The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

A questino regarding the crumb of Sourdough Bread.

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PetraR's picture
PetraR

A questino regarding the crumb of Sourdough Bread.

I am German, living in the UK for 17 years now, could not find good bread here so started baking my own.

Now, everyone wants this very open crumb, those big holes, I am surprised because, in Germany you do not strive for that, in fact, people I think would see it as a fault in the bread.

So , I grew up with bread that had a tight * but not dense * moist crumb.

I just mention it because I do not know where it comes from that the crumb should have those big holes.

 

cerevisiae's picture
cerevisiae

My first thought was that it comes from France, but I can think of examples from Italy more easily. For example, ciabatta is known for having a very loose and open crumb, foccacia and pizza sometimes do as well, and over in the US, generic "Italian Bread" often has a chewy crust and very open structure.

I think in the US, some of it is simply that open and/or irregular crumb has become symbolic of artisan bread (and a lot of our artisan bread is inspired by French and Italian tradition), and stands in contrast to classic the Wonderbread texture, which is a very close, even crumb.

So, I think that's at least part of it.

PetraR's picture
PetraR

Yes, ciabatta has open crumb and often Baguettes do too.

In Germany the bread has this even crumb which I love, maybe because that is what I grew up with.

In my Sourdough I do like the open crumb, in other bread I strive for the even crumb structure.

I too believe that it is a symbol for Artisan Bread in US.

 

davidg618's picture
davidg618

I too have questioned why open crumb is so "revered", especially by many of my fellow US bakers. Unkindly, I've sometimes referred to them as the "holier-than-thou" crowd. After all, there is not-much to none-at-all flavor in a hole; and I'd wager their contribution to mouth-fell is also secondary. As to eye-appeal the phrase "beauty is in the eyes of the beholder" comes to mind.

However, in my own plodding attempts to improve the flavor, mouth-feel, and eye appeal of my breads I've come to value modestly holey crumb as a visual affirmation of proper gluten-net development, and proper baking, especially in lean-dough breads. In sandwich breads or enriched breads, like you I want the crumb to be tight, yet airy too. In both open and tight crumb I want a slice of bread to spring back to its original thickness (or near so) when pinched tightly and released. Sadly, most commercially baked breads won't do that: a tight pinch remains a doughy dent.

Foccacia is a wonderful exception. Its flat profile, yet soft and hole-less crust makes it a grand sandwich bread when sliced horizontally, It's hole-filled crumb a catch-basin for spreads and meat drippings.

Thanks for your post. It offers an excellent, different point of view.

David G

PetraR's picture
PetraR

It is a good point with the * breaking * of the bread being easier.

I just wonder HOW will you ever put butter, jam and other spreads on bread with large holes?

My Children complained when I made the bread with the larger holes as stuff fell through. lol

PetraR's picture
PetraR

I am glad I asked this question reg. the big holes in the bread.

Homebaked Bread is so much better than the commercially baked bread, there is no doubt about that.

I can pinch my bread slice and it will spring back, even so I have the small bubble even crumb structure:)

I do not understand why you are saying  that you the modes holey crumb is a signe of good gluten development?

If the kneading is done propperly than the small bubble and even crumb structure has the same good gluten developent.

Stretch and fold in regular intervalls gives me good gluten development yet larger holes , good kneading by hand for 15 minutes gives me the small bubble even crumb structure but good gluten devolepment too.

davidg618's picture
davidg618

I didn't mean tight crumb isn't properly developed. I work as hard to get tight, closed crumb in appropriate doughs as I do modestly open crumb in wheaten sourdoughs and commercial yeast baguettes. Sorry I left you with that impression.

David G

PetraR's picture
PetraR

Oh I see, sorry, misunderstanding on my part:)

davidg618's picture
davidg618

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/18106/marvelous-site-and-resource

Scroll down. The quote is near the end.

David G

PetraR's picture
PetraR

I think he is right on the money when it comes to the holes, that is only my opionion and I would not dare to speak for any other people here.

I guess we bake the way we like to bake our bread.

It is just that I never understood why so many people want those large holes in the bread, that was something very new to me.

adri's picture
adri

I also usually prefer more but smaller bubbles. Just to clarify: this does not mean the bread is dense; with wheat just the contrary: smaller bubbles through better gluten development and therefore better gas kepping abitlities.

David G: Why do you think, larger bubbles are a sign of proper gluten-net development?

The usual thickness of a slice in my family varies between 0.5 and 1 cm (about 0.2 to 0.4 inches). With open crumb bread: How do you eat it with butter, marmite or marmelade?

If you say "a sourdough", you refer to a special kind of sourdough bread? Even though it is not the case, most people over here associate sourdough bread with a rye content of 60% or more. This won't give an open crumb structure.

Adrian

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

When you get that very thin webbing in that covers the holes, you get the best of both worlds.  Holes and protection for the jam/butter so it does not leak out of the sandwich.

