The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Excessive tearing

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iceman's picture
iceman

Excessive tearing

This is my first time posting here and my first time viewing this site. I have a question regarding excessive tearing of the dough either during the second rise or during baking. I've made this rye bread recipe several times with no problem, but the last two times I've made it, the loafs literally split apart or rip instead of just rising. Am I over kneading the dough or what? I've never had this happen in the past, but all of a sudden it's become an issue. Obviously it must be me or something I'm doing. It's a sour dough recipe if that makes a difference.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

more info would be helpful...  :)   -Mini

iceman's picture
iceman

Mini:

I'm not at liberty to divulge  the recipe at this time because it was a secret recipe from a large baking company here that went out of business, but the owner gave the recipe to this guy who in turn gave it to me. The recipe called for 100 lbs. of this, 100lbs of that 3 lbs this and so much that, which made 60 2# loafs. I broke the ingredients down as best I could and the first time I made it it turned out to be the best rye bread I ever made.  My sourdough starter is about 2 years or more old but it's never failed me. The only thing that has changed however is that some mold developed on the starter which was removed before using in the one loaf that split really bad while proofing. This last time it opened up during baking.  I searched on line and from what I could see molding should not be an issue to cause me to throw out my starter. Before making this last batch, I found some mold on the starter again but scraped it off and refreshed the starter again. Each time the starter had a pleasant smell before using. This is the only common factor that I can see because everything else followed the recipe as was done in the past.  It appears as if the dough wants to go beyond the double size and explodes. The bread tastes great, has good texture throughout, but the crust just opens up like a flower. Just not the most appealing looking bread.  By the way, the dough is not put in pans, just baked on parchment paper. Other than the mold having something to do with it, I can't imagine what has changed. Hopefully you or someone has an explanation why this just started happening. If and when I get the perfect loaf, I promised the guy  (who trusted me with the recipe) I would give him a loaf because he's never used it. I will also ask him if it's ok  to pass on this recipe over the internet and see what he says. I hope this is of some help.

Iceman

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

try letting your starter get fully ripe, I mean very stong sour tones and tasting sour.  Let the starter rise to it's fullest and then fall back on itself going flat.   It could be that your yeast numbers have dropped off and ha too high a pH, it can't defend itself from the mold.  Use a clean container letting the just fed starter get good and ripe inside of 24 hrs should help your starter.   Feed it, keep it a little bit more on the runny side and don't chill it,  keep it about 26° - 27° C.  If it ripens and goes flat (go ahead and poke it, see if you can get a second rise)  Reduce to a small amount and feed it 1 to 10 and let it ripen fully.  Make sure you are not using chlorinated water!  

Meanwhile, and to be sure, take two small samples of the rye flour (enough for a tennis ball of dough) and combine with water and a little yeast and see if it behaves like the splitting loaves.   Put a squirt of vinegar or lemon juice in one of the samples.  Let them rise like you would the dough and bake them.  Make odious comparisons.

I don't know if you are into tasting your flours, but get a non-smoker to chew on a little bit to make sure they haven't gone rancid.  Any after tastes should tell you if they are alright.  

Mini

 

cranbo's picture
cranbo

iceman, a few thoughts:

1. Are you using the same brand flours as you were before? 

2. What about water temp, pre- and post-knead temp, & ambient temps? If it's summer where you are, temp could be playing a factor with your rise times. 

3. How are you maintaining your starter? Is it a full rye sour? Your starter maintenance process & schedule will help diagnosis.  The mold may be because of your process; if it's summer where you are, your starter may be overfermenting because of temperatures/feed schedule, and increased starter activity could be affecting your dough's fermentation schedule. Are you strict on your rise times, or do you adjust for dough + ambient temperature? 

4. Can you give us an idea of what the % flour breakdown is? I don't think you'll be giving away any secrets by sharing that :)

grind's picture
grind

The bread tastes great, has good texture throughout, but the crust just opens up like a flower. Just not the most appealing looking bread.

How is this bad?  Do you have a photo?

iceman's picture
iceman

I'm going to try to answer everybody's questions and hopefully not skip any. First off, I am on well water, so there's no chlorine. At one time I had a problem with any bread I made, the bread had a tendency to crumble a lot. Checking other web sites suggestions came in to use a teaspoon of lecithin, a pinch of ginger, a pinch of citric acid and a few tablespoons of wheat gluten per loaf. I even remember Martha Stewart recommending replacing a tablespoon of water with a tablespoon of vinegar in your bread recipe. Anyway, I modified my original rye recipe with the addition of the gluten, citric acid ( or vinegar ) lecithin, and ginger just to see if it helped. Result, well maybe some. This is what I did the first time it split open. This last time I decided to follow the original recipe and it split the same. Am I using the same flour? I'm not 100% sure. The bread flour I use is either Gold Metal or Pillsbury, whatever the grocery store happens to have. What the original recipe didn't devulge was how to make the rye starter. I just followed a recipe I found on line.

