The Fresh Loaf

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open crumb

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petercook's picture
petercook

open crumb

Hello, I am attempting to make a sub roll with a wildly open crumb, which, I hope, will give me the lightness AND the volume I want. I am now happy with the flavor and the crust but that open crumb eludes me. I start with a preferment that is 80% hydration and it uses only 1/32 of a tsp of dry yeast. I cover it and let it rest on the counter for 14 hrs. When ready, it has quadruped in volume and is covered with bubbles. For the dough I use unbleached flour at a 62% hydration and a tiny amount of dry yeast. I let it autolyse for 2 hr and then I add the salt, about 2%. After kneading I bulk ferment for two hrs or until doubled. I use a VERY gentle pre-shape, rest and gentle final shaping (7 inch long torpedo). These I place in my baguette pans, cover and rest until doubled or a tad more. I bake on an oven stone, with steam at 450 F for 18 minutes. Looks nice tastes good but is still  too dense for what I want. Any help or general thoughts would be much appreciated. thank you.

cranbo's picture
cranbo

can you share a photo of a crumb you are trying to emulate? otherwise hard to guess what you are trying to achieve. 

and how long are you kneading? what level of gluten development are you getting (again a photo would help). 

longhorn's picture
longhorn

You don't tell us what kind of flour you use (AP/BF/??) but great open crumb - even for AP generally requires 70+ percent hydration. And you tell us nothing of your mixing. There is a good chance you are overmixed for an open crumb. And finally, your terminology "tiny amount of yeast"  and "1/32 tsp of yeast (to how much flour???)" suggests you are potentially inconsistent in your process and may not appreciate what is important and what we need to know to make meaningful comments.  I would encourage you to read David Snyder's and my feedback from our experiences at SFBI. You should find a lot of useful ideas in David's postings. Mine are a year later and are a bit more cryptic because I didn't want to repeat David.

Good luck!

petercook's picture
petercook

Ok, sorry about the lack of info. So, here it is: preferment, 1/4 cup of water, 1/8 tsp of dry yeast. Mix and set aside. 118 gm of water. 1 Tblsp of the yeasted water (throw the rest of the yeasted water away). Add 17 gram of whole wheat flour (2 tblsp), add 142 gram of unbleached A.P. flour. beat by hand for two minutes. Cover and let rest on counter for 14 hr. In the morning the preferment has quadrupled in vol and is cover with bubbles. DOUGH, all of the preferment, 118 gm of water, 1/4 tsp of dry yeast, 245 gram of A.P. flour. Mix on low speed for 3 min or until it comes together. Autolyse 1 hr. add 1 3/8 tsp of sea salt. Mix on medium speed for 5 min. Bulk ferment for 2 hr. LIGHTLY punch down. Cut and preshape. Cover for 15 min. Final shape. Put into baguette pan and let proof until doubled. Bake in a 460 degree F oven (with steam) for 18 min. As I said in my first post, mini loaves look fine and have a good flavor but alas no WILDLY OPEN CRUMB.

All at Sea's picture
All at Sea

... from the details of your recipe. Your hydration seems rather low. If I've understood you right, and done my maths right, you are using around 251 grams of water to 404 grams of flour. That gives a hydration percentage of 62%. If you want an open crumb, it would be easier to achieve using a 70-75% hydration.

Secondly, what is your ambient temperature where you bake? If your kitchen is warm, you might be slightly over-proofing the dough, which won't help in getting an open crumb, let alone a wild one!

Thirdly, you may not need that last mix in the machine. Try substituting some SFs instead - they will work the gluten but help give you an irregularity to your crumb better than than machine.

All at Sea

longhorn's picture
longhorn

I get 61.9% hydration. As suggested above, get up to at least 70% hydration. APs are not all equal however, as is ambient humidity, both of which can affect your ideal hydration. Unless you are using weird flour or live in a tropical swamp you should probably be in the 72 to 75% range to get the dough you say you want.

Second issue. Your ratio of preferment to final dough is very high (almost 40%).  This means you don't have very much food for the yeast to eat (and make CO2 to inflate your bread). Also means your bulk fermentation and final proof are going to be short. You say you are doubling? I am suspicious. I also have concerns you are pretty badly overproofed. Could possibly tell if you posted a photograph showing your crust color.

While I would not cite this as a problem, your use of the term autolyse for the hour after initial mixing is not technically an autolyse for the autolyse is formally flour and water only. What you are doing is bulk fermentation which you are interrupting with HEAVY mixing. This IS a problem for your preferment needs no mixing. Your initial 3 minutes of initial mix is probably okay/about right. But after an hour of bulk fermentation without salt, the dough is fully hydrated and the gluten is fully formed. It doesn't need much any mixing at that point, but rather organization of the gluten. So you want some S&Fs, NOT mixing. The 5 minutes of mixing AT ANY SPEED is guaranteed to be counterproductive to your stated goal. But you have a problem. You have to get the salt in! Better answer is to do a true autolyse of the fresh flour - just mix the flour and water by hand. No mixer is necessary for without salt the flour hydrates rather nicely. That you can let go as long as you want (within reason). Mix the yeast into the autolysed flour. Add the preferment and salt and mix for only a minute or two at low speed followed with some hand kneading to make sure the texture is right (no lumps, etc.). Then S&Fs at half hour intervals until it feels right. Probably no more than two sets. Possibly only one.

