 1t


Base


Bread Flour 200g
AP Flour 150g
Water 150g
Salt 1.5 t
Honey 1 t
Olive Oil 1 T


Final note:  I love this site and all that I can learn, but find the forum posting interface really clunky.  Isn't there a more 21st century interface that could work?


 

Prairie19's picture
Prairie19

Maybe you could try using a large roasting pan or similar covering as a cloche.  Cover the loaf for the first 30 minutes, remove the cover and bake uncovered for the next 15 minutes  or so.  You should get a great crust and crispy ears.  Prairie 19

JoeV's picture
JoeV

If you want ears you need a cloche to steam the bread, and to constrict the oven spring so it springs to the top and not in all directions. This came from an oblong cloche from Breadtopia.com, and it makes nice sandwich style artisan loaves for Panini sammys.



1# Unbleached all-purpose flour


1/4 teaspoon Instant Yeast


1-1/2 teaspoon Salt


13 oz. Lukewarm water


2T mixed Italian herbs


Left on the counter to rise for 12 hours then folded, shaped and put in a parchment lined basket about the same size as the cloche. Let rise 1 hour then spray with waterand sprinkle Bob's Redmill 10-grain cereal on top for a little kick. I bake 30 minutes covered at 450F and 10 minutes uncovered. Bingo! OH, the clocche is preheated with the oven.

PeterPiper's picture
PeterPiper

Can I try baking it in an oblong stoneware crock pot?  It's got a lid and should keep the steam level high.  I assume with the cloche/crockpot method that you're not adding any steam to the oven and it's all coming from the bread itself, right?


 


By the way, I have to ask, "What's a panini?"  See this clip and you'll understand.


 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Baking the loaf covered should give you better bloom (opening up of the cuts), but that isn't your problem. The trick is in the scoring. 


Score with the blade at a shallow (30 degree) angle to the surface of the loaf and don't cut more than 1/2 inch deep. 1/4 inch might be best. You want a long, slow expansion of the cut, not a fast opening. Too deep a cut may collapse the ear.


If you haven't read the scoring tutorial in the handbook do so, particularly the section toward the end headed "What's the point of an ear?"


I hope this helps.


David

PeterPiper's picture
PeterPiper

Hi David,


 


I watched your video a couple times and tried to match it with this loaf.  I don't think it was too deep but maybe the blade was too flat.  I'm going to try this loaf again in a cloche and see if I get different results.  Thanks for the help, and I'll post how it comes out next time!


-Peter

flournwater's picture
flournwater

I'm a noo-g so bear with my ignorance.  I wonder what replacing some of the water in the "base" portion of the recipe (say 25 grams) with milk would depress the oven spring enough to achieve his goal.


How far off base am I here?

JoeV's picture
JoeV

What's the need for a slash with artisan loaves? I have never used them and get beautiful, natural splits in the top of my loaves. Just another unnecessary step, IMO.


Here's one done in a Rommertopf...



Here are an assortment I made with different fillings from herbs to raisins to seed and grains. Certain added ingredients (dried fruits in particular) will not give splits to the top of the loaf, while others seem to enhance the splits & ears.


dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

The answer(s) to your question can be found in the Scoring Tutorial.


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/handbook/scoring


David

JoeV's picture
JoeV

My question was rhetorical...sorry! I do not score any of my artisan breads, because I want them to react as THEY choose to react while baking. I bake a lot, so I pretty much know what to expect from all of my breads. I understand the whole scoring thing, but must say I believe it's more for aesthetics than anything else. I bake a lot of Italian bread (usually at least 4 loaves at a time), and have no problems with the bread reacting unusually. Here are some loaves with no slash, and they came out just fine...



Then there are these 24 loaves that I made for the church bake sale, which I slashed because people expect to see the slash marks. Functionally, they do nothing for my bread.


koloatree's picture
koloatree

hey peter piper,


i have the same issues. 2 weeks ago, i made a large sourdough baguette, rolled it pretty tight  about 30 mins before the bake, and slashed just a little deep. i got one of my best ears to date. however, its not to where i want it to be. i think it has a lot to do with creating that surface tension and scoring. i will reattempt tommorow.

carefreebaker's picture
carefreebaker

Would someone please explain to me what the "ears" are that everone talks about?


(Love seeing all the beautiful loaves of bread. Each unique.)

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Hello PP,


There are just too many things that could have caused your problem for anybody to tell you what the problem certainly was.  I have read some good suggestions here, but I want to assure you that only you will be able to figure this out.  We can just provide places to look.


