The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

BUTTS!

Goblin's picture
Goblin

BUTTS!

Hello there,

I've been making sourdough for about a year and a half now - with varying results. Due to having much more time at the moment I've been doing things a bit differently and using the Bake With Jack method that takes around a day to do before putting in the fridge overnight (before I was trying to do a quick recipe that I could make when I got home from work and then bake in the morning).

So, I've really been enjoying the Bake With Jack method (I am using the recipe from The Sourdough School overnight loaf) - I feel like I'm really starting to get a feel for the dough and when it's 'right' etc - everything goes to plan, it looks lush when I pop it out of the banneton in the morning and it's firm enough for me to do some good scoring, then I put it in the oven and pray for NO BUTTS! Unfortunately, I got double butts this morning and I'm just trying to figure out why.

I've never had this issue with my breads before, only since using this method. I thought I'd cracked it when I started making a dough and realised I didn't have enough flour, so I decided to make little rolls instead so I could practice shaping - I put them in at a slightly lower temperature and they came out great, so my thinking was that my oven was too hot and the crusts were setting before the bread had time to expand. For my next bread I decided to bake at 220 for 15 minutes and the rest at 180 and voila, a beautiful loaf was born.

the good loaf!

Skip forwards to today and it's back to butt mode. Is it just down to my seams? I try to properly pinch them together as I worry that they are weak, but maybe they are just still too weak? Or maybe the bottom of the loaf is just getting more steam than the top? I am baking them on a baking tray with holes in it, I used to put a super deep cake tin over my round boules to keep the steam in but can't do that with the oval banneton. I don't really want to buy an oval dutch oven when I know I can produce well risen loaves without one.

Just wondering if anyone has any ideas? I've got to give one of those top two as a birthday present today! hahahah.

Here's another one of the butts:

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Generally, this happens when using a convection oven, or using the top heating element.  The top crust sets before expansion is done, and the dough expands out the softest/weakest point.

Too much steam from the bottom also cools the underside of the baking stone or baking tray.

If you can't turn off the top element, swap the bread and the steam tray, putting the steam tray on the higher rack, so the top crust won't receive direct heat from the upper heating element.

Using some aluminum foil as a tent over the dough can also prevent the top crust from setting too quickly.

Convection ovens just aren't optimum for uncovered hearth loaves.  One needs a loaf pan/tin (and usually tented with foil), or an inverted pot/pan on top of a baking stone, or a dutch oven.

Bon appétit.

Goblin's picture
Goblin

Hi, it’s a fan oven not convection. But I do like the idea of moving the steam tray to the top! I will definitely try that next time, thanks 😀

 

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Same thing.  that's what's bolloxing the bread. The moving air is drying out, setting, the top crust too soon, before expansion is completed.

If your oven has a bottom heating element, do you have the option of using that, and keeping the fan off?  

 

Goblin's picture
Goblin

Ah, my bad!  That does make perfect sense. 

The oven does indeed just have a bottom element without fan - do you reckon I can just use that and keep everything else I’m doing the same?

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Yep.  That's what most folks here do with a conventional bottom-heat-only arrangement, and no dutch oven:  a bare (uncovered) loaf on a baking stone, with a steam tray underneath or on top.  (Be sure to add boiling or near-boiling water, not room temp or cool water.)

I'm not sure how your perforated pan, upon which the dough lies, would work out with bottom heat.  Most folks use a baking stone.  Hopefully the steam pan underneath will prevent the lower element from over-darkening the bottom of the loaf.

The other thing to watch out for, is that rising steam at 100 C/212 F _cools_ what's above it, since it is cooler than the pre-heated air, and robs heat from the air.  So if the bottom of the loaf turns out under-done, you may need to add a pre-heated stone or a pre-heated cast-iron pan or griddle underneath the perforated baking pan.

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And, you can always turn on the fan towards the end of the bake to darken the top crust to your liking.