The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Open Crumb, an update

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davidg618's picture
davidg618

Open Crumb, an update

Back in November http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/25804/whole-wheat-sunday I specified what I want in a sourdough loaf's crumb...

2. Al dente crumb; i.e., when you mash it, it springs back; when you bite it, there is resistance.

3. Open crumb. Now I'm not looking for gaping holes. I want irregular size aveoles,  the biggest of which occupy no more than the thickness of a good sandwich slice--about 3/8ths of an inch radius. I frequently use sourdough breads for sandwiches. Unquestionably, sandwich-making is its singlemost use. So, I don't want mustard or mayo dribbling on my shirt front. I also think #2 is closely related to #3--if you don't have 3, you don't have 2.

I've been baking the same 50%WW sourdough formula, every two weeks,  since November without any changes, until now. Today I baked two 1.5 lb loave of 50% Whole Wheat sourdough, using the same formula and techniques, with one change: during the last 5 hours the levain build was working I hydrated (autolysed) the balance of the non-prefermented flour while chilling it too. Subsequently, as usual, I retarded the final dough 15 hours.

Specifically, I pre-chill all the flour not used in the levain build, and mixed the final dough with ice water. My target DDT is 54°F. Because of mixer friction--the hydrated dough is machine kneaded for 2 minutes on speed 1, and 7 minutes at speed 2--I never achieve DDT; the dough is always warmer. Consequently, during autolyse, the early hours of fermentation, and simultaneously with any dough manipulations (i.e., Stretch and Folds) I continue to chill the dough in the refrigerator until it reaches DDT; then I transfer it to our wine closet, where the ambient temperature is 54°F, for the remainder of its retardation. Yesterday, I mixed the balance of the dough's flour with the balance of the water, and hydrated (and chilled for 5 hours) the mix before adding the levain and salt.

I cut one of the cooled loaves, and was greeted with a crumb that is the closest to my ideal I've ever reached--although I've had a lot of "close, but no cigar" moments. Not certain I'll ever see the like again, but I'm going to try.

David G

By-the-way. I didn't photograph this bread slice, I scanned it.

D. G.

Monday: 2/6/12

Same formula, same ingredients, same techniques and process; smaller loaves: 1 lb. this time.

I'm satisfied. You be the judge.

David G

 

 

 

 

Comments

ananda's picture
ananda

Just lovely David

Best wishes

Andy

davidg618's picture
davidg618

I've been following your adventures. Looks like you're having a good time.

Regards,

David G

wassisname's picture
wassisname

That is a wonderful crumb, David.  Clearly your method and attention to detail have paid off.  Well done!

Marcus

davidg618's picture
davidg618

has driven home that lesson. I've learned it earlier and elsewhere, but I've never known a vocation or avocation that is as unforgiving as baking, when you don't stick to the script you've worked hard to develop.

Thanks for the kind words.

David G

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Great looking crumb David,

Lovely colour.

Cheers,
Phil

davidg618's picture
davidg618

for the encouraging words. Along with the color, the flavor is distinct. We love the taste of whole wheat breads, but also want white bread crumb--both in sandwich loaves and sourdough. That's why we make Whole Wheat breads less than 100%. 50%WW seems to be a good balance for both.

David G

 

 

Yippee's picture
Yippee

Hi, David:

It looks perfect! At 68% hydration, what better crumb can you ask for?

Yippee

davidg618's picture
davidg618

Over the past nearly three years I've worked the hydration window from 58% to 72%. Like so many others, I've found 67% - 68%, with overnight retarded fermentation gives me the breads we most want.

David G

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

And I think you'll probably be able to repeat it fairly consistently, given your attention to detail.

Paul

davidg618's picture
davidg618

Hi, Paul

Consistency: that's #3 on my goal list, after flavor and crumb--Eye Appeal is #4.

Thanks for the vote of confidence.

David G

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Great looking crumb, David!

I'll try your method next time i bake a 50% ww sourdough.

Thanks!

davidg618's picture
davidg618

The five hour autolyse isn't terribly necessary, but it seemed to give a jumpstart to the flavor and dough strength, prior to the final dough's additional fifeteen hour retarded fermentation. I think you'll be pleased with the result.

David G

sam's picture
sam

That is the perfect crumb.  Very nice.  (I also like my lean breads to be more on the 'al-dente' side.)

davidg618's picture
davidg618

but I don't want my bread to fight back--In this formula I use 50% Bread Flour, but in all-white flour sourdoughs (or nearly all-white) I mix AP and Bread flours half-and-half.

David G

longhorn's picture
longhorn

Looks good David! It will be interesting to repeat! 

Well Done!

Jay

davidg618's picture
davidg618

I'm building the levain overnight as I write this. Tomorrow I'll mix the same formula, with the same 5 hour autolyse (minus the levain); then overnight retarded to be baked on Monday.

David G

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

or scanned....I just want to eat it!!!!  Nice job David.  Learned something new today , again, on The Fresh Loaf.

lumos's picture
lumos

Gosh, this crumb is truly swoon-worthy! It's so beautiful.

