The Fresh Loaf

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Still confused with under/over proofing

Elsasquerino's picture
Elsasquerino

Still confused with under/over proofing

I have been trying a new schedule this last few weeks. Some of you will have seen my last post where a loaf that had seemed under proofed had given great spring. I have had similar results each week despite UK temperatures slipping away as we enter the autumn. Basically this is a 4 hour counter top bulk, with a 45 minute bench rest after preshape, all done on Saturday evening, before shaping and refrigerating in the bannetons overnight. 

The baton is my staple, but with slightly increased hydration and a handful of millet for an interesting crunch.

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/52064/lincolnshire-wolds-sourdough

The boule is Hamelman's 5 grain with rye sour again, it's just too good! Having said that I keep mixing up the soaker contents, this week it's red quinoa, whole spelt berries, freekeh, flax and rye flakes.

I'll post some crumb shots once they are cut which obviously will help you troubleshooters in deciding but despite these loaves seeming under - even when I'm dumping them out into the DO they seem too firm and I worry I'm going to get a bread brick - they seem to leap up and look great. The crumb seems good, although perhaps a little uneven - slightly bigger holes seem to run through the centre of the slice but not chasms. 

My worry is I'm doing something that's ok but not fantastic, I don't want to continue this way because it's easy and the breads 'good', if I am missing out on 'awesome' if that makes sense. Shaping, slashing and releasing from the banneton is a dream with this routine... Anyway I'm rambling, any advice appreciated.

It passes one of the twins approval, his brother however is a crusts off cotton wool bread guy... He'll learn!

Elsasquerino's picture
Elsasquerino

Lechem's picture
Lechem

The most difficult part to making bread is the final proofing and getting it just perfect. From your photos I see a lovely looking loaves. Whether you have caught it at exactly the optimal time I can't be sure. I'd say the bigger holes are down to shaping and the crumb is more dense at the bottom be it due to proofing or baking. That's the more critical part of this post as this is what you're asking me to do. If I had just seen the loaf and gave my own personal opinion then I think it's looks very good! Most importantly is does it taste good and that's where the final photos tells me... yes it does :)

Elsasquerino's picture
Elsasquerino

It's honesty I wanted, I've reached a level where I am pretty happy with what I'm turning out. It's great tasting bread, not always pretty mind you, I've had my share of disasters. Always looking to improve and I don't want to stop pushing for better... Always learning. How did adding the cheese work out for you?

Lechem's picture
Lechem

I do plan on adding the cheese but when I got up this morning I was too lazy. The dough looked ready to shape and final proof. Was afraid to mess around with it and delay what was fast going to over ferment. So I shaped it, final proof and baked it. I still plan on making one with added cheese just didn't turn out this week :( 

Can't wait to taste this loaf. Very impressed with last week's flavour. And this one looks like it turned out well. 

 P.s. I find wheat loaves very difficult to judge with final proofing. I say it's 80% experience and 20% guess work. I find the bulk ferment easier to judge when done. 

Elsasquerino's picture
Elsasquerino

That even my bulk is under with this routine, I may add the starter an hour earlier next week and note the changes. It really is just experience that counts. 

On the cheese, could you just chuck it in from the start? I know it was a strange dough but that pumpernickel style loaf you advised on recently had it in from the start and it turned out fine... it was a pan loaf though so maybe not on second thoughts.

Lechem's picture
Lechem

This loaf has a few stretch and folds before a long overnight bulk ferment. I could chuck the cheese in at the last stretch and fold. Good idea. 

It took many many bakes before I learned to feel the subtle change the dough goes through signalling the dough is done bulk fermenting. It's difficult to describe but it looks billowy, there are bubbles just appearing at the surface and the dough feels different. I spread out the stretch and folds and when I begin to feel the dough has undergone this change then I move onto the final proofing. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and you can tweak it how you and yours like it.  Taste is number one.  Outside of loaf looks great!

Crumb, I would pass, too many large holes for this type of bread and the way I would eat it.  If it was my dough, I'd be cutting the bulk down an hour (in your conditions) and beating the air out in the pre-shape and shaping. It will return in the retard (not to worry) but the large bubbles will be smaller the crumb finer with gas more dispersed in the dough matrix.  That may mean more spring and a longer lasting moist crumb.  

Elsasquerino's picture
Elsasquerino

To be honest I've been trying to get a more 'holey' crumb, the Hamelman loaf is a far more regular and that seems almost perfect tried it today and I'm really amazed with how light the crumb is with so many additions in the soaker. It's only aesthetic though this quest for bigger holes, it certainly doesn't make it any more useful for sandwiches! Thanks for your wise words as ever. 

Alex Bois's picture
Alex Bois

To sum up the responses so far: "look's great" and "it's your opinion that counts". I would agree with both of those. However, looking great and having the absolute most appealing taste/texture for a given recipe do not correlate perfectly, or even all that closely.

Speaking to your concern that you may be producing something "ok but not fantastic" and that you may be missing out on the full potential of the loaf, yes. That's exactly what's happening. Does indeed look great, wonderful effort and no doubt tasty results--you've obviously invested a lot of time and energy and thought and care and learned a lot--but you could certainly come closer to "fantastic" by proofing more (as you suspected) and tweaking shaping a bit. Give it a go! Good luck!

Elsasquerino's picture
Elsasquerino

Planned for this weekend, and see what happens. Thanks Alex, I sort of knew but it's good to have others concur. Thanks for the advice.

IceDemeter's picture
IceDemeter

this for days now!

My honest first impression of the crumb shot is that it is under-fermented, and that it looks somewhat heavy.  It really reminds me of a higher hydration bake that I did some months ago, that did taste really good, but just didn't have the consistency and lightness of crumb that I prefer.

