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Big Bubbles in the Middle of the Loaf and overall inconsistnt Texture

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Gingi's picture
Gingi

Big Bubbles in the Middle of the Loaf and overall inconsistnt Texture

Hi people.

I hope all of you are well.
I've been experimenting with Hamelman's Vermont Sourdought lately and I'm not able to figure out why there are big bubbles in my loaf. The picture below is from his regular Vermont Sourdough with Whole Wheat.

Quick disclosure: I have a two-year-old starter that is healthy and strong. As for the shaping of my loafs, I follow the king himself he demonstrate the following link (at 0:40)-- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmxDKuGLWuE

I de-gas before shaping, but I don't think it's the problem.

Please help me solve this irritating problem.

Gingi.

 

adri's picture
adri

When I'm in a hurry, sometimes I "shape" in bubbles.
This especially happenes to me when folding the dough.

Could that have happened to you as well?

Adrian

Gingi's picture
Gingi

I was not in a hurry and shaped like Hamelman is shaping in the video I provided. :-?

adri's picture
adri

Ok, if you're sure you did all the shaping and preshaping right (didn't use too much flour, didn't incorporate air, didn't degas too little, created enough tension...), then you'll have to look for other missedstakes. :)

adri's picture
adri

Some other things you might look at:

Does your flour have a high enzyme activity?
Was the final proofing very long or very short?
As the crust also seperated: Was the heat transfer ok? Did you preheat the oven/stone properly?
Was the dough too wet?

As the crust is broken (I cannot say from the photo, if it is from the cut or just almost at the same place): Was it underproofed? Did you score profoundly?

Gingi's picture
Gingi

Does your flour have a high enzyme activity?
No clue, how do I check it?


Was the final proofing very long or very short?
I followed the book's instructors and went with two folds, every 50 minutes.
As the crust also separated: Was the heat transfer ok?
Some of the crust indeed separated  (due to bubbles, I guess?)... what does it mean about the heat transfer?

Did you preheat the oven/stone properly?
Yep, 40 minutes on 20 degrees higher than the temp. recommended. Opened to place the loaf, and took the temp down to 360F, the temp. suggested in the book.

Was the dough too wet?
Again, I have nothing to compare it with, it didn't feel like too wet to me - but again - compared to what?

cerevisiae's picture
cerevisiae

Just to check...did you actually bake it at 360F, or is that a typo?

PetraR's picture
PetraR

Wow , only 2 stretch and folds is not very much.

I tried 3 Stretch and folds in 50 Minute intervalls and my crumb was a bit like yours.

I now do 6 Stretch and Folds in 30 Minute Intervalls and do the Stretch and folds gently and leave the dough in the Bowl , just cover with Plastic Wrap.

I also do not take the Dough out of the Bowl after the last Stretch and Fold but let it Bulk ferment in there to not disturb the Dough to much.

I also work with a light hand when degasing the Dough and Shaping.

Tension pulls are also done very gentle as to not to maniupulate the dough to much before the second rise in the Banneton.

I only use some flour AFTER the Dough is shaped and just put it on the Dough before it goes in the Banneton.

adri's picture
adri

While asking yourself these questions again to find the answer and play with the answers to find which one to answer with yes during your next bakes, please add this one: Do you really fold your dough during the final proofing?

Without seeing your dough I cannot say anything. But you can play with it. These are hints. I'm also new to handling wheat. But I have a quite good leaflet from a German institute of baking knowledge.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I see a rather dense crumb around big bubbles.  This tells me that the dough was not proofed enough before shaping.  Wait for the proofing dough to rise a little bit and build some puffiness (trapping gas) before starting to count the folds.  Maybe add another folding before the final shaping.  

Anytime while the dough is rising, and I encourage you to do so, take a knife and cut into the dough and look at the gasses being trapped in the dough.  You will know when to shape when you see a lot of smaller bubbles in the dough between the larger bubbles.  

suave's picture
suave

I absolutely agree with that - this looks like underfermented dough.  Increase fermentation time, don't be shy either, add at least 30 minutes, see what happens.

