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Dry crumb, please help.

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oswaldchee's picture
oswaldchee

Dry crumb, please help.

Dear All,

I started baking bread about six months ago and I learned from mistakes along the way.  Now I faced new challenge.  The crumbs of all the breads I baked are dry.  So dry that everytime when I spreading the peanut butter on the bread, it got teared.  I just could not achieve the same textual as the bread I bought from the bakery, where the breads are soft and more 'elastic'.

I just do not know which step I made mistake.  Is it because I over proof the dough or I over baked?

Appreciate for any advise.

Thanks.

 

Oswald

mcs's picture
mcs

Probably over proofed and could be over baked.  The tearing is usually due to the weak structure due to over proofing or undermixing.  No matter how long the bake is, if it's over proofed it'll pull apart too easily.  This could also be due to the gluten not being developed enough during mixing.  If you're mixing by hand, then it's most likely not overmixed, so it could be undermixed.
The over baking is possible, but probably less common, simply because if everything else is done right, you'd have to bake it WAY too long to make it over baked.  (At which case it'd probably be burned on the outside).
Find a reliable recipe, follow it to the T, then proof it for 45 minutes or so and see what happens.

-Mark

http://thebackhomebakery.com

leemid's picture
leemid

Without more information, there really is no way to answer your question sensibly.  What is your recipe? Is this a wet or dry hydration level? Is there a preferment? Each of these questions could provide the clue to your problem. If you have added too much flour/too little water, it could cause the result you describe.  If there is no gluten development it isn't likely to rise well, so if it has risen properly then over/under mixing may not be the problem but we can't tell. With the right preferment you don't need to mix the dough very much to achieve excellent results, and if you are doing your kneading by hand it is not likely that you could over-work it, but there are some who can.

One of the biggest problems I think many newish bakers have is unwillingness to work with wetter dough.  It is very daunting to try to knead 70%+ hydration until you get the hang of it.  So often the baker will keep kneading in more flour until it becomes manageable, thus destroying the balance and the recipe.  However, now that I am very familiar and comfortable with it, I sometimes wonder if my bread is too moist, but it never tears nor does it shed crumbs when slicing.  I remember whole wheat bread made with quite a low hydration level, by today's standard, crumbing and tearing regularly in the past.

My favorite sourdough recipe is a 75% hydration recipe, which takes me two days to make, which produces a very moist and elastic crumb. My whole wheat recipe is more in the 67% range, I think. Both make an excellent crumb, strong yet tender, upon which peanut butter resides very well.  I will admit that the sourdough crumb leaks a little jam at times...

Provide some details and I think you will get lots of suggestions that will help you solve your problem.

That's my story,

Lee

oswaldchee's picture
oswaldchee

Thanks Mark and Lee for your replies and the suggestions.  Sorry for lack of information in my first post.

I have tried the recipes for Anadama Bread, English Muffins, Potato Rosemary Bread, and White Bread in Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Aprentice.  For me, all of them came out the same - dry crumbs and weak crumb structure.

The hydration level called for in these recipes are 39.5% for Anadama Bread, 70% for English Muffins, 53.6% for Potato Rosemary Bread, and 62.8% for White Bread.  I followed the resipes to adjust the amount of the water and flour accordingly so that the final dough will be tacky but not sticky.  I always knead the dough by hand.  Each time, the dough risen correctly.  However, in order to make it looks right, I need to overshoot the time called for in the recipes for the dough to rise to the 'look right' volume (For a newbie like me, good volume means success!).  For me, the 'look right' volume would mean the crown of the final dough is over the top of the loaf pan.  I think I need to overshoot the proofing time by one hour plus each time - normally it is two to two and half hours in total.

I will definitely shorten the poofing time for my next bread.  Any other things that I missed which may have contributed to dry and weak structure crumbs of my bread?

Thanks.

 

Oswald

 

 

 

 

 

dougal's picture
dougal

Quote:
The hydration level called for in these recipes are 39.5% for Anadama Bread, ...

Different people calculate their 'bakers percent' differently.

Here, Reinhart's method is misleading as to the hydration, because of the soaker. (Similarly with the biga in the potato bread - quite apart from the potato!)

The water added to the final dough is indeed 39.5% of the weight of bread flour in the final dough.

But that's not the whole story.

Allowing for the soaker, the recipe has 16 oz total water and 26.25 oz total flour (6 of cornmeal and 20.25 of bread flour), which I'd call 60.9% hydration. Actually its even higher because there's 4oz molasses being added as well (which is 15% of the total flour weight).

I'd say very roughly 2/3 (66%) liquid to total flour is an ordinary level for a 'white' bread. But 40% hydration really wouldn't work very well.

 

 

Incidentally, even if the recipe gives accurate weights (and it ain't always so), one can still screw up the proportions by adding a significant quantity of flour during kneading.

