The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Help! Sandwich bread with a doughy crumb

Anne Ng's picture
Anne Ng

Help! Sandwich bread with a doughy crumb

Hi there, I have been baking this Hokkaido Sandwich bread for a while. I used to be able to make nice sandwich breads using this recipe, but recently I've encountered a problem: the crumb is very moist and almost doughy. The exterior is nice and browned, but you can see the crumb has a line between the nice and fluffy outer ring, and a moist and doughy inner crumb. 

When I tear into a piece of the bread, the crumb is nice and stringy. Doesn't show any signs of a gummy or doughy crumb. But the inner crumb is very moist to touch. Even after toasting, I can form a little ball of dough with the middle crumb of a piece of toast when I pinch some inner crumb between my fingers. 

I check the doneness by inserting a knife in the middle and see if the bread sticks to the knife. It doesn't stick at all. 

The recipe of the bread is: 

43g starter

135g strong white flour (protein content 15%)

74g whole wheat flour (protein content 5%)

118g milk

25g water

2.5g salt

1g instant yeast

26g honey

20g butter added in after initial autolyse

I mix the ingredients except butter, autolyse in the fridge for 30min, 1 cycle of kneading by bread machine 23mins, put into an oiled bowl to bulk ferment at 24C for 2hrs, with 1 stretch and fold after 1st hr. 

Then I shape the bread, 2nd proof in the oven with a cup of hot water 1hr, until the bread has risen to the height of the bread pan, then preheat the oven 230C, bake for 10 minutes in the pan, turn heat down to 180C, take it out of the pan, bake for 10 minutes on one side, then 10 minutes on the other side. The result product weigh 369g. I think for a small bread like this 30 minutes total baking time should be sufficient? 

The original recipe is 65.5% hydration but since I add in whole wheat flour the dough feels stiff and can take some more water so I upped the hydration to 71.4%. The dough was holding its shape ver well at this hydration level, not slacky or flowy at all. 

This is a consecutive attempt and the bread has exactly the same problem as the last one. After the first slice I thought it needed more time in the oven, so I baked it at 180C for another 15 minutes. The crust became crispy and super tasty, but the interior is even more moist and soft. I couldn't even slice it without squashing it. So I feel like baking it for longer isn't the solution. 

Has anyone had this problem with a sourdough sandwich bread? How do I fix this problem? Should I take the hydration down? All thoughts are welcome! Thanks! 

BaniJP's picture
BaniJP

Two possibilities come to mind:

1. the dough is underproofed, which results in a gummy, sticky crumb, no matter how long you bake it (something to do with not all starches being fermented yet). So make the BF time a touch longer (maybe 30-60 min.) and see if there is any difference. Especially now, when it gets colder outside, bread doughs take longer to BF.

2. The oven is too hot and the bread becomes brown before the inside is baked. The knife test and crust color don't tell a lot, especially in bread baking, you kinda need to just "know" when it's ready. I would bake it all the way through at 180°C, no initial 230°C.

I think 2. is more likely, every brioche recipe I googled bakes at 180-190°C. Enriched doughs have additional sugars in them, so if you bake them at a high temperature, those sugars caramelize and burn on the outside before the loaves are baked inside.
I believe you can also just leave it in the pan, no need to take it out, flip it etc.. Also, if you are scared it might burn before baking is complete, you can cover the top with tinfoil when it's about to reach optimal color. Then bake maybe another 10-15 min. (might need testing).

Anne Ng's picture
Anne Ng

Hi Bani, thanks a lot for the advice! In where I live the temperature hasn't dropped too much yet. My room temperature is at a steady 24C, the same as in summer with the AC on. The humidity has dropped to 50%, but I don't know if that would have an effect on proofing? 

After reading all the comments I recalled one thing that I did differently than the precious successful bakes: I dumped it out of the tin really early, at 10 minute mark. I used to bake it in the tin for at least 20 minutes, sometimes with rolls of wet towels to generate steam, then remove the steamer and the tin to get some color on the sides of the bread. This particular tin I got does not put on color on baked goods. I don't know if this is a common problem with light colored aluminum tins or it's just mine that does that? 

