The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Troubleshooting bread crumb - gelatinized, rubbery, gummy

shockingpants's picture
shockingpants

Troubleshooting bread crumb - gelatinized, rubbery, gummy

My bread crumb has a gummy, gelatinized, rubbery consistency, and I am wondering if it is just how the bread is supposed to be based on the recipe I am following, or is it a result of technique?

Here's the recipe (4 ingredients):

300g Bread Flour (I have tried KA, and Costco's harvest)

210g Water

2g Yeast

3g Salt

I will discuss my main baking process which is based off of Jim Lahey's no knead recipe, and mention the variations I have tried. 

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add salt to flour. Mix the wet and dry. Let it bulk ferment/autolyse at room temperature (72F) for 18 - 24 hours. Stretch and fold every so often (I average 6 times). Do the window pane test. Shape the dough, let it proof till doubled in size (About 1-3 hours depending on temperature). Do the poke test.

Preheat oven to 450 (I have tried 400 to 550) along with a dutch oven. Place the dough on a parchment paper and drop it into the dutch oven. Let it cook for 25 min with the lid on, and another 15 min with the lid off. (I vary the time depending on the temperature) Once the crust turns brown, check the interior with an instant read thermometer to see if it registers at least 210F.  Remove the bread and let it cool (15 min). 

The attached image is my attempt from the described baking process. As you can see, the crumb is slightly translucent. I would describe the texture as soft and rubbery, but I have seen people describing it as gelatinized and gummy. It is definitely not as soft as a bahn mi bread, or po boy, or hoagie etc. I have also included a bakery-bought ciabatta in the photo (The one with tighter crumb). Not the best ciabatta around, but the texture is softer, the crumb looks whiter, and definitely different from what I baked.

I have also tried varying the following parameters - Bake time, temperature, hydration level, kneading with a planetary mixer, kneading with a food processor. It varies how airy the crumb is, how thick the crust is, but the crumb retains that rubbery appearance and texture. I even made sure to over cook the bread slightly in some cases since I have read that a gummy texture is a result of underbaking. That didn't help either.

Does anyone know why this is the case? Is it just a characteristic of bread made this way, or a result of my technique? My best guess is insufficient fat, since enriched dough tend to have a much softer and fluffier crumb. Would adding more fat like milk, butter, olive oil etc. help?

Maverick's picture
Maverick

Let it cool longer. 15 minutes is not enough time to cool before cutting. You can always reheat the bread if you like it warm. But give it a longer rest before cutting into it. The bread looks great by the way.

Also, are you saying you want a tighter crumb? The store bought bread doesn't look as good as yours in any way. If you wanted a tighter, more uniform crumb, then there are things to do (hydration being a big one, but dough handling another). But the store bread looks like it isn't very good.

shockingpants's picture
shockingpants

Thanks! The bubbles could be distributed a little better though. It has to do with handling and I am still figuring those stuff out. I'll give it a longer rest and see how it changes. I have read that cooling helps cook the bread further, redistribute moisture, or even that it doesn't do a thing and you can eat it straight from the oven. 

As for what I want to achieve, the bread should have a loose crumb like a ciabatta but a less gummy texture. 

http://www.karenskitchenstories.com/2014/05/ciabatta-with-biga.html

You are right that the store bought ciabatta does not look good, nor taste good. (It is over baked too, see the thick layer of brown crust).

 

 

shockingpants's picture
shockingpants

I was looking around for photos of crumb structure that I was trying to achieve, and here's a comparison.

(Left) http://www.dineouthere.com/restaurants/salade-de-fruits-cafe-french-restaurant-in-vancouver

This one is soft, a tighter crumb with a crispy exterior. 

(Mid) http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/10852/baguette-crumb-65-hydration-dough

The crumb looks a little gummier, has large bubble with a crispy exterior too.

(Right) http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887324823804579012850190006262

http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887323681904578641863674124612

A side-by-side comparison. The article is an interesting read on the two types of baguette. Turns out the only difference is apparently bake time.

My questions are:

1) Is crumb/hole structure a result of primarily the handling only (Kneading, shaping, rising, proofing etc.)?

2) Is gumminess/texture of the crumb a result of the ingredients i.e. hydration and enrichment (Amount of water, oil, type of flour used etc.), bake time and temperature?

3) How does bake time factor into bread baking exactly? Some people say that underbaking leads to a gummy texture. The WSJ article said that baking a baguette 90% of the way leads to a softer product. 

ds99303's picture
ds99303

I think you're keeping it covered too long and oversteaming it. It looks like a giant steamed dumpling. Steam does two things. It keeps the surface of the bread moist during the first few minutes of baking so you get maximum oven spring.  It also gelatinizes the starch in the flour and gives the crust a shiny appearance.  Both of these occur within the first few minutes of baking.  If you don't allow the steam to discipate after after a couple minutes, the steam is going to cook the bread rather than the dry oven heat.  I only steam for a minute and then release the steam two minutes later.  I know when I bake bread, after about 5 minutes, it's not going to get any bigger.   The rest of the baking time making sure it's cooked all the way through and crust is browned properly. 

