The Fresh Loaf

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Damp, Clumped Area in Baked Bread

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momotom's picture
momotom

Damp, Clumped Area in Baked Bread

I'm a novice bread baker and baked two loaves of challah from the same recipe.  In the deep center of each loaf was a damp area of clumped crumb.  The loaves were well baked and produced a nice crumb in all other areas of the bread.  Does anyone have any ideas what causes this?  Could dough have needed more flour?


Thanks.

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Hi momotom,


Did you knead by hand or with machine? In either case, how long did you you knead? Is it possible that you still had some unincorporated ingredients? 


It is also possible that it didn't rise enough. How long did you let your dough rise just before baking? Did it double? Almost double? 


Finally, what recipe did you use?


 


 


 

momotom's picture
momotom

Kneaded by machine, about 9 minutes and I am certain that all ingredients were thoroughly incorporated.  First rise about 2 hours to double, then refrigerated overnight, brought to room temperature, shaped and doubled in pan one hour.  The recipe was for challah, an old one not published in a cookbook.  Can you tell me what this type of flaw this is indicative of?  I did used the minimum amount of bread flour required, plus a bit extra in the shaping/handling.

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

Might be the culprit.  If your oven is running hot, it's possible that the outside baked quickly and the inside was underbaked.  Or your oven temp may be too low.  Be sure to check it with an oven thermometer, and move the thermometer around to different spots to see how even the heating is.


You can compensate for uneven heating by putting the challah on two stacked baking sheets--creates the same insulating effect as one of those expensive air pans, and turning the challah halfway through the baking.  If it's running too hot either turn the temp down to compensate, and/or when the crust is brown enough, tent it with foil so the inside can catch up.  


I always use an instant read analog thermometer to test the bread for doneness at it's thickest part (pick an inconspicuous spot to poke the thermometer in--between the challah braids).  Some breads look done when they aren't, so I've just gotten in the habit.  For an enriched dough like challah, you are aiming for about 185 degrees Farenheit.  

momotom's picture
momotom

Had two oven thermometers in oven while baking, both registering on or close to 400 degrees.  Whether there are hot spots I don't know, maybe something I'll have to play around with in the future. As a precaution, the next time I bake bread I will following your suggestions about moving pans around, internal temp and tenting. 

mimifix's picture
mimifix

If your two Challah loaves baked fine, but the deep center of each loaf was still moist with a clumped crumb, I suspect they needed a bit more baking. I like Janknitz' suggestion of using an instant read thermometer inserted into that area. If your breads appear too dark but the internal temperature is not high enough, turn the oven temp down twenty five degrees. 


I confess that I love to eat Challah that is slightly underbaked, so I have seen this in my own breads. I'll remove one loaf from the oven and let the other one bake another five-ten minutes. Then I have a loaf for myself and one for my family.

momotom's picture
momotom

Thanks a million for your reply and confirmation on the loaves perhaps not being baked enough.  I use thermometers for everything except baking...it's time to change my ways.