I am making another one today and I'll leave it in the tin for a full 25 minutes before dumping out. I will also try bake at 200C straight (our countertop oven is not very good at retain heat so I usually bake stuff at 10-20C above recommended baking temp). I'll let you know how it goes! 

BaniJP's picture
BaniJP

I at least know there are differences between different materials and their browning abilities...iron does super well, aluminum kinda and glass is just no good. Then there is porcelain, enamel, stainless steel etc. etc. So it's not unlikely that your tin doesn't color well because of the material or coating.

bottleny's picture
bottleny

Another possibility is that the loaf wasn't cool properly [off the tin and on the rack] before slicing.
Also, you can check the temperature inside the loaf after finish baking, and see if it reaches around 90C.

Anne Ng's picture
Anne Ng

Yesterday I did sliced it before it is fully cooled. But the first pic is from a previous attempt that was cooled overnight and it still was very moist (but kept its shape when slicing). I thought it was underproofed because I baked it before it doubled its size so yesterday I let it go more than double before baking, but the result was still not desirable. I'm proofing another one right now and I'll let it properly proof and cool down before slicing. Thanks! 

Archizoom's picture
Archizoom

Did you, by any chance, just buy a new loaf tin? I ran into the same problem when I replaced my old carbon steel pan with a cheap aluminium one, I need to leave my brioche/cakes in the oven quite a bit longer with the aluminium one, and they will burn on top before they're done.

Anne Ng's picture
Anne Ng

Yes this is a new loaf tin! And it's a aluminium tin with a light color so the sides of the bread don't take on color at all if I don't take it out to bake! But it's not a cheap one, and it's pretty heavy too. I think it may has something to do with the coating color of the tin. However I did manage to get okay breads the first few times I bake with it, but now it seems like not working for me. I will try to bake at 180C for longer and see how it goes. Thanks for sharing ur experience! 

suave's picture
suave

To me it's clearly underbaked.  The weight does not matter as much as the size of cross-section, that is 10x10cm pan loaf will bake about the same amount of time whether it is 20 or 50cm long.  My suggestion would be that you do not mess with the temperatures, and, most importantly, don't jostle it during the baking.  Just set the oven on 200 °C and give it a nice 40-50 minute bake.

Ford's picture
Ford

Check the internal temperature of the loaf.  When the loaf is done, the thermometer sould register at least 91°C (195°F) when the sensor is at the center of the loaf.  Use temperature, not time, to judge when to remove the loaf from the one.

Ford

ds99303's picture
ds99303

I'm wondering if maybe your oven and your bread is cooling off too much each time you open the oven door to take it out of the pan or to turn it over.  Also, when you sliced it, the interior of the loaf cooled off.  When you put the loaf back in the oven, you basically made a loaf of toast.  I've never made this bread, but my guess is the initial high temperature is so the loaf gets a good oven spring and the lower temperture is for finishing the baking.  Thirty minutes at 180°C (350°F) really isn't all that long for a loaf of bread that size. I think you need to bake it longer by 10 or 15 minutes.  If the outside gets too dark, then bake it for less time at the initial 230°C the next time.  Instead of 10 minutes at 230°C, try 8 minutes.

Anne Ng's picture
Anne Ng

Thanks for your thoughts! Yesterday I sliced one piece and found the interior was too moist, so I popped it back into the oven for another 15 minutes at 180C. And it was still way too moist. 

I will try your method when I bake today and let you know the results, thanks! 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Could you make a picture of the oven with the door open, the shelf and pan that you are using with oven settings, just don't plug it in or turn on the heat.  

Anne Ng's picture
Anne Ng

Sure! Here's a pic of the interior and my usual setting to bake a sandwich loaf. Do you think the small countertop oven has something to do with the doughy result I got? 

Anne Ng's picture
Anne Ng

Update: this is a new loaf I baked today and it's very nice and fluffy! The flavour is even better than yesterday's too! 

