The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Crumb Problems

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Dennis_'s picture
Dennis_

Crumb Problems

I just joined and this is my first post so maybe someone can direct me where this info is already available.


I've been working on my breads with the help of the book The Bread Baker's Apprentice and I can't seem to get anywhere close to the crumb they show in the pictures.  I'm doing things exactly as indicated but when I make ciabatta as an example, I'm not getting anythink like the holes I would expect in a good rustic bread.  Is this impossible in the home situation?  What am I doing wrong?

Wisecarver's picture
Wisecarver (not verified)

Work with as little a floured surface as you can. (Use those spiffy new mats.)
Allow your dough to rise freely, don't for example let it get cramped.
Be very careful when you do your final shaping.

trhoma6432's picture
trhoma6432

I found when I increased the water(the dough was very hard to work with because it was so wet) watching for a smooth, silky texture when mixing; I got the holes. I brought the hydration level up to almost 100%. Try it see if that works.

Dennis_'s picture
Dennis_

I'll try all the tips.


Could it have anything to do with my yeast as well?

bassopotamus's picture
bassopotamus

What kind does the book call for? Instant vs active dry measure differently. Also, liquid temp matters. too hot or cold can kill yeast.

Jw's picture
Jw

possibly. This works for me: make sure you use the right temperatue (luke warm) and put the (instant) yeast in all the water, for 5-8 minutes. After that it is up to the room temperature and any disturbance in the rising proces. Took me a while to find a perfect spot in our kitchen for this. Keep trying. Jw.

gijose's picture
gijose

I've had trouble with hand mixing and kneading while using high hydrations.  often times when I put in the lower amount of water (3 cups of flour to 1 1/4 cups water) the dough is hydrated enough to not stick to the walls, but just barely.  should I just go for that extra 1/4-1/2 cup of water, and try to mix it in?  Will it eventually mix up if I keep mixing away?  I don't have an electric mixer, so it's always a problem I have.  I don't know if my hand mixing for more time will equal machine mixing for less time... or if I can mix my way out of a lot of stickyness.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, gijose.


You can, indeed, "mix (your) way out of a lot of stickyness." There is a technique for stretching and folding dough in a bowl that has been described by Hamelman in "Bread." I recently learned that Joe Ortiz also described this in "The Village Baker."


Mark Sinclair has made a great video of this technique. You can view it here:


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/10276/noknead-video


I hope this helps.


David

ryeaskrye's picture
ryeaskrye

David,


I recall both you and another regular here mentioning on another thread this technique in Hamelman's book and that there are different editions of said book.


My copy has the Beer Bread recipe on 249 and I do not find this technique described anywhere. Not that it appears difficult to learn or do, but I'm curious to read it in words.


Is it described within a specific recipe or is it just a short side note?


Does your edition state which printing it is in the front?


Thanks,


John

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, John.


I also have the version with Beer Bread on pg. 249. I can no longer recall whose description of this technique I first read. I wrote up what I do for some one else some time ago. Lemme see if it's on this laptop ...... Nope, it's on the other computer.


Well, here's a link to The Artisan (a great web site, BTW) that has two descriptions of the method:


http://www.theartisan.net/MainCommFrm.htm


You will note that this method is attributed to Joe Ortiz, not Hamelman. Also note that the descriptions from Ortiz uses your hand to mix the dough in the bowl. Hamelman (I am told) specifies using a flexible scraper. I use a spatula.


Since you now have the link to The Artisan, note the wonderful collection of Italian bread formulas. Next, note the wonderful collection of italian non-bread recipes. Do not neglect to note the recipe for chicken cacciatore. It is fabulous! Here's a direct link to the (obscure) section where you can find it:


http://www.theartisan.net/Dads_Frameset.htm


(No extra charge for answering the questions you didn't ask.)  ;-)


David

ryeaskrye's picture
ryeaskrye

I stumbled upon The Artisan site sometime back when I first started baking and have made a couple of recipes from there, particularly the crostini ones.


It is a great site and should be assembled into a book.


