The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Trouble with crust cracking during cooling

Gpats's picture
Gpats

Trouble with crust cracking during cooling

Hi Guys


I've been having a little trouble with my crust cracking lately after i take my loaf out of the oven as it cools. Are there any ways to stop or reduce this happening? I was thinking of turning the oven off and leaving the bread in there to slow down the cooling process but then id be worried of overcooking the bread. I get the cracking problem with all my loaves but I have attached a picture of a recent sandwhich loaf I did as this shows the cracking the best. Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance

emmsf's picture
emmsf

  Hi. My guess is that your dough was over-proofed.  If it is proofed for too long, when it rises in the oven it gets a little flabby – the resulting crust is thin with no support beneath it. I have a hunch if you proofed it a little less, this would not happen. Beautiful color, by the way. Good luck. 

HKbreadwinner's picture
HKbreadwinner

Do you have a huge tunnel (hole) right underneath the crust?  If so, maybe you should degas more (or pinch out big pockets) and ensure that you don't have any big bubbles before shaping

Gpats's picture
Gpats

No holes under the crust, it's a fairly consistent loaf the whole way through and I do degas a fair bit after the first proof. Thanks for your input though ill keep it in mind when I knock up another couple loaves over the weekend.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

GPats, If your crumb was consistent throughout, I am fairly confident the dough was grossly over-proofed. Timing a proof may get you in the ball park, but there are variables that can greatly affect the speed (and timing) of rise. If you are using sourdough, then your variables multiple. Was the starter active, is the levain over or under fermented, and so on. The temperature of the room your dough proofed in, the flour and/or whole grain used, all of these things make a difference. If you are using yeast, things are more prodictable. I’m not trying to over complicate this, but only wanting to give you some things to consider.

I suspect the over-proofed dough was placed in the hot oven and soon there after started to produce gas and rose. But, because the dough was over-proofed it was very weak. The gluten was losing it’s ability to contain the gasses, but the crust was hardening from the heat of the oven. The hardened crust keep some or all of the gas contained. But the weaken gluten inside (crumb) was moist and not able to hold the gas as well as the crust. So the crust rose but the under lying crumb was not able. Once the bread was removed from the oven, the humidity (hot vapor) locked inside the crust rose to the top, moistened the crust and caused the cracking and caving that is shown in your image. My experimentation with free formed dough seems to reveal that tight, even crumb coupled with a flat shaped (slack) bread is an over-proofed indicator. This entire paragraph is based on assumption, but it is my best guess. I encourage others that may disagree to reply. I am most interested in knowing the truth, not enforcing my opinion. 

As I write this reply, I am actively experimenting with under and over-proofing. http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/57309/experiment-learn-under-and-overproofed-dough  The final results have not been completely published yet. The videos are still being finalized. Scroll down to the images of the sliced breads. The breads go from under to over proofed as you go down. Notice the tightness of the crumb on the lower images. If interested, here is a link to the first video of the test. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdYLi1qeoz

Oh! Almost any post will be improved if you provide pictures. Also, the more details we get, the better we can help. The recipe is a good start.

I hope I’ve helped. Sorry, if I over-loaded you with info...

Dan

Gpats's picture
Gpats

Wow.. thank you very much for your reply, you're a champ, lots of things to think about. I did actually get a chance to do another couple loaves over the weekend and made a point of doing much shorter proofs than I normally would, I did a strict half hour for both the first and second proof.

I used the exact same recipe as the photo I previously attached and only changed the proof time so I could be sure that was the issue and it seems to have done the trick. It still cracked a little bit as the bread cooled but as you can see its far less than the last loaf.

Thanks again for your help, Ill keep experimenting with even shorter proof times.

 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Please send us an image of your crumb. I am interested to see how it turned out. Also let us know the difference between the two breads for comparison.

Glad to hear things are improving.

Dan

Gpats's picture
Gpats

I'm really loving all the discussion my little post is getting, as a fairly new baker a lot of its going over my head but its all really interesting, amazing how mixing flour and water can be so complex haha.

I have attached a photo of the crumb (assuming you meant to inside) not really sure what you'd be looking for.

On a side note really happy with the flavours/ texture I really just cant figure out how to eliminate the cracking, when it comes out of the oven its completely fine it only starts cracking as it cools.

Again thanks for all the input its all so fascinating, I really appreciate it.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

That is a gorgeous looking bread! As Derek said, the crust is very attractive in our opinions. 

Please send us the recipe. Maybe it will help explain the crust. Are you putting some sort of a glaze on the outside?

