The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

What did I do wrong? Middle of loaf didn't cook.

  • Pin It
Lord Jezo's picture
Lord Jezo

What did I do wrong? Middle of loaf didn't cook.

So here is what happened, I decided to make this loaf, the daily bread again, the first time I did it last year it worked pretty much fine.


 


This second time though, does anyone know what may have caused my loaf to totally fail in the middle?


 



The outside looked perfect with it's brown crust and color.  I cooked it as suggested, max oven temp, which is 550 for me, for 5 minutes then turned it down to 470 for another 15.  It rose just as it was supposed to but once I cut into it the middle of the loaf was a big ball of dough, the middle was as if it wasn't ever even put in the oven.


I followed the recipe with the only change being 3.5 cups of flour instead of a pound as I don't have a scale.  I used King Arthur's bread flour with SAF instant yeast.  Had the poolish work over night for 8 hours and with the main dough I mixed by hand and did the French fold method four times over the course of three hours with the final resting for about an hour.


I ended up putting it back in the oven for 20 minutes after I had ruined it by cutting into it.  In the end I had a large loaf of toast, but it was either doing that to salvage something or tossing it all out.  A day later it is okay to eat, the crust and the exposed bits are burned, but digging in deeper to the loaf its fine.


Any suggestions?


 


 

Nickisafoodie's picture
Nickisafoodie

I would think your bake time should be 40-45 minutes for this.  Buy a $16 probe themomenter at Bed Bath and Beyond ($20 and a 20% off coupon).  After baking for 30 minutes, quickly open the oven and insert the probe so the tip is in the center of the loaf which will be fully formed at this point.  Set the alarm to 203 degrees.  You will see the display count up the longer it bakes.  When the alarm sounds at 203° remove loaf from oven, remove probe (use a pot holder to grap the probe!!) and let cool on a wire rack.  Let sit for 2 hours before cutting.

proth5's picture
proth5

Don't mean to negate your advice because it is in general good advice.  However, the specific temperature you call out only works at elevations near sea level.


In Denver, for example, where water boils at 200F - attaining 203F in the middle of the bread would result in an way overdone loaf.


I always find it helpful to think of these finished temperatures in terms of how far they are off the boiling point of water (essential if doing cooked sugar work - maybe not so precise with bread).  I haven't seen a definitive chart on this, but where water boils at 200F, 195-198F is done for bread.


Happy Baking!

Olivia's picture
Olivia

I'm wondering if your oven was too hot.  I have never seen a bread recipe start at 550 degrees and I have found most of the time when my bread is not cooked in the centre the oven was too hot but if you say it worked last time maybe it was just a very humid day.  I find bread baking can be a little fussy, depending on the humidity level, how much you knead the bread, the age of your yeast.  

flournwater's picture
flournwater

That's my theory also.  I might start it at 500 but not 550 and the five minute turn down temperature would be 425 (450 max).


The most significant element in Lord Jezo's process is, IMO, trying to determine when the bread is done by timing the bake.  That's a by guess and by golly method that just isn't accurate enough to make judgements about baking results. 


Lord Jezo, get yourself at least a digital probe thermometer (it doesn't have to have an alarm notificatiion feature) so you can test the internal temperature of your loaves.


Unless you live in the northern part of your state I doubt that elevation is a factor. But the point raised that you may be trying to bake one loaf from what is intended to make two loaves is another issue that you need to address.


You might also want to slash that loaf next time to give it some expansion room.  It looks a bit like it wanted to expand but the hardening crust suffocated it.

Lord Jezo's picture
Lord Jezo

I will try my probe thermometer next time I bake thing, I didn't even think of doing that.  I have one that sounds similar to what you are talking about, a long probe on a few feet of wire leading back to a control unit.  I can poke it in and run the wire out of the oven to to counter on the side.


About the 550 degrees, I was just going off of what the recipe called for.  The high temp did send my smoke alarms crazy, but that was only for a 5 minute shock.  Would cooking longer at a lower temp work?  Or maybe just set it to the 460 range to begin with and use the probe idea as well.


