The Fresh Loaf

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Ciabatta coming out dense and gummy- diagnosis needed as to why

BiscuitsNGravy's picture
BiscuitsNGravy

Ciabatta coming out dense and gummy- diagnosis needed as to why

Can anyone help me diagnose what I am doing wrong? I have been continually trying to make ciabatta with poor results, the crumb comes out dense and gummy each time. For my most recent effort I really tried to plan it out ahead of time, using the following info i developed as a guide:
http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/64843/trying-recreate-sperlonga-whole-foods-home#comment-463733

i went a little astray from my recipe, using 100g hi gluten flour and adding a little extra water because the dough wouldnt clear the bowl.

As it baked, i thought it was working well, the oven spring seemed impressive. The first slice off the edge seemed good, with decent crumb, but in the loaf center it was still gummy and dense, not ciabatta like at all!

Can anyone suggest what i should do differently?

BiscuitsNGravy's picture
BiscuitsNGravy

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BiscuitsNGravy

JJSy2's picture
JJSy2

.....but I do notice the crust seems underdone at one end of the dough.  Where on the loaf did you do your final temp check?  I am having a similar problem with my Tartine Sourdough but I am pretty sure most of the problem is old flour, like year old flour.  Will be watchin this thread but that is the first thing that comes to mind.  crust seems spotty.

BiscuitsNGravy's picture
BiscuitsNGravy

The oven is hotter in the back; I rotated the loaf 180 halfway through but it still came out uneven. Didnt do a final temp reading, I will try that next time; what kind of number should i be looking for?
I bought the flour about 2 months ago, I doubt its particularly old. 

ciabatta's picture
ciabatta

Depending on the type of flour you use, you may not want to add malt to your recipe (or use very very sparingly). Too much malt (especially diastatic malt) is a common cause of gummy crumb. most flour in the US already comes malted.

Gluten looks underdeveloped for ciabatta, not sure if that is related to the malt or not.  you should have very strong window pane to get good open crumb.  And the dough should feel like a jiggly blob at the end of bulk fermentation and going into the oven.  There are some charring on the bubbles near the crust, but the rest of the crust looks a bit light. I wonder if it's under baked as well. May also be due to gumminess retaining more moisture.

-James

BiscuitsNGravy's picture
BiscuitsNGravy

TY James,
I am using diastatic malt because i was told that would better match the whole food sperlonga i was trying to recreate.
I used KA BF and pillsbury hi gluten balancer, about 400g KA BF and 100 Hi gluten. I used about 5 tsp of diastatic malt.

should i do more time in the mixer with the hook, more folding, or more half hour periods with the same amount of folding per period?

I'll also increase bake time, i did 20m at 500 and 15m at 450.

ciabatta's picture
ciabatta

That explains it for sure.  You may only want to do 1/8 to 1/4 tsp of diastatic malt. 

just use mixer until dough comes together. do your fold sets until you can get very good window pane. then let it rest until it gets all bubbly. if you're using part high gluten flour, you probably only need 3 sets.

bake at 500 until full spring and then 425-450 until color looks good and dark.

make sure to rest until fully cooled before you cut. 

BiscuitsNGravy's picture
BiscuitsNGravy

TY so much for all your feedback!
I'm less confident than you about the malt bc I have done previous loaves with less diastatic malt and had the same problem, but I am sure that combining your suggestions will definitely make a big difference.
What do you mean 'dough comes together?' Is that the same as 'dough clears bowl and all of it clings to hook in mixer?'
Should i be checking bread temp or just waiting for a certain darkness of crust, or both?

Do you mind a few more questions?
Does cooking vessel matter? I have done some in cast iron dutch ovens, both round and oval, and have gotten better results with them, albeit without the boot shape. Should I go back to those? I did this loaf on parchment paper on an aluminum baking sheet. Is there a steam vessel that is compatible with the boot shape, and is it worth getting? Is it worth getting a baking stone? i did order some silicon mats and will try them.

Is it advisable, if not using a steam vessel, to spray it? This loaf i sprayed with water every 5 minutes during the first 20 minutes, is that a good or bad idea?

TY & I will post pics with your suggestions implemented!


ciabatta's picture
ciabatta

That much malt for sure will cause gummy crumb. some other causes are over fermentation, under baked, or cut too soon without enough time to cool off. 

By "dough comes together" i mean that the dough is properly hydrated and homogenized. ciabatta dough is going to be wet and sticker and it shouldn't clear the hook or sides well.

