The Fresh Loaf

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Vermont sourdough a little tough?

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ericb's picture
ericb

Vermont sourdough a little tough?

I have been baking Vermont Sourdough regularly since I first discovered the recipe on this forum last Spring. It's my no-fail, go-to recipe almost every week.


Lately, though, I have noticed that the crumb on this particular bread has been rather tough, and the crust has been a bit hard. I'm not sure exactly how to describe it, other than it takes some noticeable mandibular muscle mobilization to masticate.


Now, I'm not sure if something has changed, or if I'm just getting picky. I follow the recipe closely, so I don't think I'm messing that up. I use KA AP flour and what appears to be active starter (it's a looser starter, just a bit thicker than a batter -- I usually feed it it 1:1:1 -- and it doubles within 4 hours, triples within 8). 


To those of you who make this bread, does my description of its crumb sound right? Or do you achieve a lighter loaf? My only suspicion is that I'm under- or over-proofing it. I usually shoot for 1.5 hours, but almost always put it in the oven sooner because it passes the "poke test" (i.e., a dent remains when I poke it with my finger). Perhaps I'm being too aggressive in my shaping (or not aggressive enough)? Too many variables!


I'm planning on making a massive amount of this stuff this weekend, so I would love to hear any advice or thoughts about it.


Thanks so much!


Eric

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Like you, Eric, it's my daily bread and is baked weekly.  I do follow the recipe and use bread flour, as well as make the liquid levain build.  Only rarely, when time is a constraint, do I use my sourdough culture in place of the liquid levain.  Was there a reason for your switch to AP flour?


Are you retarding the loaves overnight?  Do you use an organic whole rye flour?


I have noticed the crumb not being quite as open at times and posted a question about the effects of a stronger starter in the thread about achieving an open crumb.  But my crumb has never been what I consider hard or heavy.


I've always done a full 18 hour retarding of the dough and bake it with steam.  I also bake it for 40-45 minutes because I like the taste of a fully carmelized, crisp crust.  You could form it into boules and use Susan of San Diego's magic bowl method, which is simply misting the boule before loading it on a hot stone, then placing a stainless steel bowl that has been misted with hot water over the boule.  Leave it in place for 15 or 20 minutes, then remove it and continue baking.  


 

ericb's picture
ericb

Lindy,


I only use KA AP because its protein content is nearly as high as "bread flour." I figured that using something with slightly lower protein might result in a softer crumb. I don't use any organic flour. And I do let it retard for 18 hours in the fridge. 


All of this might be moot, though: I tried refreshing my starter last night, and it hasn't risen at all as of this morning. That'll teach me to go on a 10-day vacation...


 


 


 

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Sorry to hear about the starter, Eric.  But it's important to refresh the baker as well as the starter.


You might consider adding some organic rye to your next starter refreshment. It's like feeding it an energy drink and could get it revved up sufficiently for your upcoming bakes.

ericb's picture
ericb

I spoke to soon: my starter seems to be just as refreshed as I was upon returning from vacation! One lesson that I learn over and over is to never underestimate a starter. Every time I think all is lost, it proves me wrong!


Just for fun, I used a portion of the rye in the levain tonight (the recipe calls for adding it to the final dough). I'm not sure what to expect, other than a slightly tangier dough. 


Still not sure what's going on with my crumb. "Rubbery" comes to mind. Again, though, I think I may simply be getting a bit picky. Everyone else at least pretends to love it, so I'll just run with that.


Eric

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I've only baked this bread one--twice, actually because it makes two loaves and I baked one without retarding and the other retarded--, but I did bake it on a stone under my makeshift cloche and it came out great. The cloche really does a lot for oven spring--though it almost doubled the size of my loaf in terms of what I put in the oven.


--Pamela