Bakingmadtoo's picture
Bakingmadtoo

I think Mini is spot on as well. All of my first loaves looked like that inside. I began bulk fermenting and proofing longer. The crumb began improving straight away, then Mini gave me further courage (as I was still getting classic signs of under proofing) by telling me that it was really hard to over proof sourdough. I now have a very relaxed attitude to bulk fermenting and proofing times. My cold house probably means that I can be more relaxed than most, but Mini has proved right so far and I have not yet over proofed a sourdough loaf. The crumb now has lovely holes, where all the holes have opened up. Be brave and try proofing a little bit longer, if you do manage to go too far at least you will know next time exactly how long your sourdough can go.

Gingi's picture
Gingi

SO - current me if I'm wrong - in order to avoid these bubble and to have a more consistent texture I should 1) add an extra 50 min for the bulk fermentation (currently 2.5 hours) and retrad the loafs in the fridge overnight?

adri's picture
adri

As I understand, proofing the dough "more" and "longer" are two different kind of things.

To have the dough less underprooved, you need to proove it longer in the same environment. In a cooler environment like a fridge, it will need even more time. You might gain a lot of flavour though.

Adrian

Gingi's picture
Gingi

I would like to know what to do differently. If it's the bulk fermentation, my common sense tells me to add an extra interval of 50 minutes. The same thing happened when I retarded the loaf for overnight.

SO - please if someone out there is familiar with Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough and willing to advice me how to change it to avoid the bubble, he/she will be blessed forever.

suave's picture
suave

Fermenting the dough longer will improve pore structure, that is you will get fewer caverns and more large holes.  Their distribution will more uniform and the cell walls will be thinner, resulting in a less rubbery walls.  In short, you will get something like this:

Now retarding will change pore structure somewhat.  In my experience, VS-type breads proofed at room temperature and baker the same day have less open structure, all pores are of similar size, more uniform than the bread above.  Cold proof will open up the crumb, create more large hole, give it that "artisanal" look that everyone likes so much.

 

adri's picture
adri

Over here, a more homogeneous crumb is considered more artesanal and desirable. It might be because the slices (I wanted to write "tartine", haha) of bread with the wealth tended to become thinner (now we are at about 1/3rd of an inch or less) and it becomes harder to spread butter with large holes.
I can remember, just a view years (well decades) ago, we and my parents made fun of eating "holes covered in bread" and then switched the bakery.

The "pumped with air" style of baking came to us with industrial bread (or from holidays to the south).
I now like it as well when eating it the Spanish way (together with a warm meal). But I still wouldn't make it my daily bread.

That is what I like about it: Everyone has a different opinion about what a perfect bread should look like and that creates diversity.

Sometimes, unfortunately, this will lead to different hints about what to do or modify. I e.g. mainly see the big holes in the middle and want them gone. And as no one complained about the dense outer part, I didn't even look at it and thought it was fine but it catches the eye of other's directly. :)

I really love this forum. You can learns so much.

Adrian

Gingi's picture
Gingi

Do you think that an extra 50 min on the original 2.5h bulk fermentation will do the job? or shall I add two extra 50 min intervals, folding 4 times before retardation?

suave's picture
suave

Timing depends a lot on how good your starter is.   I skip the autolyse and ferment the dough 3 hours, folding twice.  I proof 40 min to 1 hour at room temperature, retard overnight, then bake straight out of fridge. 

Gingi's picture
Gingi

I'm a bit confused. why are you skipping autolysis? mind sharing your whole protocol for that bread?

how many times you fold during the 40min-1h@room temp? I assumed the bulk fermentation is very important.

suave's picture
suave

Because it's not really autolysis.  True autolysis is flour + water, period.  But that only works with stiff levains, because there's enough water left in the recipe to hydrate the flour.   With liquid sourdough you are forced to add it right away, so in essence you are beginning bulk fermentation right then.  Why not then dispense with the whole thing and just mix the dough right away?  And that's exactly what I do, but those 30 autolysis minutes, remember I said that the dough is actually fermenting during this time?  So it has to added to the bulk fermentation, and 2½ hours become 3.

re: 40 min - I was not clear enough, that is the period between the shaping and placing the loaf in the ffridge.