Danny

Gpats's picture
Gpats

Hmm I don't really have a specific recipe, I followed one to start with but have kind of altered it slightly by feel every time. I believe this loaf I used 6 cups bread flour 2 cups warm water with a pinch of sugar and 3tbs active dry yeast (I got 2 loaves out of this). I kneaded it with a little bit of butter maybe 3tbs worth and allowed 2 30 minute proofs then baked for half hours at 200. I did use a little bit of melted butter to brush the top and give it that shiny glaze on this particular loaf but I would usually use egg whites wash to brush the top when not doing a sandwich loaf. Would the butter/egg white contribute to the cracking?

Gpats's picture
Gpats

Thanks for your reply, is that likely to be an issue with the first or 2nd proof? I'm really strict on a 40 minute 2nd proof as I feel this gives me the best volume but I do tend to let the 1st proof go a little bit longer. Ill try reducing my proof time over the weekend and see how I go. I really appreciate your advice.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Maximum rise is not your best indicator. Max rise means the fermentation has reached its limit. It is better to err on under-proofing a little. That way the bread will spring (oven spring) during the beginning stages of your bake.

Take a look at this excellent video to see what I mean. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=i1w09QKf9GU

Dan

yozzause's picture
yozzause

A crackly crust was always deemed to be an attractive feature and it was often said that the loaves would sing to you as they crackled whilst cooling. Colour doesn't seem to indicate over proofing but two spots of darker colour do indicate that there is likely to be a small void just below. It seems to be quite an attractive looking loaf from the picture supplied. i personally quite like to see the top of an upright loaf with that feature.

Kind regards Derek 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Yoz, I am interested to learn about your statement mentioning color and degree of proof. I didn’t consider the 2 dark spots, but looking back on my baking experience I recall times when bubbles just underneath the surface did cause darkening of the crust.

I assume a very dark color might indicate over proofing. If that is correct, what are the causes? I’d like to learn.

GPats, did you happen to notice if there was an obvious cause for the 2 dark spots on your first bake?

I agree with Yoz, I liked the cracked crust and thought it visually pleasing.

Dan

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Hi Dan and  Gpats referring back to my 50 odd  year old hand written notes from my technical college days  on the subject of dough maturity and under the heading of  Over Mature,  pale crust is listed and it would seem more likely than a dark colour as the yeasts are exhausting their food source. Other characteristics listed are high or low volume, scale on the side crust, open  holey texture, fine but open cell structure, poor keeping qualities, poor aroma. and poor flavour.

Bearing in mind this might be at extreme end of  over mature over proofing, something that you found difficult to achieve in your recent experiment Dan. This is also referring more to commercial loaves in pans. interestingly in the green or immature list it has low volume high crust colour, open texture, course cell structure, polished side crust, burst top crust(clean break), fair keeping qualities, slow to fair dough movement but can be fast, fair aroma and flavour. 

Last but not least Mature  good volume, golden brown crust, fine even cell structure white crumb colour, bold outline, good keeping qualities, normal dough movement, good flavour and aroma.

I read in Practical baking by Willian J Sultan  a statement on proofing This is a very important part of the production of yeast raised products, Errors such as under or over proofing cannot be rectified. 

Kind regards Derek / Yoz

 

 

 

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Just noticed the further correspondence between the two of you after i did my post. 

Perhaps the formula for the dough might also help and as Dan has stated a yeasted dough and sourdough  can be quite different. The proof times seem pretty short to me, when i'm using fresh yeast at around 2%  the bulk proof is usually  1.5 to 2 hours  and the final proof is around the hour mark, but not really working to the clock as home baking has a lot more variables with things like room temperature.

 

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Quite by chance i had a Sourdough going today where i completely forgot about it whilst being busy outside putting up a climbing rose arch, only remembering as i was packing away the tools it had gone 8 hours  bulk fermentation, quite surprisingly it was still hanging in there, not dropping but i would say a full proof i quickly tipped it out shaped it and into a Banneton, into a plastic bag and straight in the fridge for an overnight and will bake tomorrow, should be interesting i usually go 4 or 5 hours BF, We shall see what tomorrow brings!

  

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Here is the loaf mentioned above its a multigrain mix flour with the addition of more white flour. Unfortunately the first 3 shots were a little blurred the 4th is much clearer.

This is a sourdough but was hand mixed on the bench and then a long BF where it was forgotten  (8hrs) then shaped and into the fridge overnight baked this morning 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Looks like 8 hours worked out well. Nice looking bread

Danny

Gpats's picture
Gpats

That is an incredible looking loaf