If you are trying to follow a recipe exactly, you can knead on a lightly oiled (and not floured) surface - thereby ensuring that no 'extra' flour gets incorporated.

Many people are initially worried by the dough being "sticky" and therefore add quite a lot of extra flour, which ends up making the bread drier and heavier than intended. And this is made more likely when the recipe actually encourages it!

holds99's picture
holds99

Oswald,

If your dough tears when stretching a small amount, in a windowpane test, it's probably too dry.  Check out Reinhart's BBA, page 58 (para. 3, "windowpane test"), along with photo on page 59.  In fact, you may want to read "Gluten Development, beginning on page 57 in BBA. 

When I first started baking whole grain breads I had the same problem, needed more hydration (liquid) and more gluten development.

Check out this link to Richard Bertinet and you'll witness a miracle happening in front of your eyes.  He's mixing sweet dough but the same principle applies to bread dough.

http://www.gourmet.com/magazine/video/2008/03/bertinet_sweetdough

Good luck in your baking adventures.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

sharsilber's picture
sharsilber

What a great video!  Thank you for posting that.  I keep adding flour to my sweet dough and wondering why it is so sticky - next time I will let try leaving it sticky and see if it comes together the way his did (OK I do use a stand mixer, but I suppose I could try hand kneeding this one time).  Great video.

Sharon

www.thebraidedloaf.com

holds99's picture
holds99

Sharon,

I have a Kithen Aid that I've had for 20 years (made by Hobart) and lately I've been mixing and kneading all my doughs by hand using Bertinet's method and it's really amazing how much difference it makes.  The gluten strands really develop nicely using his method, which results in more open crumb and oven spring.

Best of luck with your baking.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Howard,

Every bread baker ought to watch M. Bertinet!

Ever since I watched Bertinet turning glop into silky-smooth dough, I have learned to trust the dough. I am working with wetter dough than before the video and the results are telling. The crumb is lighter and more open.

And like you I have relegated the KA mixer to secondary status. I use it to bring the ingredients together and turn it off. I move directly to my work table to slap and fold. And it's amazing how much faster the gluten develops this way than in the mixer!

Hope you had a nice vacation.

Soundman (David)

holds99's picture
holds99

Hello David (Soundman)

Good to hear from you The trip was relaxing.  I managed to read most of Reinhart's Whole Grain Bread book while away.  It doesn't have the dazzle that BBA has but it's an excellent book.  Whole grains don't turn into beautiful, white, open crumb, dazzlingly crusty breads like baguettes and batards.  But I like them as much, if not more, than the white breads.  I do the same thing you do, use my K.A. to initially mix my ingredients and then it's on to the work surface for some serious slapping and folding.  I've tabbed a couple of recipes in the book for future baking. 

Hang in there and keep "slapping and folding" :>) ...and I'll do the same.

Howard

leemid's picture
leemid

Last weekend I made his sweet bread and made cinnamon rolls. They were fantastic. But had it not been for recent experience with wet doughs I would have failed. The problem is that although I am very accurate in all of my measurements, you can't be with eggs. Someone put the biggest 'large' eggs I have ever seen into my fridge. They prevented the container from properly closing. They were large for jumbo eggs. Consequently the dough was way too wet, even for the video. But I added a couple of Tblsps of flour and fixed it. Long ago I would have added half a cup of flour, or more, and had dry, crumbly, tasteless bread. I am contemplating stirring up my eggs and using only a determined weight measurement of the result to keep the liquid accurate. Of course, that will take experimentation to see just what the right amount is...

Bottom line: experience is the best thing in the world to own. Get yourself some and all of your breads will work out better.

That's my story,

Lee

Pablo's picture
Pablo

I just used a slight variant on this technique as demonstrated in an excellent video on Steve's Bread Cetera site:  http://www.breadcetera.com/?p=9    I did it with 3000g of sourdough.  Quite the workout, but so satisfying!  You start with this messy glop that I would have had no idea how to work with before this technique, and pretty soon you've got a smoothly civilized ball of dough.  Amazing.  You get a nice rhythm going, it's fun.

:-Paul

oswaldchee's picture
oswaldchee

Thanks for the cool advice.  It is confirmed that I was a bit too greedy and let the dough proof for too long, which caused the crumb structure to be weaken.  I took the advice and proof the English Muffin dough as suggested in the recipe exactly (not a bit too long) and it turned out great.

Thanks.

 

Oswald

sharsilber's picture
sharsilber

All these posts are so wonderful - it is nice to know that I am not the only one out here who is always thinking about the next loaf :)

Today I am planning on returning my Kitchen Aid mixer- I have not had any success with it and will go back to my good old kitchen aid food processor with a dough blade to get it started and then keed it by hand.   

Sharon

www.thebraidedloaf.com