Today I used the original 65.5% hydration recipe, and added some walnuts during the shaping. 1st proof 2hr 30mins, 2nd proof 1hr 20mins. The fermentation process is much slower than yesterday, even though all conditions were the same, room temp 24C. Then I baked at 200C for 20 min, covered the top with tin foil, and baked another 20 minutes.

My mom was starving so she sliced a piece right away. She said it was delicious, and the interior is very fluffy and soft. I popped it back into the oven to bake at 180C for another 18 minutes to get a crispy crust. 

After cooled for a while, my mom sliced the whole bread and bragged about how good she is at slicing bread, and said how horribly it went when I and my sister sliced yesterday's bread LOL. I'll let her take the credit anyways XD

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

The oven set up looks good.  Now you just found the right temp setting.  I have to smile, the oven looks so familiar, esp. the cardboard peel on the side!  :)     Can cover with single or double sheets of foil as needed.  

Anne Ng's picture
Anne Ng

Haha I got the idea of using a cardboard when watching a youtube video of making baguettes, he used a cardboard to transfer them. And when I want to make a pizza but don't have a peel I just went and cut out my own :)

It is really hard to find the right temp and time in such a small countertop oven. I don't have an oven thermometer nor a instant read thermometer so I'm just baking by feel and trail and error. It involves a lot of errors LOL. 

The tin foil trick works like a charm. Are there other tricks when using a countertop oven? Like when I bake cookies it's hard for them to get crispy, even I bake them at 180-200C for a LONG time, usually more than 18 minutes. And they are not big cookies at all. I tried 220C once and they were burnt. Oh and pizzas, they take more than 15 minutes at maximum heat to be done and the rim gets more hard than crispy (I preheated the oven and the cookie sheet for 10 minutes before baking).

I'm really confused. Is it just mine or all small non-convection ovens that does that? 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I found out that parking the Oven outside has its advantages however make sure it's not in sunshine or the thermostat gives a cooler oven.    Maybe you don't have this problem but preheating is best done with at least 20 to 30 minutes on the timer, settings around 15 minutes only coast to the end of baking time, so if you need heat, set it longer and use a separate timer.  So if preheating and baking cookies, set for the longest time and when the timer gets down to around 20 minutes, simply set it longer.  That will help maintain the oven heat.  

Cookies are often done in middle to top part of the oven. Opening the oven door to look will drop the oven temp and kick in the thermostat for more heat not always needed so abruptly in those last minutes.  Try using a flashlight to see inside the oven glass and keep the glass clean for this reason.  There isn't much room in a mini oven to go up or down and sometimes the heat can be controlled by pinching a single sheet of alu-foil into the rack below or above the baking food.  Manufacturers of mini ovens with fans warn against using loose foil inside the ovens as it can move and create problems.  Pinching the foil onto a rack with plenty of space, about 3cm or more around the outside edges will keep the oven heat moving around the food yet reflect it off close to the coils.

A trick I use with pizza is to bake twice, once for the plain crust to set up and just start to show signs of browning, then remove and top to bake again.  This give many options as the first baked pizza dough can be frozen plain to topped and frozen or the crust can be made early before a meal, topped and baked just before eating.  I often do both, bake up a pile of pizza bases, then freeze the half. Top the ones I need.  Set aside and clean up.  Oh and I flip the black baking sheet/tray upside down in the oven and use the cardboard to slide the pizza pie in and out of the oven.  The edge traps some heat underneath and the lip of the tray is easy to slide over.

I also bake bread on this upside down baking sheet, see if it works for you.  I got into the habit of final proofing on baking parchment in a form ( box, small pan or tray or basket) then picking it up by the corners and placing on the cardboard peel.  Trim off most of the paper, score and put into 210° C oven. The paper stuck to the dough sides giving some support before and during oven spring.  You will still have to rotate the bake half way through baking but the parchment makes it easy to spin the loaf.  If the parchment feels loose after spinning, just slip out the parchment early and use again in another bake.  

Hope this helps.