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What makes bread chewy

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ron45's picture
ron45

What makes bread chewy

Is chewy bread an ingredient issue?  I followed Manjula's naan recipe on utube yesterday except doubled it. The recipe is below the video at the more tab. She called for a pinch of baking powder. Kinda vague. I used an approx 1/8 of a teaspoon to 4 C. flour. I used bread flour instead of all purpose. Two teaspoons of dry yeast and milk instead of water. The attractive thing about real naan is it's chewiness. I didn't get that. It was cooked a few minutes on a side in my cob outdoor oven at about 550 initially measured with an infrared instant laser pistol looking thing point at the fire brick. Left the door open while I did 12 of these about 4 at a time. So the heat was going down some what during baking. All came out ok about as thick as a pancake. But not chewy! Any ideas please?


 



  • 2 cups of All Purpose flour (Plain flour or maida)

  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • Pinch of baking soda

  • 2 tablespoons of oil

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons yogurt (curd or dahi)

  • 3/4 cup lukewarm water


Ron

PS what is the point of the fear an loathing section before I can post? I'm already registered. The world is going to implode from this kind of madness long before the oil runs dry. 

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

If your flour is honestly high protein, and you had no chewiness, then I suspect you didn't mix long enough or hard enough, or overcooked it.


Did you wet the dough before you cooked it? 


And I don't know what the purpose of the baking soda is (your recipe says baking soda - not baking powder).


Think of it as pita baked in a tandoor except that you bake immediately after you stretch it with no resting period.

ron45's picture
ron45

Thanks, I'm pretty sure she said powder not soda they are two different things. I didn't wet the dough before putting it on the oven floor. Nor did I put a pan of water in the oven I usually do that with bread. Are you saying that water/steam makes dough more chewy?


 


Ron

ron45's picture
ron45

It was gold metal unbleached bread flour. In the video as I remember it, she didn't need the dough on camera. I didn't do much of that either. The lack of kneeding and and not wetting the dough are probably partly responsible for the lack or chewyness or elsaticity. I think of these as the same quality. Is that correct? Thanks Doc for insightful help.


 


Ron

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

I don't know how you got her recipe into your post, but it says "Pinch of baking soda".  But baking powder certainly makes more sense. Some people use just baking powder, others use just yeast, while some use both. The advantage of baking powder is that you can refrigerate the dough that you don't use and it will still be good the next day.  Not so easy with yeast. But i like the flavor of yeast-raised naan better than the distinctive flavor of excessive baking powder.


Your description of pancake-like thickness suggests a lack of bubbles in the naan. This could be from a lot of causes but bears some investigation.  Water is put on the dough just before it is pressed onto the hot surface of the tandoor and is a key to getting it to stick  while cooking.  The heat transfer that results is sufficient to rapidly expand pre-existing bubbles in the dough to make the characteristic surface which is brown where the bubbles form (cooked by radiant heat from the rest of the tandoor) and not so brown elsewhere. A piece of naan is not turned over in a tandoor and should not be turned over if it is being cooked on tiles or a pizza stone in an oven.  Think about what happens when you press on a flour tortilla (or roti) with a spatula while it is frying - the increased heat transfer rate forms a bubble under the spatula and you can slide the spatula around on the surface to expand the bubble so that the whole thing puffs up.  Pita does the same thing but depends on being thick enough, soft enough, wet enough, and well enough developed to form and contain a single bubble which pops only after it has fully expanded to fill the whole pita - and then only when the oven is well behaved.  The naan gets the heat from the oven wall on the back side and the other surface gets blasted with radiant heat from the heat source and the rest of the oven where there is not food.


If the dough does not puff up, you probably have overcooked it at "a few minutes on a side". Overcooking would produce the texture of a soft cracker. The dough should be between 1/4" and 1/2" thick when it goes on (depending on the temperature and thermal diffusivity of the surface). And generally the edges are somewhat thicker than the center because of the way it is flipped around to expand the dough piece (not like a pizza).


Hope that helps.


Doc

rjerden's picture
rjerden

Milk products will make your crumb softer. If you want chewier bread, avoid them. If you want a soft crumb, use them. Also, high gluten bread will be chewier than flour made from soft wheat. Maida is soft wheat, and will be less chewy. Use a southern U.S. flour if you want soft wheat, or use Hodgen's Mill, which is unbleached and unmalted and is only 10% protein. The amount of time you knead will affect gluten development also. Long kneading times will make your bread chewier.


