The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Video: Secret to an Open Crumb

Brotkraft's picture
Brotkraft

Video: Secret to an Open Crumb

One of the most frequently asked questions I receive is, "How do I get an open crumb in my bread?" This video shares some processes I employ that hopefully will be helpful to you.

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Comments

alfanso's picture
alfanso

I'm curious to try this out but I'd like to determine whether my ducks will be in a row in advance.  I'll be trying this out on the my version of the venerable Hamelman Vermont SD, about as simple a levain bread as I know of.

Baking at home bake volumes, my TDW will be ~1250g.  With a pre-fermented flour at 15%, my final dough F&W will be 1,010g for autolyse.  This is relatively low hydration dough at 65%.

Questions:

  • Is this technique of a 3 hour undisturbed autolyse from "shaggy mass" to gluten development, as in your video, scalable down from a production run amount to a meager 1k for the home baker?
  • is this technique doable with as low a hydration dough as I use for this bread?  Or do you recommend finding a higher hydration formula?  Or does it not matter?
  • Post-levain incorporation, will the standard bulk ferment take approx. as long as had I autolysed for my standard 20 minutes and then mixed in the levain?

I don't use mechanical mixers, instead preferring to use my hands for French Folds for mixing.

Thank you in advance for your input,

alan

 

Brotkraft's picture
Brotkraft

Hi Alan,

Thank you for your questions.  I'll do my best to answer each below...

 

  • Is this technique of a 3 hour undisturbed autolyse from "shaggy mass" to gluten development, as in your video, scalable down from a production run amount to a meager 1k for the home baker?

Yes, the process is scalable down.

 

  • is this technique doable with as low a hydration dough as I use for this bread?  Or do you recommend finding a higher hydration formula?  Or does it not matter?

You are correct, after removing 15% flour and 15% water (assuming the levain is 100% hydration  and total recipe hydration is 65%), the autolyzed dough excluding the levain would be low ((65-15)/(100-15))  = 50/85 = 59% hydration.  If I remember correctly, Hamelman does suggest a one hour autolyze with the levain, probably for this very reason. 

That being said, nothing ventured, nothing gained.  Maybe go ahead and try autolyzing the stiffer mixture of flour and water without the levain OR increase the recipe's total hydration by 5-10% OR simply follow Guru Hamelman's advice:-)

 

  • Post-levain incorporation, will the standard bulk ferment take approx. as long as had I autolysed for my standard 20 minutes and then mixed in the levain?

If I understand your question correctly, the process in my video autolyzes 3 hours; the bulk fermentation clock starts ticking only after the levain and salt are mixed in.  

One thing my video does not explain is how I manage the sourdough.  In fact I will soon write a separate post about this process because it is immensely important to achieving a consistent performing and very active sourdough.  In quick summary, though, the sourdough gets a second build just before the autolyze flour and water are mixed.  As a result, the sourdough ripening and autolyze processes run in parallel.  

alfanso's picture
alfanso

Yes, the Hamelman formula does indeed add the levain to the initial "autolyse" phase.  He does this a lot and I suspect the reason is exactly what you mention, a drier dough.  Mixing by hand, as I do, getting the flour hydrated without clumping would be difficult, so I'll find another formula.  Without asking you to reveal "trade secrets" do you find that you have a sweet spot hydration for your method?  

He also works with 125% hydration levains, but I adjust and do use 100% hydration levains typically.  I've also take to incorporating the levain into the autolyse in most any formula these days.  However I'll refrain so that I can give your methodology a few runs.

Lately I've taken a liking to a two or three step build whereby I'll cut short the 2nd build and treat it as a very very young levain and then use that for the third build.  I find that this final build has a lot of motivation to double rather rapidly, and that's the point I aim for during the levain incorporation. 

More ways to do these tasks than I have fingers and toes.  I've said many times that there are a hundred ways to do it right and a hundred ways to get it wrong too!

Thanks again, alan

 

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

@Stephen:  

(quoting Al:) "Post-levain incorporation, will the standard bulk ferment take approx. as long as had I autolysed for my standard 20 minutes and then mixed in the levain?"

I thought of this too.  I make 90% WW bread, and it seems longer autolyses give the enzymes more time to make more sugar out of the starch.  And more sugar means faster fermentation.

Am I thinking that through correctly?

Brotkraft's picture
Brotkraft

I may have misunderstood the question earlier. Good point!  Yes, in theory, it makes sense that autolysed dough may ferment faster. During the autolyse, amylase enzymes are also at play converting starches to sugar, which serves as food for yeast.  Fermentation occurs when yeast subsequently consumes the sugar and releases carbon dioxide.  In the presence of more sugar,  the rate of fermentation may accelerate, but only to a certain point. 

As other factors may also influence the rate of fermentation - hydration, temperature, health of sourdough - here is where we as bakers rely on our senses and experience to gauge, understand, and react appropriately to the dough:-)

Benito's picture
Benito

Interesting.  I’ve recently been playing with overnight levain builds and with that overnight Autolyse.  From some unpublished food science data by a friend, she was able to show that salt has a negligible effect on the amylase, however, her experiments were only done for short periods of time.  So I’ve been doing a saltolyse and incorporating the salt during the autolyse (I realize that isn’t an autolyse thus the name saltolyse).  I have been finding excellent extensibility with the overnight saltolyse.  The bread still browns nicely so the salt doesn’t seem to have any clinically significant effect on the amylase even with prolonged saltolyse.  The reason I got into doing this overnight saltolyse is that by making an overnight levain build, by the time I got up in the morning the levain is ready to be used, it didn’t give any time for an autolyse.  Up to that time I was generally doing a 1-3 hour autolyse, longer for whole wheat and only shorter if little whole grain.  So in order to still allow an autolyse, I started doing the overnight autolyse and decided to add the salt as Chad Robertson does when he does a very long autolyse.  So far I see no negatives with such a long saltolyse.

alfanso's picture
alfanso

Just posted my run with your methodology.  The result speaks for itself.

 

Thanks, alan

Benito's picture
Benito

Outstanding crumb Alan.  I think that is one of the best I’ve seen come out of your kitchen, big congratulations.

Benny

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Alan - now you obviously know Benny's secret.

alfanso's picture
alfanso

as in repeatability, to feel that I've hit Benny's incredible stride.

thanks, alan