John

gijose's picture
gijose

I've watched Mark's video, and read the site's methods.  It makes sense to add the flour slowly to the water, but for the specific bread I've decided to try to make, it requires a cold process, and there's no kneading in the recipe.  The mixing technique described involves adding the flour little by little, which helps prevent clumps, and makes the dough more workable, but wouldn't that raise the temperature of the dough?  Would it be viable to add a bit of flour, work it in, place the bowl in the fridge to make it a bit colder, and kind do it that way?  work the flour in slowly, and maintain the cold temperature by frequently placing the mixture in the refrigerator?  Clumping has been a problem of mine, I'm not sure if it's due to the cold water that is called for in the recipe (about 40 degrees F), or adding it all in at once.

mcs's picture
mcs

gijose,
The original technique for 'un-kneaded' dough that my video was based on was from Hamelman's book.  He uses this technique for mixing the ingredients together initially, and for folding the dough in the bowl also.  I have the mixer do the mixing for 4 minutes, then just do the folding by hand.  If you don't have a mixer or prefer  to incorporate the ingredients together initially by hand, you could:


a. Put the ingredients together in a bowl and mix them with a Danish whisk, spatula, heavy wooden spoon, fingers, or plastic scraper.
b.  Do it 'Italian Mama Style' and put the flour on the table with a well in the center and add your liquid to the center.  Then use your plastic scraper to fold it all together.


Depending on your genetics and tools one method may suit you more than the other.  Either way, as mentioned below, unless you're working at Mach III, hand kneading creates virtually no friction heat.


-Mark


http://TheBackHomeBakery.com

LindyD's picture
LindyD

You don't have to worry about the friction factor increasing dough temperature when hand mixing.  There is virtually none. 


If clumping has been a problem, why not try a 20 minute autolyse in a cold room? Hold off on adding the yeast until after the autolyse.


 

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

With wet dough, I stretch and fold to knead. Just like the technique you do every 20 minutes or so during a bulk ferment when making the no-knead-style bread, but I do it for about 10 minutes constantly before the bulk ferment.  This seems to do the same thing that conventional kneading would, but the dough is easier to control.  The dough for the whole wheat/rye combination sourdough that I have on my stove now is, I believe, close to 80%.


Not having a mixer, you tend to get creative.

gijose's picture
gijose

I'm not worried about friction causing a rise in heat, it's more...  the BMA Pain A L'Ancienne calls for a cold fermentation.  I would think that it would take me a rather long time to sufficiently mix the dough, and in the time that the dough was out, it would rise in temperature.  Would that have any effect on the outcome of the dough, is what I'm wondering (I'm probably guessing it won't).


Also, I've been trying to figure out what governs how "holey" the bread is when it comes out.  Every loaf I've made, whether fully hand made or using a food processor, has had consistently small and regular holes.  The dough that I end up working with is probably around 75% hydration.  What governs the size and quantity of holes?  I know it's probably a multitude of things...  I'm using KA bread flour for my bread.  When I shape the loaves before putting them in the oven, the recipe calls for them to rest.  They lose a bit of their size in the transfer from the bowl, and the shaping, and they're a bit flat looking before going in to the oven.  Are the holes formed when the bread is placed in the oven, and it goes on the frantic rise before the yeast is killed?  Or would a longer proofing period give bigger, more irregular holes?  I'm wondering, also, because I kind of lose a lot of heat when placing the dough in the oven...  so I was thinking maybe the loaves don't get as big of a spring as they could.

mcs's picture
mcs

This is a bit of an oversimplification, but essentially, someone who has a bread with large irregular holes has:


a. developed the gluten enough in the dough so it has the strength to 'capture the gas' that the yeast is giving off
b. not developed the gluten too much so the bread is flexiible enough to be able to expand during proofing and ovenspring


The balance comes from not overworking your dough while still developing its strength through folding or kneading.  Some doughs may look flat going into the oven, but have enough strength to be able to hold their shape once they ovenspring. 
Most bakers find this balance through high hydration like you use, gentle folding either by hand or with a mixer then careful shaping and transfer to baking.  Basically with shaping you want the outer skin to get tight without crushing the bubbles in the center-kind of like a water balloon.  If you do this correctly even if it flattens out during final proofing, it'll rebound in the oven. 
Maybe check out the no knead video I did here http://thebackhomebakery.com/Tutorials.html and use your recipe.  I think you'd end up with a crumb you like, plus you can retard it in the fridge like you want to.


-Mark


http://TheBackHomeBakery.com

SteveB's picture
SteveB

gijose, the following two links might be of interest to you:


http://www.breadcetera.com/?p=157


http://www.breadcetera.com/?p=162


SteveB