So - I'm most often going for the more uniform and tighter crumb (not a fan of wearing my sandwich fixings), but there are times when I give the open style a shot.  When I do, I am guilty of more often than not under-proofing.  I do note, though, that I get a more consistent results and better oven-spring when I keep the hydration down a bit.  For all of the hype about higher hydration giving more airy and open crumbs, I firmly believe Trevor Wilson's contention that it is skills and experience that are bigger contributors to that result.

My thinking is that the look and feel of higher hydration dough is quite different to that of lower hydration, and that so far I haven't developed the eye for knowing when that different look and feel signals "ready".  By missing the best timing of stopping bulk fermentation, I think that I'm making it even more difficult to get the best tension and shaping, which, in turn, is making it harder to know when the proof is "ready" for the oven.  I end up erring on the side of under-fermenting and then under-proofing --- which still gives good bread, but certainly isn't "great".

Looking back at my own bakes, and then at your blogs, it looks to me like we both had one of our best open-crumb results using a lower hydration and following Trevor Wilson's techniques and timing.  I suspect that if we chose to go back to our best bake, and then kept to the same base with gradually increasing the hydration, that in a couple of months we would be getting a good bit closer to consistently "really good" loaves, with an occasional "great" in there...

I'm the first to admit that I personally don't have the interest / dedication / drive to want to keep replicating essentially the same recipe in search of "great" (that sounds like "work" to me - and I want my baking to stay as "play").  With that in mind, though, I want to bake a couple of open-crumb style loaves this week (my Mother-in-Law loves the open type for dipping in oil and vinegar), so I'm grateful for your post here giving me a strong reminder to go with a formula and hydration best suited to my current skill level so that I'm more likely to get a "really good" result!

Thanks for the very timely reminder, and for making me focus on yet another detail that I need to work on!

Elsasquerino's picture
Elsasquerino

Really good of you to take such a long ponder and write out such a long reply. Everyone seems to be singing from the same hymn sheet, I intend as I mentioned above to try stretching my timings and taking notes. 

I totally agree about things slipping into a 'work' type scenario... I think of bread making as a hobby and as such don't want to get too fussy about it, however like any passion you end up striving for perfection. The big issue I have is there is so much I see on here and want to try but so little time each week to bake. I seem to do this loaf more than any other now as I love the taste, with little tweaks such as this weeks millet.

I have had a great many over proof issues especially with overnight retards, it certainly seems going under is a little more forgiving than over. I'll continue to play until it suits my schedule and my ambition. Considering I only mixed my starter last Christmas I'm fairly satisfied with what I can produce and not only that but how I seem to know what's gone wrong and what to do next time... Even if I do like to check with you guys first.

Thanks again and good luck with your higher hydration journey.

Sondelys's picture
Sondelys

It has been a question that for which I desesperately hope to be answered .

if I want to retard at bulk fermentation  (b.f. ) ,when should I put the dough in my fridge ?

after my stretch and folds are completed ? ( 21/2 hours ) or the end of b..f. ? ( between 4 -5 hours ) ?

if I want to do it at the final proof (f.p. ) do I put it in the fridge right after shaping ? Or if I keep to room temp. For a while before doing so ?

and How long ? I read between 8 to 24 h..... 

is there a rule of thumb ? Like for 1 hour at 26C it will take 8 hours in the fridge ?

thank you to reply

Elsasquerino's picture
Elsasquerino

There is no specific point at which to fridge up, it's a skill in itself to judge when to do it and it depends on the temp of the dough, the temp of your fridge, whether it is a large or a small batch of dough etc, etc. I think that's why an awful lot of people prefer to allow their bulk to complete and shape the loaves allowing the final proof to retard in the fridge and bake straight from cold. 

When I do it this way I tend to knock off an hour from the usual bulk timing and cross my fingers that eight hours in the fridge won't let it go too far. If you have time to spare later in the process you could always be cautious go in straight after your stretch and folds and if it's no where near allow it to develop as it warms back through.  Keep trying an extra half hour until you're happy. Keep notes. Have fun with it, I find a slightly underproofed loaf more forgiving than an overproofed. Hope that helps.

Sondelys's picture
Sondelys

Thank you so much for your advices . However I am not sure if you are talking about fridge retard at the bulk fermentation process ?or at the final proof ? ( at the second paragraph ) 

In the Forkish's book it has been  mentionned that a b.f. is considered completed  when it doubles or even triples in size --Really ? My bread is half whole wheat   /half white ... do you think this expansion still applied ?

Thanks 

Elsasquerino's picture
Elsasquerino

On rereading my post I wasn't clear, I meant if I use a cold bulk. Which I'll be honest I haven't done a great deal of until recently. 

Hopefully others will spot this thread and offer some advice, if not I advise starting a separate thread asking for help and I'm sure you will be impressed at the wealth of knowledge some of the guys have on here.

I personally wouldn't get too obsessed with your dough doubling or tripling. It's really a doubling in volume which is hard to quantify by eye in the average bowl. Mini oven I think has suggested in other threads to pinch off a small piece of dough and watch that alongside your main batch, in a small glass with straight sides. As you can imagine that makes the progress easier to track. Check out some videos online which show people's doughs nice and close up, note at the end of bulk how billowy and alive they look. It's hard to describe, a picture speaks a thousand words as they say.

Sondelys's picture
Sondelys

Oups ! I was saying how kind for this reply . I just experienced the result of letting the dough go for doubling in size .So after 7 hours of bulk fermentation at room temp ( 24C).even though it never did reached the expecting expansion  I decided to go for the preshaping ...it became so sticky I couldn't shape it . It flattens ----

Next time I will try the Mini Oven 's advice and watch videos . Merci !--