Ultimately, though, the country loaf was not originally really intended for sandwiches, but to be torn apart and to sop up gravy or liquified fat.  At least, this is how I imagine it, as I don't believe sandwiches were popular with the peasantry when peasantry was fashionable.

So, these holes, which are voids in the bread, no doubt make it easier to tear the bread apart -- and thus, less time consuming, which is desirable, especially when you have to get back out into the fields to thresh the wheat.  This is all speculation on my part. Your peasants may have a different view.

adri's picture
adri

"Dinner" translates to German "Abendbrot" (Abend = evening/night; Brot = bread). Bread really wasn't something you just eat as side dish.

It usually is sliced. Almost all families have a bread cutter as central part of the kitchen.

Sandwiches are not very common. I just asked 3 friends seperately and for them a "sandwich" is something from the US-American films - like red plastic cups or paper bags around alcohol bottles. We eat single slices.

PetraR's picture
PetraR

Yes, our Abendbrot is:)

We eat slices of bread for our Dinner, we sit around the table, have our bread butter and cold meat, boiled egg, jam...

We do not have cooked meals for Dinner, well not often anyways.

I can only speak for the Region of Germany where I come from of course.

ccsdg's picture
ccsdg

Ahaha. Your posts are a breath of fresh air!

If soup is like gravy, i guess we eat like peasants here. Slow cooker soup is dotted all over our weekday menu, and bread with large holes is excellent for adding bite to an otherwise mostly liquid meal. For this reason I also think of a piece of bread with large holes as an edible, multiple, spoon. Small holes do not quite have the same effect.

PetraR's picture
PetraR

M family loves Stews, Casserole Dishes, Soups, we  have no problem using the tighter crumb bread as *multiple spoon*

It is wonderful to mop up the gravy and soak up the soup... yummy.

 

 

PetraR's picture
PetraR

Yes, I agree with the smaller bubbles and even bubbles, well, much smaller than I see in the Artisan bread anyways.

And the bread is wonderful moist and chewy and just lovely.

I too have thin slices for our , I grew up this way and I often wondered where the big holes come from and why people do strive to produce them

In Germany it is seen as a flaw in the bread , except ciabatta and such.

When I say Sourdough I make 2 kinds, one with just wheat flour which produces bigger holes * but not large ones * the other is a * Roggen Misch * brot , 50/50 Wheat & Rye flour which gives the small bubble crumb, very small and even yet moist and beautiful.

In Germany , Sourdough brea is made with * Roggen Sauer * which is a 100% Rye Starter.

For a long time I wanted the large holes, open crumb and when finally managed I questioned it because , with thin slices  of bread , as you said adri  and how I know it, spreads will fall through.

davidg618's picture
davidg618

and good criticisms. I could have/should have been more specific. Because the thread began with a question about holey crumb, my focus went to wheat flour based, lean sourdoughs. Other grain's because of starch behavior during baking, or enriched doughs containing gluten shortening ingredients (fats, brans, enzymes) don't produce random-holed open crumb. Your reference to high percentage Rye loaves is a perfect example.

Here's a quote from one of the many scholarly Bread Science I've read on the Web.

"Studies have shown that wheat starch is very unique and compared to other starches (rice, potato, corn) contributes desirable characteristics to bread.It does not disintegrate at high temperatures like other starches, but remains flexible during gelatinization so that the bread can spring up in the oven. During baking wheat starch absorbs more water, taking enough water away from the gluten strands to make them rigid so that the loaf of bread will stand firm without collapsing when removed from the oven. (Pyler, 1988)"

Let me hasten to say I don't consider myself an expert. I read a lot of bread science because I'm curious, think it might help my baking and find food science, in general, fascinating. I'm an engineer and physicist by education, nonetheless I find complex chemistry and microbiology heavy reading. I struggle through it looking for gems.

Specific to your question. I think good oven spring, followed by proper gelatinization, and the loaf mostly retaining its shape after cooling is visual proof of correct ingredients ratios, proper dough handling, successful leavan building, proofing, and correct baking. I also think random sized aveoles-in lean, wheaten doughs--are the result of good gluten development, successful bulk fermentation, and proper shaping and proofing.

The operative word in my earlier post is "modestly"open crumb. Here's a visual example I posted a couple of years ago defining what I mean by open crumb.

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/27083/open-crumb

Butter and Marmalade: I use chilled butter, or reasonably stiff marmalade. I paint around the larger holes.

An aside: Orange Marmalade made with single-malt Scotch on a lightly toasted wheaten sourdough or baguette slice is a favorite!

Marmite: tasted it once when I was dating an English woman. Subsequently, I married an American woman.

David G

PetraR's picture
PetraR

Thank you for the post, very good reading:)

I LOVE Marmite, but Marmit is one of those things that you either love or hate. lol

A tbsp of Marmite in a Lentil or Green Bean Soup gives such richness to the Soup.

davidg618's picture
davidg618

wound up far below in the thread.

David G