The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Denser crumb towards centre of bread

Jamjam1729's picture

Denser crumb towards centre of bread

Sorry if this is the wrong place to ask, but there's a problem I've been having lately with bread I bake. I'm using this schedule:

Friday 8-10pm: feed rye starter

Saturday 8am: mix leaven (20g rye starter, 100g water @30C, 100g flour)

8-12 hours later: mix dough: 150g leaven, 300g water @32C, 400g strong white flour, 25g wholemeal flour, 10g salt.

Apply three stretch and folds over first 2h 30; bulk for 3-3h30 total.

After bulk, shape and then prove for an hour before putting in the fridge overnight

Sunday morning: bake in a dutch oven at 250C for 15 minutes, then 230C for another 25-30 minutes (covered for the first 25 minutes).

This produces bread that tastes great but has that slightly gummy and moist touch to it. I also see that it has a much more open crumb  towards the bottom and outside of the loaf - which I confirmed in the end by slicing a boule in half horizontally and seeing a more open crumb on the outside. Below a re a couple of vertical photos showing a more open crumb away from the centre and a more dense one towards the middle:



What are the most likely causes of this? I always hear underproofing metnioned as the big culprit, but the dough seems to past the dent test before I put it in the fridge. Are there other ways to test proofing/is something else going on?

jranyc8's picture

I had a similar problem and in researching came across mention in Kalanty's 'How to Bake More Bread', that dough which has been cooled needs to come back to 68-70F to shape/work and then return to 78-80F after shaping. Otherwise uneven proofing can occur resulting in gummy bread and/or tight crumb.

I took the temperature of my dough after it was out for 1 hour and  found the temperature was still below 60F! Apparently my fridge and kitchen is somewhat cool. 

For me what worked was to change my methods and I now do an overnight rise at room temp which works better for my schedule. Also I found I was handling the bread too much which forced air out of the dough. I now get a very open even lacy crumb that cooks through. 

I know some go from fridge right to baking but for me it has been problematic and tends toward gummy bread.