The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Help! Brown Spots in Bread!!!

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Ryeblossom's picture
Ryeblossom

Help! Brown Spots in Bread!!!

First sourdough bread, and I got some strange brown spots in the bread. The recipe I used called for preferment, which I substituted with sourdough, a bit of sugar, flour and water to be mixed and left overnight at room temperature. So far so good. Then in the morning I was to add salt, flour as needed, and 1/2 tsp. baking soda. Let rise, shape, let rise. I baked it as instructed, and to my very unpleasant surprise, cutting into it, I've found big brown spots throughout the dough. They were not present in the dough when it was rising, not that I could see.  They taste like too much baking soda. Brings back memories of soap that wasn't mixed well, only I don't have to eat the soap, and I could re-batch the soap...


I've made this recipe before without any problems. The only change was the sourdough instead of the preferment. 


Anybody knows why I got the brown spots, how it can be avoided next time, and/or what can I do with the bread?


(BTW- I have no idea why the recipe called for baking soda- any insights?)


Thanks! 

flournwater's picture
flournwater


I have read that yeast works with sugar to produce alcohol and that when the alcohol overcomes the yeast and is mixed with soda it can produce brown spots in flour based baked goods.   Apparently it's a factor of the soda reacting with the alcohol and the flour so that it can form brown spots in the dough in areas where the dough is weak.  Because of what I've read I suspect the source of your problem is the frementation time applied to the wild yeast (starter) sugar ingredients, coupled with the addidition of soda.  But I'm no chemist and I'm sorry to say I can't tell you how to fix it beyond suggesting you try it without the sourdough starter and use only the preferment to see how that changes things.

Ryeblossom's picture
Ryeblossom

But.... Until now I was using the recipe with preferment and it worked fine..... I've been waiting to see how it goes with the sourdough. I guess I'll have to try a different recipe for the sourdough. 


(I'm just disappointed at this point, waiting for the sourdough and the oven to be fixed, and the first bread came out strange.)

probably34's picture
probably34

I would imagine that the sourdough is much more acidic than the preferment which would throw off the whole ph of the dough. I'm not sure about the cause of brown spots but I'm pretty sure the acidity is the main factor.

merkri's picture
merkri

Sounds strange--not like anything I've had happen.


Did you mix the flour and baking soda together? Is the soda clumping?


Soda will react with the acid in the sourdough to produce bubbles and rise. It's typical to use soda with sourdough in making pancakes, etc.--it makes a beautiful light foamy texture.


One possibility is that the soda is clumping and mixing with the acid to produce pockets of this light foamy texture, that might overcook or something. A byproduct of the reaction is some sort of salt, which might be what you're tasting.


I'm not sure, though. Never seen anything like that.

Ryeblossom's picture
Ryeblossom

The big brown spots are almost only on one end of the bread, about 1/3 loaf, and pretty dark and big. The rest has much lighter spots that vanish completely at the last 1/3. 


I didn't mix the soda with much flour because I was supposed to only add flour 'as needed'. Maybe the problem was with the mixing. 


If I try it again, I'll probably omit the sugar and baking soda altogether. 


Thanks for all the answers! 

sephiepoo's picture
sephiepoo

If you subbed starter for preferment, and still added baking soda, it will definitely react as sourdough is acidic and the baking soda is basic (ie a base).  To my knowledge and experience, baking soda isn't generally added to bread and I think you're spot on when you say you'll try omitting the sugar and baking soda :)

Ryeblossom's picture
Ryeblossom

Hmm. I thought the preferment was also considered acidic- it sure smells sour. It's a recipe calling for a preferment of 2-3 days. 

sephiepoo's picture
sephiepoo

Usually I use a preferment within 1-2 days of creation but hey if it works, more power to your recipe! Definitely if the taste is good, keep doing it.  If it tastes "soapy" or well, funky...you might want to rethink something

tananaBrian's picture
tananaBrian

It wouldn't surprise me if the baking soda was not mixed in quite as consistently as you'd prefer and that it caused a color change.  I know that if you use too much in a chocolate cake recipe, that it makes the cake turn a reddish brown rather than just brown.  It would be interesting to see a reference on the baking soda versus alcohol from yeast fermentation causing brown spots... My "How Baking Works" book is in storage right now (since we just moved), so I can't look it up to see if it says anything about that ...but again, my gut feel is that the person (above) who mentioned reading about it somewhere is on the right track for what you saw.  Hmmmm.... This is good stuff!


 


Brian


 

tchism's picture
tchism

 I just finished making a sourdough recipe for English muffins that included a preferment that included flour, milk and starter that set over night. Then you add soda and salt and roll out to cut the muffins. I almost forgot the soda and the salt and worked them in late in the forming and rolling of the dough. I let them rise for about 1.5 hours and cooked them on a cast iron griddle. They really rose up a lot but I didn't see any brown spots. I decided to see how the rest would do if I baked them instead of griddle cooked them. This second batch by then had been rising for 2 hours or more. They baked up fine but we found brown spots in them. They taste fine so I don't think it is hurting anything. My guess is the late addition of the soda and salt resulted in not getting a good mixing of the soda causing the reaction that others have posted about. I guess it's all about learning from mistakes.


Photos: first muffins without spots. Same batch as the last two pictures they just didn't rise as long and were cooked on a griddle. The last two are of a muffin baked in the oven about 30 to 45 minutes later.


Davo's picture
Davo

Um, bread using sourdough starter and soda is "quickbread" rather than "sourdough". Not that there's anything wrong with that, but "sourdough" doesn't need sugar and doesn't include soda.

probably34's picture
probably34

I think a sourdough is a naturally leavened bread product. I agree about the baking soda, but you can have a naturally leavened bread with some sugar in it and it is still a sourdough. It may not be "sourdough", as in SanFrancisco sourdough, or the lean bread that we typically ascociate with the word, but it is still a sourdough bread product.