1) As David said, it might be scoring technique.  I think your loaf exhibits plenty of tension.  It's difficult to learn the scoring technique for achieving an "ear" without an instructor there at your side providing immediate feedback.  It can be self-taught, but you need to bake maybe dozens or hundreds of loaves using the technique before it becomes intuitive.


2) The following is a long attempt to figure out what's happening, but I need to lay this out to show you my reasoning:


As I'm looking at your loaf, I think there is only limited browning, and that this was mostly due to the Maillard process, which is the browning of proteins in the presence of sugars.  Heat will accelerate the process, and you can see signs of this specific browning early on in the bake process -- as early as 10 or 12 minutes into the bake, when the outside of the loaf achieves a temperature of only 150-170 degrees.


A well-browned loaf will take on most of its color from caramelization -- the browning (and breakdown) of sugars under intense heat.  This occurs when the outside of the loaf achieves a much higher heat -- about 325-350 degrees.   It also happens a bit later in the bake.  Since there isn't much sugar present on the outside of this loaf, we add steam at the beginning of the bake to gelatinize starches and encourage enzymes (amylase) to convert starch to sugar and encourage this browning.


If a raw loaf sits in a very hot, dry oven for too long before steam is introduced, a dry skin can form on the outside of the loaf.  In my experience, this dry skin tends to prevent very much caramelization from occuring.  My guess is that the amylase can't convert starches in the dry skin to sugars, maybe because not enough gelatinization occurs.  But I'm not certain of that.  In any case, we need some starches on the outside of the loaf to be converted to sugar before the skin forms, or browning is reduced and the crust won't be as appealing.


This dry skin I'm mentioning can also form during the proof, before the loaf ever goes into the oven.  Take care to cover the loaf with a floured towel first, and then place it in a large plastic bag, or lay a large sheet of plastic over the counter where the towel-covered loaf proofs.  You want to keep any air currents from circulating near the skin of the loaf.


This dry skin is also not extensible anymore, so it won't really stretch the same way as a moist skin during oven spring.


If I'm right (and I'm not sure that I am) your loaf either formed a hard skin during proofing or developed the dry skin by sitting a little too long in an oven with no steam, or insufficient steam.  The dry skin inhibits what would otherwise be natural expansion, and this can affect how the loaf grows outward.  Somehow, I think, your cut opened and then sealed up shortly afterward before one edge could pull away and form a nice ear.  This can happen under conditions of too much steam as well, but your loaf isn't browned well, and I think that indicates a dry skin as the culprit.


So if this rings a bell, try creating a lot more steam at the beginning of the bake, and be sure that the steam is created the moment the loaves have been loaded.  Even 30-60 seconds can be too long, and a hard skin can form.


The problem may all be about your scoring technique, but if you're pretty sure that you have that technique down, then try what I'm recommending.  And let me know whether or not it helps.


--Dan DiMuzio


 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Dan.


I had never thought about the impact of a loaf forming a skin during proofing on starch gelatinization and the maillard effect. It's all very logical and does explain some of my own experiences which had seemed mysterious before this morning. Thanks!


As I thought about all I had read about scoring when I was writing the TFL tutorial, I "discovered" another visual indicator of optimal blooming that I had never seen referenced in any of my books. When the loaf expands slowly over a long time, the crust of the bloom shows different degrees of browning. If the bloom occurs too quickly in the first very few minutes of the bake, the crust of the bloom is uniform in browning and has the same coloration as the rest of the crust.


Any thoughts or comments?


David

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Hi David,


I've noticed some of the same differences you have, but I hadn't thought about them in the relationship you mentioned.  Thinking about it now, I'm guessing you're probably right.  I'd need some considerable observation and comparison to feel sure about it, but my gut tells me you are correct.


In any case, I don't know whether the blooming you observe best happens quickly or slowly.  If it is too quick, then the grigne probably undergoes almost the same level of gelatinization as the rest of the crust, and you have the browning almost the same throughout, with no contrast.  If it happens too slowly, or without enough force, then the scored area might actually seal up before the ear has pulled away from the top of the loaf.  That's where too much steam can be an issue -- it tends to cause the cuts to re-seal before maximum growth has occured.


So I guess there is a sort of ideal amount of steam and an ideal rate of accelerated growth, which probably varies from loaf to loaf, based on diameter, weight, and dough strength.  Great news, huh?  More stuff to agonize about as we attempt mastery of the craft.


