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Need help with controlling ovenspring

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varda's picture
varda

Need help with controlling ovenspring

Hello,   Ever since I figured out that my stunted oven spring, closed over scores, and split sides were due to insufficient steaming in my gas oven, I've made adjustments and found myself with the opposite problem.   I have been somewhat systematically trying to diagnose and work out these issues, but I'm still stymied.   I have been focusing on making a pain au levain with 80% white flour, 10% rye and 10% whole wheat, at around 75% hydration.   I just tried baking three loaves with three different sets of conditions.   For the first two, bakers percentage of starter is 33%.   The third I dropped this down to 30%.   The first loaf I did bulk ferment for 3 hours with 3 stretch and folds, then final proof for 2 hours.   The second I did bulk ferment for 3 hours with 3 stretch and folds, and final proof for 2.5 hours.   The third one I did bulk ferment for 2.5 hours with 3 stretch and fold, then a 12 hour retard in the refrigerator.   The first was raised in a couche, the 2nd and 3rd in a basket.    I scored each loaf three times using a curved blade, flat to the surface, and at around 20 deg from the long dimension of the loaf.


For loaf 1 which was proofed for the shortest period of time, the three scores essentially exploded and merged into each other.



Loaf 2 was a little better but two of the scores merged and the third didn't open much.   While loaves 1 and 2 expanded roughly the same amount loaf 2 expansion was more vertical which may be the difference between the couche and the basket.



Loaf 1 and 2 side by side:



Loaf 3 expanded much more slowly in the oven, but the center score seemed to take on all the expansion and the other two barely opened. 

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

what method of steam do you use ?  Is this strictly sourdough or do you use yeast ? Actually, I envy your results, I don't get that much spring in an electric oven.


Best,


Anna


 

varda's picture
varda

I have been placing soaked towels in loaf pans which are half full of water on either side of my stone around half hour before baking to preheat.  It gets very steamy by the time I put the loaf in the oven, and when I remove the pans after 15 minutes of baking they are still throwing off a lot of steam.  I have been preheating the oven to 500 and then reducing to 450 when I put in the loaves.   And for these three loaves, I am not using any yeast - just starter.  I think I'm getting too much oven spring.   Before with a much less effective approach to steaming I was getting too little.   But I'm not really sure what is going on here.

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

Sylvia's hot steamy towels :)


It is so cold and dry (in the house) here in So. Maryland, I can't get a good spring whatsoever. I have made 2 bncks so far. If this 3rd one doesn't behave, I shall resort to adding yeast. grrrr


 

varda's picture
varda

I soak the hand towels in luke warm water, then crumple them into the loaf pans (I don't roll them neatly - it seems like crumpling them as messily as possible exposes more wet surface area to the heat and thus more steam) then fill the pans halfway with more lukewarm water and then preheat the whole shebang for around 1/2 hour before loading the loaves.   I don't microwave, I don't pour boiling water on top.    And I do get a lot of steam.   But I don't know whether the fact that your oven is electric and mine is gas is important or not. 

Mary Clare's picture
Mary Clare

I wonder if your loaves are underproofed?  You might try letting them rise longer before putting them in the oven.


 


Mary Clare in MO

varda's picture
varda

That is what I was wondering - that or I am using too high a percentage of starter.   Which is why I did the overnight retard.   I figured that would deal with the underproofing once and for all.   But I still got a strangely misshapen loaf so I'm not really sure what that taught me.  

davidg618's picture
davidg618

Hi Varda,


My weekly sourdough is similar to yours:45%/45%/10%:AP/Bread Flour/Whole Rye Flour with 28% of the flour (all bread flour) prefermented building the levain. The levain hydration is 100%, and the final dough's is 68%. I'm not certain whether your 33% and 30% starter is only the flour in your levain, or flour and water. Unfortunately, there are two conventions in use describing the amount of levain in a sourdough formula: 1) the percentage of the total flour used in the levain build; I prefer this method, and 2) the weight of the levain (flour and water) vs. the total flour.  Using that convention my levain would be 56%, and my sourdough formula would be more dissimilar from yours. I autolyse for 30 minutes.  Additionally, your 3 S&F, and bulk fermentation times are nearly identical. My final proof times, at 76°F, are usually 2 to 2 1/4 hours, also very similar to yours.