I dont check for dough temp.  the crust is not going to darken until enough moisture is baked out of it. so when I see the crust starting to get dark (not just brown, but dark). that's when i decide how much darker i want it.   To me, it always looks darker in the oven then after i take it out, so i like to push it a bit.

I think you would want to use a baking stone for ciabatta. it's meant to be a hearth bread.  Dutch oven will be ok substitute.  i always use parchment, since it's much easier to move the dough and no clean up of dusting flour.  Never used silicon mats, because they're only rated only up to 500F. the temps i bake at probably wont be good for their longevity.   if you like to bake, you should have a baking stone.  there are lots of options.  going to local kitchen counter place and ask for a scrap piece of granite cut to size is a good and likely cheap option.  I have a Fibrament stone i've used for 15 years.

dutch oven or some kind of cloche is your best bet for steaming. but expensive or hard to find one that fits anything other than boules or short batards.  i have steam pans in the oven for longer bread but my setup is not ideal. falls way short of a dutch oven.  search for other threads here for steaming the oven, loads of good info.

i think if you're opening the oven every 5 minutes, you're losing more heat and steam then you're creating. but that's just my guess. if the results are good for you then why not?

looking forward to seeing your bakes!

James

BiscuitsNGravy's picture
BiscuitsNGravy

TYVM James!

Colin2's picture
Colin2

Couple more notes.  The recipe says "2-dough, mix in kitchenaid, rise for 2-4 hours, proof 1-2 hours" without much detail.  You want to be pretty well mixed in the kitchenaid, and the risings should, as James says above, produce a pillowy, cloud-like dough before baking.  From the photo, that's clearly not what went into the oven.  While his recipe is a bit different, this John Kirkwood video gives you a sense of how things should look at each stage:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9ZvlKQmm6M

Baking stones and steaming are nice and will improve crust, and maybe even give you a little more spring, but they won't solve the main problem here, which is dough development before baking.

P.S. On the malt, see http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/52409/barley-malt-syrup-and-non-diastatic-malt-powder.  The comment you drew on re Sperlonga specified "about 1.25% non-diastatic malt."  Diasatatic needs to be used in much smaller amounts, like a gram or two.

BiscuitsNGravy's picture
BiscuitsNGravy

Yeah its clear i need to focus on gluten development. FWIW, i did do the poke test on the dough before it went in the oven and it seemed to respond appropriately.

Colin2's picture
Colin2

How much did it rise during bulk fermentation?  Normally a dough like this will double or more, and you deflate it as little as possible when you move to final fermentation.

BiscuitsNGravy's picture
BiscuitsNGravy

Im not good at judging that cuz i do it in mixing bowls with sloped sides so its hard for me to gauge how much its risen. This one definitely doubled less than some in the past, where i had 3-4x and big bubbles and an overly yeasty alcohol smell, which i think had been a symptom of overproofed dough. so i cut back on yeast and proofing time, probably too much so.

BiscuitsNGravy's picture
BiscuitsNGravy

I meant to reply to this earlier, ty for your detailed feedback. I mix about 10 minutes with hook, half at low speed half at high speed. Then rise for 2 hours, folding every 30 minutes, then shape, cover, proof for one hour. Should i be rising longer or folding more?

This is my new loaf, better but still a ways to go. I eliminated the malt powder in the dough although i realized I had added some to poolish which had been frozen since previous attempt.
Going to reduce hydration to 76-78%, what else would you recommend to improve dough development before baking?

bottleny's picture
bottleny

"I used about 5 tsp of diastatic malt."

But the comment you referred to is 

"There is a distinct malty sweetness that comes from about 1.25% non-diastatic malt."

They are not the same thing.

PS: I found that this point has been mentioned above.

BiscuitsNGravy's picture
BiscuitsNGravy

Yes, i got confused about that. Ugh, i think i have the wrong kind, because the jar says  'diastatic'.

Should i get rid of it and switch to achieve my goal?
malt powder label

ciabatta's picture
ciabatta

non-diastatic malt is mainly food for the yeast. i dont think many of us here use that and we still make great ciabatta and other breads.   malt does add some distinct flavor, but why dont you try to get a bake or two without it first and see how everything else turns out?  quick research shows that non-diastatic malt has about 25% sugar.  you can substitute in maybe a quarter of the portion with brown sugar or honey instead? different flavor profile, but food for yeast and some sweetness.