I'm by no means exact when it comes to making or feeding my starter. I use about 14-15 oz of starter/ 2 lb loaf. My starter always seems to be more the texture of pourable yogurt and to  whatever starter is left, I add 3/4 cup of rye flour and 1/2 cup water, mix, sprinkle on 1/4 cup more rye to cover and let sit on the counter until the next day and visible cracks can be seen in the flour top. I do this here up north where it's 65 - 75 degrees or down south where the inside temp could be 78 -80 degrees. I then put some water to cover and place in the refrigerator. The day before I want to make bread I take it our and let it warm on the counter. Then I add another cup of rye flour ( saving 1/4 cup for sprinkling on top) and a 1/2 cup of warmish water, mix and cover with the remaining flour. The day of bread making everything is mixed together and my 14-15 oz of sour is poured off and the process starts again. To start the bread I dissolve the yeast in warm water, pour into the bowl with the sour, mix, add the necessary flour, salt and caraway seed and knead until the dough ( adding flour) until the dough isn't too sticky to work with. Form into a ball, place in greased bowl and cover until double in bulk. Time depending on temperature. I then punch it down, form by hand into a rectangle and roll up tightly tucking in the ends and placing it on parchment paper, making a few slashes across the top and cover with clear wrap. When nearly double ( and everything looks great) I put into a 325 degree oven to bake. The one time the loaf split wide open during proofing and this last time it split open while baking. I'll usually spray some water in the over or throw a few ice cubes on the oven bottom to create some steam while baking.

Getting back to the starter, the recipe I've been following says to refresh every week or so. Well, I don't remember to do that and mine usually sits there in the refrigerator until I want rye bread again, maybe a month or so. It always seems to come back but it may take a few days before any activity is seen. This last time it got so active it blew the lid off the container I had it in. Maybe that's my problem, sour too active combined with the extra yeast added to the mix ?????

As far as % of flour, the recipe ( the way I broke it down) calls for 14 -15 oz sour, 14 -15 oz of clear flour ( I use 1/3 whole wheat to 2/3 white = 4-1/2 to 5 cups total) and 1 cup warm water plus caraway etc. I usually go by feel and add flour accordingly until I feel it's right. Sometimes I am, sometimes I'm not.

I have know idea how to send pictures on this machine, so that's out of the question. These loafs split length wise, even though I slash them perpendicular. I'm now beginning to think my dough is way to active. This last time the first proof was in about an hour and in the second, the loafs doubled in about 20 minutes. Could this be my problem????

Sorry for the lengthy post. I hope I answered everyone's questions and I thank you for taking the time to help me out.

Iceman

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

If so, then the rye is not tearing.  Your starter sounds at least 100% hydration most likely more.  If you can weigh your flour amount and your water amount,  checking the hydration would be a breeze.  Divide the water weight by the flour weight and multiply by 100 to get the % (or just move the decimal over to the right two spaces.)  Could be that your hydration is too low and so the loaf splits lengthwise as a result.  Whole wheat does benefit from a soaking so if you can manage to soak it in some of the water for at least an hour or two before mixing, you might solve your problem.  You may also find adding a little more water to get the preferred "feel" to the dough.  

Anytime someone adds rye flour (in the starter) to a wheat dough and says "they add flour until it no longer is sticky..."  I am suspicious that the dough is too dry.  Rye makes dough sticky.  It's the nature of the beast.  Try not to add too much flour and see how you come out.  Use a bench scraper and a lightly moist hand to work the dough. 

Mini

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

I have the same problems. The only cure I found so far consists in:

-maximize hydratation. Pentosans steal a lot of water from gluten and the lower the pH the more water they steal

-knead a lot to maximize gluten development. No knead is no-go.

-minimize folds, folding only anytime the dough loses its shape. There's something that makes the gluten sheeth very prone to tearing when there's rye involved.

I wish I had a picture, but essentially the dough really splits open just like the ground during a BIG earth quake.

 

iceman's picture
iceman

I'm wondering what you mean by minimizing folding, if dough loses it's shape?