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Is highly prized by some bread bakers. Many people try for months or years to get that kind of crumb! What generally contributes to it is high hydration dough, long proofing time and high baking temperature. For a bread made with commercial yeast, I would not let it bulk ferment for that length of time at room temperature. Perhaps a couple of hours at room temperature, then put it in the fridge for the longer period (up to 24 hours).

Also, a bit firmer shaping would probably help re-distribute the gas and yeast. Try a stretch and fold or letter fold for the pre-shape, then shape it and let it proof for a couple of hours before baking.

ds99303's picture
ds99303

By "some bread bakers", I hope you mean very few. This baker thinks it looks nasty. It looks like melted cheese. Normally I wouldn't make such a comment unless the OP was the one who brought it up. As far as open crumb goes, I think some people take it too far and think a bread full of nothing but big holes is a good thing.  Just because a little is good doesn't mean that more is better.  

shockingpants's picture
shockingpants

Does my bread look like melted cheese?!?! Ahaha, interesting way to describe it. Well, I wouldn't call a bread full of large holes good or bad. It is just one of many types of bread. The problem comes when people overproof bread thinking that it'll make the holes bigger, or when they favor large hole sizes at the expense of flavor, texture, etc.

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

looks amazing and that the only think you need to change is to let your bread cool longer to let the moisture redistribute. Try leaving a loaf for 2-3 hours and try leaving another a bit longer and see if it is still gummy. There should be some chew to the bread but it shouldn't feel wet. Otherwise, very well done!

shockingpants's picture
shockingpants

Thanks for the comments, suggestions and encouragement so far. So, here's my take away. 

1) Let it cool longer - I will definitely try that. Perhaps the gummy texture is a result of the moisture evaporating away too quickly.

2) Don't steam the bread for too long -  I am not entirely convinced since steamed baos (Chinese buns) don't look translucent. Then again, they do have more fat, so the comparison isn't exactly apt. Bagels are boiled before baking too, and they don't have the gelatinized texture. I have tried baking it on a baking steel to the same result. I'll post some photos from that attempt later. Thanks for the suggestion nevertheless.

3) Bulk ferment at room temperature for less time - Hmm. Let me see how it affects the crumb texture. Fermentation helps with autolysis, gluten alignment and conversion of starch into simpler sugar for flavor. The no-knead recipe calls for 12-18 hour bulk ferment at 70F mainly for gluten development. Reducing that time to 2 hours would reduce gluten strength for a no-knead recipe, unless I pre-knead (Something I intend to try). On the other hand, a short ferment at room temperature means starch is broken down more slowly. I wonder how starch content affects gumminess.

4) Stretch and fold - Yup, I know this helps build gluten while distributing the bubbles. It will affect crumb structure, density, fluffiness, etc. However, I don't think it affects gumminess though. Correct me if I am wrong!

5) Misc. Other things I will try are a) reduce hydration level and b) reduce bake time. I'll report back once I try it.

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Re your point number 3 - I have made several of the recipes from the bread in 5 minutes a day books. For most of them, you mix up the dough, let it sit at room temperature for two hours then put it in the fridge for up to four days. The gluten seems to develop quite well in the fridge in these recipes. That said, I've found it develops even better with a bit of kneading (or more vigorous and prolonged mixing) prior to the room temperature rest and retarding.

I also make some of Peter Reinhart's breads from "artisan breads every day". Again, his recipes (particularly the ones with commercial yeast) are usually mixed then put in the fridge right away for up to four days, with no room temperature bulk ferment at all. So it might be worth a try.

shockingpants's picture
shockingpants

Here are the things I tried for this particular one.

Same recipe with 18 hours 60F ferment.

Baked at 450F on a baking steel for ~30 min until the center registers 210F.

Let bread rest for 1.5 hours. 

Notice that the crumb has the gelatinized texture yet again. In the second photo, the crumb looks slightly translucent and glossy) Granted, it is soft, but still chewy. I am tempted to say that this is a texture that is unique to non-enriched high-hydration dough baked at high temp. 

I'll experiment with a lower bake temp to see how it turns out.

 

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

but that gelatinized structure is one that we strive for. It gives bread the mouth feel most of us Like. Let your bread cool for at least 2 hours, preferably more before cutting into it. The moisture has to redistribute throughout the bread and you aren't allowing it to do that by cutting it into it before it is cool. 

shockingpants's picture
shockingpants

So the bread was at room temp long before I cut into it. I'll try a 3 hour wait next time too for experiment sake.

Anyway, like I said, I think this is probably a characteristic of non-enriched high-hydration dough - gelatinized, glossy, slightly translucent, slightly gummy. Cooling helps with the softness, but otherwise, the bread will have that slightly rubbery texture, compared to say enrich bread. From photos like this, it seems like it is indeed the texture that some bakers strive for!

 

 

 

shockingpants's picture
shockingpants

Thanks for the inputs guys. I think my questions have been answered. 

