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Overproofing and oven spring

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madruby's picture
madruby

Overproofing and oven spring

I have been baking P.R. French bread from his new book ABED.  I am also using the variation version of this recipe ie after the stretch and fold, I set the dough at room temp for 90 min (dough doubles up), then shape it, and off it goes into the fridge for overnight fermentation.  While the dough is in the fridge, it often balloons up At LEAST TWICE its size (and sometimes it is more) and that is within the first 24 hrs only (and Peter gives us a baking window of 4 days).  Prior to baking it, I give the dough its final proof on the counter for an hour (but rarely sees any rise here - by now, I don't care bcuz the shaped dough has risen soooo much in the fridge), crank the heck out of my oven and prepare the steaming accessories,  which have so far included the following techniques: (i) the stone and steam in the pan + mist; (ii) stone and steam in a pan containing lava rocks; (iii) stone and aluminium lasagna pan over the dough; (iv) TWO baking stones and steam in pan containing lava rocks; (v) baking my boule in a dutch oven (other than owning a real steam injected oven, I think I must have tried everything!).


Let me start by saying that the crumbs I get from these breads are 90% to 95% excellent.  Except for 1 or 2 slightly dense crumbs, they have for the most part delivered delicious, airy and moist crumbs.  On the other hand, I have had only mild successes with my oven spring (and as you can see, I have tried a number of tricks)  NTD: the dutch oven baking gave me a very decent oven spring though....


Then, another blogger made me think of something that may be wrong with my doughs - OVERPROOFING.


When I score my doughs before their baking, I usually see an important deflation (I thought at first the deflation was caused by my poor scoring technique).  Yet, the SHAPED doughs rarely get another chance to regain their pre-scoring shapes once they hit the oven.  By now, I am thinking that it is my steaming technique that is lacking.  However, the more I thought about it (and especially at the mild oven spring results), I am enclined to believe that my doughs have been overproofing (and this is why I have reduced the final proofing time from 60 min to 45).  Then, this morning, I got confirmation there was something "deadly" wrong with my doughs. 


I had one loaf shaped and standing in the fridge since Monday pm (which is only a 2.5 days from time of mixing to baking).  This dough had doubled in size beautifully.  But this am, when I opened the fridge, I noticed that the dough had started to slightly deflate.  This is when I realized that overproofing may have been the culprit for my lack of oven spring.  Well....now that I may have figured out the cause of the problem, what's the solution?


Mind you...Peter gives us at least 4 days to bake these babes and often times, I am not ready to bake the doughs within 24 hours of mixing the dough, therefore I really need to take advantage of that window spam.  Cutting short the fridge fermentation will not be the optimum solution to prevent overproofing since my schedule and solo eating needs require that I bake these loaves at different periods.   But even when I baked the first loaf within the first 24 hrs, I still felt a good deflation at the scoring stage.


Can anyone help?


PS - the reason why I have been using the variation recipe was bcuz I liked the first 90 min counter rise that offered me a good expansion, and another one once the dough hits the fridge.  I noticed that when I use the original version without the first 90 min counter rise, I barely get any rise at the final proofing stage.

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Either ways, Madruby, you can manipulate the amount of yeast in the dough before going to the fridge , or you can reduce the temperature of the fridge so that overproofing is delayed.


khalid

madruby's picture
madruby

Thank you Mebake for your reply.  However, I am wondering how decreasing the amount of yeast would address my overproofing problem (and thus increase the oven spring).  I thought (but Im a newbie so I may not get my stuff right) that overproofing occurs bcuz the yeast was too active, working on overdrive and by the time the dough is baked, the dough no longer has any "poufff" to get it to expand during the first few minutes of baking.  If we reduce the yeast, won't my dough have even less yeast to work with...therefore giving the same lack of "poufff" results in the oven?


As for reducing the fridge temp...hmmm....we"re putting the dough in the cold fridge so we create retardation ie slow, long fermentation instead.  If we had just kept the dought at room temp rather than putting in it in the fridge, fermentation would occur more rapidly, getting my dough to rise "high".  By letting it sit in  the fridge and cooling it, we are slowing down the proofing process.  But by reducing the temp, we are creating a "warmer" environment in which the dough now sits...thus accelerating the fermentation activity (rather than slowing it).  Right?


What do you think?  Please let me know if I am off, tks.

rhodriharris's picture
rhodriharris

less yeast gives a slower rise as it takes longer for few to do the same job as many if you get what i mean.  When you shape you may leave too much air in the dough so as that the gluten hasn't got much more stretch in it to hold all the gas made by the yeast.  Take more air out of the dough before proofing, gives a more even crumb but less big holes.  Reduce the initial couter rise time before going into the oven, do not omit this rise just reduce the time by a bit.


Sounds to me that by the time you get to the final shaping the dough has done all the rising it is going to do, maybe reduce the proofing time before going into the oven.


Dutch ovens are about the best way to bake bread and give the most oven spring as well as creating a moist atmosphere without the need to add extra steam.  If you dont get much rise on the final proofing make sure that a dutch oven is all you cook it in, if you get lots of rise on the final proofing a normal oven will probably do.