I'll make some more starter tonight and give it another shot tomorrow.

cpanza's picture
cpanza

I agree with the people above -- that's not long enough for this kind of loaf. I'd go with something more like 425 for 50 minutes or so. Or 400 for an hour. I don't think it's necessary to do the 550 part.


www.akuindeed.com


 

Lord Jezo's picture
Lord Jezo

Would that recipe linked (also on the side bar) possibly be using a different kind of oven that would allow for a 20 minute cooking time?


I did read it over and over and did notice that it keeps referring to 'loaves' and 'them', as the cook is splitting up the mixture into multiple pieces, but it never goes into detail on that or shows pictures of more than one. Reading the forms of the words used in the write up does make me begin to believe that it is for multiple instead of one monster loaf like I tried.

fancypantalons's picture
fancypantalons

You allowed the loaf to cool before cutting into it, right?

Lord Jezo's picture
Lord Jezo

"You allowed the loaf to cool before cutting into it, right?"


 


>.>    >.<    <.<


A little while, but not 2 hours like I have seen mentioned.


Does cooling also cook the middle?



Chuck's picture
Chuck

Does cooling cook the middle? Well, in a sense, yes. To us on the outside of the crust, it's just simple "getting cooler". But to the crumb on the inside of the crust, it's a more complex process that's in a way a continuation of what happened in the oven. The heat evens out, so the "cold spots" get quite a bit warmer and bake little more.


Complete cooling can take several hours or even overnight; one rule of thumb is not to cut the loaf until the crumb in the center is down to 80F. When the loaf is already "done" all the way through, "cheating" on cool-before-cut may not be such a big deal. But when the doneness of the loaf is already problematic, "cheating" on cool-before-cut makes it even worse.

fancypantalons's picture
fancypantalons

It's also the case that, during the cooling process, the gluten structure finishes gelling.  Cut into a hot loaf, and you very well might find the interior gummy, as the crumb hasn't had a chance to fully set (BTW, I speak from experience on this one :).

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Is this one giant loaf?

Lord Jezo's picture
Lord Jezo

Where does it say two loaves?  


 


I am not doubting you but I read that thing over and over looking for where it said two and I just could not find it.  I know it keeps using the plural forms of words like loaves instead of loaf and them instead of it or another single word, but I can't find anywhere where it says just how many are supposed to be made with the mixture given.

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Farther down into the thread, someone asks how many loaves


But that is definitely the issue here.


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/recipes/mydailybread#comment-2480


flour and yield


 "Two questions: Do you usually use AP or bread flour? Does this recipe make 2 loaves?


 Answers to flour & yield


 I usually use AP in the poolish and bread flour in the final dough. I don't have a good reason for doing it that way, that is just the habit I've gotten into.


Yes, typically I make it into two loaves."

Lord Jezo's picture
Lord Jezo

Well there I go.


I looked so hard for that but got lost in the comment section.


Thanks for pointing that out, although I will miss the monster super loaf I had been making.  I'll go back to trying to get him to cook right at a longer slower temperature after I get it working the proper way.


 


Thanks everyone for the advice and suggestions, we'll see how it goes in a day or so when I do it again.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

As well as your elevation and the way your oven heats, size and shape of a loaf definitely factor in to baking time.  My instructions are in my oven near sea level with a football shape in mind.  If you are making a larger rounded loaf it is going to take longer to bake through to the middle.  If you don't like the crust getting dark then, yes, after the initial spring you should turn to oven down lower (425 or even 375) and leave it in the oven longer.


Definitely the probe thermometer is your best bet for avoiding this in the future.   


Good luck.


