The Fresh Loaf

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help w/ crumb differential diagnosis

BreadBabies's picture

help w/ crumb differential diagnosis

Flat loaf.  Evenly distributed larger holes surrounded by density.  Ears did not open.

I would have taken a picture, but despite its flaws, it got eaten.

It was fairly sour bread.

Fermented about 5 hours (looked perfect to me) then retarded overnight. It didn't rise much in the fridge, but I thought that was normal. Sat out on the counter for about a half hour then into the oven.

No signs of trouble until it came out of the oven.

Anybody have any ideas?  I was thinking underactive starter/underproofed/overproofed. Grr.

I'm hoping this is a fairly common crumb pattern that someone else might be familiar with.

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Sounds like under proofed. If you shaped it, put it straight in the fridge and no rise at all then perhaps your fridge is too cold. I say under proofed as it sounds like the bulk ferment went well. 

What I would do first is check the temperature of your fridge. If you're finding that the dough isn't doing much at all in the fridge then perhaps give it some bench time before refrigerating and if it needs it then allow it to finish off at room temperature. From nothing happening in the fridge to just 30 minutes at room temperature before baking won't be enough if this is the case. You can try wrapping the banneton in a towel and placing it higher up in the fridge too. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

or under-proofed to me.  The sour coming from the bacteria but the yeast numbers have not gotten up to where they should be.  Typical is the large gas bubbles and dense crumb all around. The dense area bubbles being more perfectly round than oval.  Over-profed tends to have flattened and odd shaped bubbles. 

Give the starter and levain some TLC (tender loving care) for a few rise thru peak cycles to increase the yeast population.  If dealing with cold weather and ingredients too, try increasing the amount of starter in the levain and warming up the ingredients into the 70's°F range.  Initial dough temp plays a big role.  You want to see some puffing up before chilling.

Before you shape the loaf, cut into it with a sharp knife and compare the bubble distribution to this last finished crumb "shot."   You want to see more evenly distributed gas bubbles and less density.  Slap the cut edges back together and shape the loaf if satisfied.  If dense, let it ferment more before shaping.

BreadBabies's picture

I feel like I'm back to where I was six months ago (when you helped me out with my starter troubles). I worked on it and got it nice and healthy after a lot of research and reading of DW's posts. I had taken the summer off and just started a new starter, now about 2 weeks old. Here I am again. The same ole tune. I have been diligently feeding at peak for over a week. But that being said, I've not been absolutely perfect. But I don't think this should require absolute perfection should it? It also takes my starter a really long time to fall (100% hydration)...hours. Then I feel like it's peak and just hasn't fallen and I should have feed it already.

Edit: I just read Andy Panda's post.  My starter is doing 2.5x in ten hours at about 70 degrees. Does that sound underactive?  Mine is 60% AP 20% rye 20% WW. 

AndyPanda's picture

Which post of mine did you read? If it was the recent one about my starter doubling in 4 hours - that is a crazy fast starter that I've never baked with before (Just made the first dough with it tonight and it's going into the chill box overnight - no idea what I'll find in the morning). Another starter that I used for awhile would take about 8 hours to double but it would also continue to rise in the fridge. And then a third starter that I use now (that I absolutely LOVE the flavor and smell) will not rise at all in my fridge and takes about 12 hours to double on the counter. Point being that not all starters act the same at the same temps.

That slow starter with the great flavor - I've been letting that ferment for about 4 hours on the counter (it will have risen maybe 25-30% by then) then I put it in an empty ice chest with a cold gel pack for another 10-12 hours and then straight into the oven (and it is so good!)

I'm brand new to sourdough - so don't take any of my posts as the right way to do things. I'm just experimenting and figuring out what works for me. My methods are very far from the tried and true methods the pros here in the forum use.