I have no oven spring problems. My oven is electric. I tend to underproof slightly. I use wet towels to steam, pre-steam for about 10 minutes, and remove the steam source after 15 minutes.


Three Thoughts:


1. Your levain is VERY active. Reduce the amout of Levain to 15%.


2. You are underproofing the loaves. You only provided proofing times. Do you also check the proof's condition by "poke testing" or feeling the dough? If your unfamiliar with the poke test, it's simple. Poke the dough with your finger. If the indentation left by your finger springs back quickly, the loaf is underproofed, If it remains, refilling the dent very slowly or not at all, the loaf is proofed (maybe overproofed). Feeling the dough or shaking it a little, it should be very soft; especially with your high hydration it should quiver like jello.


3. Scoring: Your slashes, 20°'s from the perpendicular to the loaves' longitudinal axes doesn't favor side-to-side or vertical expansion. That scoring orientation is often used on rye breads where ovenspring is expected to be nominal. (It gives rye loaves a nice "rounded" top. I recommend you do either one long slash centered on the longitudinal axis, or two or three centered longitudinal slashes, overlapping by about 1/3 of their length. (similar to baguette scoring, but longer and fewer).


Of the three thoughts, I suspect #3 is the culpret, followed by #2, and lastly #1.


Please keep us informed of what finally resolves your issues.


and, Happy Baking!


David G


 

varda's picture
varda

Hi David, Thanks so much for your comments.   It seems that I need to clarify a bit more.    I was computing percentage of starter as the weight of starter including the water in the starter over the weight of flour.   So for instance for the third loaf I had 250g flour and 90g starter or what I was calling 30% bakers percentage of starter.   I had been using a higher percent and I thought that might be the problem so for this little trial I brought it down to 33% for two of the loaves and 30% for the third.   Are you saying that computed this way your percentage would be 56%?    I did do the poke test but I have no idea if I'm doing it correctly.   I notice that over time the dough softens and that when you poke it, it leisurely returns to shape.   In my case, that happens pretty regularly at around the 2 hour mark.    So that has been my benchmark time, but perhaps incorrectly so.   As far as the slashing, my 20 deg angle is from the longitudinal rather than from the perpendicular to the longitudinal.   In fact I was trying to do the same type of slashing as for a baguette.   And using Hamelman's nice diagram as a model.   But I wasn't using a protractor, and maybe I drifted off a bit and maybe it was more like 30 deg or even 35.   But I was also deliberately a little off center, in that most of each slash was on the left side of the loaf.   And I see that above you say "centered".   So maybe that is something to experiment with.   I have done the single long slash, and I don't get the kind of distortions that you see in my pictures above, but even then the loaves practically turn themselves inside out.   Anyhow, I really appreciate your comments and I hope I'll be able to figure this out. -Varda

davidg618's picture
davidg618

500g of levain, 100% hydration; 885g total flour weight: 500/885*100 = 56% (885g includes 250g of flour in the levain)


90g of levain; 295g total flour weight: 90/295 = 30% (295g includes 45g of flour in the levain) This assumes you used a 100% levain, but you didn't specify the levain's hydration in your original post.


I use the convention of only considering the weight of the prefermented flour in the levain as a percentage of the total flour. In my case 250g prefermented flour/885g total flour weight = 28%


And in your case 45g/295g = 15%


So in our respective formulae I use approximately twice as much levain as you, but don't get the erupting oven spring you experience. Our procedures and times are similar. Consequently, I now think your levain is a lot more active than mine. The only other thing I can think of is how tight, or slack you draw the surface tension (LindyD calls it "gluten cloak"). With 75% hydration I suspect your final dough is quite slack, i.e., a small internal pressure change blows the ballon up a lot. I don't work very often at that high a hydration so I have little experience, but I'd ask, have you tried a lower hydration? And (curiosity question) Why do you work at that high a hydration? Most baking book formulae specify sourdough breads at 67 or 68 percent.


