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Sourdough - How does one create an open crumb?

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jim2's picture
jim2

Sourdough - How does one create an open crumb?

I struggle to create and open crumb. Would anyone be able to create a list of bullet points to help me do this. I make sourdough bread. I use the Reinhart formula. What are the key components/techniques to obtaining an open crumb? Thanks Jim

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

As long as you're measuring by weight, you should do OK following the recipe but even then you might need a bit of a tweak. The higher the hydration, the softer the dough and the larger the bubbles. See the pic of the Ciabatta in the top right of the page (today, at least)? Ciabatta dough is VERY wet and gets you the huge holes - great for soaking up olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Now that's probably way too holey for normal sourdough but it does show that wetter dough allows for bigger holes.


If you're measuring by volume (i.e. 3 cups of flour) you could very easily be adding too much flour in your cups. Switch to weight measuring.


You may be adding too much flour to the dough while kneading it, or it may just be your flour is absorbing too much of the water called for in the recipe. The first you can adjust by going very sparse on the flour on your counter, or not using any. If you do stretch and fold instead of push-and-shove kneading, you'll need less flour too since you're not handling the sticky dough so much. 


If your flour is a little too dry and sucks up all the water, it may just be an issue of adding an extra tablespoon or two (go easy, do it slow) of water to your dough as it's getting mixed.

doughdave's picture
doughdave

Unfortunately, the bread crumb depends on a variety of things...



  • Make sure your yeast is in good shape.  Does it rise to 2-4x its volume in 8hrs after feeding?

  • Weight your flour & water accurately

  • Keep a record of what your dough temperature is and the temperature you are proofing at.  I find I get better rise if I have the house a degree or two warmer than usual (i.e. 74F).  When the house is colder, I need to leave it to proof for longer.

  • Make sure your oven is hot and your stone has adequate time to warm in the oven.  I generally pre-heat it too 50F warmer than specified.

  • Instead of using ice-cubes or spray bottles, I throw a 1/3 C of warm water into the bottom of my oven to create steam.  I add water once when I first put the bread in and once again after 5 minutes.


 

ValerieSara's picture
ValerieSara

Over kneading or over handling the dough could also be the culprit. 


Folding the dough, and don't over do it, should help along with the other suggestions made here.


 


 

holds99's picture
holds99

Jim,


Here's a video of Richard Bertinet working his magic on some very high hydration (wet) dough, which is what you need (high hydration (wet) dough) in order to get a nice open crumb.  He's making sweet dough, using milk and eggs for hydration, but the same principle applies to nearly all bread doughs.  Watch this video a couple of times, then give it a try.  For example, Rose Levy Beranbaum's ciabatta dough is a high hydration dough which produces a very lovely, open crumb.  That dough has a hydration level of 81%.  As a general rule, the lower the hydration the less open (more dense) the crumb and vice versa. 


The name of the game during mixing to to develop the gluten and get as much air (oxygen) into the dough as possible during the mixing process, and the "slap and fold" method does the trick very well.  You'll be amazed at the results.  Also, after mixing give your dough give it a few stretch and folds (stretch it out into a rectangle, give it a business letter fold, turn it a quarter turn and repeat.  Then place it back into the light oiled container, seam side down) at 20 minute intervals during bulk fermentation to get more air into your dough.


http://www.gourmet.com/magazine/video/2008/03/bertinet_sweetdough


Good luck in your baking endeavors,


Howard

ValerieSara's picture
ValerieSara

One of the best, most informative bread videos I've ever seen. Thank you, Howard.


ValerieSara

holds99's picture
holds99

ValerieSara,


Here's another video that may be of help, particularly if you're working with sourdough.  In this video Theresa Greenway is working with some fairly hydrated sourdough dough.  She's pretty amazing as she demonstates how to handle, divide and shape your dough.  In the first video (10 min.) she's working with 4 lbs. of dough, which she divides into thirds, making three boules. 


In the second video (3 min.) she demonstrates scoring.  If you haven't seen these videos I think you'll find them interesting and informative.


http://northwestsourdough.wordpress.com/2008/05/27/shaping-and-slashing-dough-videos/


Best of luck,


Howard

ValerieSara's picture
ValerieSara

You're a mind reader, Howard! 


How did you know these two vids would answer questions I've had running through my head?  Thank you for sharing two more very informative and to the point videos.


 


Best wishes,


ValerieSara

holds99's picture
holds99

ValerieSara,


Glad the videos were of help.


Best regards,


Howard

skegbyguy's picture
skegbyguy

When I make sourdough bread the crumb is very 'holey' but the texture is almost rubbery, am I working it to much?

Cheers

Stuart

Janet Yang's picture
Janet Yang