The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Crumb diagnosis

weekendbaking's picture
weekendbaking

Crumb diagnosis

Hello lovely people,

I need some help understanding how to improve my bread. This is one of my first SD breads and would love to know how to make it better.

I used 50-50 WW and AP (both are regular Indian flours and I understand them to be quite weak).  

20% levain  (70% hydration.  The levain rises quite well - doubles in about 4 hours and almost triples in 8-10 hours)

2% Salt 

74%  hydration (not counting the levain)

I autolysed for 60 mins with very cild water.  Then added salt and levain and hand mixed (stretch and fold)  for about 15 minutes. I rested it it for 30 mins.

Bulk

I did 4 coil folds spaced 30 mins apart. The dough seemed to be holding up quite well. I left it untouched for another 1.5 hours, shaped, proofed for 45 mins, baked at 250 C (20 min closed and 20 min open). Results in the attached pictures.

Questions:

1) I am very unsure about the bulk time. I was going to bulk for 6 hours but the dough doubled in about 3 so I cut it short. The temp here is 31 C and its in this range all year round. I didn't want to risk over fermenting so I just proofed for 45 mins. and baked. 

Does the crumb indicate whether the dough was over proofed or under proofed?  Any expert tips on whether I should try to push or reduce the bulk?

2) The crumb was quite moist and cakey. I loved the flavour - it had the perfect amount of subtle sourness. However, the crumb was a little dense and cakey which was great when toasted, but weird otherwise. Also, the crust became quite soft immediately after cooling. Does the picture give any indication of what might be the problem? 

Any expert recommendations on where to go from here ?

All advice is much appreciated.

 

 

 

phaz's picture
phaz

I'd reduce starter amount - the entire process seems rather short - and that would limit gluten development. So reduce the starter, give more time to get good gluten. But, you'll have to be careful - weak flour can only develope so much gluten, and it won't be the strongest so, the fine line between not enough and too much gets finer. You'll have to experiment a bit. Enjoy!

weekendbaking's picture
weekendbaking

Thanks phaz. The timing did seem a little off to me too. Do you think the moist crumb is due to insufficient gluten formation? 

phaz's picture
phaz

Well, it's possible as gluten is  basically 1 part water so to speak. Weak flour can't handle as much water as stronger flours - and that's basically due to its lower ability to form gluten. Of course many factors are involved, including over done and under done. With a weak (low protein) flour, and if following someone else's directing, first thing I'd look at is amount of water. This is 1 of 2 things I call  the "most likely" cases. The other is timings. Enjoy!

weekendbaking's picture
weekendbaking

Thanks Phaz. Your inputs are much appreciated. 

bottleny's picture
bottleny

It could be the flour problem, due to the starch damage in Indian flour. See this discussion.

semolina_man's picture
semolina_man

What temperature and for how long did you bake? 

The gluten looks underdeveloped to me, that can also be related to your low protein flour.  What protein or ash content is your flour?   Next time give a proper kneading so that the dough is elastic. 

Large non-uniform gas bubbles indicate the dough was not deflated after bulk fermentation and prior to forming.  The dough needs to be deflated to redistribute yeast and gas, so that the final loaf has an evenly sized and distributed matrix of gas bubbles. 

weekendbaking's picture
weekendbaking

Thanks semolina man. What do you think I need to do to make the gluten better? Autolyse longer or Knead more in the beginning or increase the number of coil folds or increase the bulk ferment duration? 

The flour is 11-12% protein as per the bag, but from what I understand, protein in Indian flour is fairly bad quality.

I baked at 250 C in a dutch oven with lid for 20 mins and without lid for 20 mins (at same temp). Is that too much?

Also - curious to learn - what are the tell tale signs of underdeveloped gluten. I'd love to be able to tell.

 

semolina_man's picture
semolina_man

Try baking 15 minutes longer.  If it's too much, eat that loaf and try again.  

With roughly 74% hydration it might be possible to knead the dough by hand on the kitchen counter.  I prefer slap fold, and for me I prefer dough around 67% - 70% hydration.   Wetter doughs become sloppy like porridge. 

During the kneading process, when the dough becomes less sticky and more elastic, it's getting close to finished.  There are many videos on YouTube for this.  This forum is tilted toward wetter dough and therefore the coil fold method is promoted.  

I follow the process of established and professionally trained French bakers, which use generally less hydration and generally more yeast.  And the results are amazing. 

weekendbaking's picture
weekendbaking

I was aiming for 70% in this loaf but the dough was not hydrating fully so I added some water till it felt like it was fully hydrated. 

I will try again next time with a lower hydration. 

If I add 15 mins at 250 C, I think the loaf will be burnt to a crisp. Do you think I should experiment with baking at a lower temp for the entire bake or just lower after I remove the lid so that the bread can bake longer in a dry environment?