--Dan DiMuzio

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Dan.


If you have a common type of commercial oven with steam injection, and you follow instructions for how long to inject steam and when to vent it, I imagine you can get reproducible results.


For the home baker with a typical home oven and an improvised steaming method, finding the sweet spot is a challenge. I have tried a variety of methods, most of which have been marginally successful. The two which feel like they have the best potential are baking under a bowl or la cloche and steaming by pouring boiling water over pre-heated lava rocks. YMMV. BTW, I have achieved too much steam with each of these methods.


I've seen each bread book author (going back to Julia Child ca. 1970) struggle with how to help the home baker steam the oven best - producing enough steam, using readily available equipment and avoiding scald burns (for which some one is sure to sue you!). 


BTW, boulangerie.net has a marvelous video of Max Poilâne's bakery producing miches from start to finish. The steaming method used in his old wood-fired ovens is interesting. Here's a YouTube link:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4RiJs1a92U&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fbonneau%2Esiteparc%2Efr%2Fforums%2Fviewtopic%2Ephp%3Ff%3D45%26t%3D33786%26sid%3D6b43f1694...


David

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Thanks, David,


I never knew that these clips existed.  I wish I'd known of them while I was still teaching -- they would have made useful A/V material.  I'll be studying these for a while.


--Dan DiMuzio

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Hi Dan,  All your information/teachings are very much appreciated.  I have a question pls.   I would like for you to explain the impact of getting your loaves into the oven to slowly after slashing and what happens if the slash is allowed to start opening up when the loaf is delayed going into the oven?  Is this one of the reason's why maybe it's better to have your loaves a little under proofed and does this help the opening and correct grigne/browning of the slash? 


Sylvia

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

In most pro bake shops that have a deck oven, the decks are loaded using a large peel or some type of mechanical loader that uses a canvas belt.  When  a baker is loading the peel or the belt (especially the belt, which is larger), they have to lay baguettes out on the loading device one at a time in parallel, evenly spaced rows.  After the baguettes have been arranged and spaced properly, the baker goes back and scores the loaves, one by one.  Some places with very high volume will have two guys loading and/or scoring the loaves simultaneously.


In either case, there is a waiting period of at least a minute or two as the loaves are scored before they go into the oven.  That's normal.  So if you're only taking a minute or two after scoring to get the loaves in your oven, I think the wait won't affect things negatively.  The loaf may spread a bit after scoring, or the cuts may get a head start on opening, but it's never been something I worried about much.


I would say that the head-start the cuts get on opening might be a good thing if your loaves aren't getting enough chance to expand in the oven after loading.  That could be a steam issue, but, since generating just the right amount of steam at home can be challenging, I wouldn't blame you for purposely leaving a couple of loaves sit 30-60 seconds or more to expand a bit before loading.


I will say though, that this effect has never been something I planned for -- it was a natural occurence.  With regard to under-proofing a bit, I would say that just a tiny bit of underproofing is fine, and it will help guarantee significant oven spring and well-defined cuts.  But a tiny bit under is maybe 5 minutes.  I've seen baguettes that were way underproofed just for the sake of making the cuts bulge out, and that leads to a tight crumb in many places.


Pros will under-proof 3-5 minutes mostly to ensure they have enough time to score 20-25 baguettes and still get them in the oven without over-proofing.  the same is true of eggwashing where needed.  If you have to eggwash 2 or 3 dozen loaves all at once before baking, you better start 5 to 10 minutes before they would be proofed enough for baking.


I hope that wasn't more answer than you wanted, Sylvia.


--Dan DiMuzio

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Thank you, Dan!  That was very helpful!


Sylvia

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

In reading this posting, I see that I forgot something.  Ample steam is important, but there's no way to know how much will work with your situation except from trial and error.  That's a drag, but take heart from the fact that pro's do the same thing with a brand new oven.  They "burn it in" first to remove any chemical residue, and then they test bake several times to figure how much steam to use, what temperature works best with baguettes, and when to vent the steam.


That's the other thing. The Maillard browning is usually evident in around 10-12 minutes with a loaf (maybe 5-7 minutes with average rolls).  At that point, the loaf's structure is generally at the maximum level of growth, and its structure has solidified enough to allow the VENTING of the steam.  After the loaf has finished growing and the crust has started to brown, the steam serves no other useful purpose, and keeping it in the oven will just delay caramelization, keep too much moisture in the loaves, and possibly soften the crust after cooling.  In bakeries, they can usually open a dedicated vent to do this, but at home, open your oven door (carefully -- don't burn yourself) for just a few seconds to let out any cloud of steam.