The difference in conventions is no big deal. I just wish we all spoke the same language. I think Baker's math is a marvelous communications tool: one line of a few words and numbers and anyone can produce the same dough, from 1lb to a milion lbs. But we screw it up with two conventions for discussing preferments. 


I think most commercial bakers use your convention because they are weighing levain that is already prepared and maintained at a constant hydration, most likely by some other employee. Furthermore, they are working from a previously prepared flour and water weight schedule. As a home baker, building a formula-ready levain from seed starter each time I bake, I control the formula-ready levain's final hydration so I think in terms of levain's flour weight and water weight, and when I initially create a formula i need to know the weight of the prefermented flour to correctly calculate the added flours' weights. Both conventions arrive at the same result, but the home baker often (always?) needs to know the levain's hydration.


Please keep us posted, this is really interesting to me.


David G


 

varda's picture
varda

Ok.   Well then I'm totally screwed up.   First of all, I gave the wrong numbers, and second of all, I made the wrong calculation. So to use your preferred method, in my third loaf I had 45 grams of flour in the starter (1/2 of the 90 grams of 100% starter) and added 300 grams of flour.   So that makes 45/345 * 100 = 13% compared to your 28%.    In earlier versions (not pictured but even more explosive)  I was at 20%, and I was trying to come into line with Hamelman's Pain Au Levain.    He calls for 1.55kg of flour in the levain and 10kg of total flour or 15.5%, but overshot since I was using the wrong computations.   Anyhow the method you prefer makes a lot of sense since it ignores the water component which is another variable that shouldn't be allowed to confuse matters.   As far as the water component, I was going for a higher hydration, just because I like the taste and texture. I find that with the stretching and folding multiple times, even at the high hydration the dough is fairly easy to handle and with proper support doesn't flatten out.   But yes, I have watched it in the oven and it does blow up like a balloon.   I just looked over my notes, and see that a few bakes ago, I made a sourdough at 62% hydration and the same thing happened - the scores exploded.   And you are right, my starter is very peppy, but I have to think the issue is elsewhere since even by dropping the starter quite a bit, I still had the same problem.   So that leaves me with the question of what now.   Given this discussion  and Lindy's comments, I'm guessing my biggest problem is that I am misinterpreting the signs and not letting the dough proof enough, which is showing up in a big way now because of the cold weather.   Also, despite the collective wisdom of the site, I had turned up my nose at autolysing which I assumed was an affectation reserved for higher baking levels than mine.   I hadn't understood that it impacted proofing times.  As for shaping and scoring, I am where I am.   I'll get better over time, but I'm thinking that those aren't the primary issues here, but perhaps secondary.

davidg618's picture
davidg618

I know it's frustrating, but, fundementally, your breads have awesome oven spring; they fill more than one home baker with wishes they had the same problem, in lieu of bricks.


I have a few more thoughts. Don't dismiss your dough handling and scoring too quckly. It could be part of the problem.


Do you handle the dough gently, and increasing gentlness with each progressing S&F? Do you retain some of the volume increase when you shape loaves, bursting only the over large bubbles? On my own recent bread baking journey I learned despite my thinking I was being gentle with the dough during its developement, I needed to be even more gentle. Now when I Stretch and Fold, I am careful to retain as much of the volume increase as possible. When I do pre-shaping and final shaping carefully preserving gas bubbles, while at the same time firming up the outer surface tension. Kind of an "iron fist, in a velvet glove" I've studied the Back Home Bakery videos on You Tube carefully. At first I thought he was using a rather heavy hand shaping the doughs, but after watching numerous times, and observing carefully I saw most of the work is done firmly only with his fingertips; the rest of his hands are gentle "guides". Here's a link to one of his videos, there are many others on You Tube. search "markcsinclair". Ignore the question "Did you mean Mark Sinclair."


