Looking for that best oven spring
As a new baker, one thing that I've found is that (at least for me), recipes are nearly useless. They seem to be more like suggestions and inspiration for you to bake a similar loaf. I've tried several recipes and all but one was a total failure. And that one took a few alterations to get perfect. So I'm trying to learn what works best for me.
I love light rye bread. A rye recipe I tried (which seemed to work great for everyone except me) failed badly, multiple times. I really wanted to make a decent loaf, so I decided to try to come up with my own recipe. I read through several others and came up with this "average" of ultra-simple recipes.
- 250g warm water (going for 70% hydration)
- 8g IDY
- 250g bread flour <- Correction - typo - That should say 270g (sorry)
- 90g whole rye flour
- 2 Tbsp caraway seeds
- 4g salt
Mixed water, yeast, flours caraway till all incorporated. Autolyse 30 min. Add salt. Knead 8 min. At this point, I had something that was far too sticky to handle, so I didn't bother with any stretch and folds. Just put it into a greased bowl to ferment.
My plan was to check it at 1 hour and leave it longer if it needed it. When I checked it, it looked to be more than doubled, so I pulled it out of the bowl, degassed it a bit and put it into a round proofing basket. Again the plan was to check it after 60 minutes and proof more if I thought it needed it. Watching it, it seemed to have stopped rising before 60 min passed, so I put it into my new LL combo cooker (500F), scored it and cooked covered for 20 min. When I took the cover off, it hadn't risen a micrometer. I finished cooking it nonetheless and tasted it. Pretty tasteless, too. Threw the rest away.
Now feel free to beat me up about this because I deserve it. I know that to properly troubleshoot something, you change one thing at a time. So in that spirit, I did the following:
- Reduced the hydration (235g - 65%)
- Reduced the yeast (5g)
- Increased the salt (8g)
- Added stretch and fold
- Reduced the bulk ferment time (30 min looked good)
- Reduced the proofing time (I chose 40 min)
The result was the best loaf I've made yet. The crumb could have been a bit more open, but I'll work on that.
So after all that, the only question I have regards the oven spring, which was totally lacking in my first loaf. I've read in several locations that you want to put the loaf into the oven when the yeast is at its highest activity. How do you know when this is??? I mean, if I see it rising like crazy, is it at its peak now? Has it just this moment stopped and is now done? Does it have a long time to go? I was thinking of trying my recipe again and taking a time-lapse video of it proofing and just let it go forever. Then I could look at the video and make a determination about when it was doing well before it stopped.
Yeah, I know. It's an art and not a science. Thing is, I'm not much of an artist, but I sure like bread.