If you think your loaves brown too quickly when venting after 10 minutes, then find out where your vent time should be.  You can make it after 15, or after 20 minutes, but let your loaves finish in a dry, vented oven to help develop a crisp crust that won't soften later.


--Dan DiMuzio

PeterPiper's picture
PeterPiper

Hi Dan,


 


Thanks for the input.  It's possible that a harder skin formed during proofing--I was using a towel but not a bag.  I'll try it again using plastic wrap over the proofing bowl and see if that helps keep it moist.  I'm adding water to my steam pan as soon as I put the bread in, so I don't think that's it.  Also, I add 1 t of honey to my recipe to get more crust browning, but that doesn't seem to have helped for this loaf.  I'm trying again this weekend with a rustic loaf and this time I'll use a cloche.  My very first bread, a no-knead, was in a crock pot and it had fantastic ears and crust, so maybe that's key.


-Peter

PeterPiper's picture
PeterPiper

Rustic ear


This weekend's experiment with using a crock pot was a big success!  I made my regular rustic rosemary with a poolish and cold pre-ferment.  Though the boule was a little too wide for the pot (duh! make a batard next time), a nice ear formed.  However, I blew it by not taking the lid off after twenty minutes because I was distracted by other things.  So while the crust shape was right, it didn't caramelize enough, wasn't crispy, and the bread was too soft inside.  It'll make good toast but mostly I learned how effective the cloche can be.  I think my other method produced too much steam, which was basically accelerating the oven spring while sealing up the ear before it could form.  From now on I'll be using the cloche for scored batards, while the steam pan and oven spray will be reserved for more slack breads like ciabatta.  Thanks everyone!

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Looks like a winner.


I'm a heavy user of kitchen timers with loud alarms.


David

PeterPiper's picture
PeterPiper

Here's my most recent rustic olive bread, done with 20 minutes sealed in the crock pot, 20 minutes without the lid.  I'd like more crisp crust at the end, and leaving it in the pot to cool for five minutes still left the crust soft.  Maybe I take it out of the pot but leave it in the cooling oven for 10 minutes?


rustic olive

koloatree's picture
koloatree

hi,


awesome job. at what temp are you baking at? i currently dont have a crock pot but i have been using a large alluminum tray lid. i would spray the outside of the bread with a little water mist, place in oven, cover with lid, bake at 500 for the first 10 mins and then drop too 480 and remove lid. here is my latest


 


PeterPiper's picture
PeterPiper

That's some nice-looking bread though it looks like it had uneven heat.  If I'm baking right on the stone, I'll start out around 500 or maybe as high as 550 for smaller loaves.  After about 5 minutes I drop it to 425.  But in the crock pot I did 425 the entire time until I got an internal temperature of 205.  I rotate once halfway through for even browning.


One question for anybody using a crock pot:  how do you keep the folds in the parchment from disturbing the shape of the bread?  Although I'm happy with the technique and final product, my batard has odd lumps in the side where the parchment prevented it from laying flat against the side of the crock pot.  Is there any other way to transfer dough to a hot crock pot without the paper?


 


-Peter

koloatree's picture
koloatree

hi question!


after you divided your dough, how long was the rest, and how long was the rest between the final shaping and baking? what signs did you look for?


 


thanks!


 

PeterPiper's picture
PeterPiper

Since I only make dough for one loaf, I don't divide.  But after mixing the ingredients, I do a ten minute autolyse, then knead, then the first proof is around an hour.  Same for the second, then I score it and put it in the oven.  I generally wait until I'm just less than double before punching down or baking, so I can always catch my bread on the upswing.  The one time I let a bread overproof I just punched it down and reshaped it and it turned out fine.


 


Peter

mikeybakeking's picture
mikeybakeking

to get a strong definition EAR (not bloom, as this refers to the fermentation process of the yeast) surface tension is the issue.  Allow the loaf to sit in ambient air after proofing until it develops a thin dry skin,(usually 3-5 minutes on a typical sunny day) Score as desired using a blade held at an angle,  manually steam inject your oven as you described however in a standard home oven you need to preheat to 500* F or more to prevent the steam injection from lowering the baking chambers radient bake temp of 365-425.  When you have injected steam for 1- 2 minutes turn the temp. to normal setting and proceed as usual.  This will produce the EAR you are looking for.  If this fails you probably need to reduce the water in your formula 1 or 2 %.