The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Proving problem

geoffbird's picture
geoffbird

Proving problem

Hi


I'm experiencing an unpredictable problem of a large, roughly 1-1.5" hollow developing in the proved loaf. It occurs in the centre of the loaf and I dont discover it until I've used sufficient slices to reveal it.


I use a 30min autolyse and a 50/50 x 12hr  poolish/0.07% yeast,  with an additional 0.6% (2g) IDY added to the main flour


Because of arthritic wrists, I use a mixer to knead the main dough vigorously to develop gluten, then gradually add the poolish during a final, gentler hand- kneading.  Finally, I fully incorporate salt mixed with chopped nuts, and shape.  I proved it for  3hrs yesterday at 21-22degC.   The loaf, when baked, had a flattish top.


Taste and texture were both fine (maybe a little too salty--8.5g in 475g flour) Very satisfying taste and nicely moist.  Definitely moorish!!


I'd appreciate any thoughts on why I get the hollow centre?


 


Geoff Bird

amolitor's picture
amolitor

One way I wind up with hollows inside is when folding over my dough while it's rising. Sometimes I just plain get a gap inside there (or fold in a pocket of air, if you like). I think it's pretty easy to tell -- the gaps I get like this aren't round, they look like expanded versions of just when they are, the area between a group of flopped over wads of dough.


My solution is to fold more carefully!


Yours could, of course, be completely different.

geoffbird's picture
geoffbird

 I feel I do knead pretty thoroughly, so am doubtful if thats the cause.  However, I will watch out for what you said


Thanks


Geoff

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Geoff,


I don't understand why you are not incorporating the poolish into the original dough mixing cycle; I would alter your routine to incorporate the poolish into the autolyse phase, thus ensuring correct hydration from the outset.   Otherwise, there is little point in doing the autolyse in the first place.   Late addition of salt is fine, but I would add this using the machine, near the end of your mechanised mixing phase.   Rest the dough for a short while, then use a metal cutter [we call them "Scotch Cutters" in UK commercial baking] to cut the nuts into the dough.


There are 2 immediate possibilities for the cause of the fault which spring to mind.   Firstly your dough is under developed.   This is unlikely if you are using correct hydration and mixing thoroughly using mechanical means.   So the other, and more likely problem is that your final dough is over-proved when you put it in the oven....the flat top you describe would tend to confirm this.   Remember it could be something entirely different, but I am basing these ideas on the information you have provided.


Best wishes


Andy

geoffbird's picture
geoffbird

Thanks for that Andy


The reason I incorp the poolish so late is 'cos I read in Adrew Whitleys book that the gluten in the poolish is naturally well developed through the 12hrs its maturing and (he cautions) that if the gluten in the poolish is kneaded too vigorously it turns into a sticky mess.


Indeed I've experienced this when I add the poolish in with the main dough and machine knead, it becomes unmanageably messy and sticky and the dough doesnt seem to have the strength to support any rising.


I tend to concur with you that its too long in the proving that might be the cause.  What do you reckon would be a normal proving time?


PS  By 'machine knead' I mean using the paddle in a breadmaker, not a machine with a dough hook.


Geoff

wally's picture
wally

Geoff - That sounds like the result of an overripe poolish which has an excess of protease activity that destroys the gluten in your dough.  Make sure your poolish has not reached a high water mark in its container and then fallen.  Also, you may want to take its temperature - ideally it should be around 70° F or a few degrees warmer.  If it's much higher then it may be maturing to rapidly, leading to overripeness.


Larry

geoffbird's picture
geoffbird

Hi Larry


I hadnt appreciated how subtle an influence a poolish has on the quality of the final dough---so thank you for that.  I've actually started off a poolish this morning and have checked the temp as you suggest--and its around the 70deg mark


I'd be interested to hear what various yeast/flour %ages you use for your poolishes for varying maturing durations.


Also, is smell any indication of a ripe/over-ripe poolish?


Geoff

wally's picture
wally

Geoff- I generally follow the yeast guidelines set out by Hamelman in Bread on p. 96 (if you don't have the book, he recommends .1% - .25% of the flour weight in the preferment for up to 16 hrs; .3% - .6% for up to 12 hrs; and, .7% - 1% for up to 8 hrs.).  NOTE: These are given for fresh yeast, so if you're using Instand Dry or Active Dry yeast you need to reduce the amounts by a factor of .33 and .4 respectively.


For home baking, this translates to a pinch of yeast generally.


I cannot say that I've noticed smell as an indication of over-proofing.  The classic sign is a high water mark from which the mixture has noticeably collapsed.  For 8 months I was mixing around 65# of poolish baguette dough per day, and I ran into this problem at one point and it took several weeks and a lot of correspondence with Dan DiMuzio to clear it up.  I love poolish for the nutty flavor it imparts to bread, but of all the pre-ferments, it is the most difficult and unforgiving to use because an over-ripe poolish will destroy your dough.  I would prefer to use a slightly under-ripe poolish (at the possible sacrifice of a little flavor development and a slightly longer primary fermentation), than one that's too ripe.


Good luck-


Larry


 

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Geoff,


When it comes to judging proof levels , that is something which is really learnt by experience and doing it.   There are a lot of variables at play, especially temperature, but other things too.   Additionally, I have very little experience of dried yeast.   We don't use it on a commercial basis in the UK, and I only make naturally leavened breads at home.