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MVHDdDtuRc&feature=related


I've studied your photos carefully. The side-by-side photo seems to show the loaf proofed in the brotform erupted less than the loaf proofed in the couche. A couche draws moisture from the doughs surface more than a coiled brotform. Your retarded dough shows the loaf's surface dotted with blisters. They are caused by water vapor, internal to the dough condensing at the cool surface rather than evaporating into the air as they would at warmer proofing temperatures. That water turns to steam early in the baking, aiding the surfuce to stay supple and stretch more before tearing. That loaf, while erupting like the others, retained its shape best of all. Lastly, I know you provide steam, nonetheless, gas ovens dry the surface of baked goods more than electric ovens. That's why I bought a duel fuel stove, I love to cook with gas, but prefer an electric oven.


All that discussion leads to a recommendation that you spritz the surface of your loaves, just before loading them.


Finally, scoring. Try to keep your slashes as near parallel with the long axis as possible. I chose two of the flour lines on either side of the center axis when I shape loaves in an unlined oblong brotform. I draw the blade only three to five degrees from the long axis. I've made a rough sketch.


I use a curved razor blade, cutting on about a 30° angle from the vertical, and about 3/8 inch deep.


Here's a recent example of the result.



I think we've given you lots to think about, and try. Good luck.


David G

varda's picture
varda

Ok.   First of all, thanks for the encouragement.   I appreciate it.   And second, you have made so many helpful suggestions.   Yes, I've been too rough on the dough, and I'll watch the videos and handle with more care in the future.   And I have been wondering since forever just how deep the slashes should go - you say 3/8 inches.  Even Hamelman the king of specificity just says don't cut too deep.  And the diagram is fantastic.   I'm going to use it for my next bake.  And finally I will spritz.  This is great.   Thanks again.   -Varda

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Hi Varda, all I see for your first photo is a tiny squre in a big white space.


The others I can see.  What percentage of salt are you using?


My first guess is underproofing.  Are you getting a tight gluten cloak when you finish shaping?


You might want to take a look at this thread.  The third photo in that thread is a twin to the last photo in your thread.  

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Firefox(or Chrome) must be your issue here. With IE, I get 4 huge pictures, none being duplicated.


With Firefox, first pic, nada. No small square, no blank space. Well, maybe a quarter inch space before the next paragraph. The other 3 pics show fine.


No Chrome here.

varda's picture
varda

Hi Lindy,   I don't know what is going on with the photo.   I can see it ok.   You can see the same bread in the third photo down.   Not very inspiring.   I think I've been using around a tablespoon of salt (18g) for around 2.5 pounds of bread.   I haven't been at all fussy about that.   Why do you ask?   I hadn't even considered salt usage as a possible culprit.  And I'm not sure what you mean when you say "tight gluten cloak."  If I were underproofing wouldn't the third loaf which I left in the refrigerator for 12 hours have been ok?   Actually I don't know the equivalence of out of refrigerator proofing time and inside the refrigerator retarding time.   I took a quick look at the thread you referred to.   There's a lot there.   I will read it carefully and see what I can learn.   Thanks so much. -Varda

LindyD's picture
LindyD

That first photo doesn't appear on Firefox, IE, or Chrome on my home rig.  Nor did it appear on my office system. (Firefox).  Maybe my firewall is blocking it.


I asked about the salt because it slows down yeast activity and tightens the gluten.


By tight gluten cloak, I wondered if the loaf had been shaped evenly so that there was a tight skin all around, with no weak spots.  Grasping at straws, I guess.


As to refrigeration, I've retarded dough for 20 hours and it still needed some proofing time before baking.  I think we need to rely more on the condition of the dough rather than how much time has passed.


The bread was baked seam side down, scores on the top, right?  The only other thing I can think of is that your cuts are too shallow.


Just guesses - hopefully you'll find some answers in rossnroller's thread.


 

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

For what it's worth, now the first pic is gone in IE here now. Getting the little square with the red x inside the big blank square.


I see the images appear to be hosted at fresh loaf, so it must be the way they are being served up there. Suspect they are too large.


Edit: First pic back again, in IE. Still gone(never appeared) in FF.