BiscuitsNGravy's picture
BiscuitsNGravy

I think thats worth trying for sure- I;'ll do my next batch w/o malt. i'll skip the sweetener completely for the first one and see what changes.

I will also aimr a longer baking period, and after more time in mixer and more vigorous folding. 

 

Benito's picture
Benito

Diastatic malt powder contains enzymes which help break down the complex carbohydrates into simple sugars which the yeast and LAB can more efficiently use for food.  Also, by breaking down these complex carbohydrates into simple sugars, adding some diastatic malt can help with browning of the crust.  Typically it is added in around a 0.5% range.  It is said that adding too much diastatic malt can result in a gummy crumb, although I have not experienced that but I’ve never added more than 0.5%.

Benny

BiscuitsNGravy's picture
BiscuitsNGravy

the loaf should be dark in color with a nice crust based on the Sperlonga loaves. i'll try to skip it next time and leave it in the oven longer.

BiscuitsNGravy's picture
BiscuitsNGravy

So I started a new loaf today, using half of my original poolish which had been frozen.

Overall my ingredients are:

poolish water50
flour50
yeast0.25
  
  
hi gluten flour100
KAP BF350
water370
salt tsp2
instant yeast tsp1
BiscuitsNGravy's picture
BiscuitsNGravy

so in the mixer it looks like

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BiscuitsNGravy

here's my attempt to show stiffness it still doesnt look ready- i am off track at this point? i've been folding after the first hour and then every 30 minutes

ciabatta's picture
ciabatta

That looks too wet and too slack for this stage.   i usually do around 80% hydration or just under. it might help to autolyse your flour before adding in the poolish and salt. Especially with high gluten flour.

with your folds you should go from something like loose cottage cheese to dull sticky gloop to smooth stretchy goo to bouncy bag of gas.

 

BiscuitsNGravy's picture
BiscuitsNGravy

i'm been trying to get around 80% hydration, with this one the poolish is 100% at 50g/50g and the dough was 80ish at 370g water/500g so overall its 420g water and 500g flour, about 85%.

i've tried doing autolyse in the past and can try again. do i add the yeast with the autolyse or wait until i add flour and poolish? 

i'm still working on this loaf now, its been rising for 2.5 hours. should i add flour to reduce hydration or just keep working it as is?

 

ciabatta's picture
ciabatta

For autolyse, just flour and water. Once you add the yeast or poolish in, bulk fermentation starts.  just autolyse for an hour and then add in poolish mix lightly , add in salt, and mix until dough is consistent.

at that point i leave it in the mixing bowl for half and hour and then dump it out on a lightly oiled (EVOO) tub for stretch and folds

for this batch, you may just want to dust generously with flour. but its too late to get the flour incorporated well into the dough, so just keep it on the outside.

i would say try 78% hydration on your next one. all flours take water differently.  if hydration is too low, you will only get a taller loaf.  if it's too high, it's much harder to deal with.

BiscuitsNGravy's picture
BiscuitsNGravy

I thought autolyse was just flour and water, but i've definitely seen recipes that call for adding yeast and referring to it as autolyse.

i floured this one generously and its proofing now. for the next time i will reduce hydration to 78% overall. 

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BiscuitsNGravy

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BiscuitsNGravy

but i gave up and put it in a dutch oven,30M at 500 and then 15 at 480 uncovered. i want to use silicon pad but it kept spreading out too much to put in without support

BiscuitsNGravy's picture
BiscuitsNGravy

So my new batch today was even better! I used lower hydration and based it on a youtube recipe from the artisan crust in australia:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxr4oedBRIE&t=393s
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1rXdmFzF3ll_PL4pBONNdS07pgl3H90rT/view

essentially its 76% hydration, 3% olive oil, 2% salt. .5% yeast

i used 15% hi gluten flour, 85% KA BF.

they do it as a double hydration, adding 80% of the water and 100% of flour to start. i tried this and it didnt work at all, the water could not hydrate all the flour.

so i just added all the flour (1kg), all 760g water, 30g olive oil, 3 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon instant yeast.

mixed 4 minutes low, 4 hi in kitchen aid. then left for bulk fermentation.

after 1 hour, i didnt see any rise, or bubbling, so i added 1/2 teaspoon yeast.

it took while, but after about 3 hours of bulk fermentation,and folding every 40 minutes,  there was bubbling action.

i proofed it into two loaves, heated oven to 500F with two dutch ovens inside. 

then 30 minute with lid on, 20 min at 480 lid off.