The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Latest Effort

Elmhurst Bread Boy's picture
Elmhurst Bread Boy

Latest Effort

Hi All,

First, thank you for the honest feedback, suggestions and advice!  I liked the idea of baking a smaller loaf--a full kilo loaf is a lot to consume so I scaled it down to about an 830 gram loaf in total for this next bake. All else aside, I have to say I really like the smaller aesthetic of this loaf--they appear similar to the pan rustico test bakes Artisan Bryan has been posting lately as he refines his recipes for his new bakery (must be exciting).  I like their compactness.  I think it's safe to say I'm sold on this smaller sized loaf from here on out.

As to the bread itself--much the same.  Crumb was delicious, tender, moist, borderline custardy.  Yet, still not open toward the center.  I know it gets tricky the moment you add whole grains into the mix, but this is still a pretty standard amount I'm using for a country SD.  I think it really all lies in the handling of the dough during shaping.  This was probably my best shaping effort yet.  Best part about this time out was learning how to better use the bench knife in the assistance of shaping.  Titling it down and under the loaf while pushing keeps it from sticking.  May sound quite obvious for the experienced bread baker, but for us neophytes who know all to well that the devil is in the details, that's a detail that was borderline life-affirming.  

Anyway, pics are below.  I included a snapshot of what the crumb looked like towards the end of the loaf.  I usually end up with this type of crumb toward the ends of all my loaves.  It's the crumb I'm looking for--open, yet strong.  I just can't seem to carry this throughout the entire loaf and I'm presuming here that the trick lies in understanding what I must be doing correctly with the ends of my loaves that I'm failing to keep consistent throughout the entirety of the loaf, particularly in the center where the most weight is located, and, hence, where the most glutinous strength would be required to defy gravity and pick itself up during its spring.

The other note worth mentioning was that when scoring, this loaf severely flattened out laterally which I haven't witnessed yet.  As stated above, this was my best shaping yet, so when I loaded into the DO, I was so elated to see that the loaf held its firm, upright shape.  I figured I nailed it this time--only to be thrown for a loop after the first score, witnessing its taut compact form just relax and spread in an instant.  Maybe that's what typically happens when the dough is formed tight and properly and I just haven't done it yet--but, man, witnessing that thing just man-spread right in front of me was demoralizing.  

Again, thanks to everyone who takes the time to read these posts and even more time to comment and advise.  

50% CM DNS
25% CM ABC
15% Local WW
10% Local Whole Grain Spelt
77% Hydration
2% Salt

1 hour autolyse; 4 hour BF with S&F every half hour for first 3 hours.  Preshape into round.  20 minute bench rest.  Shaped.  Cold proof in banneton overnight for 8 hours.  Baked in DO @ 475 for first 20 minutes; removed cover, reduced heat to 450, finished baking for another 15 mins (again, smaller loaf, less bake time).

hreik's picture
hreik

Just grand.
How's the taste?

What's DNS?  I assume CM is Central Milling.

Hester

Elmhurst Bread Boy's picture
Elmhurst Bread Boy

DNS = Central Milling's high gluten Dark Northern Spring Wheat.  It's a super high protein Spring wheat that I used copious amounts of since I often include fair amounts of whole grains in my breads.  Works wonders.

ifs201's picture
ifs201

If you really want to try for a more open crumb maybe reduce whole grain to 10% and up the hydration a bit? I find open crumb elusive.

albacore's picture
albacore

If it's any consolation, my loaves also often have a better, more open crumb structure, towards the ends.

Unfortunately I don't know why! I've asked the question before on TFL and no one has ever been able to answer it satisfactorily.

One of life's great mysteries - you are not alone!

Lance

Maverick's picture
Maverick

I don't know about your case, but looking at this bread I can tell you that a lot has to do with how it was scored. People often talk about scoring to make the bread pretty, but your scoring choice will dictate if the bread is taller, wider, etc.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Lance, maybe the crumb in nicer towards the outer sides because it receives more heat. The center of a loaf, especially a boule would receive less heat than anywhere else.

Do you see this a reasonable explanation?

albacore's picture
albacore

Yes, I did think this as well, Dan. Also, in a batard, the ends have an "extra unconstrained dimension" in which to expand compared to the middle.

What I would like to know is whether everyone has this problem. In this respect, the discussion points regarding loaf weight are relevant. In a small loaf, the heat is bound to penetrate the centre dough mass more quickly than in a large one, probably opening up the crumb better. So those who bake small loaves may never see this crumb variation.

I usually bake 800-850g bats, so perhaps bigger than many.

Have you ever done any tests with your in oven temperature logger, regarding centre dough temperature increase in different sized doughs?