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

There is an error in the address for the first image. It reads


src="http://www.thefreshloaf.com//files/u21620/loaf%201%20adjust%20oven%20spring%20scaled.JPG", and it should read


src="http://www.thefreshloaf.com//files/u21620/loaf%202%20adjust%20oven%20spring%20scaled.JPG"


Fix that, and the image appears.


cheers,


gary

varda's picture
varda

I deleted the image and reloaded again.   Think it will work now.

varda's picture
varda

Well it's a long thread over at rossnroller but I think the consensus is underproofing.   With part of blame going to the cooling weather which is certainly true here.   I think I need to find a warmer environment for proofing.  And finally understand the condition of the dough when proofed which has been a challenge for me.    David above has a comment about pushing on it to see if it wobbles.   That I haven't tried.  Your comment on salt intrigued me because I noticed that minioven on rossnroller's thread commented that adding salt later would speed up the proofing.   And I haven't been doing that, so I wonder if that is a factor.  My shaping has got a lot better since I started using the hitz video approach both for preshaping and shaping which both include a push back to strengthen the gluten cloak (I guess.)   But better isn't necessarily good enough.    Anyhow, all of your comments give me something to think about, so back to the drawing board.   -Varda

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

for me. Like you said, check your firewall.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Hi Varda,


David G and Lindy have both made some interesting points above. The discussion about how to figure the percentage of prefermented flour will glaze most peoples eyes after a few paragraphs. From what I have read, you are in the range that should work.


I suggest that you use an established and known formula for pain au levain and follow the procedure. If you have Hamelman's Bread or Reinharts BBA, we will have a point of refrence. As has been said many times, baking is chemistry. The details matter. For example, it sounds like you are using the clock as the primary reference for fermenting and proofing. Even if the decision on time is based on prior experience, it is flawed if the ambient conditions change in any significant amount.


The single most important factor in that you have control of in baking is; Temperature. None of the times mean anything unless the temperature is known and considered. Using the water temp to arrive at a Desired Dough Temperature (DDT) is crucial to controlling fermentation.


Hamelman's Pain au Levain on page 158/159 is my go to, basic sourdough bread. The important elements of the formula are as follows: Percent of total flour that is prefermented is 15.5%. The overall hydration is 65%. The flours are Bread flour and medium Rye (I use whole rye). Salt is 1.8% of the total flour weight. The DDT is 76F.


Using the formula above, Hamelman suggests fermenting 2.5 hours and folding twice at 50 minute intervals. The number of folds necessary to develop the gluten well enough to allow the gasses to remain trapped and hold the loaf together is subjective. If you are using a strong AP or a good Bread Flour like Better For Bread from General Mills (yellow bag) or King Arthur's AP, 2 folds should be enough. A weaker flour will require more folds. I suggest using a name brand Bread Flour to learn how it should feel.


The best way to arrive at the 76F DDT is to start by adjusting water temperature. Then you need to find a place where the dough can ferment and proof at or slightly above 76F. I suggest using a transparent fermenting container so you can watch the volume increase and just as important, watch the small bubbles on the side of the container. This is the indicator of activity you need, many small bubbles that will leave the dough becoming puffy and expanding. If you don't observe the bubbles expanding and the temperature is correct, wait for the bubbles past the 2 - 2.5 hours. Your starter health will determine how long you have to wait. For me, above the refrigerator or in the Microwave after boiling a cup of water work for fermenting during the cold months.


If you learn to control the fermentation which includes proofing, and you are developing the gluten and tightening the outer skin, your breads will bake in a predictable fashion. David G's suggestion on a single slash down the center is a good place to start. You might also take a look at the shaping and kneading videos at The Back Home Bakery. Mark Sinclair is a masterful baker and his videos are very helpful. He has some very in depth dough handling videos for sale that cover all of the aspects of baking that people seem to have trouble with. Inexpensive and a great reference.