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

I use a 100% hydrated leaven alla Tartine. If I autolyse my 1000 grams flour (400 teff, 300 white whole wheat and 300 all purpose) with 800 grams of water overnight, the next day, my 200 grams of leaven (100 grams water, 50 grams AP and 5o grams white whole wheat) mixes in beautifully with the autolyzed dough leaving an easy to work with mass. 

Not sure if any of that supports or refutes what you said but thought I would share. 

adri's picture
adri

If autolyse is possible is not just about how stiff the levain is but also of how much levain you use. If you have a wet levain but use very little, in my opinion there is enough water to also use autolyse in your process.

But:
Any mixture of flour, seeds or berries that stand with water over a period longer than an hour or so, I would call a "soaker" and not autolyse. But then again, I'm not a native speaker.

Adrian

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

I can assure you, as a native speaker, words such as autolyse have no meaning to 99% of the English speaking population and to the remaining 1% it is probably used in different contexts, and even within baking, some do it with the sale, some without.  

I assumed that a soaker was something other than the flour and water, for example seads or whole grains that required time to soak in the water.  In any case, my point was only to suggest that Chad Robertson indicated some autolyse their flour and water overnight, that I did so and that I thought it made for a more convenient bake.

suave's picture
suave

Sure, but 82% hydration and 9% prefermented flour is not what I would call a common approach to breadmaking.

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

Ah, for that I will have to defer to you! The truth is, that virtually all of my breads from the beginning (dating way back to November of 2013) have been from the Tartine book.  I have been very happy with the loaves and more or less happy with the methods, though sourdough bread takes a lot more time than I had expected.

suave's picture
suave

And I have very little idea about Tartine - I thumbed through it in the bookstore when it came out, but I kinda balked at paying $30 for two recipes.

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

I hear you! It was expensive.  Fortunately, it contains more than two recipes.  Unfortunately, to date, I have only made the Basic Country Loaf and a version of the whole wheat as noted above.  But he promises a formula for a fantastic baguette, so one of these days I am going to get around to that.  The problem for me is that it is a lot of work to make a bread that I won't use for peanut butter or grilled cheese or toast.... and would likely only use it as a side for lasagna either as bread or garlic bread.

My "problem" with bread is twofold -- the time it takes to get a loaf on the table and my reluctance to eat an entire loaf at one sitting due to the calories.  A big round loaf makes a lot of sandwiches.  A long baguette...well, it seems like it cries to be eaten at one sitting.

I am not suggesting you buy the book. I don't have the depth of knowledge or experience to say whether it is worth the money to someone who already knows how to bake a loaf with which they are happy.  For some reason, I wanted to start my journey with sourdough and I decided to take the plunge with his book because I saw people claiming it was a good book and claiming they made great bread following his instructions.  That said, I know that great bread can be made without buying a book!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and will find many hits when checking the site archives.: Jeffrey Hamelman Vermont Sourdough

Soakers are anything soaked, most often whole grain flours.  

I autolyse even 50% flour recipes.  Makes a big difference in dough handling.  I also think that autolysis with wet starters is less worrisome than instant yeast which directly requires more water to hydrate.

 

mwilson's picture
mwilson
suave's picture
suave

It does not need to be wet, but the flour must be hydrated.  My local store sells two varieties of Caputo, red and blue, and I've had ample opportunities to play with them.  If they are representative of Italian AP flours then I'm here to tell you that at 55% hydration they make a rather regular dough.  In fact I'll be there in a couple of hours and I can pick up a bag and post pictures later in the afternoon.  If you are interested.

mwilson's picture
mwilson

By all means if you're willing go ahead but you don't need to prove anything to me..

adri's picture
adri

Ok, I was confused a bit and thought Hamelman proposed an overnight autolyse. As I don't have "Bread", I searched for his recipes (you can copy them here legally by not using the same word but explain what you are doing in own words) and none suggested such a long period.

