The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Factors that impact the "airiness" of a loaf

Patrick's picture

Factors that impact the "airiness" of a loaf

I'm trying to get an understanding of the factors that impact the "airiness" of a loaf (where a "dense" loaf is a loaf that's not "airy").  

The recipe I use primarily is an adaptation of Reinhart's "Light Wheat" bread recipe (in "Apprentice").  I use.  For the "whole wheat" flour I use White Whole Wheat (soft) which I grind with my own Nutrimill. I keep the same 5/3 ratio (by weight) but I add a few grams of gluten.  

Of course, grinding my own flour with the nutrimill, I end up with a somewhat different end product so I modified the yeast (and salt) content of the recipe because it seemed that there just wasn't enough yeast to push the loaf up to double its size on the second rise.  But, of course, increasing the yeast (I use instant) seems to result in a faster rise (perhaps too fast).

So -for the more experienced people here- what, in your opinion, are the factors that impact the airiness of the loaf?

clazar123's picture

I always do better when I understand the concepts involved  and it sounds like you want that kind of explanation so here it is.

In order to be "airy" the bread must be able to contain the air. Remember what bread is: It is a matrix of netting (gluten fibers) that is holding a combination of solids and gel(the dough which eventually becomes the crumb). In that dough is a colony of yeast that eat the sugars and produce the bubbles of air for fluffiness.If the gel is the proper consistency and is not weakened by being left to sit too long, the oven will cause the air to expand and the netting will be relaxed enough to allow the expansion before it sets with heat.

So those are the concepts you are working toward. Good gluten netting,plenty of moist gel,healthy yeast, proper timing,relaxed but still strong gluten.

Translation: If youare working with whole wheat, the flour must have plenty of time to absorb the water-even overnight. There must be enough handling/kneading/S&F to get a good release of starch(gel),and a proper final rise.

Search: whole wheat,fluffy whole wheat,finger poke test.

I have written a LOT on working with whole wheat so you might even look under my name (upper right of this box) and then choose the  "tracking" tab on the top of my profile. I learned it all right here from a lot of wonderful people so I always try to respond when others want to know something about whole wheat. 3 years ago I mostly baked bricks-now it only happens occasionally-usually when I use new/different ingredients or don't pay attention.

Have delicious fun!