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Help diagnosing Hamelman Pain Au Levain issues.

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avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

Help diagnosing Hamelman Pain Au Levain issues.

I have made this loaf a few times and each time I get similar results. I think I am under proofing, but am not experienced enough to know for sure. I follow his directions, including the timing and my loaves are about doubled by the time I put them in the oven. I use KA AP flour and Arrowhead Mill whole grain rye (it is the only rye I can get locally). My starter is active and healthy.


I steamed for 10 minutes with a SS bowl lightly coated in water over top the loaves the continued baking until browned. They were taken out at about 40 minutes.


Some pictures of today's batch:





 

cranbo's picture
cranbo

So what do you think is wrong with your bread? How did it taste? What did or didn't you like about it? 


IMO looks OK, maybe could use a little more spring, perhaps a browner crust, maybe a touch more hydration for a more open texture? 


 

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

Flavor is okay, crust and crumb texture are off. The crumb is too dense and the crumb is almost rubber like.


It definitly needs more oven spring and a browner crust, but I'm not sure what I need to do to achieve that. Is the problem one of under proofing?


 


Compare my bread to others both of which look more appetizing than mine: http://www.breadcetera.com/?p=71
http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/13384/hamelman039s-pain-au-levain

ehanner's picture
ehanner

First off, you are comparing your work to two bakers who are very high end bakers. So don't be to hard on yourself just yet.


It looks to me like you could stand to rev up your starter and make sure it at peak performance before inoculating the dough. The process is called "elaboration". Take a tablespoon of starter and feed it 80 grams of water and 100 grams of AP flour and leave it out on the counter. After 12 hours, discard all but a Tablespoon and feed it the appropriate amounts for the levain in the recipe. Now your starter should be happy and vigorous.


Next, I suggest you add a couple tablespoons additional water in the mix and get at least 2 good stretch and folds during the ferment phase. Try doing this in the fermenting container with wet hands. After 2 folds, watch for the signs of gas production on the sides of your fermenting container. When you have good gas production, tip the dough out gently and divide. Avoid de gassing but be sure to tighten the shape by pushing and pulling the dough on the counter.


Fermenting and Proofing per Hamelman's (or SteveB's) instructions at the DDT is important.


Hope this helps.


Eric

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

I'm not expexting (but am hoping) for a loaf that looks as good as theirs, but am hoping mine does look appetizing. I don't think it does.


I typically store my starter in the refrigerator, before use I feed it (I keep a 100% hydration starter) and take some to bake with at its peak normally between 4-5 hours depending on ambient temperature. If it has been over a week since I fed the starter, I normally feed twice back to back before using it to bake. It seems pretty vigorous and I haven't had any issues with other breads, the starter is about 1 year old. Does it still sounds like I need to complete this process on the starter?


I will say the dough from this recipe does seem more hydrated or the dough is more sticky which makes it harder for me to work with. Perhaps that is part of the problem? I don't shape it well enough for the final rise? What will the additional water do for the mix?


I always get two stretch and folds in, but normally on my counter. I find it easier to work with that way, but I am careful not to degas. By the end of bulk fermentation the dough has typically doubled in size, if not slightly more. Same with the final fermentation after shaping.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I think your starter cultures would benefit from a few days of twice daily feedings at room temperature. I would encourage you to feed to a slightly lower hydration than 100% and, make it work harder by lowering the amount saved to be fed anew. For example save 25 grams and feed 80 grams water and 100 grams flour. If you do this for a couple days, your culture will find a new level of vigor. Then on bake day, take an amount to inoculate the levain and build (feed) it at the required hydration and weights to arrive at the desired amount for the recipe.


Don't be in a hurry to return it to the refrigerator. The longer it is living and fed at room temp, the more stable it will be. It will tolerate being stored in a cold environment out of necessity but the population will become degraded in strength and vigor as they learn to adapt to life on Mars.


As for adding a little more moisture, it will help you do stretch and fold in the bowl and be easier to handle with wet hands without loosing the bubbles. I would urge you to try to learn the "in the bowl" method. Just keep your hands wet as you dig down to the bottom of the dough and pull it up stretching as you fold it over on itself. Rotate the bowl so as to catch every part of the dough.


Again, let the gas development drive your decision to end bulk fermentation.


I agree with the post above concerning over proofing. Try just once, proofing for 45 minutes, regardless of how much it has expanded. If you have folded well and had a good gas bubble evidence on the side walls, you shouldn't need much final proof. Judging the end of final proof is the hardest thing to evaluate in my opinion.


Eric

bnom's picture
bnom

Your comment that the loaf typically doubles in size, if not slightly more, on the final rise makes me wonder if you aren't overproofing your dough during that final stage.  I made this same formula recently and had very good oven spring -- and I'm sure  I didn't let it double in size on the final proof.


What happens when you poke the dough in its final rise...is it springing back quickly, slowly, or not at all.  (You want it to spring back a bit slowly).


 


 

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

I should have time to bake again this week. I will certainly try out your suggestions and post back with my results.


 


Thanks!