The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Weird crumb when making high hydration sourdough

Lillkatzino's picture
Lillkatzino

Weird crumb when making high hydration sourdough

Hey everyone! 

 

I’ve been baking bread for some time now (quite successfully I’d say) but recently I’ve ventured into 75%+ hydration doughs and I’m struggling. 

This is my most recent loaf - the taste is great but the rise is very uneven and the crumb has lots of very small and some big and uneven holes. The dough looked and felt pretty good tho! Here’s the recipe I used:

200g bread flour

55g Whole wheat flour

185g water

60g starter (100% hydration)

5g salt

I followed fullproofbaking’s instructions on a basic open crumb sourdough but somehow my loaf didn’t tear enough where I scored it. 

Anyone have any idea? Is it because i’m making boules? I don’t have a proofing basket for batards yet. 

Thanks in advance!

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

My best guess - It may be moderately under proofed and the dough is lacking strength. How did you develop the gluten? Did you stretch and fold, laminate, or what?

I could be completely wrong, but that is my best guess. I say so, because of the large holes surrounded by slightly denser (not too bad) crumb. But the kicker is how the sides the loaf sluffed, but the middle rose nicely.

I am interested  to read what others have to say.

Danny

Lillkatzino's picture
Lillkatzino

Thanks for checking in! I did a 2h autolyse, then kneaded in starter and salt, then did one set of folds, then laminated and then did 3 sets of stretch and folds. The dough seemed so strong when I left it in the fridge for the final proof! But in the morning the surface was pretty flat and it did spread out quite a bit when i put it out of the basket to score. 
I´m thinking the sides didn´t rise well because my the loaf did not tear up everywhere I scored it.

I might try a longer proof next time, and also check if there´s any other flour that works better as I´m using german 550 flour right now which is supposed to be a little weaker than bread flour.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

The temperature of your refrigerator is very important. If your frig is 41F or warmer the dough will continue to ferment. At 38-39F the dough not not rise much if any.

Do you remember if your dough rose while in the frig?

dabrownman is right, your bread is very nice. But if you are like me “good enough” is not good enough :-)

Your description of your process sounds great. Kristin is a “bread wizard”. Have you counsulted with her?

Dan

Lillkatzino's picture
Lillkatzino

I see! My fridge is about 8°C or 46.4°F - I actually put my shaped loaf in the fridge right away with the intention for it to proof overnight, so it did rise. I just never know how to check if it´s done proofing. I do the finger poke test but I feel like it´s just not very accurate. 

I have not asked Kristin yet, I figured she gets so many messages every day I´d just annoy her. 

I´m doing another loaf today with a little bit of stronger flour and proofing at room temp - I´ll see if I can get it to rise a little more before baking :)

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

KatZ, 46.4F is very warm for a refrigerator. The temperature danger range for food is between 40 - 140F.

How did you measure the temp? A good method is to place a glass of water on the bottom shelf (it is the coolest place) of your fridge. Leave it there for a few hours, then take the temperature. If your fridge is higher than 39F you may be able to turn the thermostat down. Ideal temp is 38F

46F will most probably over proof a dough if left in for overnight.

Danny

Lillkatzino's picture
Lillkatzino

Oh, I did not know that! I´m pretty sure most fridges in Germany are over 42°F. But 46.4 is just what the display on my fridge says, I´ll do your test. 

How can I tell if my dough is over proofed? Because I´ve left a couple of loafs to proof overnight and the lower hydration ones turned out well. 

I´m starting to think that I could improve my scoring - maybe I cut too far to the edge of the dough? 
Or my proofing basket is too shallow?

I´m excited to see how today´s loaf turns out, I´ll be shaping it in about 30 mins.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

The image of the dough above is not over proofed. If it were, the crumb would be very consistent in respect to holes and the holes would be smaller.

As favas hydration, a drier dough with have more strength. It will hold it’s shape better.

What was the hydration of the dough that you were consistent with? According to your post you are now baking 75+%. Have you considered increasing the hydration a little at a time until you become confident with each increase?

Danny

Lillkatzino's picture
Lillkatzino

The dough that worked well for me was a 50% rye with about 72% hydration, I suppose the rye takes up a lot more water than wheat. 

Since I want to go for more fluffy bread with larger holes I’m now trying to go for higher hydration wheat bread. 

I’ll post an update from today’s bake!

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

The classic crumb is to have holes from small to large, irregular in shape and evenly distributed.  That is exactly what you have!  In this case, ignorance is not bliss for you but, now you know and can be totally happy about it - ecstatic actually:-)  It's time to dance!

Happy baking

Lillkatzino's picture
Lillkatzino

haha thank you! The taste is really good too, I just feel like the crumb is just slightly gummy and the rise is uneven. I´ll see what I can do :)

calneto's picture
calneto

I have measured with an infrared thermometer the surface of the dough upon removing it from the fridge. It varied between 10C and 13C, depending which side I measured, so I wouldn't worry about safety issues.

You did not mention how long your dough fermented in room temperature. I live in Brazil and usually bake at similar hydrations (70, 75%). Your loaf seems underfermented to me. At least that was how mine looked before I started letting them ferment for longer periods.

I usually let the dough ferment for a total of 7 hours in room temperature before baking. Here, this means a dough temperature never below 25C. It easily reaches 28, 29C, so I might have to put in the fridge between folds. If I have to leave on the fridge overnight, I try to let it ferment a total of 5 hours before that. I start counting the time after I finish kneading it.

Lillkatzino's picture
Lillkatzino

That could be! I let it ferment for about 5h (2h autolyse and then 5h until final shaping) but I’ts pretty cold here in Germany. 

I’ll try fermenting it for longer / in a warmer environment next time!

Lillkatzino's picture
Lillkatzino

Here is today´s loaf. I´m pretty happy with the crumb! Still I don´t understand why the surface does not tear open where I scored it. Anyone have any idea? I scored about 1cm since it is a relatively small loaf/didn´t have a lot of height. I feel like that is what´s really limiting oven spring.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

If your cuts didn't open much, the usual cause is over-proofing. The cavern right under the top crust supports that hypothesis.

David

David R's picture
David R

So... You changed things in the right way, but you went slightly too far. At least now you know how to fix this problem - a little more experimenting with the time or the temperature, and it will be great!