The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Troubleshooting Gummy Crumb

JacquelineColussi's picture

Troubleshooting Gummy Crumb

Looking for some help troubleshooting this formula, which produced a dense, gummy crumb:

On Saturday I attended an open house at Bennison's Bakery--where I tasted a number of yummy breads--and came home inspired to try to reproduce one of them: a light and airy fennel-raisin sandwich loaf. The fennel lent a subtle sweetness to the crumb, itself a sunny yellow, which may have come from... egg yolks? cornmeal? semolina? I wasn't sure, but yesterday I took a stab at developing a formula for the bread I'd tasted.

I used high hydration (80%), as I guessed (wrongly perhaps) that the semolina and cornmeal would absorb a lot of the water. They didn't. The dough was more like a batter, next to impossible to shape. So I poured it into a long loaf pan, proofed, and baked at 450F/230C for 45 minutes.

The bread rose high in the oven, with wonderful oven spring.

The bread looked and smelled good, and I was excited to slice it open this morning and taste it. I sliced and... disappointment. I tasted and... felt quizzical. Decent flavor, but an odd texture: dense and rubbery. The crumb looks like crumpet, but tastes much too substantial--the opposite of the airy texture I was going for.

Any ideas what led to the gumminess? I wonder where I went wrong, or what I might try to right the formula. Too much hydration? Too high a proportion of semolina? Maybe I should eliminate the semolina altogether?

Thanks in advance for the help!

kallisto's picture
kallisto (not verified)

I think you are right about the semolina. My try omitting it next time ?

I often bake with durum flour and my crumb also becomes a bit gummy. Maybe try adding some oil or fat to tenderize the crumb ?.

JacquelineColussi's picture

Thanks for the suggestion, kallisto! "Try omitting semolina" -- That sounds like a good idea. I guess I'll omit it altogether, then add it back in a few %s at a time. I'm going to try that, along with reducing the hydration a bit.

I realize this is kind of my process: begin with a flavor memory, take a stab at developing a formula to match the memory, then go about a lot of trial and error to sort it out ;-) Sometimes it can take a dozen iterations and a few months of experimentation, before a formula settles into something reliable, a family classic.

Best wishes,


dabrownman's picture

It really puffed itself up well for a batter bread.  The only time  get gummy is if I don't bake to 205 F in the middle or cut it too soon.  I'm thinking 25% semolina isn't all that much to account for gummy crumb?  I also grind my semolina in a coffee grinder until it resembles more of a flour consistency.  Maybe just too much water in the mix and 72-75% would be better.

JacquelineColussi's picture

Hi dabrownman, yes, the loaf did puff up well. I was surprised by that.

Just like you mentioned, I've seen gummy before when the internal temperature of the bread is too low, or when a loaf is badly underproofed. Then the crumb can kind of squish down when cutting into it and be horribly dense. But this bread had an amazingly strong structure, cut cleanly, didn't look dense--it tasted dense.

So moist it was, it molded after 3 days sitting out. Definitely I need to reduce the hydration.

Thanks for the help. -Jacqueline

isand66's picture

I agree with DA.  I use durum flour all the time and never have any gummy issues.  I recently purchased a couple of bags of Semolina by mistake and I have been putting it in the coffee grinder to make it more like a flour and it works great.  If your bread was like a batter it definitely needed less water.  Try doing an overnight retard in the refrigerator.  Cut the yeat back a little and after you do your intiital mix let it sit at room temperature for about 2 hours and do stretch and folds every 20 minutes until you start developing some gluten strength.  After 2 hours put it in your refrigerator overnight and the next day let it come to room temp for about 1.5 to 2 hours before shaping.

JacquelineColussi's picture

isand66, thanks for the tips. I'm going to keep experimenting with this one :-)

clazar123's picture

What you have is a batter bread,as named by the above responses. I discovered this class of breads myself when I had hand surgery and couldn't give up bread but couldn't handle the dough. I used my mixer,gravity and ingenuity to load the pans. Batter bread has a slightly different texture than a less hydrated bread and is esp good toasted, I found.There are lots of recipes around-they are generally faster to make.

You got a great loaf-that crumb looks lovely for a batter bread! If you want more of a regular bread recipe, simply reduce the liquid.

JacquelineColussi's picture

Hi clazar123, I never thought about batter breads. Your comment got me googling around a bit and there's lots of information, as you mention. Here's a batter bread from King Arthur Flour:

I hope your hand is feeling better.