The Fresh Loaf

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Second rise proofing tests

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hilo_kawika's picture
hilo_kawika

Second rise proofing tests

Being somewhat new to the baking scene, I'm beginning with the no-knead approach and generally following recipes from Lahey, this website and breadtopia.  So these are fairly high hydration breads.  I'm using either a 5 qt Dutch oven or a Corning ware 3 qt for my containers.  I'm happy with the crumb and crust most of the time but the amount of spring I get seems pretty random.


Perhaps part of the problem is having the dough either over or underproofed.  There seem to be several of schools of thought.  One suggests that if the dough is finger pressed ~ 1/2" or so and the dough slowly returns, then that's the time to start baking.  Another suggests that the time for the oven is when the dough stays put when it's been pressed down.  Yet another suggests putting aside a small portion of the dough in a clear sided container and when the volume of that sub sample has a little more than doubled, then that's the time to begin baking.


I realize that baking a lot and learning to feel comfortable with the whole operation is important and that experience will be a good teacher - Berlioz notwithstanding...(^-^) but any additional helpful advice I could get from this learned assemblage would be greatly appreciated.


  aloha,


Dave Hurd, Hilo, Hawaii

wally's picture
wally

Dave,


If your dough stays put when you press down on it, chances are good that it's overproofed - the lack of any spring back is a precursor to what you can expect when you put it in the oven.  Generally the finger test is pretty reliable: dough that springs back immediately and leaves no indentation indicates underproofing.  If the dough springs back somewhat but still leaves a discernable indentation then it's proofed properly - with just enough rise left to give you some nice oven spring.  But if the indentation just stares back at you you've probably let it ferment too long.

hilo_kawika's picture
hilo_kawika

Thanks very much for the quick reply Wally.  What you say makes sense to me and - trying not to be argumentative in any way - I just wonder where Lahey is coming from with his explicit directions for not having the dough spring back at all?  Again, my queries are not meant to say who's right or wrong but rather what the thinking might be behind their reasoning.


  aloha,


Dave Hurd, Hilo, Hawaii

wally's picture
wally

I've seen Jim Lahey's recipe for no-knead and from his description I can't really tell if he literally means that the impression your finger makes should remain intact with no bounce back at all. 


But in my experience (and I had a bad one with brioche today), if you allow dough to overproof, the first indicator is a finger poke that just remains (worst case is if the dough begins to collapse).  The second happens in the oven when the dough rises....and then falls back onto itself.


Proofing dough is all about carbon dioxide building up under the gluten strands that have developed.  So the finger poke method makes sense as a test of where the dough is at:  if the indentation springs back immediately there is a lot of gas being developed which means you need to wait before baking.  If there is no spring back, then maximum proofing has passed and you're now courting disaster.  But if there is some spring back - and still some indentation - then the bread is not fully proofed but nearly so - which means you can safely bake and still expect some residual proofing in the form of oven spring.

hilo_kawika's picture
hilo_kawika

Thanks once more for your thoughtful reply.  Now to get the timing of starting the oven soon enough so as not to be too late to catch the spring but at the same time not wasting too much energy.  Perhaps what I'll do next will be to compare dough springback speeds with the volume increase as seen in a small, clear plastic cylinder with a dough subsample.  Sorry, can't seem to help being left-brained.


So much to learn...


  aloha,


Dave Hurd, Hilo, Hawaii

pjr918's picture
pjr918

I agree that if the finger marks remain completely intact, the bread is overproofed. I have been baking bread for thirty years, and I find that baking the loaves when they are slightly underproofed results in better oven spring. 


 I know that loaves that require slashing on top must not be overproofed, or they will deflate when you slash them right before baking. I just approximate their readiness for the oven by looking at them, and I seem to always get a good loaf.

davidg618's picture
davidg618

Page 24, Hamelman's Bread: 77°F to 122°F : Rapid increase in yeast fermentation; increase in enzymatic activity;...accelerated gas [CO2] production and expansion contributing to oven spring.


...140°F: ...yeast reaches "thermal death point".


Our proofed loaves are usually at about 76°F when we put them in our ovens. For the first ten to fifteen minutes their internal temperature is passing through the oven spring temperature zone. What yeast is alive is eating, budding, passing gas, and eating, budding, and passing gas;  and eating...You get the picture. The more yeast present the more gas, i.e., more oven spring.