In tartine, there are just 3 occurrences of the word "autolyse". (And a fourth in the index). In those 3 consecutive sentences he just sais, that 15 minutes are better than nothing and then refers to Calvel.

And now I think I've found it:

"Since the whole-wheat flour absorbs more water than white, the dough benefits from a longer resting period after the initial mix. The rest for the basic country dough is 25 to 40 minutes; 40 minutes to an hour is good for whole wheat. Some bakers favor an overnight rest for whole grain—a technique worth exploring..."

In my opinion this refers mainly to the soaking process, even though he writes that autolyse is what happens in the resting period in another chapter. You also do this with other whole grain flours, like rye, where gluten development is not of importance (or possible).

Adrian

Gingi's picture
Gingi

:(

just wanted to get rid of those bubbles and I have no clue what to change next time around: the bulk fermentation, the aggressiveness of my final design, my fridge retardation...

adri's picture
adri

I'd say: just pick one at a time. Why not the bulk fermentation?

mwilson's picture
mwilson

sorry this thread has trailed off, as many do, into the subject of autolsye.

Quite simply Mini's answer is sound!

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/comment/283490#comment-283490

suave's picture
suave

Yes, change just one thing at a time, otherwise you'll never be able to figure out what does what (unless you have a working knowledge of DOE and bake a few dozen loaves).  So start with the earliest point - bulk fermentation.

Gingi's picture
Gingi

I did learn from your conversation.

Gingi's picture
Gingi

Guys, I took the librety to follow up of my original question.

Yesterday, I repeated the Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough with Whole Wheat formula and as suggest by Mini, I added more time to the bulk fermentation . I added a fold and took it to 3 hours, folding every 45 minutes.

I'm attaching a picture below. The problem is still there - almost identical slice with ugly holes in the middle instead of consistent texture with a well-distributed whole. I'm about to give up. If there is someone out there who don't mind to help me trouble shoot this issue and get a nic(er) result, I'll be forever thankful.

thanks.

Gingi

 

suave's picture
suave

Are you certain that your starter is strong and you use at its peak? 

Gingi's picture
Gingi

I feed every two days and start the leaven one-day post feeding; I usually put it in room temp for two hours befor starting the leaven. This time around the leaven it was nor bubbely after 15 hours, but I guess bubbles are not the determining indicator for the leaven potency.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

This starter needs to be out and multiplying at room temp or warmer!

suave's picture
suave

And I think we've found our culprit.  You can't use starter right out of the fridge.  It needs at least one warm rise before you start building the levain.  But this is where I need to excuse myself - I run warm starter, so I know little about the specifics of dealing with refrigerated one.

adri's picture
adri

Well, it works perfectly for me building levain with starter even directly from the fridge. The levain has a lot of time (15 to 20 hours) at warmer temperatures before being used.

But when I feed the starter it has to be warm (I can achieve this by adding warm water) and has to stay warm (best at about 26 degrees, but room temperature / 21-22 degrees also work) for at least 4 hours.
If not I won't have much yeast/rise afterwards. And this even with my quite warm fridge. It's about 8 degrees where my starters have their place.

lg
Adrian

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

no need to pull hairs right now,  the directions about the dough, rise and folds can wait until the starter is back up to business.  Let's work on the starter for starters.  When the starter works, most of the problems will disappear.

What we need is detail about the starter routine.  Then we will evaluate and give you some tips.  As the starter seems sleepy,  let it warm up and get beery without adding any new flour.  I think it will be fine for the first 24 hrs.   Put the starter culture in a big enough container so that if it rises 4x, there is plenty of room for it.  Put a bowl or bucket under it to catch the overflow.  Cover it loosely and park it out of the way but not in a draft.  Need to know the temperature, flour used, and how long it*s been around.  The details to how it is fed and how you would like it to work for you in your situation.  

