The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Suggestions for improving shape?

Muddy Gardener's picture
Muddy Gardener

Suggestions for improving shape?

Still early days of experimenting here.  Today's loaf was Levain (100 g wet rye starter, 100 rye, 100 water), left for 4 hours in prewarmed then shut off 30C oven to get it going, which it kindly did, then mixed with ((200 water 300 strong bread autoylsed for an hour) plus 100 cornmeal/polenta, and 2% salt added in kneading), wet kneaded for 10minutes, then bulk fermented for about 6 hours again in warmed then shutoff 30C oven, shaped, then proofed in the fridge overnight, allowed to wake up at room temperature (about 18C) for an hour then baked in a dutch oven at 250C for 20 minutes lid on then lid off at 220C for 20 minutes.  The dough was a bit flabby on shaping but it felt quite alive.  

Sliced loaf

What happened?  Well, the fab bit is that it tastes amazing - the combination of cornmeal, rye and sourdough flavours is a big win - and the texture is very pleasing.  Very crisp crust, and a soft crumb which is a bit open and just the right amount of chewy.  Taste and texture wise it's a personal best.   

However.  As you can see, it's flat flat flat flat.  More like a frisbee than a boule.  What modifications could you suggest I could make to try to keep the good aspects the same...  but end up with a loaf that's less frisbee-like?

  • Should I keep the recipe the same, but proof it and bake it in a bread tin?  If I did this I couldn't fit it in my dutch oven.  (But I could try on a pizza stone covered with a steel bowl.  Or  I could go back to putting a baking tin of water in a lower rack of the oven... which is how I started out....)  
  • Should I change my technique, such as it is, and persist with the boule type shaping?   
  • Should I change the recipe in some direction?
  • Should I try all three things at once and/or something else?

Thanks as always for your advice!     

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Where did you get this recipe? Or what recipe did you base this on?

--

Thoughts:

100% rye levains are super powerful. The enzymes in rye break down starch to sugar quickly, leading to over-fermentation.  Must use a smaller amount of such levain if you want a decent crumb.

Rye also contributes little/poor gluten for a free form loaf to hold shape.

Cornmeal has no gluten. And the coarseness of polenta also hinders structure/shape.

Your ferment and proof times were way too long for such a powerful and large amount of levain.

This would have been more suitable for baking in a pan (UK:tin).

To bake free form, you would have needed a much higher % of wheat flour, and/or less water, and avoid over-fermentation.

Given the mish-mash of ingredients, overwhelming the bread flour with rye and corn, and over-fermenting, it still looks pretty good. I've made a few "mish mash"  flat-breads like that.

But, you're not going to get a stand-up or airy type of free form loaf with that mix.  

Adding vital wheat gluten likely would make it have more of a cake-like crumb. If that's what you want.

Net: if free form is your goal: less %rye, less % corn, less levain, less water, less ferment/proof time.

If taste is your goal:  bake this exact same dough in a pan/tin.

 

Muddy Gardener's picture
Muddy Gardener

Thanks!  

I really don't want to change the feel of the crumb - from an eating point of view it's great.  It's soft, somewhat elastic, open, not gummy, and contrasts well with the very crisp crust.  So the easy answer is: bake it in a tin.

Sounds like getting a similar taste and mouth feel in a self-standing boule might not be possible.  Might change it too much, but let's see!   Lots of parameters to play with.  Thanks for the steer.

As to where the recipe came from - I'm just tweaking in different directions each time I bake, based on a recipe a friend gave me.  (Plus I've watched tons of videos and read many recipes.)  Each time I am trying different handling and shaping techniques, rising processes, levain composition, baking processes, flours, seeds, hydrations, etc. 

I love the taste of cornbread and was curious to see if I could combine a cornbread kind of taste with a sourdough.    The taste combo is a real win!  (If you like that kind of thing.)  The shaping is a challenge but I have some directions to play with now. 

 

Tom M's picture
Tom M

Assuming your bread flour is 13% protein, approximately 3/4 of that would be gluten, or about 10%.  Essentially the gluten would have been diluted to 6% in your mix (ignoring the rye’s gliadin), equivalent to an 7-8% protein wheat flour overall and matching that of pastry flour.  It would take 2-3% vital wheat gluten to bring it up to all-purpose.  But since you don’t want to change the texture, seems like you’re on the right track with pan support.

—Tom

Muddy Gardener's picture
Muddy Gardener

adding wheat gluten is an interesting fix -  I wouldn't fix the texture for its own sake as it's very tasty - but if the texture is responsible for the frisbee-ness of the end product  then I should explore where it can be steered...!  

thanks!

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

I think you overproofed it. Very high inoculation, warm bulk ferment, long fermentation time. Try cutting reducing these things. If my calculations are correct, you have 27% prefermented flour (if cornmeal counts as flour - I am not sure (PFF is the flour that's coming from the levain divided by all flour in the recipe). Thats a lot. Try 10%. Maybe 35g starter + 35g water + 35g flour? And you can compensate for the total volume by adding the missing flour and water into the main mix.

Muddy Gardener's picture
Muddy Gardener

aha, a 2nd finger of suspicion pointing at overproofed!  (I assume you don't mean the cold proofing step - during which nothing ever seems to happen - but the bulk ferment?) 

Because we keep our house quite cool in the cooler months it could be I'm overcompensating.   I will pay more attention to the behaviour of the dough and less to the timing in future.   As well as dialing it back by using less rye in the levain and/or less levain.  

thanks!

  

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Yep, I mean it's overfermented in bulk, but then also cold proofed and warmed up in the morning again, that's way too much for this formula and procedure. 30°C will make everything super fast too.

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

mon frere. 

"(I assume you don't mean the cold proofing step - during which nothing ever seems to happen - but the bulk ferment?) "

It is both.  

The newbie notion that fermenting doesn't continue during a cold proof is a myth.

Even though you see no physical expansion, several things are still happening:

Yeast are still producing CO2, much of which goes into solution at fridge temps.

Proteolysis, breakdown of protein by acid is still going on.

Enzymatic breakdown of starch to sugar still goes on. So you're slowly losing the starch matrix too.

It takes several hours for the inner portion of the dough mass to come down in temp, so that portion of the dough keeps chugging along just like at room temp.

Muddy Gardener's picture
Muddy Gardener

yes, I am finding that cold proof is usually described as 'being for flavour' - but clearly there's a lot going on - you make a particularly interesting point around the CO2 - (on which I found some data here )-  this does make sense of the fact that a passive seeming cold dough can suddenly put on a whoosh of oven spring - it's the CO2 coming out of solution!  

suave's picture
suave

6 hours at 30 °C is waaaaay too much time for this formula.  I'm thinking 1½ tops.  And with fridge proof?  May be even less.

Muddy Gardener's picture
Muddy Gardener

everyone is pointing at too much bulk ferment!   it must be guilty!

(thanks!)

Muddy Gardener's picture
Muddy Gardener

Thanks for all your ideas last week.   Here's where I've got to with implementing some of them.  In summary I'd say it's gone from frisbee to tam o'shanter and it still tastes good.  A win!

Loaf of bread

  • Made the levain with a mix of whole wheat and white instead of rye
  • Did the bulk fermentation at room temperature 18-20C, not accelerated at 25-30C
  • Used 80g cornmeal instead of 100g (total flour excluding the cornmeal 460g)

The inner texture is softer, and less elastic.    Less earthy and full flavoured.  Still it's very tasty.   I have some vital wheat gluten on order from BakeryBits (which looks to be a really great UK supplier...) and I will see whether I can reintroduce more rye fraction and sneak some more cornmeal back it....