Floyd

Lord Jezo's picture
Lord Jezo

Can the original page be updated to say two loaves near the ingredient section?  I know I didn't read all of the comments but I am sure someone else who didn't take the time to post a thread or comment must have run into the same issue.  I'd like to see more people give it a shot and not make one big huge goofy loaf like myself and have it come out bad.

flournwater's picture
flournwater

I'm not sure which recipe in the "side bar" you are working with (could you identify it for us) but all those that I looked through that seem to reflect your goal indicate "Makes 2 large 2 pound loaves", "Makes 2 large loaves" or words similar to that.  "My Daily Bread" reads "Makes 2 loaves".

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Yes, I just updated it.  My apologies.


Since you mention missing the monster loaf, I should mention that you can still bake it as one loaf but it'll take a lot longer.  My favorite bread these days is a sourdough miche that comes in around 3 pounds.  I think I usually end up baking it close to an hour.  I also reduce the temperature to 425 or 375 for the second half an hour.

Lord Jezo's picture
Lord Jezo

flournwater: It is for the "My Daily Bread" recipe.   I havea link in the first post.  Here is a link to it:


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/recipes/mydailybread


 


Floydm: Nice, thanks.  I have another bowl with a poolish being prepared for tonight.  I look forward to finally cracking the code on this loaf.  The one that I screwed up on ended up coming out okay after baking for an extra 20 minutes, I have been enjoying it for the past couple of days.  I knew there had to be more than one loaf in that recipe, I'll go back and try the monster bread once I finally get the original working correctly.

Lord Jezo's picture
Lord Jezo

Things looked MUCH better this time, a bit compressed at the bottom but I never rotated or did anything with them while cooking, but thats minor as everything else was great.


 



 


One more question before I put this to rest, they loaves ended up "exploding" out the side..


 



 


Should I slash them on the top like I do with baguettes to relieve some of the pressure or are these loaves simply too wonderful to contain themselves and the explosion is an expression of their flavor?


 


---


flournwater: the author of the recipe updated it to include the two loaves bit thanks to this thread.

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Do you bake on that stone? Just wondering since you show it out of the oven.


Looks like several possibilities, or combinations thereof:


Even though it's not mentioned in the instructions, it appears Floyd's loaf was slashed to help guide expansion.


Another possible cause of the blowouts is underproofing.


Last guess is uneven heating due to the stone and/or the oven not being thoroughly preheated.


Even though it doesn't appear the loaves were originally too close together, maybe they were. The loaves should be as widely separated as feasable. Hindsight, yes but we're all learning(many of us, that is).

Olivia's picture
Olivia

Yes I would love to know that also.  I have read that means too much flour but I would be curious to know what others have to say about that.  Loaves look beautiful by the way.

Lord Jezo's picture
Lord Jezo

For the stone question, I used it for baking.  I took the whole thing out of the oven at the end to let it cool down without having to move the exploded bread off of it, I didnt want to split them apart during the cooling as they had decided to merge into one.  I had the stone sit in the hot oven for a half hour before I put anything on it.


For the proofing, which is the rising steps, right?  I let them sit for an hour during their final step, it says two in the original link but it got a bit late last night and I hurried things up, in total the poolish sat for 8 hours, the final mixture sat for one after going through an hour and a half with three folds to form up the dough.  To "shape" the loaves I split the final mixture after the folding into two and just formed them into two equal loaf ball shapes.  Not sure if that is the proper method but it looked fine enough I suppose.


Also, since I dont have a scale I used 3.5c flour instead of a pound.


I will do some cross slashing on the top for my next go.

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

The proofing(or underproofing) I was referring to was the final rise before baking. This is just after the loaf is shaped and typically allowed to rise to about double in size. This could take as little as 30 min, or it could take an hour, two, three, or longer. Primarily depends on the temperature.


Determining just how long to proof the loaf is probably more art than science, and those with enough experience can tell by the loaf having the proper "puffiness" in appearance and/or how it feels and responds to a very gentle "poke". If the loaf has not proofed enough it can turn out too dense and/or blowout. If it proofs to long, it may over rise, only to fall later, never recover, and turn out dense.


Takes a little learning, preparation, and experience.


Well, congratulations anyway. Atl east you were more pleased with this bake, and continued happy baking.