The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Crumb troubleshooting

pgpg's picture

Crumb troubleshooting

Hello bakers

This is my first post on the forum, so I would like to acknowledge this wonderful community for sharing its knowledge and experience with everybody - it has been instrumental in my bread baking journey so thank you all!

I have been baking whole wheat sourdough breads for a couple years, but recently I have switched to white wheat bread to learn something new.

I am trying to master Chad Robertson’s basic country bread, but I am struggling to maintain consistency in the crumb between each bake. 

I often get a mixture of dense areas with larger air pockets, for example:

Above bread was baked according to the recipe in the Tartine Bread with couple exceptions:

  * Starter: 100 g (100% hydration, 85% bread flour, 15% whole rye)
  * Flour: 450 g strong flour (le 5 Stagioni gold), 50 g whole wheat flour

Dough temperature during fermentation: 79-81F.

3 ½ hr bulk proof with 6 s&f, 1 hr counter final proof, overnight retard in a cold fridge (1C / 34F), bake directly from fridge.

Is the above crumb a result of under/over-proofing or very strong flour (14% min. protein)?

Should I let the final proof go for 2-3 hours before placing the dough in 1C / 34F fridge for overnight retard?

MTloaf's picture

During the bulk fermentation. Try letting the bulk go until you see it domed on the edge of the bowl with some bobbles on top and a jiggle to it. Give it another hour or more. 3 and 1/2 hours is a minimal time. 

pgpg's picture

MTloaf, thank you - I shall try that today.

pgpg's picture

This time I have increased bulk time to 4.5 hr and 1.5 hr final proof before overnight retard (34F).

The dough volume increased from 800 ml to about 950 ml during bulk fermentation.

Would increasing bulk time make the crumb more open and increase oven spring? From my previous attempts I have learned that I tend to push fermentation too far (either by temperature or time).

After 4.5 hours the dough felt rather wet and sticky so being afraid of over-fermentation I moved on to shaping.