The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Crumb problems

npsmama's picture
npsmama

Crumb problems

No matter what recipe I try the crumb in my breads always ends up moist, with small holes (I want bigger ones) and dense.

 

I've been having this problem since I started milling my own flour.

 

What am I doing wrong? Am I adding too much water?

Breadwhiner's picture
Breadwhiner

For big holes, set your hydration at 80-85%.  This means for every pound of flour, add 0.80-0.85 lb of water.  It may seem like a pain to weigh the flour and water, but I have found it to be the best way to control the hydration, which is the critical factor for crumb characteristics in my experience.  Long fermentation times (i.e. 12-24 h) are also said to be important, but I don't use short fermentation times for lean doughs (no oil, no milk, no sugar), so I can't vouch for that parameter.

npsmama's picture
npsmama

Thank you.

Is this also valid for wholewheat doughs? 

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Yes, but it is very difficult to get large holes in whole wheat loaves. The wheat bran is dead weight, as far as the gluten development goes.

npsmama's picture
npsmama

I think i read somweher that if I grind my flour on the finest setting then it minimises the impact that bran has on the gluten - is this the case?

 

Are there any other ways of combining homeground flour and good gluten development? I'm loathe to buy flour now that I've got the mill. 

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

re grind - yes, the finer the grind of the wheat the better for the bread - if possible, the flour should feel only faintly gritty when you rub some between your fingers; if you can't get it this fine, you can sift out the coarser bran with a fine sieve

re gluten development - you can try adding a *small* amount of (purchased) gluten flour to your home-milled WW flour. Try 2 tsp per cup WW flour to begin - max would be 3 tsp (1 TBS) per cup WW flour. Don't add too much gluten flour - a little goes a long way.

Also, knead the heck out of it. And go for long initial rises (even overnight in 'frig)

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

I've found with home ground flour that a little commercial (organic!) white bread flour added helps. Also fairly wet dough, and I find the less I knead it - just folded over like folding paper to put in an envelope, trying not to deflate the dough at all, three times an hour apart, results in good holes. As big as I've ever seen in wholemeal...  Hardly touching the dough allows the gas pockets to develope undisturbed, and the light folding helps to increase the all important surface tension.
Hope this helps, Andrew

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

I've found with home ground flour that a little commercial (organic!) white bread flour added helps. Also fairly wet dough, and I find the less I knead it - just folded over like folding paper to put in an envelope, trying not to deflate the dough at all, three times an hour apart, results in good holes. As big as I've ever seen in wholemeal...  Hardly touching the dough allows the gas pockets to develope undisturbed, and the light folding helps to increase the all important surface tension.
Hope this helps, Andrew