So, do you think the combination of long autolyse and precise DDT is an important factor in achieving crumb like that? How did you decide your target DDT is to be 54F?

davidg618's picture
davidg618

Hi, Lumos,

I get similar crumb structure with only 1 hour autolyse, however, this crumb's structure seemed more uniform throughout. What I mean is the hole sizes, while random, had less variation. I continued to check the crumb as the loaf was consumed, and it was the same throughout the loaf. That could also be due to handling and shaping. Nonetheless, this dough was delightful to work with from the very first mix through final shaping. I'm going to continue this practice whenever time and schedule permits.

DDT: I've written other, more detailed comments on the subject of DDT, especially as it applies to consistency and retarded (chilled) fermentation. I retard most, if not all sourdoughs, and baguettes 15 hours at 54°F (in a wine cooler), consequently I do all I can to have the dough at DDT as early in the process as possible. As one would expect, I've been getting consistent results by repeating the same techniques and process from bake to bake as closely as possible. There is nothing particularly magic about exactly 15 hours, except it is sufficiently long to develop the dough's flavor and structure, and it fits nicely into our life style which, while very relaxed--we're both retired--often includes being away from home during the day. Consequently, for sourdough bakes I begin building levain at 4PM, two days before baking day with refrigerator-stored seed starter. I use a three-build eight hour between feedings routine. That may seem a little overkill, but I consistently get reliable, strong levain. On the second day, at 4PM the levain is ripe. I mix the dough, using pre-chilled flour (weighed out, and put in the refrigerator in the AM), and iced water. This is followed by approximately 4 or 5 hours wherein autolyse, machine kneading, and S&F's require 5 or so minutes of actual labor each hour. Fits nicely into our usual early evening routine. During this time, when not being manipulated I keep the dough in the refrigerator, and monitor its temperature. When it is at exactly at DDT I transfer it to the wine cooler. This usually occurs during the S&Fs. On the third day, at 7AM I preshape, rest for 1 hour, shape, proof at 82°F in my home-built proof box, and bake. By noon I'm finishing clean up, and the loaves are cooling. I bake baguettes, using a commercial yeasted straight dough formula, following the same routine without building natural levain, i.e. an overnight schedule. I have warm, fresh baguettes ready for lunchtime.

David G

lumos's picture
lumos

Hi David,

Thanks so much for detailed info.  Your baking regime itself sounds similar to mine; taking 2-3 days from start to finish with multiple levain build (usually twice for me, unless levain is lethargic) and cold retard of the dough for 16-18 hrs to develop flavour.  The big difference is perhaps I can't controll my DDT as well as you can as I only have an ordinary fridge.  To be honest, I've never paid so much attention to DDTthough I really have to,  partly because I'm lazy :p and partly because it's difficult to achieve because I don't have necessary facility.   Reading your post made me even more convinced I really have to be more careful about DDT.  The problem is, how to do it without a proofer or wine cabinet.... Or is it 'bout time I should get one????? 

I usually autolyse for 1 hr or, but will try longer autolyse like yours and see how it goes.

best wishes,

lumos

sam's picture
sam

Hi lumos,

While I am no expert of wine chillers, a year ago I bought this one:

http://www.compactappliance.com/EdgeStar-CWR530SZ-53-Bottle-Built-In-Wine-Cooler/CWR530SZ,default,pd.html

It has served me very well this past year.   It does take up a little bit of space, but the main positive points is that 1) it's silent, 2) is controllable from 40-65F (4.4-18.3C), 3) has handy buttons / digital temp readout gauge, 4) is accurate.  I recall from doing a bit of research a year ago, one of the larger complaints some people had of various brands/models was noise from the compressor.   For me, the layout of my little home, is one continuous open area -- kitchen, dining room, living-room, office.   I found a corner off to the side of the dining room to place it.   I didn't want some loud-honking compressor going on and off all the time, while I'm kicking back on the couch reading a book or watching a movie or something.  Fortunately, I was lucky, this unit is completely silent, even after a year of using it.  I've used one of those laser-beam temperature thermometers on it, and it is accurate.  It fluctuates 2 degrees F around the target/set temperature.   I do keep a couple of bottles of wine in it, but mainly it is where my starter lives, and I also use it for preferments, cold soakers, final doughs.  

If you decide to invest in a chiller for the purposes of bread, I think the main things to consider are:  how wide of a temperature range it will allow you to control (you want as much temperature control as possible), noise level, and of course space considerations.   Unfortunately it's difficult to tell for sure by reading online reviews about the noise level (some people are more sensitive than others -- I am pretty much deaf above certain high frequences), but most will have specs on the temperature range and dimensions.   If you find one that matches your requirements, I think it is a very worthwhile investment.   It gives much better control over fermentation than what you'd get in a standard kitchen refrigerator.

Oh, one last thought.   If you decide some day to get a chiller, and it has a lot of shelves in the picture like the one I pasted above -- make sure the shelves are removable, so you can put larger containers of things in it.  :)  I suspect most chillers have removable shelves, but again, my experience with chillers so far has been just one.