 


Cheers,


Roy

ron45's picture
ron45

I need to be sure I'm using the correct vocabulary here, I should add that I get a sense of elasticity from my favorite bread experiences. You guys are a great resource of experience and I want to be sure I'm asking the right questions. Some of what Roy says about crumb softness or firmness made me think I might not have used the correct term in my question.


Out of ignorance and lack of experience mostly, it seems to me that a softer crumb would be more elastic or stretchy than a firmer one. The breads that stretch before tearing are the one's most appealing to me. Bagels and baguettes come to mind and of course tandoor baked naan. Thank you Roy for helping me clarify my thinking a little and for the good tips on flour types. 


Ron

clazar123's picture
clazar123

I do love Manjula's videos.Seeing someone cook these wonderful Indian dishes was very helpful to me.


Baking Soda makes perfect sense in this recipe as it produces the characterisitc bubbles in the dough when it interacts with the acidic yogurt. I'd use baking powder if I didn't use yogurt as the Baking Powder has both the acid and base in it (cream of tartar and baking soda).


As for the chewiness, I suspect either a flour issue or a minor handling issue.


Flour-next time try using a brand name flour (in the US I'm talking Gold Medal, Pillsbury,Dakota Maid,King Arthur,etc) and it can be AP or bread flour.Using bread flour will definitely increase the chew but may not be absolutely necessary. I have found that some generic brands of AP are really weak for making bread-even flat bread.


Handling-I believe Manjula has a rest period in her naan making, doesn't she?After the dough is mixed it is allowed to site for a short period of time. That is a very important phase as it allows the gluten to form,thus incresing the chewiness and allowing the bubbles to form.But not too long or the baking soda action will be spent. Naan is not a highly kneaded bread-it is meant to be made under very simple circumstances, but the rest period for all the flat breads is very important.


You are really fortunate to have a pseudo-tandoor. I bet the naan was tasty, if not chewy!


Have delicious fun!

ron45's picture
ron45

Thanks for the clarification on the soda inclusion. It was gold medal bread flour unbleached. Bread had two hours in 99 degree oven. That's a temp I've often seen as a result of the pilot light. Next time I won't turn it, and will remember to wet the dough. She does that w/o explanation and I forgot it in the time between watching the vid and baking day. It looks like I have some good ideas to try next time.


Ron


 

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Ron,


Are you kneading by hand or do you have a machine?


Gold Medal Better for Bread flour is not an exceptionally high gluten flour.  If you can get some King Arthur high gluten flour I think you will be happier.  But it still needs to be kneaded (mixed) until you get a lot of gluten development. 


The process should be (approximately) combine ingredients and mix until there are no dry spots; let it rest for 15-20 min (autolyse); mix at high speed for 5 to 10 min (depending on your mixer) or hand knead hard for 20 min; bulk ferment at 100°F (if you are using yeast and are in a hurry) for a couple of hours with a stretch&fold or two during that time; divide into pieces and let rest for at least 30 min to relax the dough; stretch into final form, place on a pillow/pad, wet the top and press against the hot surface you are cooking on; when it gets bubbly and the bubbles get toasty use a scraper to pop it off the surface.


Doc

ron45's picture
ron45

I'd been doing stretch and fold with regular bread but did very little of that as I mentioned else where in the thread. I also usually make a sponge the night before as in the Tassahara bread book. Didn't do that either.


The King Arthur flour is not in stores around here. Next time I go to a real city I'll get some again. I mostly like whole wheat bread and gave up baking after I had to add 50 percent dead flour to get it not to be so dense. I was using spelt flour the last time around. It's a very soft grain and over time it clogs the stones in my grinder. Takes a cup of basmati rice of so to clean it up again.


I'll probably go back to winter wheat when I try bread again. I used white flour for the naan only because I was and am unsure of how it would turn out. I'm sure that going back to stretch and fold will yield better results.


Then when I can good results with naan I'll try it with whole wheat and maybe a little high gluten flour. Sour dough is a possibility too.


But I don't bake often enough to keep a mother going. It's why I passed on Desum after a few tries. To me that would be the ideal bread if I could bring it off. If I fire up an oven I want to bake more than one loaf and it takes me at least two weeks to use up two loaves of bread.  Soon I had a desum mother that was too big to maintain. 


Ron