The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Crust gelatinisation and shiny crumb

Azazello's picture

Crust gelatinisation and shiny crumb

Hey there

I've been experimenring with my ourdough and thanks to one tip in particular about cooking for longer, I'm starting to feel that my sourdough is improving.

I've seen a few pictures of bread crusts on here and elsewhere that have a brittle shinyness (this is called gelatinisation I gather) to them and a sheen to the crumb too. It's a look I would like to cultivate in my bread - in the wholemeal/brown loaf I baked yesterday, I can see some crust gelatinisation.

The crumb is good and very tasty, but not shiny.

Are these two features related?

Is it simply a matter of oven time?

How do you get that shiny look to the crumb?

Thanks in advance for any help or observations you might have





nicodvb's picture

your bread looks nice to me, but I guess that a shiny crumb requires a much higher hydratation than the one you seem to  be using.


breadforfun's picture

The shiny crumb is related proper gluten development. It seems to be (for me at least) easier to achieve with higher hydration doughs, although maybe it is just that the larger holes make it more visible.  It's hard to describe, but if you are doing stretch & folds during the bulk ferment, you will actually feel as the gluten is developing.  After a S&F, an underdeveloped dough will kind of spread out while a more developed one will hold its shape for a while (depending on hydration).  You get a feel for it after doing it a few times.  The first loaf that I baked where this occurred was the Tartine Country loaf.  As noted already, it doesn't really affect the flavor.

A shiny crust has been very hard to duplicate for me as well.  I got a shiny crust when I first baked a walnut bread based on Reinhart's sourdough recipe from Bread Baker's Apprentice.  It was a relatively low hydration dough (I think around 64%) using a lower hydration starter (which he calls a "firm starter"), and it is retarded overnight in the refrigerator as a free-standing loaf (i.e. no banneton).  I have made that same recipe many times since then with generally the same technique, and the shine is always hit or miss.  One clue is that I once made a double batch, and the first loaves baked were shinier than the second batch, so perhaps underproofing would help.  I love the look and also hope someone can shed some light on the details to make it more consistently.



Azazello's picture

Thanks for the comments.

This is the crumb from an experimental white loaf I made earlier. It stuck to the cloth it had been proving in so it got deformed which may have cost some oven spring (maybe it was over-proved).

I followed Dan Lepard's formula for a white levain loaf in' The Handmade Loaf' but with more water i.e. 200g starter, 500g white flour and 350g water - up from 325g - and salt.

The crust is crusty and the crumb soft and chewy.The crumb is shiny and much less heavy than recent efforts, even with a high protein flour.  Not unhappy at all with it.

I made a point of kneading more than the recipe calls for and stretched and folded five times over a bulk fermentation period of 4 or so hours.

Brad, re the consistency I suspect that's something that comes with practice and experience.