The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Extreme Open Crumb Frustration

Got-to-Baguette-Up's picture
Got-to-Baguette-Up

Extreme Open Crumb Frustration

Hello everyone,

Lately I've been reading through the book "Open Crumb Mastery", and its been really educational.  I learned a lot about what theoretically happens in bread during all the steps in the baking process.  I thought I could really use this info to manipulate my dough into creating open crumb.  

Open crumb exists.  I see it in pictures on blogs.  Even a forum poster or two on TFL can get open crumb every now and then, although no one really knows how, I don't think.  

After reading OCM entirely, I thought I'd try one of the methods.  This one is a 65% stiff dough that supposedly results in open crumb given the right handling.  I followed this method exactly, with the gentlest handling you can imagine.  And here's what I got:

 

Its pretty much the same crumb I get out of my 70% country french loaf.  I could not have been genlter with this dough.  It was plenty young when it went into the proofing basket.  In short, I followed the method exactly.  

I started baking bread at home because I wanted a product I couldn't get at the store.  I'm not even really interested in bread that is so dense.  I would have gone to any lengths to get open crumb.  I've learned to work with wet dough, learned to keep a strong, clean starter, developed nice baking hands that do mixing, S+F, preshape and shaping smooth and purposeful.  And every loaf seemed to point to the fact that if I only did this or that better, maybe I'd get that open crumb I was after.  

But now, I've really honed my skills, learned my dough, learned my starter, and I've come to the conclusion that there is something else responsible for open crumb.  I'm not sure what it is, but I'm done beating my head against the mystery for a while.  Maybe I'll come back when a COMPETENT teacher writes a book that actually details methods that lead to open crumb.  

 

 

 

 

tgrayson's picture
tgrayson

While the crumb in your photo isn't particularly open, it still looks pretty good. To not be interested in the bread because it doesn't have a more open crumb is, IMO, a misplaced priority. Most people view good bread as mainly about flavor, and I'm sure this loaf of bread tastes much better than what you can get at the store.

That said, I do empathize with your frustration...it's much more satisfying to accomplish what you set out to do.

Personally, I don't think an open crumb is as mysterious as people like to represent. I'm satisfied with my crumb by 15 seconds in the food processor, followed by 3 S&Fs separated by an hour or so. I never look for a windowpane and I don't handle the dough particularly gently. The starters or preferements really have nothing to do with it.

 

Got-to-Baguette-Up's picture
Got-to-Baguette-Up

What hydration do you use?  

Can I see your crumb?

tgrayson's picture
tgrayson

This shot is a bit old, but the only one I have on my phone. I actually prefer a more uniform crumb and I've made some adjustments to my shaping technique that seems to achieve this.

Hydration is about 67%, if memory serves.

 

mutantspace's picture
mutantspace

your crumb looks good to me - when i started out i was obsessed with open crumb but like @tgrayson im all for flavour first. I bake over a 100 loaves a night and while i like an open crumb i prefer a great flavour and a lacy crumb (as Trevor Wilson calls it). Besides you cant make a good sandwich with open crumb.....its a trend thats driving me nuts. you cant eat holes.  The other thing to bear in mind is that online pictures of food in general are misleading, some are well taken, others have the advantage of good light, exposure, filters etc. I ofr one always alter contrast, colour and tone of my pictures....

As for @trevorwilson his videos and book were very instructive however his biggest lesson was about being present in your mking from beginning to end. Dan Lepard is the same. As ll craftsmen are. Be present. Make your bread. Listen to it. Get better.  

 My hydration ia always between 72% - 82% depending on type of bread and whether im using wholegrain flours, etc

albacore's picture
albacore

Agree that these can be misleading - not only  the effects that you describe, but  the angle a loaf is photographed from can make a very flat loaf look like it's got good loft

It would be nice if bakers recorded and stated their loaf heights, so we know what can be achieved, but I guess it won't happen any time soon.

Lance

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

are key factors and also judging the fermentation correctly.  There is a huge amount of really useful stuff in Trevor’s book. I can sometimes get a lacy crumb but don’t even try to get really open as it doesn’t carry toppings eg butter, jam, honey well.  At the end of the day, Trevor is a professional and his skill set is way above mine - he probably bakes in a week what I will in my lifetime. 

I have learnt a lot, I don’t necessarily do things his way but to me it has been well worth the money I spent. 

You have to find what works best for you, be it his way or another way.

Enjoy the journey - your homemade bread is far better for you even when not perfect, than any store bought loaf!

Leslie

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

blown away that I achieved this crumb.  quite accidentally I might add. will post separately shortly.

keep trying!

Leslie

Colin2's picture
Colin2

How long have you been baking?