The Fresh Loaf

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Problems with Reinhart's lean bread

Andeee's picture
Andeee

Problems with Reinhart's lean bread

Hi all,

Used to bake a lot but haven't for quite a while. So I decided to try Peter Reinhart's Lean Bread from Asian Beads Everyday. As far as I could remember, I'd never made any of Reinhart's recipes exactly as written (using his stretch and fold method) so I thought I'd just follow along. 

My first attempt was passable, although it was still very wet and stuck to the peal when I tried to get it in the oven. I'm living in Germany and used Type 1050 flour.

The second attempt with type 550 seemed even wetter. It stuck to the banneton and had little oven spring.

Now on my third attempt, again with 1050 flour. The dough seemed firmer this time, but again the baked loaf is flat and uninspiring. They all taste good but I have the impression that they don't rise enough overnight in the fridge or that the gluten isn't developed properly. Can anyone give me some advice?

 

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

1: Flour specs:  

a) The US "bread flour" that Reinhart specifies generally has .52% to .55% ash.  

b) It will have between 11.7% and 12.7% protein.

c) And very important: It will be malted, with "malted wheat flour", or "malted barley flour", or else have "amylase", "alpha amylase", or "enzymes" listed as an ingredient.  Alpha amylase is "E1100".

----

I would think type 550 or 600 would be acceptable.  But 1050 would be out of the desired range for this recipe, on  Page 47 of my Kindle edition.

If your flour is not "malted" and doesn't have amylase/E1100, you'd need to add some diastatic malt flour. But I don't know how much.

If your flour is below 11.7% protein, you could add some "vital wheat gluten."

2. If you suspect that your yeast is old, here is a standard test to see if it is still good: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/65009/tip-commercial-yeast-testing-expiration-storage

--

I can't say for sure, but your photo of the loaf makes me think it either:

-- has too much water,

-- the yeast was not at full strength, 

-- the flour was not malted.

Hope this helps.  Bon appétit.

Andeee's picture
Andeee

Thanks!

The yeast may be old, I'll check that.

The water was weighed as given in the recipe do that should be correct.

I know nothing about malted flour so I'll look into that, but like I say, it's not the first time I've made bread. Using Richard Bertinet's recipes things seem to work out fine.

I usually use 1050 and get better results from it then from the 550, although I have no idea what the protein content is.

Edit: seems I had some very old yeast in the box along side some fresh stuff and grabbed the wrong one. Best before was 2016 🤣

Andeee's picture
Andeee

The other two batches had a decent crumb with some large holes

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

The crumb overall is  classic under-fermented.

--

"The water was weighed as given in the recipe do that should be correct."

Not necessarily. And also not likely. For two reasons:

1) Flour can gain or lose a little or a lot of moisture depending on local humidity and how tightly you close the container that you store it in.  If your flour is drier than Reinhart's, then you need more water. If your flour absorbed moisture due to local humidity, then you need to use less water.

Unfortunately, only experience with trial and error teaches you how to make those adjustments.  

2) Both bran content and protein content of the flour do affect how much water the flour actually needs.   

For instance, 1050 flour (1.05% ash) would need a higher hydration percent than 550 flour (.55% ash).   I assume you know 1050 means 1.05% ash, but I try to write for future visitors to this web site, as it ranks high in search engines.

Because Reinhart used US "bread flour"  of a certain ash% and protein %, I would be very surprised if your European flour closely matched the exact same ash % and protein%.

So, bottom line: don't consider yourself locked in to the exact amount of water a formula says to use. Amount of water is usually the first and most frequent adjustment that is needed due to local conditions.

But it looks like you are now set, finding at least one "culprit" to be the old yeast.

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

A sure sign of under fermented. Perhaps a more detailed recipe with method and what was actually done. 

Andeee's picture
Andeee

680g flour, 14g salt, 6g instant yeast, 510g lukewarm water

Flour, water, salt and yeast mixed in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment for 2 mins, then transferred to an oiled bowl and left to stand for 5 mins. The dough was then stretched and folded every ten minutes for 40 mins, being covered with plastic wrap in between. After the last fold the dough was tightly covered and placed into the fridge for 12 hours.

