The Fresh Loaf

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Top Crust Separates from Crumb

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Cachi's picture
Cachi

Top Crust Separates from Crumb

Hi,


I've seen a number of posts on this topic but the answers range from vague to contradictory. I'll try to be as specific as I can to allow for more precise answers.


I'm a fairly experienced homebaker although new at sourdough breads. I'm using Chad Robertson's (Tartine) Country Bread recipe and have baked about 8 loafs so far. They've been getting better and better as I bake but there is invariably a trait in all these loafs (which by the way, never saw in my yeasted breads) and which is the subject of this post. The crust separation's extent ranges from almost imperceptible to flat out obvious and although my most recent loaves showed less of this problem, my last loaf pictured here has noticeable separation.


Sourdough_1_23_11


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


Sourdough_crumb_1_23_11


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


This is a 90%/10% white/whole wheat dough hydrated at 75%. The dough weighs approx. 1.75 Kg


Bulk fermentation: ~ 12hrs @ 68-70 degrees


Shaping uses minimal flour addition


Proofing: 4hrs @ 75 degrees


Oven spring is ~ 100% of initial height ans oven is steamed for first 10min. approx. Gas oven starts at 500 F for 10min. then 450 F and down for 35min. Loaf is baked on stone at mid height. Steam is created with cast iron/lava rocks on bottom rack.


Taste and crumb texture is excellent (so I've heard :))


Any help is greatly appreciated and please try to be specific.


Thank you


Cachi

wally's picture
wally

One characteristic of a dough that is allowed to rise without degassing (via folds or pat downs) is that you get great big gas pockets which aren't really desireable (unless you're looking to hide something in your loaf).


Could be other things as well, but that's what occurs to me.


Larry

leucadian's picture
leucadian

I think I've seen this before, just recently: the cavity is where the bakers sleep.


Where the bakers sleep


and look who's there:


The bakers


From left to right: Calvel, Bouabsa, L. Poilane, Suas, Hamelman, diMuzio

Cachi's picture
Cachi

Larry,


I beg to differ. Having an open crumb structure is seeked in breads such as the rustic country and ciabatta breads. However, they should be randomly distributed throughout the loaf and not beneath the top crust. Being able to produce such crumb shows the baker's skill to manipulate its characteristics.


I know sourdough is not supposed to be "punched down" as yeasted doughs are. Yet this doesn't mean you will automatically end up with this cavity. Just watch Chad Robertson's video where he cuts open his bread and you can clearly see he obtains medium-sized holes evenly distributed throughout his loaf. In his book, he specifically mentions not to punch down the dough and to be careful not to deflate it either by carelessly handling it.


I am doing something wrong but haven't quite figured out what it is.


http://www.tartinebakery.com/bread_video.html


Cachi

wally's picture
wally

Cachi-


The only other time I've seen this sort of separation is in breads that have overproofed.  Sometimes instead of collapsing on the outside, the crust will remain risen, but the dough beneath is collapsed.  However, I don't believe your loaf is overproofed from looking at the crumb.


I haven't baked breads from Tartine, so I don't know the formula you are following.  However, during bulk fermentation - especially a long one such as yours - dough needs to be degassed at intervals.  That doesn't mean 'punching down' but gently patting down to disperse the larger CO2 bubbles.  Otherwise the accumulation of CO2 actually slows the fermentation of the dough, but additionally leaves you with great open spaces in the crumb structure of your bread.  Gentle degassing and stretch and folds (which increase the gluten structure of the dough and hence its capacity to trap CO2 and create a nice open crumb structure) achieve this.


Beyond that, I'm out of ideas; perhaps others will chime in.


Larry

Jo_Jo_'s picture
Jo_Jo_

I just must say anyone who produces breads that look like these, might be a good person to listen to.


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/21407/back-baguettes-and-basics


Joanne


PS: I am not trying to end this conversation or make you feel bad, just Larry has given some really good advice and has a lot of experience that he shares freely with us. He's a good guy, and I listen when he gives the advice.

Cachi's picture
Cachi

Joanne,


Touche!


Thank you for pointing that out. Being new on this forum, I didn't know who I was talking to. From those pictures, Larry obviously knows his stuff. I wish he had elaborated more. Also, from his reply, I thought he favored a tight crumb but looking at his baguettes, that's not the case.


Having said that, I still don't believe it is a degassing problem. Hopefully he'll point out other potential causes.


Cachi

Cachi's picture
Cachi

Larry,


Thank you for your comments. I forgot to mention I did do stretches and folds for the first 3hrs every half hour. In the morning, after 9hrs I did another S&F. I did a preshape and then a final shape. I could be wrong but it seemed to me the biggest bubbles were gone by the time the proofing started.


In your opinion, is it better to overferment (bulk) and underproof rather than the opposite? What are you looking in the crumb that makes you think it is not overproofed?


Thanks again


Cachi

wally's picture
wally

Cachi-


The crumb at the bottom of the loaf looks tighter than the surrounding crumb, which generally indicates underproofing, if anything.  I'm still inclined to think that the separation is a result of poor structural development because of large bubbles.  You can see that there is a strand of dough at the top that remained attached. 


I dunno, but if this is happening regularly I would suggest posting pictures of your entire process so that other TFL members can weigh in.


Larry

Cachi's picture
Cachi

Larry,


OK thank you, I'll consider doing that.


When I dump the proofed loaf from the lined basket and onto the peel, I am seeing the dough detaching from the cloth with some hesitation and so slightly pulling on the dough. Could this be detaching the top part of the dough from the rest of the loaf and thus creating the pocket of air? This is something I never experienced with yeasted breads because the hydration levels were not nearly as high as this one. Just a thought...


Cachi

wally's picture
wally

I doubt it; I've had the same problem from time to time, and other than the fact that it creates a slight tear in the surface of the dough, it hasn't affected the crumb structure.


Larry

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

I hope you guys get this figured out. One of my favorite breads, shaped the way I like, flattish, tends to do this. So much so that I just stopped making it.


The recipe is the KAF Ciabatta Integrale. I like shape it flattish so I can slice it in half, for sandwiches, toast, etc. It's a 50/50 bread flour/ww recipe.


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


I think it's somehow similar to why a pita puffs, etc. Again, really hope you get it figured out.


ps, I've tried all I can think of; extra strech/folds, flipping loaf just prior to baking, etc.