The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Having trouble with shaping and oven spring

ngolovin's picture
ngolovin

Having trouble with shaping and oven spring

Hi TFL'ers,

I am relatively new to bread baking.  I have had some problems, lately, with my second rise.  I have made several loaves, including Peter Reinhart's German Many Seed Loaf (from his Whole Grain Breads: New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor) which have not risen in their second rise (I believe the shaping step).  The breads do not rise much, even after 2 hours (I keep an eye on the time and rise carefully).  I also am not getting any oven spring when baking.  The crumb, as you might expect, is extremely dense after baking (I use a thermometer to tell when done).

I do not believe it is the yeast, since my bialies and bagels are fine (I made a batch of bialies the same day as the German Many Seed loaf).  I am obviously doing something wrong, but I am not experienced enough to know what I am (or am not) doing!  I am hoping some more experienced bakers might offer me some ideas as to why I am havingh this problem.  Thank you in advance for your help. :)

Regards to all,

Neal

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

Do the doughs rise well in the bulk fermentation (first rise)?

FF

ngolovin's picture
ngolovin

Yes, they do roughly double in about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. 

jaywillie's picture
jaywillie

Winter in the U.S. means cooler kitchens, and most likely your dough is just taking longer to rise. I would suggest that next time you skip the timer and give the dough the good old wet finger poke test. Wet a clean finger with tap water and poke the dough about a half inch. If it springs right back -- all the way or nearly all the way -- it's not ready to bake. If the finger depression springs back only a little, it's good to go. (If the dough falls, you waited too long!) I have found that my whole grain doughs are taking very, very long to rise, but my house is probably cooler than most because I'm a miser with the furnace. So I just try to stay patient and let the dough -- not the clock -- tell me when it is ready to be baked.

 

ngolovin's picture
ngolovin

Jaywillie,

Thanks for the advice.  I have tried the finger poke method, but never saw the dough "spring back".  I assume I either poked too far or did something wrong.  I will try it again.  I have been using a "cold" oven as a fermentation chamber.  I run the oven for 30 s, then turn it off and rise the dough in there.  I am with you on the heating costs!  Is this a problem, in your opinion?

 

Thanks again,

Neal

jaywillie's picture
jaywillie

If you never saw it spring back, I wonder if the dough is overproofed. That might explain the problems with oven spring that you've experienced. I sometimes proof in the oven, as you do. I just leave the light on, rather than turn on the oven itself. It makes for a nice warm spot, but not too warm, at least in my oven. It just keeps it about 80 F. If it's too warm, then the timing you are using may be too long and the bread may actually be falling. Thirty seconds doesn't seem like that is too much, but who knows? (It's always something.) Since a slower rise adds to flavor, I usually only do the oven rise with enriched breads that don't need their flavor enhanced. But that's just me.

To test the finger poke, what I would suggest is do an experiment and poke your dough at about 20 minute intervals in its proofing stage. Then you will see and feel the dough proofing, and see the results of your poke. The dough is quite resistant early in the cycle, and you can feel that -- and the dough fills the hole quickly. But as time goes on the dough is more relaxed, and fills the hole slowly. So you can experiment and get the feel for the process.