Next day the dough was taken out of the fridge, halved (half being returned to the fridge), shaped into a free-standing loaf, placed onto baking paper, sprayed with oil, covered with plastic and left to stand for an hour, then uncovered and left to stand for an hour while the oven heated up (270 °C).

The oven had a baking stone and a deep baking sheet placed into it before heating. The loaf was scored then placed with the baking paper onto the stone. A cup of boiling water was poured into the deep backing sheet to create steam and the oven walls and the bread were sprayed with water. The oven was lowered to 230 °C after closing the door and the dough was baked for 12 minutes before being turned and being baked for another 15 mins.

I will admit that the dough had not seemed to rise much overnight, but the bowl was so big that I couldn't be so sure. Although under fermentation does fit well with my yeast being too old.

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

Dissolve a little yeast into some warm sugar water and leave it for ten minutes. If the yeast begins to foam then it's fine. If not then you need to buy some more yeast. At least you'll be able to cross the yeast off the list. 

Andeee's picture
Andeee

From the old yeast. But it's all in little 7g packets, separately sealed, so I can't test the whole batch. I'll keep that in mind if I have any open packets though. I'll test some before I use it

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

Your fridge might be too cold to finish off the bulk ferment. You can try the following...

1: allow the dough to double then give it one last set of stretch and folds before refrigerating. 

2: if the dough has not developed enough in the fridge give it more room temperature time when taking it out and only shape when it's ready.

Andeee's picture
Andeee

That's a good point. I've often felt that the flour here absorbs less of the water and so may already be somewhat more moist. With these high hydration doughs I find it difficult to know when it's too much water, but given that I may have been generally been making them too wet I suppose I should dial back the water and add some if need be.

I think the flour I used has 12.5% protein which is within what you informed me US bread flour is (thanks for that btw! always found it hard to make the comparison), but yes, the ash % of my flour is much higher. I still have the other half of the dough in the fridge, so I added another 3g of yeast and threw it into the mixer to knead for a while until the dough passed the window pane test, then left it out to warm for an hour and popped it back in the fridge. I'll be interested to see what happens with it.

Edit: according to wikipedia US bread flour corresponds to German flour type 812 which I have never seen anywhere in 20 years of living here - that was my reasoning in using 1050 (first clear flour) as, according to the table, it is somewhat closer to US bread flour than the 550 (all purpose), but those numbers are also different to the ones you gave so I'm just as confused as I was before ;D

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Try 50% each, and maybe it will even out.

( 550 + 1050 ) / 2 = 800.

 

Andeee's picture
Andeee

After adding more yeast, kneading again and leaving overnight, the dough doubled well and rose again after shaping and resting for 2 hours, the structure is much better. The loaf is still very flat and didn't achieve much oven spring, seemed to ignore my scoring and for some reason came out very dark despite the temperature and times being the same.

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

Sounds like the issue is in the shaping and/or baking. Is the dough taut when shaped and how is it baked?

Andeee's picture
Andeee

After removing the dough from the fridge I patted it into a rectangle then folded the top and bottom to the middle, and then the newly formed top to the bottom. Then I folded the ends in slightly and folded it in half, top to bottom again. After that I placed it into a proofing mould:

 

The dough did feel very delicate and was hard to pick up. It has some reasonable height when removed from the mould but it flattened and spread rapidly in the oven.

It was baked the same as the last one. Oven and stone heated to 275°C for an hour together with a steam tray, bread in directly onto the stone, a cup of freshly boiled water into the tray and sprayed the dough and the oven walls with water. Turned the oven down to 230°C. Left it 12 mins then rotated the bread and left it for 15 more. When I took it out the internal temperature was 89°C so I popped it back in for 5 more minutes, but it was already very dark.

The bread tastes great but the lack of form bothers me.

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

Three things I think will help...

1: pre-shape twice before the final shaping. Build up some strength in the dough.

2: final proof seam side down so you don't need to score. Perhaps your scoring is compromising the strength of the dough as well. 

3: do you have a pot that can act as a Dutch Oven? Pre-heat the pot, turn the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper and carefully lower into the pot, bake with the lid on and remove the lid 10 minutes before the end. 