Note: raising your expansion to the final dough will shift your bulk/proofing times.  It will take some experimentation to get everything right but higher hydration and reduced mixing will have a big effect on your crumb. 

Good luck!

Jay 

 

petercook's picture
petercook

Wow! Thank you all for the fantastic insights. The ambient temp of my kitchen this past month has been in the 80's and while that should have told me something I compleatly missed it.

Regarding the high percentage of pre-ferment I was trying to go for max flavor, but your point is well taken and I will reduce my next batch to 25% preferment, 75% new dough. 

Regarding the doubling during bulk ferment, I use a calibrated tall tub and I always take note of the marks. Usually when the kneaded dough goes in to the tub it is right at 650 ml. When the dough reaches 1300 ml, I know for sure it has doubled.

When you say S&F I assume you mean French Folds? That is easy enough to add in. No problem there.

On the mixing times, I was thinking that by kneading long on the 2nd knead I was strengthing the gluten which I figured would give me a higer rise in proofing and a better oven spring. But I will certainly use your suggestions about mix times.

Tonight I will start another preferment and tomorrow I will bake again. So, I will report back late Monday or early Tuesday. Thank you so much.

longhorn's picture
longhorn

The gluten is formed in the "autolyse" or rest. At that point you only need to arrange it. S&F (stretches and folds) arrange the gluten more in sheets which tends to favor open crumb. As you work the dough gluten crosslinks and the more intensively you work it the more cross connected it gets and the crumb gets tighter. I think you should be able to get by with NO second mix. (no more than a minute). This will also oxidize the dough less and give you more color and flavor in the bread.

A lot of people think that more preferment means more flavor. That can be true with a sourdough levain, but your preferment is very low on yeast so little more is happening than if you simply soaked the flour and that is a lot for the enzymes in the flour break down starch and create sugars and there is some (small but still some) bacterial action. And with yeast you are getting some alcohols and other stuff so... the preferment is good but I don't think you will find cutting back on it will hurt your flavor much. And I think giving it plenty of fresh food is more important. And the soaker/autolyse will not dilute your flavor very much.

That you are getting doubling at such low "feeding" in the final dough makes me suspicious that it is "barely" getting there. Your gluten is obviosly strong (and thereby capable of holding the CO2 and growing the dough) but I suspect to get full doubling is requires overproofing and that you are at elevated temps tends to make me suspect that also.

Using calibarate tubs/bins is good. I would suggest trying it a bit earlier - say at 70% growth on a loaf just for fun. But I like the look of slight underproofing!

Hydration will be a huge improvement. And reducing the mix will probably get you where you want. (NOTE: you may decide your crumb is too open and then guess what --- you can add some mixing back... But I doubt you will want to.

When I say one set of S&Fs I mean lifting one side of the dough and "lifting" it until the dough stretches well into the ball/blob (ideally slightly more than half way in my experience), rotate 180 degrees and repeat, then 90 and repeat and finally another 180 and repeat so you stretch each side of the dough ball and stretch and arrange the gluten throughout the dough.

Hope that helps!

Jay

 

petercook's picture
petercook

Today I baked again and I was quite happy with the outcome. My crumb was much more open (more and bigger alveoli) but it's still not there yet. Next I will try an over-night retarding in the fridg. For those of you who have read Rose Levy Beranbaum are aware that she is big into retarding loaves.

I had never worked with a dough of such a high hydration and my dough (at 71% hydration)  after the 1st short kneading I dispared that it would never hold up - more a liquid than a solid. So, I added some flour to bring it to a 67% hydration. Still a big blob of glue but I pressed on. The 2nd short knead, 3 min at low speed, helped somewhat. As it turned out I had to do 3 French folds (or streatch and fold if you prefer). After bulk ferment, 1 1/2 hr, I found it extremely challenging to divide and shape (which I finally accomplished by oiling the counter). The loaves were placed in a double baguette pan and allowed to rise until doubled, which took only 55 min. I baked at a reduced temp this time, 420 F for 21 min. This time I did not slash the loaves because they looked and felt "too fragile". Wow, what a fantastic oven spring. Internal temp of loaves as they came out of the oven was 212 F. Beautiful deep golden colored crust. Interior was a yellowish/ivory. Taste _ wonderful. Best loaf yet. I'll keep working at it but I think I'm almost there. Thanks to all for your help.

longhorn's picture
longhorn

Handling wet doughs is a bit of an art! Unless your flour is seriously weird (and I have had them) you should be able to reach  72 to 75 percent with a bit of practice. You do have to use SOME flour to control wet doughs. With experience it gets less and less but at first it may be quite a bit. Wet/moist hands help a lot. Dusting flour (or oil) on the counter is also helpful. The biggest trick when using flour is to minimize the amount of flour you put IN the loaf. It is no real problem on the surface but as you form it tends to get into the loaf and that is not particularly good. Preshaping can be amazingly vigorous. At SFBI we literally beat the dough down to make a flat rectangle/remove excessive pockets. The resulting loaves are quite open crumbed. Take a look at David Snyder's posts from SFBI two years ago or mine from last year. (NOTE: Davids are better and more complete. I tried to fill in the gaps and not repeat David too much!)

Glad you feel closer. Persevere and push for hydration. Once you are comfortable with it you will enter a new zone!

Bake on! and Good luck!

Jay