The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Crumb feels moist and chewy

ra5040's picture
ra5040

Crumb feels moist and chewy

This sourdough bread is 70% hydration with 11.8% white flour. The proving was overnight in the fridge.

I baked it for 15 minutes in a dutch oven at 260C (500F) for 15 minutes then dropped the temperature to 220C (430F) for a further 15 minutes (although I doubt the temperature in the dutch oven dropped by much).  I then took off the lid and cooked for another 20 minutes at 220C (430F).

The temperature in the crumb went up to 99C (210F) shortly after removing the lid, but it didn't go to 100C (212F).

The oven rise is pretty good (I think?). However the crumb feels a bit damp and is quite chewy.  I really don't know if this is what the crumb should be like (it certainly isn't a very light crumb as you would get in a French-baked baguette, for sure).

Toasted, the bread is lovely ... so the extra cooking dries out the crumb nicely.  But I couldn't bake the loaf for any longer without ending up with a very black crust.

After baking and cooling, the water content in the bread is about 28% (weight of loaf - weight of flour ) / weight of loaf. 

Is there something wrong or is it just that I am not used to this sort of bread?  I would prefer a drier, lighter crumb personally.

Thanks!

 

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Just how I like it. Looks perfect to me. If I ever get a loaf like this I'd be posting it as a success! 

Sorry I can't be of more use to you. I can't think of how to improve what I see as perfect. 

HansB's picture
HansB

How long did you wait after baking to cut it?

ra5040's picture
ra5040

Thanks for your replies!  I'm used to manufactured bread so what seems like a very chewy crumb to me is probably just what a bread without additives should really be like (and probably a sourdough bread is more chewy anyway?).

I cut the bread after about an hour and a half (it was still slightly warm). This morning the bread is less moist-feeling and the crust is still goo

Have you checked the moisture content of your bread (after baking)? As I mentioned, mine is coming in around the 26-28%, and I see that store bread is typically around 35%, so the moisture of my bread would seem to be on the low side, in fact.

I guess for a softer crumb I would need to add some milk or fat ... but then it would be a different sort of bread.

 

HansB's picture
HansB

I know it is very tempting to dive right into warm bread! Next time let the loaf cool 4-5 hours or even overnight before cutting.

ra5040's picture
ra5040

Thanks ... I'll do that next time ... but it's hard to wait!!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

but if you're looking for a softer crumb, just as you suspected, substitute some milk, or drop in some oil or fat after autolyse or use some just cooled cut potato water.  If you bag it overnight, the crust will soften up and the crumb dryer. 

only 12% white flour?  What else is in it?  

the hadster's picture
the hadster

gluten has gelatinized.  This is an indication of a perfectly baked loaf!

Personally, I would love a piece of this bread toasted and then slathered in butter!

Hadster

ra5040's picture
ra5040

Great advice all round!  Actually I like bread with a bit of body to it so I don't really want to add milk/fat/potato water (new one to me!).  What I didn't like so much was the damp feel ... but it may be (hopefully) that I just cut the loaf too soon after baking.

But slightly toasted or warmed in the oven the bread is delicious ... all of the slight heaviness is gone, leaving a good crispy chew!  So that's always a good option.

But I'll be more patient next time to see what the crumb is like when it has cooled properly.

BTW ... I don't know if this is your experience too, but I've had problems with oven rise until I started doing the French slap/pull/fold knead, for a good 20 minutes (a la Richard Bertinet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOjSp5_YiF0).  With no-knead folding I kept getting rather flat loaves. Also, the no-knead takes up hours (I would rather the 20-minute exercise!).

Have any of you calculated the water content in your loaf (after baking)? This (not exactly lighthearted) article:

http://www.classofoods.com/page2_3.html

puts it at around 35%, which is way higher than my (moist-feeling) bread.  Just wondering!

Portus's picture
Portus

I recently measured the weight reduction in my usual weekend loaves (~82% hydration) pre- and post bake, which comes in about 20% for unbleached stone ground white flour (~11% protein).  I hesitate to draw a conclusion, but assuming dough weight of 875g of which 480g is flour and 395g is water (80% hydration); assuming further that the weight reduction is solely water evaporation, then the remaining water is 220g (875g*20%=175g; 395g-175g=220g). The remaining loaf weight is 700g, of which 220g/~31% is water content.  For my 50/50% white/whole wheat breads, the water loss is only ~16%, which suggest ~35% water content.  Seems to prove your wondering...?

ra5040's picture
ra5040

That's interesting ... so the water content of your white bread is only a bit higher than mine (over 4 loaves mine are from 27% to 29%). I would expect the white/whole wheat to have a higher water content so 35% seems about right.  But you're starting with a much higher hydration (are you using a mixer? 85% would be hard to do by hand!).

