The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Why doesn't my bread "sing" to me?

cottageloaf's picture
cottageloaf

Why doesn't my bread "sing" to me?

I have been making sourdough loaves for 6 months now and love doing so - but they don't sing when they come out of the oven? Presumably, a musical loaf is a happy loaf. Can anyone explain why it's a good thing to hear the performance on cooling and how do I achieve it?My first post, so look forward to some help, thanks very much folks.

 

totels's picture
totels

More details about your method would be required to try and diagnose exactly what might be causing this.

The singing is basically a result of the hard brittle crust cooling and contracting ever so slightly. Off the top of my head some possibilities could be undercooking and possibly cooking with a lot of steam resulting in still-moist crusts.

cottageloaf's picture
cottageloaf

Thanks for the reply! I  steam with preheated dish in bottom of oven, hot water poured in, steam for 10mins then remove. I also use covered method - use preheated stainless steel dish to cover for 20 mins, remove, finish off for approx 15 mins. Sit the loaf on granite block which is preheated for 40 mins. I have noticed that my batards seem to be slightly soft at the sides altho the tops are always nice dark brown.

jeremiahwasabullfrog's picture
jeremiahwasabullfrog

I'm not an expert at this, but as I understand it, you want a thin crust and a dry crust.

You get a thin crust by using the highest baking temperature you can get away with.

You can help to dry it out by venting the oven properly after steaming. I have never made a science of it, but I think if you just leave the oven door open for a few seconds when you take the steam pan out. I have heard of people leaving the oven door open a crack for a few minutes at the end to make sure the crust gets nice and dry.

 

cottageloaf's picture
cottageloaf

Thanks for the suggestions, will try. So much to learn, it's great!

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, cottageloaf.

You may find the information in this topic instructive and helpful: Consistent Crackly Crust Conundrum Conquered?

David

cottageloaf's picture
cottageloaf

Thanks so much for that David. Lots to read and digest! I hadn't thought of using the convection oven, will give it a whirl.

 

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

Hi cottageloaf.

Firstly, I don't think a loaf 'singing' in the initial resting period out of the oven after the bake is necessarily an indicator of a perfect bake. However, it is a delight when it happens.

David's post he linked to is terrific, and you could well find your answer there. While not one for scientific explanations, I have noted some factors through practical experience that do result in a musical loaf and are not included in David's thread (as far as I can see - I did not carefully read all posts in the thread). So, I can't explain the 'why', but I can outline the 'how'.

1. I get singing loaves when I retard the dough overnight and bake out of the fridge next morning. It doesn't seem to make much difference whether I bake straight out of the fridge, or let the dough 'warm up' for an hour or so before loading.

2. My loaves do not always sing when 1 above applies. It depends on the formula. One of my regulars is the old faithful, the Norwich rye, and I find this formula consistently yields a singing loaf when 1 is applied, especially when I'm using wholemeal flour instead of rye as the whole grain component.

3. I steam using the microwaved towel method, and do not use a cloche. I take the steam source out at the 15 minute mark of the bake. I do not use the fan on my oven when baking bread.

4. I progressively reduce the heat during the bake. While the gradations change for different breads (a matter of trial and error and taking notes to remind me of tweaks that work and those that don't), typically I would bake on max (250C) for the first 5 mins, then reduce to 225 for 7 mins, then to 215 for 12 mins, then to 200 for 15 mins. I then turn off the oven and let the bread rest on the baking stone with the oven door ajar for 5 mins, before taking it out and putting it on a cooling rack. That no doubt purges the oven of any residual steam and dries out the crust. Then it's out of the oven and on to the cooling rack. It's at this point that the concert begins! An added bonus is that when you get a singing loaf, you also end up with some nice crazing of the crust.

Hope some of that helps.

Best of baking
Ross

cottageloaf's picture
cottageloaf

Thanks so much Ross. I have been using the Norwich rye recipe for my last 2 bakes. Lovely stuff! I will try your suggestion of a falling oven temp and also the microwaved towel method.

Enjoy your orchestra! I hope to have one soon.

Cottageloaf

 

 

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

Best of musical baking to you!

Ross

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Because it didn't know the words?

Happy baking!

cottageloaf's picture
cottageloaf

Mute now, but hope to record in near future - a lot of tweaking ahead!

Leandro Di Lorenzo's picture
Leandro Di Lorenzo

Usually,,,, the bread will only sing if you allow a full bake.... Forget about the collor.... Check the bottom (knock a few times, expect to hear the sonud like passing thrue the bread). Let me ask you something.. When you cut the bread, afther allowed to cool, how's the crumb? Is there too much moisture when you touch it (your finger bounces back) or is a nice texture?? If there's too much moisture inside the bread, is a sign that the bread is not fully baked... (You probably would like to know about it before cutting the loaf lol). And the smell of fully baked bread is remarkable!!! Is awesome!!! You can notice right away!!! especially if u r using a pre ferment or levain!!! So the bread will only sing if ti's fully baked... The color,,,, u gonna have to work with time and temperature!!! Not an easy task with a home oven rsrssrs...