I tried to give you an in depth reply to your question. Hope I didn't put you to sleep:>)


Eric

varda's picture
varda

Eric,   Thanks for your thoughtful comments.   I stayed awake throughout.   I think that you are absolutely right about temperature.   I have been flying blind.   This summer when I was cooking in an outdoor oven and it was hot and humid, I really didn't have these problems.   When I moved inside this fall, I started baking under-risen, side-split, overly dense loaves because of insufficient steam, and I think that was disguising a host of other problems that I now have to address.  I am very slow to buy new stuff - it took me 6 months to buy a couche, and even longer to get a couple of brotforms, but I think I'll just have to spring for a thermometer so I actually know what is going on.   I have noticed that there are bakers on this site who crank out gorgeous loaves and never talk about temperatures or percentages, but I think I'm just going to have to slog through this analytically.   I have made the Hamelman Pain Au Levain a few dozen times (ok, who's counting) but during my under-steaming brick phase, I got sick of it (not his fault of course.)  The thing that irritates me about his approach is that I really want round numbers that I can add up easily when I pour into the bowl on the scale.   I get tired of adding my bowl weight - 1lb 6.3 oz to the flour weight 1lb, 9.8oz, and half the time making an addition error while I'm at it.  So I find myself making up my own numbers that are easier to work with.   But yes, I've been as cavalier about the salt as I have the temperature.   From now on I'm going to stick to 1.8%.   I'll also take a look at those videos you suggested.   Thanks again - Varda

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Varda,


The one thing I don't like about Hamelman is the use on lbs and oz. I usually make a note sheet and first thing convert everything to grams. It is just so much easier to work with grams. And, I don't think Bakers Math is easy at all in lbs/oz. Much easier in grams. You can get the conversion online easily. Just type in a search window 1 lb to g. and you get the conversion. That's what I do all the time.


I sent you a private message also.


Eric

LindyD's picture
LindyD

I hate the lbs/oz measurements in Bread's "home" column as well.  The simplest approach for me has been to weigh in ounces, then switch my scale over to give the reading in grams.  That number is entered next to the ingredient in the book and it's done.


I know you have Bread, Varda, and Eric's comments about dough temperature are spot on.  If you haven't done the calculations before, JH explains it at pp 382-385.  


Andy's advice is also excellent: just change one thing at a time.


Take heart.  While your bread may not win a beauty contest right now, am betting it still tastes good!

varda's picture
varda

Lindy,  I must say I'd never made it as far as page 382 in Hamelman before.   Well it's not too late.   Thanks once again for pointing me in the right direction.  -Varda

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Varda,


First I can see you have been given excellent guidance by Eric, Lindy and David.


A couple of thoughts come to mind.   Regarding awkward nos, I would build on what both Eric and David write.   Instead of using Hamelman's quantities for the homebaker, use the metric column.   Divide these figures down to what you actually want to make.   Or, you can convert that down to bakers per cent if you like, then multiply up to give the amount of dough required.   This allows you to pick up on David's point about the true use of Bakers%.   If you want round nos. then go metric.   You won't regret it I promise.   Yes, be precise with salt; it is a very powerful ingredient and impacts significantly in the formula in a number of ways, which have been outlined above.


You have an active starter...good; very good!   BUT, I wonder if you have enough acid in the dough.   Eric's point about temperature is so true, as you have come to appreciate.   So, if you retard the dough for long periods in the fridge as Ross was doing, then your dough never gets to ripen.   I venture to sugest that if you have more acid in your levain, then the dough will ripen and sufficient rheological changes will take place through acid fermentation and enzymatic reactions, regardless of the slow and cold ferment.


I would spend some time allowing your starter to ferment right through and develop those lactic and acetic acids.   Then rebuild your leaven with a sequence of feeds.   See if that helps.


Beyond that I agree with the advice above.   Use one recipe you like and know to work.   Only change one thing at a time when you experiment.


