The Fresh Loaf

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Need help - uneven loaf

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melbournebread's picture
melbournebread

Need help - uneven loaf

After making several conventional loaves in the bread machine, I've started to experiment using a starter.  Just a simple one - some flour and water and a bit of yeast that goes into the fridge for a day, bring it to room temperature and throw it in with the rest of the ingredients (subtracting the amount of water and flour that went into the starter) and finish the loaf on normal bread cycles.  I generally reduce the yeast when I do this - for example I reduce 2t yeast to 1/4t in the starter plus another 1t when I make the loaf. 


This has worked stunningly with my favourite wheat/rye recipe, but twice now it's failed on my three-seed recipe (mostly white flour, some wheat flour, plus a few tablespoons of poppy seed, sesame seed and flax seeds). 


I've made the three-seed recipe just fine on the normal cycle with no starter.  But the last two times I've made it have had the same effect: the loaf seems to rise unevenly, one half is light with lovely uneven holes, the other half is dense and you can even see the folds in the dough (one loaf even had a "cowlick" sticking out the dense end!).


Now just in case that's not confusing enough, the second time this happened I used a slightly different technique because I hadn't made a starter the day before - I put in the normal ingredients, ran the dough cycle, and when that finished I ran the wheat baking cycle (longer cycle including resting time at the start).  I thought the extra rising time would be like a cheating starter, but it ended up with an uneven loaf again.  I can't remember if I used the full allotment of yeast, I might have used less yeast that time too.


 


So what's going wrong?  Any ideas?

SnDBrian's picture
SnDBrian

Maybe the seeds are cutting up the gluten strands and making a weak dough. Stretching and folding works the best, but for a bread machine... Trying folding yourself than bake in the bread maker.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

flour and water and yeast and let it sit a long time, I need less flour than the recipe stipulates.  It just won't give up the moisture to moisten all the added flour.  Could this be possibly what is happening?


Try using just a tad less flour, 50g for starters.  Or add more water to the recipe.


Mini

melbournebread's picture
melbournebread

It could definitely be the the flax in the second instance when I ran the cycle twice.  Not sure about the time before, since I have made this recipe with the flaxseed successfully before without a starter.


I can't remember if the dough ended up looking a bit dry, I'll definitely keep an eye on that next time.


Do you think it could be not enough yeast?

melbournebread's picture
melbournebread

...actually I think it may have been the water, or a combination of the water and the seeds.  I just made the "loaf that works from starter", it's a mixed-grain white/wheat/rye loaf, and I remembered that for some reason I have to put HEAPS of water in when I use the starter.  I thought it was because of the rye flour but it may be the starter after all.


A related question, if I'm using a starter for this white/wheat/rye loaf, should I be making the starter with just the bread flour, or mixing together the three flours and using a portion of the mixed flour?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

The word "starter" as you are using it, means "poolish" to me.  A starter is a sourdough starter culture complete with its own yeasts and beasts.  But I understand how you are using it.  If you are using a small amount of rye, say to guess, less than 10%, then you can easily mix the flours together using some into the poolish.  Do keep in mind that rye is full of enzymes that tend to speed up the fermenting (breaking down) process.  So be prepared to shorten times, in a machine, that might create a problem.  Maybe better to add the rye later and not into the poolish.  In order of priorities, I would soak the whole wheat and then add bread flour to meet the flour amount you desire in your starter; the rest of the bread flour, rye, and seeds into the machine.  Add water as needed.


Rye absorbs more water than wheat and whole wheat absorbs more water than regular flour after it has been allow to sit 30 minutes.  Bread flour also absorbs a good deal of water and so do flax seeds.  If you are substituting all these ingredients for a recipe with regular flour, more water is needed.


Keep an eye on the dough so you know if it is overproofing or not.   If the rye speeds up everything too much, you may want to cut back further on the yeast in the poolish.  I would not add more yeast while you are playing with other variables.  Change only one thing at a time and take good notes.  I think your yeast is plenty.


Mini

melbournebread's picture
melbournebread

Yes I mean "starter" as in poolish, not a sourdough starter.


Well the white/wheat/rye loaf has come out perfectly yet again, although it needed a lot more water than when I don't use a poolish.  So next time I make the three-seed loaf with a poolish I'll be sure to make sure it's not too low on water, and I'll add the seeds at the end of the kneading cycle.  My machine beeps to tell me when to add the seeds but I'm sometimes lazy and add them at the start, so that could be contributing to the uneven loaf too.


Thanks for the description of the different flour types, that's helpful!

melbournebread's picture
melbournebread

Well I made it again and didn't add the seeds until the end of the cycle, and made sure the dough wasn't too dry.  It turned out better than the last few loaves but still creased and shorter on one end, like so.



The texture inside was still light and airy with lovely holes (forgot to take a photo) but I'm still puzzled.  My next thought was maybe I use too much poolish for the size of the recipe.  Here's the recipe:


3/4 c water


1T honey


1T oil


1/2t salt


185g bread flour


35g wheat flour


1 1/4t yeast


3T flax, 1T sesame, 1T poppy seeds


 


For the poolish I've been using 1c of the flour, 1/2c water and about 1/8t yeast which I subtract from the recipe.  I mix it up in the evening, put it in the fridge overnight, on the benchtop in the morning and into the bread machine that night.  But this time around I was thinking maybe that's too much poolish?