From past experience if I left the dough more hydrated or wetter, I had the problem of the loafs spreading sideways instead of rising. I guess I've been trying to achieve the perfect loaf! Is there a point where the dough will rise up instead of spreading, in the final rise, when the correct flour to water ratio is achieved? Should I continue to add extra gluten to my dough or just knead it more? When the dough splits you can see the dough strands stretching across the split, so it appears the gluten has developed but maybe not enough? I guess it's just keep on trying and enjoy whatever the final results might be.

Yes, the only rye used is in the starter. In fact in the last batch I didn't use any wheat flour either, just white bread flour to see if that made any difference. It still split.

 

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

Folds are the only way to force a very hydratated dough to rise vertically  (like a dough as we mean it) rather than spreading sideways and rising like a ciabatta. Folds are extremely effective, but when you feel that the dough is so elastic that it resists both stretching and folding it's the sign that this last fold should have been avoided.

Folding develops a lot of elasticity, especially with bread flours that are very rich in gluten. Elasticity keeps the dough together in shape, but elasticity itself if in exess is detrimental to dough rise. You have to find the right measure, and the only way is experimenting making small changes until you find a method that works.

As for gluten: don't add it, just knead more. Adding VWG will make the dough gummy, while just kneading more will develop all the gluten you need. For my dough at 30-40% rye I find that the right hydratation is 80%.

 

Mini: the dough surface is not dry, it's covered with plastic on all sides. It's wet and ... split.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

How about scoring the loaf in the same direction as the tearing?  More with the length of the loaf than across it?

iceman's picture
iceman

nicodvb:

That's very interesting to know that by folding and stretching, besides just kneading, will prevent the dough from spreading sideways. I prefer bread making without the use of pans, but find my loafs always spread more to the side than they rise up. I'll be trying your suggestion with the next batch.

Speaking of hydration, let me ask you this. The starter recipe I've been following calls for cups rather than weight for both the water and flour. It also calls for covering the starter with water when refrigerated. Do I need to pour off this water before going to the next stage?  I just mix it in and add more flour and water by the cup. What's the preferred consistency  of a starter anyway? As I stated earlier, mine can usually be poured out like thick pancake batter. It sounds like I need to be a bit more scientific in my bread making.

iceman

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I have to say I find covering the starter with water a bit peculiar.

Covering with flour is done often enough but then to come back with water sounds to me like encouraging the source of the mould.  The starter will thin out as it ferments, you can dig under the floured topping to get at your starter underneath.  The flour blanket will keep in moisture all by itself and it doesn't need to be so thick, a few mm. is enough.   Flour weighs about half that of water by volume:  one cup of water weighs 240g and one cup of flour is approx. 130g.  Equal weights of water & flour would be about one H2O to two cups rye.   :)

iceman's picture
iceman

Mini:

When I first received this rye bread recipe, it called for "our own rye sour". Not knowing what their sour consisted of, I found a recipe for sour at artisanbreadbaking.com. That's what I've been using. During each stage of the making, flour is dusted on top of the sour while on the counter. When I'm done using the sour I need, instead of covering with flour, I float some water on top before it's put in the refrigerator as per their instructions. Strange as it may seem, the one time I forgot to put water on the sour and refrigerated it with the flour on top, that's when it first contracted the mold. And yes, I use a 1/2 cup water to 1 cup rye flour ratio in each stage of sour making.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

When I start up a rye starter from scratch I do keep it very wet, preferring a layer of water above the culture/flour layer. So the water on your starter is like a cover, do you cover the container as well?    Does the water get sour?  

Usually if the pH drops low enough in the starter, it keeps out the mold.  That can be done a number of ways: letting the fed starter ferment a few hours before chilling or keeping a larger portion of old starter in the culture mixture or thinning out the starter so it ferments faster.   Chilling tends to reduce yeast numbers over time so it is a good idea to let your starter have some warmer counter times and rise through some complete rising and falling fermenting cycles before chilling again. 

It has crossed my mind that perhaps the rye that you feed your starter has changed with time and perhaps you now have a faster starter dishing out more enzymes than before speeding up your fermenting times.  Have you tried increasing the commercial yeast?   Or adding salt, lemon or vinegar to the inoculated starter only as opposed to the whole batch of dough?  How about shortening your bulk rise time?  or reduce the amount of rye starter in the dough?

Upping the ash content in the dough helps when fermentation seems to tear the dough apart.  The dough can then take more time to rise because the ash buffers the decomposing effects of fermentation.  Try getting a bread flour with a higher protein & fiber content into the dough formula.

Today I can bake, it being cool here in BC  but don't know what hubby has planned for today.  Hate to mix up a rye dough and then leave it sitting for an unknown period of time.  Tuesday should be hot, only thing baking will be my tan.  I picked up a little round covered grill (eyed a big green egg with envy) for some BBQ.