Mini

Gingi's picture
Gingi

And I thank you for everything. But, honestly, every answer or comment here confuses me more. It's either sticking to one authority (you, I would like to think) or getting more confused by people's various opinions.

I want to learn what to change. I cannot "feel" the dough as I don't know what to compare it with and when/how to figure out its "time". The sentence in bold - "Let the dough be the guide and teacher" is probably important but sadly for me is not helpful as if I will walk by the perfect dough right now I will not know it's perfect. I guess this ambiguity bothers me.

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

than you will admit to.  I think you would recognise perfect dough.   I find that when sourdough is frustrating (because it can take so much patience) it makes a nice change to make a yeasted dough.  A simple favorite dough recipe with instant yeast that is both predictable and successful.   The rising dough alone will lift your spirits.  

Try a yeasted bread while fooling with the starter.  

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I can say that there is progress with the starter.  (Yay!) The discards are going into a loaf or two while the starter continues to build yeast.  It sat about a week looking dormant and then suddenly started making bubbles and ev. rising to double. (which is actually a miracle when one thinks about dough decomposition.)  Yeast (its inactivity) definitely plays a role here.  

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

until it changes.  Sourdoughs tend to take longer than instant yeast recipes.  

Did you wait for the dough to rise some first about a third before starting to fold?  Still seams to me you are fixed on the time and not the dough.  The crumb is still way too tight.  Let the dough fill with gas more before shaping. Cut the raw dough open with a sharp knife and look at the air chambers forming in the dough, the crumb between the big bubbles.  I still think the dough is under developed before shaping.   

How high does the dough rise between folds?

Gingi's picture
Gingi

I didn't wait for it to raise a third before folding, I just folder every 45 minutes, 3 times.

I did cut a raw portion with a knife. There were no air chambers.

I estimate the the dough rises roughly 20% overall. Its texture changes nicely, but the volume barely.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

The dough needs more time to ferment and make enough gas.  Wait for the dough to tell you when to fold it.  Forget about the clock and a timer for now and only look at the clock to write it down on your notes for each step you take.  You can figure the minutes later.

Let the dough rise some first and then after folding wait for the dough to rise up and then out before folding again.  Write down the times in your notebook.  Let the dough be the guide and teacher.  Each time the dough is folded, it will tighten up at first and feel firmer only to soften and start to spread out as it ferments, spread more out than up.  

You will know when to stop the folding sessions when you feel the dough resisting your stretching and folding.  It will feel like it will rip or tear and maybe it does with the next fold.  That is when you stop.  Give the dough a few minutes rest to relax and then finish with the final shaping.  Place dough into the banneton and carefully watch it rise.  It will not take long to rise up like it did before the last folding session only this time, instead of folding, you turn it gently out, slash  and bake it.

Now go back and look at the times.  Compare them.  It is not unusual to see the time between folding sessions shortening (not always 45 minutes) and that this time the fermenting will take longer than before.  This may change as your starter changes, longer or shorter and with seasons and temperatures.  Get to know what the dough does first then compare it to the clock.

sandydog's picture
sandydog

 

Gingi,

In your post of 3 Feb you answered a question

Did you preheat the oven/stone properly?
Yep, 40 minutes on 20 degrees higher than the temp. recommended. Opened to place the loaf, and took the temp down to 360F, the temp. suggested in the book.

My (2004) version of Bread says 460F, which is common to a lot of JH's sourdoughs - Apologies if this has already been dealt with but it would make a significant difference to the finished product.

Good luck with your baking/learning.

 

Brian

Gingi's picture
Gingi

just wondering

sandydog's picture
sandydog

Just wondering.

Do you think the difference between 460F and 360F is 20 degrees?

Gingi's picture
Gingi

pre-heat on 480 for 30min, open to place loaf, take temp to 360 as the book says, steaming properly.

