The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough crumb

Azazello's picture

Sourdough crumb

Hey there

I was wondering if someone could offer me some pointers please as my bread seems to have gone awry somehow.

I've recently returned to sourdough baking after a year or so's break (pregnant wife went off sourdough taste). I remember making chewy flavoursome bread with a softish crumb before I stopped last year. 

My bread now has a great taste but has a very springy texture and is moist, sometimes almost tacky to the touch.

Here's a picture - in many respects I'm happy with the loaf, the holes in the crumb are OK, not too big or too small.

There was decent oven spring too and the bread was proved properly - I always do the finger poke test. The dough's not roughly handled.

This is the formula;

250g 100% hydration starter (per Reinhart's formula in BBA).

350g stoneground white flour

100g stoneground wholemeal flour

50g dark rye (pumpernickel grind)

350g water

10g sea salt

- mix followed by 30 mins autolysis

- Short periods of kneading over 4 hour period.

- Stretch and fold, then 20 mins rest

- Shape then proving till dough passes finger test.

- Bake in La Cloche for 40 mins - finish for 15 mins-20 mins.

I don't want to add anything like butter or potato flour to my sourdough breads, so is it true to say that my choices are to swap flour and/or vary hydration levels. I'll get some lower protein flour this week but I'm wondering if there's something obvious I'm missing.

Any pointers or advice would be really appreciated.

Thanks for any help

pmccool's picture

Knowing that color representation from one person's camera to another person's monitor can be wildly unreliable, I'll say that the bread appears to be rather lightly baked.  If that is true, you could a) remove the cloche half-way through the bake, b) increase the oven temperature, c) increase the baking time, d) leave the bread in the oven for 5-10 minutes after turning the oven off.  Or some combination of the above.  

My first suggestion would be to uncover the bread sooner.  Baking 40 minutes covered and 15-20 uncovered doesn't give the crumb much time to dry out.  Or the crust much time to get nice and dark and produce all those wonderful caramel-y flavors.  Assuming that the cloche is preheated, the bread will achieve maximum expansion in maybe 15 minutes or so.  After that, there's no benefit to keeping the bread covered.  Why not try a bake where you uncover the bread at the 20-minute mark?  Based on what you learn from that, you can make further adjustments to get the characteristics you want.


Azazello's picture

Thanks for the observations, Paul.

Undercooking may well be the culprit here. While the crust was nicely coloured, it didn't stay crunchy for long so the idea that the crumb needs longer in the oven could explain a lot.

I tested with a shorter time in La Cloche on a commercially yeasted loaf today and it was certainly more crunchy than I've made of late. I'll try with a sourdough once my starter's back to life but I think I'll just need to lengthen the time to finish the loaf. My crusts are seldom as thick as some of the photos I've seen on here.

Anyway, I appreciate your taking the trouble to reply.


 EDIT - tested on a sourdough today and cooking for longer really helped; much improved crumb.