Yes, the gelatinized texture is indeed the texture you get from the no-knead bread recipe (or similar non-enriched high-hydration). The right technique (e.g. cooling) helps with making sure that the interior of the bread stays soft, moist and tasty, but the underlying texture is going to be the gelatinized one (Slightly glossy, rubbery, translucent etc.) Most bakers prefer bread with this texture in fact, as you can see from these comparisons with baguette (Link1)(Link2) In fact, I would guess that the steps needed for the gluten to be strong enough to create large holes will also cause it to gelatinized ( Almost all ciabatta share the same type of crumb!! )

Now, this is probably a topic for a new thread. How to get a baguette with a tighter crumb that is nevertheless soft and fluffy, kinda like a bahn mi? It won't be as airy and 'gummy' as a traditional french baguette.

 

 

 

 

 

Pati_paes's picture
Pati_paes

I have the same problems with the gummy crumbs and I hate them.. Arrived at a conclusion on this? Managed to fix the texture of the brain?

shockingpants's picture
shockingpants

Not an expert, but if you want less gummy crumbs, here are a few suggestions

- Let bread cool before cutting, or if you wanna cut it while hot, cling wrap the cut end to retain moisture. Warm bread loses a lot of moisture when exposed

- Bake at a lower temperature 420-450F, and aim for a tighter crumb/smaller bubbles

- Use a lower hydration percentage (60-70%)

- Try enriching the dough a little with oil

- Try the Tang Zhong method. 

Pati_paes's picture
Pati_paes

Thank you! I will try your tips.  I'm pretty upset with these crumbs. Do you think it's possible that contaminated levain or addicted cause that too? And flour with high protein content? Can you tell me if breads baked in pans of iron present more gummy crumbs?

Xiaobao12's picture
Xiaobao12

I think it's pretty clear that shockingpants knows the importance of cooling the bread; but it does not answer her initial question of why it's gummy. Her question still remains unanswered at this point and I really hope somebody can offer a real scientific explanation.

Shockingpants, I know EXACTLY what you mean by that texture. For ciabatta, I've been using Jason Cocodrillo's recipe:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/2984/jasons-quick-coccodrillo-ciabatta-bread

Although the bread looks great, is crusty, and there are SOME big holes (I agree, a little big hole here and there and not everywhere), the texture is gummy and gelatinized and it doesn't taste that great either (what you described, a raw flour taste).

I too, am looking for that tighter finer crumb that you are seeking. Do you know of a great recipe that is as easy, quick as Jason's but produces the crumb that we want?

BTW, I really like this discussion and I hope other baker's chime in (with solid info). 

 

Pati_paes's picture
Pati_paes

I really would like to know the technical explanation for the emergence of gummy crumbs because I have tried all the tips and tricks and nothing solves my problem. 

This week I did not make bread to put the ideas in order and think better about it ... or even give up making bread (which is not part of my nature since I fell in love with this art after having achieved Good breads a few months ago behind. )

Grate. Very very grate. 

BBBBaker's picture
BBBBaker

Is there any development on this thread? I too don't care for the slightly gummy/plasticky/shiny bread texture. I've tried a number of variartions but still get that result. Baguettes that I've had in France don't have this texture. The crumb is open but it has no sheen at all and it has a much drier feel in the mouth. Is this simply impossible to achieve in a home oven?

shockingpants's picture
shockingpants

My conclusion was that if you want large bubbles, it is going to be gummy, plasticky and shiny. You could reduce the gumminess by letting the bread cool down before cutting into it, or reducing the temperature after the initial rise, or reducing the hydration level of the bread (at the expense of a tighter crumb), or adding fat, or using tang zhong. Some bakers have tried it to no avail, so if there is another expert on this, I would love to hear your ideas!

 

clazar123's picture
clazar123

The higher the gluten content the chewier/gummier the crumb. French flour is lower in protein than bread flour. No chewiness allowed. Try regular AP flour rather than bread flour.

 

BBBBaker's picture
BBBBaker

Thanks for the suggestion. I did already try that used 20% WW flour and the rest AP. The results were not noticeably different, same gummy, gelatinous shine.  I usually use King Arthur flour though, and I have read that it has one of the higher protein levels with AP flour. Perhaps I'll try a different brand. 

A related question would be how do French bakers get that open crumb structure with less gluten in the flour. I thought that lots of protein/gluten with higher hydration was the secret. 

udi bread's picture
udi bread

So, after making SD bread with a mixture of flours, whole and white and got a great bread.. airy good crumb and soft.
i went for the next challenge of my baking experience.. SD baguette, i got T550 flour and resulted in a VERY gummy and chewy baguette.

i want this thread to continue as i don't think hydration,heat of the oven,oil(dont want to use that) are the only causes for gummy and really hearts in the mouth baguette..

i did a 65% hydration with 30 min autolyse and 3 hours BF with S&F every 15 min for 4 times and than every 30 min,
pre shape 20 min rest than final shape to the linen fabric for a 2 hours rest before slashing and getting in to the oven for a 480F for 10 min than 400F for 15 min.. (the baguettes were 150 Grams each so longer would of dry them i think)

today i will try with a T 65 flour and with a lower oven temp like shockingpants suggested.

please if any one has better suggestions let me know

sawyerc's picture
sawyerc

I get the same problems. The structure is good but the texture is too chewy and gummy...