Gingi's picture
Gingi

Thanks to the amazing, patient, incredible support and guidance I have been receiving from Mini Oven, things look much better. I believe we're not there just yet, but we surely made a huge progress. The world is a better place with people like you, Mini!!!

      
bikeprof's picture
bikeprof

both Gingi and Mini, and thanks to you both for your persistance and sharing.  I was just searching TFL as I have had similar experiences, and they often occured when I was using my new proofing box to keep temps in the 80 degree range, so I thought the problem (perfectly represented in Gingi's pictures) was overproofing.  Perhaps because of the warmer temps, I was rushing the time too much (yes, I need to keep better records).  I'm still uncertain.

Mini, since you are so helpful in diagnosing crumb-shots, can you talk about the signs of an overproofed crumb?  Do we see anything like the early posts from Gingi in overproofing?

 Here is one of my problem loaves - dense crumb, tough crust, and a line of overly large holes through the center of the loaf.

Thanks again...

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

From the nice crust color, and the nice splitting of the score, the loaf was not over-proofed.  It could proof longer and with at least another round of folds before the final proof.   That would compact the large bubbles into smaller ones and get more consistent crumb bubbles. If you want to go for a finer crumb, then do a good job of deflating before the final shape.  

How did this loaf taste? 

bikeprof's picture
bikeprof

I guess the most telling adjective I might use is: a bit underdeveloped (and I imagine my perception was negatively influenced by the texture) but certainly not bad.

The other characteristic that keeps me wondering is that the problem loaves seem a bit slack if anything, in final shaping.  So I end up doing a bit more rounding in the end to add surface tension, and I wonder if in doing so I'm creating a pocket of big bubbles in the middle of the loaf, just under the crust

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

The big gassy ones are obvious, now look closely between the bubbles at the crumb going on between the big bubbles and they look tight and dense, that means the yeast still needs to ferment the dough more.  And the best way to distribute the gas and keep those big bubbles from growing too big is to tame them.  Stretch and fold them one more time to tighten up the skin and distribute those bubblies.  If the dough feels loose, like you should do another round of folds, then by all means, do it.  And then don't let it sit in the banneton too long.  As the dough ferments more, the rising will also be faster, and the loaf will loose its tension sooner.

It is typical that as a sourdough dough ferments, it gets looser.  More so than a yeasted dough (if we want to compare.) That translates into more stretch and folds, dividing up the bubbles  until more gas is trapped in the dough between the big bubbles.  You can be gentle for the holy effect or a bit more aggressive.  The gas will keep churning out until the food is exhausted.  Near total exhaustion will be evident with a very sticky loose dough, strong smell of beer, gas releasing on the surface of a dough that is too deteriorated to trap gas.  Once the dough reaches that point, it becomes a giant starter and it is better to treat it as such.  Over-proofed loaves will not brown well.

If you have problems with too slack a dough, try starting out with a slightly stiffer dough.  Reduce the hydration just a tiny bit and see if that helps.  

Anytime you want to look inside your rising dough, take a sharp knife and cut into it to look at the gas formation, then stick it back together.  No biggie and you'll learn a lot!

bikeprof's picture
bikeprof

Yep - additional bulk rise and a couple more turns certainly helped.  I still had more and larger bubbles across the upper half of the loaf - I think this has to also be influenced by my dough handling and shaping.

Here is a better shot of said holes:

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Try going for a longer bulking time.  Depending on the hydration, I usually start my folds when the dough is positively showing signs of gas building, about 1/3 of a rise.  Then get into the S&F / resting routine.  

If your finished loaf is tasting too sour, then your wild yeast numbers are too low (bacteria too high) and you need to work on the starter itself to build more yeast before attempting the next loaf.  (Meanwhile correct dough with delayed added com. yeast while using the starter discards for flavour in the loaf.)

bikeprof's picture
bikeprof

Another piece of evidence you point up in suggesting more time/development is the answer--is that my loaves are very very mild in flavor...if you pay attention, you can tell they are sourdough, but it is very subtle.

Thanks again, I'm baking every day this week and will keep trying to extend the process.