The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bread crumb "flat" towards bottom of loaf - is it my proofing or...?

spahkee's picture
spahkee

Bread crumb "flat" towards bottom of loaf - is it my proofing or...?

I've been perplexed as to why my loaves sometimes bake with a almost flat crumb towards the bottom of the loaf.    When I slice into the bread, a cross section shows a great crumb except the last 1/4 inch or so close to the bottom.  That small area is almost "squished" down.

Could it be:

  • how long I'm proofing the dough before I put it in the oven - is it over proofing or under proofing?
  • the way I'm shaping the dough?   I am shaping them freehand into boules
  • something to do with the temperature of the oven?

Thanks for sharing your experience!

 

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

Hi spahkee,

First of all, what bread are you baking? Is it a straight dough or sourdough bread? Mostly wheat flour or do you use any other flours as well? A photo of the crumb would make it easier to assess what's going on, but the first thing that comes to mind is that the loaf is slightly overproofed. If the dough goes into the oven a little too late, it will not be able to fully hold its shape, and the weight of the bread will tend to compress the pockets at the bottom edge. Hopefully a slighly shorter final proof will improve your crumb!

brotbaeckerin's picture
brotbaeckerin

Spahkee, I have the same problem. I'm currently "practicing" baking poilane-style bread, and I chronically get a flatter crumb at the bottom of the loaf. I'll take Hansjoakim's advice to heart, since I do tend towards long proofing times. 

 

spahkee's picture
spahkee

Thanks for sharing your experience.    I was making a sourdough bread and it seems to happen more frequently with sourdough than with other breads that I make.  Unfortunately, I didn't take a photo of the bread before it was sliced and served.   I'll take your advice and keep an eye on the proofing time.    If you have any tips on how to tell when the bread is optimally proofed, I'd appreciate it.  I've been using the "eyeballing" method and trying to do the finger poke but it seems very hit or miss and I probably do err on the side of over rather than under proofing.

Happy New Year and hoping 2013 will improve my technique to more consistent breadmaking.

 

 

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

No problem! Regarding the question of overproofing: How much oven spring do you get with your current formula?

It is difficult to judge when a naturally leavened loaf is optimally proofed; in my experience, the dough does not respond to a poke test, and volume expansion during final fermentation is also rather limited (perhaps around 50% - 75% if it is leavened with a sourdough alone). As a general guideline for pain au levains with approximately 15% of the flour from a sourdough build, both bulk and final fermentation should be roughly 2 - 2.5 hours with a dough temperature of roughly 22dC - 24dC.

Happy new year, spahkee!