Wnen we're building levain during the the 12 to 16 hours before making dough our yeast (and bacteria) are usually at room temperature eating, and budding, and passing gas, and...Yep, same picture. While our levain is developing we watch it expand, and we know it's reached its peak when its expansion begins to shrink. That shrinking is gravity sticking its finger in. Internally, the growing levain has either run out of food, or the majority of yeast cells are surrounded by waste products--carbonic acid, and ethenol--and thinks its ran out of food. Carbon dioxide is escaping from the surface of the levain, without being replaced. Thus the levain's bulk shrinks.


This is entirely analagous to our finger poking a proofing loaf: well, almost. We poke, a lot of the yeast is still active; it eats, buds, and passes gas; the dough ballon is reinflated. We poke again, later, the ballon doesn't reinflate. Oops! our loaf is overproofed. There isn't enough active yeast still passing gas.


Obviously, we'd like to catch the yeast when it's most active: most numerous, surrounded by food, and eager for the thermal boost of its last feeding frenzy. However, unlike gravity our poking finger doesn't work all the time. We poke, watch the dough spring back, and walk away.  Returning some time later, we poke, watch...watch. Nothing happens! Oh no, I've over-proofed!


The obvious answer: check frequently. every couple of minutes in the end game.


I've underproofed often--those consequences aren't discussed on TFL nearly as often as over-proofing, but they are equally detrimental to baking the "perfect loaf", especially in baguette baking--but. I've never over-proofed.


I've tried to envision another test that would outshine finger-poking. So far I've failed. I'd welcome one.  I'm going to follow this thread until it ends.


David G.

hilo_kawika's picture
hilo_kawika

David G.,


One of the most interesting articles I've recently read regarding proofing is by Jack Lang:


http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?/topic/82234-demo-proving-bread/


In this article he shows very nice pictures of baguettes in the process of being proofed with different baguettes being baked in different stages of the proofing: clearly underproofed, nearly correct and considerably over proofed.  And associated with each stage in proofing is a picture of the dough rising in a clear plastic cylinder with volumetric markings on the side of it.  Using this cylinder, it appears as though the correct degree of proofing is when the dough volume is a little more than twice its original size - a fact generally recognized but for the uninitiated difficult to judge in practice - hence giving the bread the finger..;)


It's clear that if dough were only to rise in a cylinder or box that height would be proportional to volume and the doubling point would be readily observable because the lateral direction of dough movement is constrained by these geometries.  But doesn't a couche or banneton have a roughly similar constraining effect?  The cross-section of a shaped piece of dough is roughly that of an ellipse.  The area of an ellipse is pi*a*b where a is half the height and b is half the width of the ellipse.  If the width is constrained by the couche or banneton, then doubling the half-height doubles the area - and by inference, the volume.


So why not measure the initial height of the boule with a narrow rod (a cake doneness straw?), mark twice that height on the same rod and then do both finger tests and height measurements as the dough rises?  In the worst case scenario, we'll know more about the relationship between the finger test and the dough proofing volume changes.  In the best case, we may find something very simple that actually works for us.


Perhaps turning on the oven when the height is halfway to the doubling point would be good timing, assuming that the doubling point is when we want to bake.  Anyway that's what I'm going to try and will report back on the results.


  aloha,


Dave Hurd, Hilo, Hawaii

weekend_baker's picture
weekend_baker

There are lots of different explanations for how bread 'ought' to respond when proved because there are lots of different kinds of bread and ways of baking.


A high hydration bread makes a softer, floppier sort of dough, so the 'bounce back' when you prod is always going to be less than that of a 65% hydration dough (which can be like rubber when you've just kneaded them).


The amount of proofing is also different depending on how you are going to transfer the dough to the oven.  


A boule or baguette that  needs to be strong enough to be taken out of the proofing basket / couche, tipped onto a peel and shaken into the oven, is better if it still gives you a bit of 'bounce' when you prod it, so it will recover from all the manhandling when in the oven by springing back into shape.  So I would proof it to rather less than double the volume (which in my bowl means it rises to about 150% of the original height because the bowl widens out a lot).