Definatly seems like over proofing but isn't that the craze these days with the no knead bread which is also best cooked in a dutch oven.

madruby's picture
madruby

OK, made a new batch of P.R. lean bread (called the wet French bread), but this time, added less of the yeast as recommended.  After the stretch and fold, I didvided the dough in half and experimented. 


The first half went immediately into the fridge per the recipe for the overnight fermentation.  Dough ballooned.  2 hrs prior to baking, I shaped it and let it proofed in the oven that had slightly been warmed up early on.  The dough did rise this time, quite nicely but always much more sideways (I usually get zero rise at this stage so that is why I tried proofing it in the oven).  Baked it in my dutch oven.  The oven spring was good but surprisingless less than other loaves I baked in the d.oven.  


The second half got a 60 min counter rise (instead of the usual 90 min), then shaped into a baguette (at least, I tried!!!) and then put into the fridge for the overnight fermentation.  The dough rose considerably but the recipe did say to expect it as well.  When time came to bake it, I reduced the final counter proofing from 60 min to only 30 min (time to heat the oven, stone and steam pan).  Since I had 2 baguettes, I baked them separately and tried 2 different steaming techniques: (i) traditional steam pan with lava rocks; (ii) putting a lasagna aluminium pan over the dough.  In both instances, the oven spring was even less than the loaf that got baked in the dutch oven.


Conclusions:  my oven spring is never that great, except that the dutch oven always outperforms the other techniques; I don't think I have overproofed my doughs this time so I don't know why the oven spring is still so moderate.


NTD:  the crumb and crust on all 3 loaves were always outstanding...if only the appearance could be the same.  I feel that the oven spring could be much better and give the doughs that nice "poufff" effect.


I know I must be doing something wrong but I just don't know what that is.....Running out of ideas.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

30 min (time to heat the oven, stone and steam pan)  is not long enough.  If you have the stone in the oven make sure that stone is heated through 45 min - 1 hr and the spring may increase.  Start the oven earlier.


On the dough, another option is to lower the dough temperature before counter time.  If you are using warm water, switch to cold water or toss a few ice cubes into it when mixing up the dough.  This will cool the dough for a slower refrigerator rise.


I've been doing something interesting that might interest you.  I mix up the dough without any yeast or leavening or eggs.  Put it into a container and leave it out on the counter for up to 2 days.  Then add the yeast when I'm ready for a short bulk and fast proof.  The spring is great.  And the taste too!


Mini

ronhol's picture
ronhol

I would think that you would get a strong yeast flavor that way.


Not that I object, but I know a lot of people don't care for the yeast taste.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

What yeast taste? 

Koyae's picture
Koyae

Have you tried adjusting the amount of salt in the recipe? I'm not sure how tight your margin is, but yeasts can definately be stunted fairly by a good pinch or two of seasalt, I've found.


If it's possible to tweak the flour-ratio to add something harder-to-digest for the critters (say a portion of oat-flour for example) that might be the ticket. Changing grinds to something coarser might also do if allowable.


Finally, have you tried a different yeast? The guys you've got right now seem a bit ravenous for the target you're shooting at.

madruby's picture
madruby

Koyae,


I am using SAF instant yeast.  No, I don't believe I would add oat, etc...not a big fan of it, whole, wheat, etc...I am thinking that my shaping may also have something to do with it...could it be possible?  For example, I have noticed that my baguette shaping is so-so; it may lack good skin tension.  Could that affect my oven spring?  My dough tends to rise sideways and when it is baked, the baguette takes on just a slighter rise and the shape never becomes fully round/cylindre like baguettes usually do.  Mine looks more like a ciabatta.


I will try the almost no knead recipe from Cooks Illustrated to see whether this recipe will give me a better oven spring and better looking loaf.  On the other hand, P.R. ABED breads give me really great tasting loaves though.

rhodriharris's picture
rhodriharris

Assuming your preheating your oven lots and baking at the right and high temperatures then i don't know why if not over prooved why you wouldn't get a good oven spring.  What temperature do you bake at?  You only open the door once to put the loaf in and once to take it out reducing heat loss, especially during the first ten to fifteen mins when you get oven spring except for dutch oven when after 15-20 mins you open oven door to take of dutch oven lid? Don't use the steam method as this drastically reduces heat and if your oven isn't quick at regaining heat or the thermostats rubbish you may never achive the high enough temperature your bread needs to rise to its fullest, which isn't a factor in the dutch oven since it dosen't loose heat fast or need steaming!


I do think you need to check your temperatures and if the bread is rising to the side its a shaping problem.  I've had many a loaf fail to rise when the temperature of my oven dipped below 200 degrees centigrade and noticed increased and quicker oven spring when the oven was preheated to 230 degrees centigrade and when the loaf placed into the oven the temperature was then set back down to 200, this seems to account for heat loss when loading the loaf.

madruby's picture
madruby

I invested in an oven thermometer and although there is a diff' between the bought one and the stove thermostat, I make sure that my bought thermometer reaches at least 500F before I insert my bread into the oven.  I no longer lose too much heat when I set my bread in the oven(and I do this very quickly) and besides, the oven has to be reduced to 425 F in any event.  I usually pre-heat my oven at least 45 min prior to baking to ensure I reach that 500F. 