Hope that this will help!!!! :)

BTW: U r not overmixing the dough, right? Or intensive mixing?

 

cottageloaf's picture
cottageloaf

Thanks Leandro. So many suggestions from my fellow bakers, it's great! Yes, the bread smells lovely, bottom sounds ok  I think when tapped, maybe the crumb is a little bouncy. Don't think I over knead- have tried "no knead" method also now have a KA which I use for the initial mix plus folds. Have noted your suggestion of longer bake time and will try this with the other suggestions too

Happy baking,

Cottageloaf

Leandro Di Lorenzo's picture
Leandro Di Lorenzo

Not at all!!! :)

I'll take some pics of my oven and equipment and post it here!!!

 

clazar123's picture
clazar123

I have rarely had "singing". This last bake I had loud singing. All I can say is that I baked hot(450),steamed the first 10minutes and then finished the bake dry. No stone-no long pre-heating of the oven-no cloche-I didn't even spray the loaf to put on any seeds(I usually top with sesame seeds). Come to think of it, I think the only difference is that my dough was slightly dry before putting it in the oven. I hadn't sprayed or used any moisture in the proofer (code for plastic bag) this time.I may have to try that again to see if it consistently produces a crackly crust. I also used a little extra flour over the top of the crust since I had a particularly sticky dough.

cottageloaf's picture
cottageloaf

Interesting, thanks. I have several suggestions to try! Please let me know if you hear some more singing.

 

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

One factor that may make a difference is gluten development.  I've never had a loaf fail to sing whose dough had been kneaded to the point of a nearly plastic like satin sheen indicating proper gluten development [window panes beautiully too]. I also noticed that David's loaves all have a well developed crust which is required.

Wild-Yeast

Cachi's picture
Cachi

Cottageloaf,

I'm glad you asked this question which has been on my mind for quite sometime now. Although I am not providing any answers here, I'd like to share this with you. I used to bake every week many years ago. Always yeasted bread, mostly with a poolish method and baked in an electric oven, on a baking stone and with a cast iron skillet on the bottom for steaming. I also used and still do so now, the ramp down method Leandro describes. When a poolish was used, I'd mix it in my KA but the dough was hand-kneaded through the rest of the process. Whether I used WW flour + AP flour or just AP flour alone, my breads always sang loudly and inevitably the crust crackled. I always took this for granted and thought it was natural except when I'd browsed through some books and noticed many breads featured on glossy pages didn't exhibit this characteristic. So naturally I wanted my breads to look like those of professional bakers. Twenty years fastforward, I now exclusively bake hand-kneaded (S&F method) leveaned breads in a gas oven with the same steaming method and decreasing temperature bake. However, my recipies call for a much higher hydration level (75-80+ %). My breads turn out quite nice with a deep golden thin crust and the crumb is moist and open. The loaves sound hollow when tapped and are baked to an internal temperature of 212F.

Ironically, I now long for that wonderful singing and crackled crust I used to get since none of these breads I bake now show these traits. I've also been venting the oven for the last 5-10 minutes and although little or no singing can be heard, the crust comes out a bit crispier. I don't know if this can be attributed to the higher hydration rate I now use.

Oh well!

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I think your hypothesis is correct. It is harder to get a singing loaf with higher hydration dough. 

The singing (cracking sound) made as the loaf cools is due to the crumb contracting, while the hardness of the crust 1) resists contraction and 2) resists softening from water migrating from the crumb to the outside. If the crumb contains more water, this is clearly more of a challenge. So, everything else must be "just right" to get a very dry, rigid crust.

The factors available for manipulation are ingredients, time and temperature. (Of what is this not true?) So, a lower gluten flour is more prone to crackling. Lower hydration breads are more prone to crackling. A bolder bake (darker crust) is drier. Venting the oven after the first third of the bake releases ambient water vapor allowing the crust to dry quicker. Leaving the loaf in the oven for 5 to 60 minutes (depending on dough hydration and loaf weight) with the oven off and the door ajar allows more water to evaporate from the crust.

These manipulations can be employed in any combination.

I hope this summary helps.

I have no experience with gas ovens. Others can speak to that variable.

Happy baking!

David

Cachi's picture
Cachi

I read your post sometime ago and believe it is when I started venting the oven. Although a singing bread always puts a smile on the baker's face, my focus now is in achieving the best flavor I can. I think I've reached the crumb quality and characteristic I've been looking for.

I thank you for that post and for all your contributions here at TFL. I'm always hopeful one day my breads will look as good as yours!

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

And thanks for your kind words. 

I've gotten (and continue to get) a lot of help and a lot of inspiration from TFL. In my accounting, I'm paying back in installments when I can help other bakers.

Best wishes,

David