However, if you're proving and baking in a tin or dutch oven you can prove it further (say 210%, so it doesn't bounce at all when prodded) because it won't get degassed. 


While this might explain some of the differentials in advice, it doesn't help you make a better mousetrap... I'd be fascinated to hear how your experiment goes!

davidg618's picture
davidg618

I read Dave Hurd's post with much interest (as I did all the others). When I saw the pictures on the  link to Jack Lang's article I had an "Ah Ha!"!


I'm in a baking frenzy this week getting ready for an open house next weekend, wherein all the food (except the cheeses), bread, wine and beer will have been made by us. Today I baked two loaves of my latest sourdough (70% Hydration). Because we are experiencing unusual cold weather I've been building sourdough starter, and bulk and final proofing in the oven, turning the light on and off to maintain about a 76°F environment. A perfect time to test my "Proofometer" (That's pronounce Pruuf-omm-eter).


Just before I final shaped the two loaves I cut about a 10g piece of dough from one of the pre-shapes, rolled it gently into a ball, and dropped it into a shot glass. Then I marked the top of the dough ball with a rubber band ala Alton Brown.


The loaves were final proofing on a cloth covered clouche, so I placed the shot glass close by, and covered it with a napkin. As final proofing progressed, I poked the loaves and eyeballed my proofomenter. The pictures below show the results. I think there is good correlation! The shotglass picture was taken just after I turned the first loaf onto the peel to slash.


Now, this was just a first try; I'm not recommending it yet, but some of you might have fun (like I did) trying it.



Here's the loaves. Because of their high hydration they went into the oven about 1-1/4" high.



David G

hilo_kawika's picture
hilo_kawika

Hi Dave G,


Coincidentally I just finished a pane integrale (a la Jim Lahey) this morning using the same measuring approach.  But in a totally unscientific manner I went about changing a number of other things...still I'm happy with what happened.


So what was new for me?  First, my wife was kind enough to loan me a nice - but not too nice - piece of linen so that I could try the banneton route.  I must say that after some doubt and trepidation, I like it VERY much, especially when combined with inverting the proofed dough onto a peel-supported parchment as so many folks do herein.  Thanks to all for such good advice!


Then, also following so much from folks herein, I bought a dome-shaped terra cotta pot and a terra cotta tray of the same diameters in order to create a faux cloche.  Squandered $10 at Wal-Mart but WTH it's for baking, right? Put in a couple of fender washers and an eye bolt and boule's your uncle.  I did wash them and pre-treat as Kahlil (sp?) had earlier suggested, heating to 400 F for an hour. Since they also didn't fit perfectly without wobbling, I took each one and -taking a sheet of 120 grit sandpaper that I had clamped to a flat surface - rotated the upper lip of each one until the whole upper lip had a flat surface.  Terra cotta is very soft so this only took about ten minutes.  Vacuumed up the dust and off I went.



Like David G above I took a subsample of about 30 cc's of dough and put it into my little clear plastic cylinder.  When the dough reached about 45 cc's I turned on the oven (convection bake) and set it to 450 F.  By the time the dough in the cylinder had reached the 55 cc mark - or nearly doubling the volume - there were some spots on the dough surface that sprang back slowly, and others not at all.  Crunch time!


Since I had apparently sufficiently floured the banneton linen, the transfer from the banneton to the parchment on the peel (a metal baking sheet) went flawlessly as did the transfer from the peel to the terra cotta tray.  I like the tray in that the sides are much lower than the Dutch oven and therefore safer IMHO.  Put the terra cotta top back on and back into the oven for 20 minutes;  then removed the top, lowered the temperature to 425 F and let it go for another 20 minutes. I checked the internal temperature with a probe thermometer (which I had just warmed to near 200 F in boiling water so as to get a more accurate reading) and it was 205 F.  Time to hit the cooling rack.


So here's a little crumb porn two hours later:



I'm REALLY happy at this point, even though in my frenzy I had forgotten to score the top, I'm not sure how much higher it could have gone.  I realize that I'm very much at the beginning of all this but being a methodology guy, I'm much more comfortable with the process at this point.


Once more thanks to all at FL for their generosity of spirit and sharing of both triumphs and disasters.


    aloha,


Dave Hurd, Hilo, Hawaii