The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Crust formed on top of dough - HELP!

  • Pin It
Felila's picture
Felila

Crust formed on top of dough - HELP!

I had to leave some sourdough in the breadrising bucket in the refrigerator for nearly four days -- the limit, according to Reinhart's book. I just now pulled it out to shape it and found that, even though I had oiled the top, it had dried out. leaving a hard crust on top of the dough. 

I tried removing the crust; that didn't go well. The dough just stretched. So I've shaped the dough into batardes and nudged the hard pieces of crust into the center of the batardes. 

Will the crust soften up in the two hours before I bake? Or should I pull the batardes to pieces, try to pull out the fragments of crust, and start over? 

Bread is for a friend and I don't want hard lumps in the center of the loaves. What  to do?

cranbo's picture
cranbo

those hard pieces in the middle won't likely soften up. 

next time i'd probably just bake it with the hard outer crust. not optimal, but I'd rather have crust outside than dried chunks inside.

Pulling it apart won't be great either, because it won't spring back.

there's always croutons ;) 

Felila's picture
Felila

I've never let bread retard this long. If I just leave it overnight, it forms a very thin crust, which dissolves when it's put facedown on the oiled baking sheet I use to rise and bake the loaves. I let it sit for a while and then shape it. 

How could I prevent the crusting? Plastic wrap? I hate to use the stuff, because it's no environmentally sound. Turn the dough over once a day? 

cranbo's picture
cranbo

if you're worried about plastic wrap, why not just recycle a used plastic grocery bag and a rubber band? or use a plastic shower cap (reusable many times!)

or let your dough rise in come kind of sealed container? tupperware? or dutch oven?

Felila's picture
Felila

I used to let it rise in my Kitchenaid bowl covered with a shower cap. Dough was still exposed to air, crusted a little even though oiled. Recently I bought a couple of Cambro buckets with lids, just for retarding dough. All the info about dough buckets I read here said to either punch holes in the lids or leave the lids loose. I've been leaving them loose. The surface of the dough is exposed to air (but of course it would be exposed if I punched a hole in the lid). It would be hard to put anything  BUT plastic wrap on dough that's resting down in the bottom of a bucket. 

Would it work to pull out the dough and flip it over if I'm going to hold it more than overnight?

cranbo's picture
cranbo

All the info about dough buckets I read here said to either punch holes in the lids or leave the lids loose. I've been leaving them loose.

This is a new one to me, and I've been on TFL for a few years now; point to a few links about this if you can. Most of the time I've heard loose lids for starters (where fermentation can be super-vigorous) but I've never heard this for bulk fermenting finished doughs. I thought the benefit of loose lid was to permit CO2 buildup to escape, so that your container wouldn't explode and cause a mess (especially dangerous with glass); with a finished dough, why would you want gasses to be escaping, especially when you've worked hard to create a gluten network to capture them? Please correct me if I'm wrong, maybe I'm missing something. 

I have let bulk fermentation happen in a sealed Cambro bucket (both in fridge and at room temp) for many years and never with a single problem. Without some kind of reasonably air-tight seal, of course your dough will crust or dry out, possibly after even a short time in the fridge . Of course, if your bucket is too big in proportion to the dough, your dough will be exposed to too much air and could dry out even with it sealed (but it's not very likely). 

Felila's picture
Felila

I'm not quite sure WHERE I got the idea that there had to be some outlet for gasses when retarding dough in the refrigerator. You may be right that I was confusing starter with dough. I was keeping my sourdough starter in plastic yogurt containers and noticed the lids puffing up ... slashed crosses in the lids to let out the gasses. But I'm willing to try putting the lid down tight on the Cambro buckets. There is air in the buckets much of the time. I've thrown my environmental principles to the wind and bought some plastic wrap today. I'll try oiling the top of the dough AND putting a bit of plastic wrap over it too. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and heard the boom from another room when the gas built up during a bulk rise.  If in the refrigerator, the container can be "burped" into the bulk rise and resealed but I tend to not put the lids on tight leaving one side or corner more or less resting on the rim.  Others have had that experience as well, but it won't happen with shower caps or plates or covers that rest on the rims.  Misting lightly with water can help too, even with oil on the surface. (to avoid plastic) 

Here is one link to previous discussions:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/25597/how-do-you-cover-your-doughs-during-bulk-fermentation

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Thanks for the link Mini. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and drape the oiled dough with it.  Then cover.

Felila's picture
Felila

Hmm. I don't have that many dishtowels, and they're not completely smooth. Perhaps I need to sacrifice a few linen napkins to the cause. Will try out the wet cloth gambit the next time I make bread. 

Felila's picture
Felila

Ate one loaf, gave one away. The loaf I kept was OK after all. The hard pieces of crust that had formed during retarding seem to have either dissolved or worked their way to the top of the formed loaf. I ended with a loaf that looked a little odd on top, and had some extra crunch. The interior of the bread was fine. More than fine. I ate too much of it :)

But I will try closing the bucket AND using plastic wrap over the top. Decided I didn't want another thing to wash.