Lance

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Never did test that, but it seems very plausible.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

has more to do with the temp variations inside the dough.  Maybe the differences in dough temp and surrounding air or surfaces play a role.  If ends are more gassy, that may be temps influencing the shaped dough during proofing.  Also what about dough that has been tipped out from rising before it is shaped?  The edges may be slightly warmer and more activity, add less degassing or more on the edges, roll it up, and this area later turns out to show trails or clumps of bigger bubbles in the crumb.  Even temp rising could be the solution.  Wrap the dough container in a towel, prevent drafts, and watch out for warm spots under, above or on one side  of the fermenting dough.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

might have more bubbles near the outside edges because it may have risen unevenly due to too gentle degassing. Proper degassing (with or without folding) may have given a longer proof time with slightly smaller large bubbles and larger small bubbles.  That might go back to a bulk rise that could be longer before shaping.  Then with more even sized smaller gas bubbles, a longer final proof may yield large bubbles but more uniform crumb.

 Popping super large bubbles during scoring may explain the sudden flattening along with a score that tends to flatten and spread dough perpendicular to the cut.  Two cuts parallel will push it out more.  Also, one can not score if you think the surface too soft or elastic enough to expand nicely during oven spring.

albacore's picture
albacore

But surely if the loaves are retarded overnight at 4C, this should ensure a uniform temperature?

(Sorry I mean't this to be inserted after your previous comment, Mini)

Lance

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

will become exaggerated as well.  The various yeast colonies inhabiting the dough are digesting, populating and burping out different rates of gas at any given moment during fermentation.

Notice the center of the loaf. To me, that is a good judge of dough gas distribution at the baking moment.  The larger bubbles are distributed closer to the edges. I think they were already quite large before the retard.  My point is, I think the dough was shaped too early in the dough's development. If the dough was evenly degassed before final fermentation (rise) retarding/final proofing might have gone on longer to acquire a final volume that would bake out with a more even crumb with well distributed larger cells throughout the crumb.  A dough with large gas bubbles may give the false impression that it is ready to bake but if the dough between the large gas bubbles is not as fermented as it should be, it may be baked too early.  

Attention to even dough temp during yeast growth activity would be critical and so would the method of degassing and rolling up the dough in shaping.  The retarding may have saved the crumb around the gas bubbles but it didn't result in the desire crumb of evenly distributed large bubbles throughout the crumb.  It looks and tears nicely, it can be eaten and enjoyed and tastes great but very unpredictable with each bake because the point to shape was perhaps too early.

What do you think of this theory?  When a dough is dumped out of the bowl and stretched, channels may have formed while gas was collecting and rising in the dough to transport gas up to the surface.  These channels of weak matrix will transport gas to the outside edges of the dough as it is rolled up.  You've seen it.  Dough that looks rather degassed suddenly has a big bubble growing as the dough is pushed together or moved. Then you look around for a sharp tool to pop it.  Unless degassed well and evenly collapsing them, the channels may still exist to deliver inside gases to the surface or outside edges, gas looking for the way of least resistance in the matrix.  These channels often widen with gasses and later with steam and when trapped spread out to form large flattish bubbles or separations in the dough and when baked, may also form hollows under the crust.

 Look at the crumb between the bubbles.

Elmhurst Bread Boy's picture
Elmhurst Bread Boy

Wow you guys are all really amazing.  Thanks so much for the thoughtful and informative responses.  It's definitely not an exaggeration to say that any new bread baker need not invest in any single book and only continually consult the forums on this website.  You guys are gold.

I will provide further context to backup the suggestion that this may have not been completely ready for shaping.  I noted here that I did a 4 hour BF which should seem as if it were complete, especially at a 20% levain ration.  And with the dough temp hovering around 79F, it would seem even more so.  However, one technique I've been trying is to autolyse with salt.  So I mix and dissolve the salt into the warmed water, add the flour, and let that hydrate together for the hour.  I've only recently read that while salt does contribute to gluten strength (which was where I got the idea of autolysing with salt), it also can/does inhibit gluten development where there is none previously.  So adding salt to the autolyse could work counter-productive to the intended goal of developing gluten strength if it's delaying said gluten development at the outset.  The ultimate result could be that even at what should be typically favorable environments for fermentation (20% levain; 78F-80F dough temp; a full 4 hours and then some of time) could actually not be enough since gluten strands weren't developed prior to fermentation beginning with the addition of the levain after the hour.  So I may have ended up cutting short the BF by approx. 30 mins or more since I theoretically was delaying a process that should have been well under way after the autolyse was complete.  

Lesson learned: Will not add salt to autolyse.  I'll try to recreate the same environment on the next batch, but add salt after fermentation has had a chance to commence.  

If this sounds off or if I'm missing something, please continue to chime in!  This is great stuff!