 

davidg618's picture
davidg618

Hi, again

I own two small wine chillers, thirty bottle size. I bought them both second hand through a local online classified. Each was only $100, which is a far cry from, in my opinion, a ripoff price ($400 - $500) new. I've had them for 8 or 9 years, and they are working fine. I make wine and beer, and since moving to Florida, I make more wine and less beer. The two small coolers became too small coolers, and five years ago I converted a clothes closet into a wine closet, which holds about 140 bottles. I didn't get rid of either cooler however. One is still in the dining room, and serves as ready service storage; the remaining cooler is doing other duties. I use it to ferment Pilsner lagers (54*F), and white wines (66°F)--I believe cooler fermentation preserves the wines' fruitiness--and later this year I'll use it to age dry-cured sausages, charcuterie being my latest food-making obsession. My bread doughs I retard in the wine closet, because its only a few hours once or twice a week, and the other coolers are usually fully occupied.

I don't know if you are a foodie as well as a breadie (did I just invent a word?); if you are you will find a wine cooler a worthwhile tool: a multi-tasker. If you live near a reasonably large city it likely has an online classified, I'd look for one second-hand before considering a new one.  I've also bought two second hand refrigerators for the barn, which I also use to wet-cure hams, brisket and turkey before smoking them. I paid $125, and $150 for them--I gave away the first one to an in-need neighbor. If I need to (haven't yet) I can control the temperature of the refrigerator externally, with a $70 controller available online from most homebrewing sites, or locally if you have a homebrew shop nearby.

If all you have is your refrigerator, and don't want to invest in a wine cooler, I think you can have equally good results, with close attention to a few more details. The trick, I think is to be consistent, especially in how you manage the dough's changing temperature. Here's what I would do and why I'd do it.

It takes hours to chill a useful mass of room-temperature dough. I think of a useful mass as being 3 to 6 pounds of dough: a day'fermenting s home-bake. The rate a dough mass cools is dependent on a lot of variables: the size and shape of the mass, the surface to volume ratio of the mass, the container it's in, its beginning temperature and the refrigerator's ambient temperature; and to a lesser degree its ingredients, and how often the refrigerator door is opened. Additionally, S&F's alter the rate by swapping the inside with the outside of the dough each fold. Bottom line: you can't control the cooling rate precisely, but by doing the same weight of dough, in the same container, at the same initial DDT, and the same number of S&F's at the same separation interval, and retarding for the same duration bake to bake you won't know the cooling rate, but it should remain approximately the same from bake to bake, and yield the same results. It will take some record keeping of trial and error, and different management for significantly different doughs, but if you're looking for consistency in results, be consistent with ingredients, technique and process.

David G

 

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Hey, very nice crumb David---and I love that you scanned it.

Carry on :-)
dw

davidg618's picture
davidg618

And that's made with starter you helped me save, six months ago.

Regards,

David G

lumos's picture
lumos

Thanks for the info about wine cooler. Yes, David G, I'm MUCH more foodie than breadie.  My passion for bread making is a tiny part of my food obsession. So obsessed, I even started teaching cookery in my tiny kitchen 15 years ago.

The main problem for me is lack of space to put any new equipment, how ever compact it may be.  Thanks to my passion for anything to do with food, all the available storage space in my kitchen, utility room and dining room are completely full with all sorts of cooking equipments/gadgets, tablewares, cookery books, etc. etc., including all sorts of tools I've built up over years.  The situation is so bad, I have a large Le Cruset casserole, 4 large serving plates and 4 Pyrex casseroles (for baking bread) just sitting on the worktop in the utility room as I don't have any storage room for them.   And our garage is quite full, too, so I really don't have any space to put any more thing. 

I do know the limit of what a fridge can offer as a substitute cold proofer for cold retard, too, but I'd really have sort out the space problem if I decide to buy a wine cooler.  When I manage to sort it out, yes, I'll certainly bear in mind the advices you both gave me.  Thank you very much for your kindness. Much appreciated.

davidg618's picture
davidg618

Hi, lumos,

My wife has imposed a rule: If you buy one more bowl, you have to sell one. If it wasn't for the extra room I built into the barn, I'd be in deep trouble, for storage. Our house is quite small. The good news, she doesn't enforce her rule rigidly.

Do you have a food blog?

David G

 

lumos's picture
lumos

The problem is I AM the rule of the house, as every housewife is. :p I got 4 more new cookery books for Christmas (which I asked for against all my sensible judgement....)  for which I haven't found a room in the bookshelf. I'm so hopeless.....

No, I don't have a food blog. My cookery class students often ask me to start one, but I'm already spending too much in front of PC for various things, including the bread blog here,  if I start a food blog as well, there won't be any time left to actually cook some food to blog about! :p

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

off my laptop.  I must have been staring at it too long.  Good crumb shot.  Neat effect!  It looks 3-D!  

davidg618's picture
davidg618

...don't have much depth-of-field, do they? I'd never tried scanning objects before now. Fun!

David G