The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Artisan Bread Every Day - crumb issue

lionofdharma's picture

Artisan Bread Every Day - crumb issue

Greetings Everyone, 

I have baked a few sourdough loaves from Artisan Bread Every Day and have not gotten the results I have expected.   I believe my starter is good, because I the flavor of the final bread is great.  I am just not getting much lift.  The crumb is very dense and gummy.   BTW, I am doing the purist method - no added yeast.  I am also proofing for 4 hours.   


Could a shorter proofing be the key?




AW's picture


I got the same results from that book. Some folks on this blog have remarked that it is due to not having the dough out long enough from the refrigerator.

After several attempts I gave up, sold the book, bought Bread, and had numerous successes.


Franchiello's picture

I've been using ABED lately (after asassinating my starter culture a few weeks ago) and had very good rise with a moist, tender crumg full of nicely spaced holes.  This was using the yeast method.  Today I tried the "traditional" San Francisco sourdough with a new starter and so far have gotten fabulous oven spring - loaves are cooling so no peek at the crumb yet.  I have been very careful to take the dough out of the refrigerator about 4 hours before I start baking.  I've been pretty good at following the directions very closely because I just don't want to waste my time and money on bread I cannot eat.  Maybe your dough is too wet?

Janknitz's picture

All of these NK breads have fairly high hydration levels, and I find such breads are "sneaky" in that they give every appearance of being done (nicely browned crust, hollow sound when you tap them), only to find a gummy, dense center.

The trick I have learned is to ALWAYS check the temperature of the dough in the center before deciding if the bread is done.  Aim for about 205 to 210 F for lean doughs, 184 to 190 for enriched doughs.  When I have checked to make sure the internal temp is adequate, I have never had a gummy center. 



Chuck's picture

Measure rising times by how it "looks" and "feels", not by the clock no matter what the recipe book says. With sourdough, it can vary wildly ("4 hours" can really mean something like "anywhere between 1 hour and 28 hours"). When "adapting" a recipe from yeast to sourdough, you may need to cut the rise volume measurements for example in half (for example instead of "two times" "one and a half times"). Even though your starter has developed good "flavor", it may not have a whole lot of "lift" yet so rising and proofing will take a lot longer than expected.

Your proofing times probably aren't long enough given your starter - shortening proofing times would probably just make it worse.

"Doughy crumb" almost always means it's not really done. Buy a cheap oven thermometer and check your oven; it's quite common for "reality" to differ from "what the control says" by 50F!

Also get an "instant read" thermometer, and poke it deeply into the loaf so the end of the probe is close to the center of the loaf and measure before you take it out of the oven permanently (except don't poke it so far it touches the inside of the crust on the other side). Also make sure the thermometer touches only the bread, and doesn't also touch something like the lip of a hot metal pan. For lean doughs, "done" is somewhere between 200F-210F  ...exactly where is a matter of taste. Some folks treat 205F like it's sacred, other folks think it's typically too low and 208F or 210F is better.

The thermometer method is a lot more accurate and repeatable and doesn't keep your oven turned on any longer than nececcary. (It's especially a whole lot more accurate than crust color, which is arguably the worst indicator of "done".) Nevertheless, the thermometer is just a tool. You're the judge - if you think it's too doughy, bake it to a higher temperature next time. Once you find the right temperature for you, just bake to that same temperature every time and it will always be the same.

lionofdharma's picture

Thank you all for the comments and advice - I will get out my thermometer the next time I bake for sure.

Another question I have is - when should the "purist" method rise.  I mixed up the dough last night and left it out for 2 hours, per the instructions.   There was some very small signs of fermentation going on.    I looked this morning and it did not rise a great deal.  This is unlike the modified method in the ABED book, where the wild yeast is boosted by commercial yeast.  When I did that, the dough rose 2x in the fridge.

Should I expect the "purist" dough to rise in the fridge, or should it get some rise while proofing?



hanseata's picture

the rising times really vary, depending on the temperature of the environment and the starter activity.

By the way, I found no difference in performance whether you shape the dough cold from the fridge (as stated in ABED) or let it come to room temperature for 2 hours before shaping (as in WGB). Shaping it cold shaves off maybe 1/2 hour from the overall proofing time, if at all.