If you don't have a big enough pot then are you able to direct the heat so it's coming from under the dough? I think the dough is crusting over too quickly preventing oven spring and baking it too dark. Once the oven spring is done then heat from above is fine. Can you toggle the elements? Also is your steaming effective enough? 

See how that helps? 

Andeee's picture
Andeee

I'll try extra pre-shaping, but I have a feeling that the hydration it too high. It felt like Ciabatta dough when I was trying to get it into the mould.

I don't have a pot although I've used a large metal bowl over the bread as a Dutch oven before, but I don't think it's the oven. Other recipes have come out just fine many times.

Compare:

Although I'm not sure I understand why proofing  seam side down (which I do anyway if I'm not using a mold or banneton) means I dont need to score

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

If you proof seam side up when in a banneton. When turned over the seam is in the bottom so the top needs scoring. Do it vice versa and the seam ends on top when baking and acts as a natural scoring. Means to don't have to score. I only advised it as if scoring is done wrong it can have the opposite effect and compromise the strength of the dough. 

What strength flour are you using? What's the protein percentage? It could be it's just too hydrated for the flour being used. 

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Abe has good ideas. To which I'll add my thoughts:

1. The shape of the loaf looks like the dough was too wet -- too high hydration %

2. you are putting too much water in the oven.  If you use a steam tray, do not spritz the loaf and walls.  The texture/surface of the crust hints at this.

3. If you have a full size home kitchen oven, 30 inches wide, (24 inches wide inside), then 1 cup boiling water is okay.

4. if it is a narrow oven, with only 2 stove-top burners, or is a wall oven, then use only 1/2 cup boiling water.

5. what kind of oven is this? gas? electric? convection/fan?

6. the dark and thick crust hints that the temp was too high.

 

Andeee's picture
Andeee

I'll try it once more with a lower hydration.

I'll have to measure my oven but it's standard size (for Europe at least 😁). I do keep an eye on the steam, if the steam tray isn't dry after 10 mins I take it out but I'll put less in. Is there a preference between a steam tray and spritzing?

It's an electric fan oven and I generally use it in conventional mode when baking bread (no fan, over & under heating elements on)

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

To toggle the settings so just the under elements are on? Then 10 minutes before the end turn both elements and fan on until a nice crust is formed? 

Andeee's picture
Andeee

Interesting idea. Although I don't think I can do elements and fan together, the fan has a separate heating element. I can certainly do bottom or top plus fan

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

As the fan has a separate heating element of its own. 

I think the best thing is to bake it with a cover so it isn't an issue. 230°C fan on preheated stone and cover. Bake with cover on then remove the cover for the last 10 minutes until golden brown and taps hollow. 

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

to 70% which will work fine with an all bread flour no knead recipe. So that will be 476g water for 680g bread flour. 

Pre-Shape twice and final proof seam side down (for now to take the scoring out of the equation which can be put back in at a later date). 

Bake at 230°C with a preheated stone and cover (to place over the dough) and for the last 10 minutes take off the cover for a nice crust. This way you don't have to worry about elements and toggling the heat source etc. You can have elements plus fan as the dough is covered and will steam itself without forming a crust too quickly. 

Andeee's picture
Andeee

Except I'll change things one at a time so I can keep track of what does what.

Thanks for all the ideas, I'll let you know how it goes

Andeee's picture
Andeee

So despite wanting to do things a little more scientifically, I changed two things at once. I used a mix of 50% 550 and 50% 1050 flour and also reduced the hydration to 70% and baked in the same way as the others. The results are much better. The pattern of the hole formation around the middle I think comes from the way I shaped it, but the clusters of holes along the bottom made me wonder if I had over fermented it. There are some very large holes in the bread (baker's caves). Do I need to de-gass the dough more?

  My only complaint now is that I found the favour a bit flat, especially when compared to the bread with the darker crust, and inside the loaf the bread is very soft, but I guess that comes from the lower overall protein content. I'll try again with the 1050 and 70% hydration next time.

How can I get that thick, dark, flavourful crust? Baking for a long time on a lower heat?

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

Might be worth considering the same process but dropping the amount of yeast and doing it all at room temperature to compare.