Hope this gives you another piece in the jigsaw


Best wishes


Andy

varda's picture
varda

Andy,  I remember a thread from a few months ago about knowing when bulk fermentation was done, where you and someone else were talking about dough rheology, but it went over my head.  I just looked it up:  The study of the deformation and flow of matter.   I'm not entirely sure that has cleared things up.  Anyhow, I'd like to get a better idea of what you are saying, if possible.   If I'm understanding you correctly if one had an insufficiently acidic starter, it would mean fermenting and proofing would take longer than with a better balance of acids?   I didn't know that.   Are there any simple ways to tell if one's starter is acidic enough?   Smell?   Pittedness?  Your other points are well taken.   Thanks so much for commenting.  -Varda

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Varda,


In terms of rheology, bread dough starts out as elastic when the gluten formation is complete in the mixing cycle.   This gives the essential strength to the structure to enable it to hold gas as fermentation proceeds.


However, as gas expands, that means the gluten structure needs to be able to expand too.   This is achieved in long fermentation, naturally through the softening of the gluten, allowing it to become extensible rather than elastic.   This essentially, is your dough rheology.


Fundamentally, elastic implies springing back of material when stretched, then released; think of lycra in clothing.   Extensibility means the dough will not be so resistant and can stretch without breaking, but also without so much resistance.


The acids in the dough play an important role in this process.


Always remember that a sourdough fermentation is based on a symbiotic relationship between the natural yeasts and the lactic and acetic acids in the levain.   You need all 3 in the correct proportions for ultimate leavening power.   Read Hamelman on Detmolder for this!


You are concentrating too much on wild yeast power, and not enough on acid balance, if I'm correct.


Yes, ripeness in the leaven is what you need to be looking out for on all levels.   Larry has an excellent pic of a ripe poolish somewhere that he used to illustrate and help another TFL member.   Don't know where, but you could pm him at "wally" on TFL?   Leaven should be at peak, maybe just over, but not too green.


All good wishes


Andy

varda's picture
varda

Andy, Thanks so much for clarifying.    I'll work on developing the starter to achieve the correct balance.   -Varda

LindyD's picture
LindyD

I put these two small boules in the oven tonight, knowing full well they were underproofed - but I had no bread (except for a frozen bâtard) and I'm hungry!!



The scores went to Hades and the tops blew out,  but what the heck - they're going out on the 12F porch for a quick cool so I can finally have my grilled sandwich for dinner.

varda's picture
varda

Well  we have to eat don't we, and exploded bread is the tastiest kind.   Enjoy your dinner.   -Varda

davidg618's picture
davidg618

Varda,


Are your loaves still exploding? I am very interested to learn if you solved the mystery.


David G

varda's picture
varda

Hi David,   I think the quick answer is yes.   I haven't had a single exploded loaf lately.   I made a lot of changes based on all the great advice above.   Probably the single most important one impacting the explosion issue was being a lot more careful about dough temperature, but I also changed salt, scoring, and a bunch of other things.  I am actually working on some sourdough today, and I'll see how it goes.   I put a spreadsheet in place to help me be more aware of all the variables and this has also helped a lot.   I may post pictures later today on this thread if there is anything interesting to be seen on how the bread comes out.   Since I have been slowly tweaking my own sourdough formula to get it to first of all work, and second of all to suit my and my family's taste, I have been curious what other people do.   A lot of people post about following this baker or that one, but I think a lot more people out there quietly build their own formulas.   But I suppose that's a topic for another post.  Anyhow, thanks for asking.  -Varda

davidg618's picture
davidg618

Glad to hear your having successes, and the confidence to refine toward what you and yours like. That's always been my first priority.


David G


 

varda's picture
varda

After the short course in bread making given by the dedicated commenters at Fresh Loaf (see above) I've been working and working and working trying to put all these lessons into my bread.   Here is today's effort.  I hope you guys grade on the curve. -Varda


PeterPiper's picture
PeterPiper

The bread's looking much better, Varda!  I was having the same problem for a while until I remembered what is really happening with oven spring:  it's the last hurrah for yeast as it heats up.  I was doing just as you did--long cold ferment in the fridge--and my dough wasn't fully coming up to room temperature in its last proof before baking.  As a result, once it was in the oven it sprang nicely, then the cool inside had a bit more time to expand, so it blew out the nice ears (making me blow steam out my ears!).  Once I really let the dough come to a uniform temperature, then formed and final proofed, I got a much more tempered oven spring.  Good job and happy baking,


-Peter