Portus's picture
Portus

... for recipes I am referring to:- levain build for ~4 hours, 30 minute autolyse, +4 hours bulk fermentation/SFs followed by overnight refrigeration for proofing. All said though, I am presently in test-mode, lowering hydration by a couple of % points as we are at the start of summer with attendant rains and increased humidity.

ra5040's picture
ra5040

My timings are pretty much the same as yours.  So ... no mixer!  Do you 'no-knead' or slap/pull/fold French-style?

Portus's picture
Portus

... is my preferred approach as described by Forkish, though I occasionally lapse into Bertinet's "slap and fold".  Ultimately I think that it is the long bulk fermentation and proofing times that gives me the free pass on kneading. Have a look at The Perfect Loaf link offered elsewhere in your thread; it pretty much replicates my recipe under reference.

ra5040's picture
ra5040

Yes, I wish I knew exactly what works and what doesn't ... so far I've found that pinch/stretch/fold hasn't worked so well for me, but it could be something else.  I am keeping a record so after some more attempts I may have a better idea.  The thing I like about the slap and fold is that it's quick ... I find the fold/wait/fold/wait/fold/wait ... for 2 hours or more quite a pain.

WatertownNewbie's picture
WatertownNewbie

"so far I've found that pinch/stretch/fold hasn't worked so well for me"

That was not quite working for me too, and then I found Trevor J. Wilson's great set of videos.  I typically still start with the pinch/stretch/fold to get the salt mixed in a little, but then I include Trevor's pulling method, which I have found gives me that extra bit of gluten development that I was missing before.  Another thing he does that I find really helpful is to pause after the initial phase of mixing for maybe four or five minutes, let the dough rest in the container, and then resume for perhaps another three minutes (it does not take long).  The key is to acquire a feel for when the dough has reached the state that it is ready for the first extended rest before another stretch/fold session.

Here is a link to get you started: http://www.breadwerx.com/how-to-mix-wet-dough/

By the way, your bread looks fine to me too.

Ted

 

ra5040's picture
ra5040

I'll certainly give that a go ... I might do a double batch and do half stretch/fold and half slap/pull.  But to be honest I rather like the slap/pull because if gives me some upper-body exercise (getting on a bit!) and there's a nice rhythm to it.  It's great to see the dough going from totally sticky to smooth and stretchy, and end up with clean fingers at the end without having to scrape or wash!

BUT ... anything over 70% or so?? I've never tried it but I'm not so sure I would be brave enough to do the slap/fold with that ...

 

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Well personally I can't imagine a sourdough nicer than that - it looks perfect! That is indeed what a high-ish hydration, slow proofed sourdough 'should' look like. :)

Couple of things:

  • When I bake in cast iron pots I turn the oven temperature down a couple of time, not so much to reduce the temperature inside the pot, but to reduce the risk of the oven elements coming on and burning the bottom of the loaf. Just sayin'...
  • You don't need the internal loaf temperature to get to the boiling point of water. Around 205F should be enough
  • The 'chew' is partly due to the flour (stronger flour makes more chewy bread), the hydration and the long ferment (bulk or shaped). Try using less strong flour, reducing the hydration and/or reducing the proofing time (i.e. do it at a warmer temperature for a shorter period of time)
  • You can also increase the innoculation (the amount of levain or fermented flour) to help it ferment and/or proof more quickly.
  • Enrichment (with fat or dairy) will result in a very different bread
  • Some French baguette is made with just flour, water, salt and yeast and is mixed, fermented, shaped, proofed and baked quite quickly. It is fresh for about an hour and stales quickly. One of the nice things about your sourdough is that it will stay fresh for a lot longer (days)
  • If you prefer a lighter, softer more even crumb, perhaps a long-fermented sourdough is not the best bread for you. Try a hybrid (some levain and some commercial dry yeast) to see if that works better for you. Or make a poolish bread (pre-ferment made with flour, water and a tiny bit of dry yeast, then once this is bubbly mix it with the rest of the flour and water and another tiny bit of yeast)
ra5040's picture
ra5040
  • How about using a fan oven?  What I've done is to have the fan on when the pot lid is on, then turn to bottom element only once I take the lid off. The main reason is that with the fan the oven temperature adjusts more quickly - but I don't want the fan on when the lid is off so that the crust doesn't dry too quickly (same reason for not having the top element on). Having said that, I can't imagine that the temperature inside the cast iron pot would change much while the lid is on (I might measure it next time :)).
  • I guess the chew comes down to how strong the gluten structure is ... so using a less strong flour, shorter proofing etc., will presumably result in a weaker gluten structure, so less rise, smaller air pockets ... and a softer crumb.  On the other hand, perhaps adding some wholewheat flour might be good?  This guy https://www.theperfectloaf.com/high-hydration-sourdough-bread/ says that his bread is super-wonderful and light as cotton-wool and he uses a mix of 12.7% white flour with 14.5% wholewheat flour (I've never come across a flour with such a high protein content!).
  • I'll give your suggestion of a hybrid bread a go, thanks (I didn't see the point of adding yeast to the levain, but I can see now that this should result in a faster proof, and so presumably a softer bread)

Robert