Also, I open the door only at the 12 min mark to turn my bread 180 degrees.  When I bake in a dutch oven, I open the oven only after 30 min to take the lid off.  By then, the oven springf has already occurred.  Sigh.....


Like I said, I will do CI almost no knead recipe and compare it with P.R. French breads recipes.  I'll see whether there is a difference in the breads' performance or my techniques are just plain awful that any bread recipes I make just won't get the o. spring.  Will report back.  Thanks all.

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

...with recipes from the same book when I tried to shape and retard.  I've pulled dough out of the bannetons in the fridge to reshape as they were huge and oozing over the edge.  What I did was to let the bulk dough rise until 1.5 times its original volume and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour (don't remember exactly) and then shape the loaves.  If I had continued to try that method, I would have honed in on a method to control the shaped loaves rise in the fridge, but instead, I had stopped the rise when I chilled the dough.  The result was still good, but I had to warm the loaves and proof for a while before baking. 

madruby's picture
madruby

Hi Frequent Flyer,


I didn't quite get when you said " If I had continued to try that method, I would have honed in on a method to control the shaped loaves rise in the fridge, but instead, I had stopped the rise when I chilled the dough. "


Which method are you referring to, P.R. variation version from his recipe Classic French bread from ABED?  I am glad that you also tried those recipes and faced similar challenges.  Though I am a novice to baking, I knew that I was doing exactly what the recipes were calling me to do but I couldn't understand why I had these oversized shaped doughs (or not shaped doughs) sitting in the fridge that just wouldn't "poufff" once they got into the oven.  I am never able to replicate my doughs' shaped size before they were deflated by the scoring.


Would you mind re-explaining what you did to overcome the lack of oven spring problem.  Thanks again.

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

I really didn't explain that well.  I'm a novice as well and like you, I tried the french bread recipe in Artisan Breads Every Day and then tried the variation on pg 51 that you explained in the opening of this thread.  The shaped loaves continued to rise in the fridge. 


I tried this variation on other recipes in the book and consistently encountered overproofing problems.  So I modified the procedures to reduce the proofing and still retard the shaped loaves.  I fermented the bulk dough for less than 90 minutes and placed in the fridge.  After the bulk dough had cooled some, I shaped the loaves and placed back into the refrigerator.  This worked better, but I didn't experiment  with this enough to develop a procedure that I had confidence in.


About that time I bought Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads and began working with reipes in that book and I'll still doing that.


whether you chill the dough and then shape like I did or use another technique for slowing down the proofing (like using less yeast), I believe you can lick this overproofing problem.

madruby's picture
madruby

Thanks Frequent Flyer.  After I make the CI almost no knead, I will go back to P.R. wet French bread and try your trick and see whether that works better as well.  Cheers

madruby's picture
madruby

The verdict is in.  I baked CI almost no knead to compare it with P.R. lean and French bread recipes and I do see differences.  Scoring CI's dough was a breeze!  I usually struggle scoring my doughs when making P.R. but CI dough barely deflated, if not at all.  The recipe said to let it final proof for 2 hrs and after 90 to 100 minutes, the dough passed the poking test.  No overproofing problem here  For some reason, I am getting a better result with CI when it comes to the oven spring (baked it in the dutch oven as per the recipe).  This means P.R. breads just don't give out a stronger oven spring (and it has nothing to do with me and my manipulation of the dough) or P.R. recipes are perfect and I DONT know how to manipulate his recipes/doughs.


Will now go back to P.R. lean bread recipe using Frequent Flyer retardation/shaping trick.

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

For what its worth, madruby, I think that book (artisan breads every day) introduces a method that replaces Reinhart's epoxy method and offers some very good recipes.  But, I wasn't real happy with the resulting breads.  It could have been me being a novice or it might be other methods work better.  In any case, I have moved on to other methods (most are also Reinhart methods but older ones).


FF

madruby's picture
madruby

FF, I think you are right.  As much as I love P.R. lean and French breads, I really do not get the best result with some of his techniques (then again...I am a novice myself so the more experienced bakers will likely do better).  Today, after I cooked the CI bread in the morning, I decided to bake P.R. lean bread using the wet towel technique I read about on the posting called Oven Steaming - My New Favorite Way.


Those who have tried and improved on this technique have all raved about it so I am sure that this steaming method is a very good one.  Despite using it myself, my wet lean bread still got only a moderate oven spring.  I think that P.R. lean bread recipes are just made that way and therefore I should not expect nicer and bigger oven springs.  On the other hand, the o.spring I got from CI bread was superbe so this tells me that the two recipes generate different results despite my using identical steaming techniques on both breads.  Enough said here I think and I will just expect the moderate results from P.R. lean breads.