Using the pad of your finger, not the pointy end, and don't "poke" as some instruct.   Learn to note the response of the dough surface when you press it in gently.   If the dough immediately bounces back and the shape is retained, then it needs more proof.   However, if the dough starts to deflate when you touch it in this way, it is over-proved.


I am familiar with Andrew's counsel on delayed addition of pre-ferments, although I do have a very different take on this.   I suggest that if you are having problems adding a poolish at the dough mixing stage, then there are changes you could make to avoid this.   Firstly, why use a paddle and not a hook?   The hook will have a much gentler mixing action, and is far more effective developing the dough; a paddle will quickly overwork the dough.   This is unless you are trying to make VERY wet doughs; the only type I can think of is Ciabatta.   So first change is to move to the hook.   Secod change should be  to add your "poolish" to your water in the bowl, then add your flour and autolyse for whatever is your chosen time period.   Then mix the dough with the dough hook, adding your salt towards the end of the mixing cycle.   If you find the dough is still going wrong at this stage, then it is down to one of two problems.   Either you are over-mixing; autolyse, and not delaying the incorporation of the pre-ferment will speed up the mixing process, and reduce the mixing time.   Or, you have not calculated the correct hydration for your dough.   It would be difficult for me to comment on this, as I don't have sufficient detail of your formula, or, the flour you are working with.   However, I will say that I am not from the "wetter is better" camp, but instead prefer to make sure the dough is correctly hydrated in the first place.   To that end the autolyse is a valuable tool for incorporating more water into the dough without ending up with the sticky mess you describe.


I would urge you to read this through very carefully, and see if it might be of benefit to giving you better dough quality.   I think it will, but you will have to decide whether or not you want to try it


Best wishes


Andy


ps. Larry is almost certainly correct about your poolish being over-ripe if you experience the difficulties you describe.

geoffbird's picture
geoffbird

Thanks Andy--certainly a lot to digest in your reply.  Many thanks


The problem I have with the hook solution is that the Panasonic BreadMachine I'm trying to graduate away from wont/cant accept a hook.  So I'm trying to adapt my dough prep on that basis.


 


 

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi Andy,


Thanks for the clear description of the 'poke' or maybe 'pad' test. This is something I tend to struggle with having not seen many oven ready doughs from other bakers.


Kind regards, Daisy_A

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Geoff,


What I would suggest, as a cover, is to use colder water when mixing.   Desired dough temperature range for the bread you are making would be 25-28*C.   The danger of the paddle is that the mixing will be sufficiently intense to over heat the dough.


Alternatively, and I am aware you suffer from arthritis, but would you be able to mix gently and slowly by hand?   It is absolutely the best way to acquire a feel and understanding of dough mixing and development.   It may not be an option for you  even short term, only you know that.   I mix all my bread doughs by hand at home, except wet ciabatta, which I mix in small quantities using a hand-held electric mixer.   It is not easy to find a good domestic electric dough mixer, I fully appreciate that.


Larry's comment is absolutely crucial to take on board.   The Poolish should be just peeking.   If it is just on the drop, you should still be fine.   However, if it has already dropped back, then everything Larry says holds true; your final dough quality is seriously compromised, no matter what stage you choose to add the poolish


Have fun


Andy

Aussie Pete's picture
Aussie Pete

Hi Andy,


Earlier in this discussion you mentioned that the late entrance of salt is OK in the mix. Does it make a difference to when salt is placed into the bread dough mix? I normally place it into my dry ingredients at the start so that it is kneaded in from the very beginning. I've noticed in other threads some people place their salt in later as their mix comes together. 


I would have thought that once salt was disolved by the moisture in the dough regardless at what point in time it is entered there would not be any difference.


This has got my curiousity, can you help please?..................Pete 

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Pete,


Your method would probably be considered the norm; although I have adopted autolyse as a very common part of my mixing procedures, and you would not be adding salt to the autolyse, of course.


Obviously it is essential that the salt is properly incorporated, and I was really asking Geoff  whether his method was achieving this properly or not.


With regard to the theory, and I'm not totally up with this, I have to admit!   But the Italians like to use delayed salt to encourage a crispy dough, and the salt crystals remaining relatively near the dough surface has the affect of drawing out colour in the baking loaf.   This is achieved by the salt crystals drawing moisture to the surface of the loaf.


From a mixing point of view, I think the idea is that, in line with autolyse, the starches in the flour, then the proteins are given as much chance as possible to take up water, before the salt is added.   At this point the sodium ions impact on the protein and toughen up the gluten.   This is evidenced by the dough transition from very sticky to the finished state of elasticity and silkiness.


As I say, delayed salt is a specific technique; it is not essential, and the method you use is the normal, respected choice for many bakers.


Best wishes


Andy 

Aussie Pete's picture
Aussie Pete

Thankyou Andy,


I appreciated the information provided on when you can add salt. I will  stick with my current "at the beginning method". Unless I am making a rosemary and rock salt focaccia loaf and then on the top it goes.


Cheers and thanks again..............Peter

LDabbs's picture
LDabbs

All biological reactions aside, could it simply be the way you are shaping the dough? Is your first curl in the dough too thick/deep? Perhaps you need to apply a bit more pressure in the beginning? This is just a suggestion and sorry if my answer is an insult to your knowledge... this is a problem I experienced when learning to make baguettes the first time.


LMD

geoffbird's picture
geoffbird

HI, thanks very much for your contribution.   I'm really a very unskilled baker, freshly graduated from a Panasonic!  But the problem I had seems to have resolved itself as I adopted methods/suggestions from other contributors. Many thanks though for an interesting idea.


Geoff