Underbaked or underprooved
I have been making bread for a couple of years now and have been slowly getting better (with much help from the fresh loaf forums).
However, I am always getting the same problem which is slighty gummy crumb. If you slice open the bread and poke the crumb it feels slightly firm, almost slightly rubbery as if all the liquid has not fully evaporated. I want to have bread that you can really tear and the crumb will come away in strips like a french stick but mine is more likely to come away in chunks like a cake.
I have read many pieces of advice on this issue and I suspect I am underbaking my bread. I recently did a one day bread course at a professional bakery which helped to confirm my techniques are all fine (mixing, kneading, rising etc) but I am obviously doing something wrong.
The recipe I am using for the basic white loaf is 500 strong white flour, 4g instant yeat, 7g salt and 325g water.
But before you blame the recipe - the problem exists on ANY bread I make. And I have tried a few different recipes in my time.
The bakery showed us their way of checking to see if the dough is ready to bake by poking the dough quite hard and seeing if the indentation remains. If it does, it's ready to go in. I know some people like to see the dent come back out slightly, that's fine too, I've tried that too.
I have a baking stone and this recipe says bake for 35 - 40 mins at 220 degrees C. I also have an oven thermometer.
Many people suggested I use an instant thermometer to test the temp of the bread inside. I read somewhere that you are looking for about 200F. I have been doing this for the last few times I baked bread - as soon as they hit 200F I take them out. I have since read that people also suggest 205 - 210F. I have not tried this temp yet. I have also tried the thumping test. Sometimes they sound hollow even when they need more time in the oven so I never quite trust this test. Even when I can hear a really resonous thump - the crumb is still not quite right.
My guess is that I am underbaking somehow. Perhaps the oven is too hot so the outside is going brown and crispy but the inside is not done yet? I just don't see how the thump test and a thermometer is still not letting me get it right.
The last loaf I baked was a smaller version of the loaf above. I baked it for 30 mins, checked it, nice hollow sound but I thought I'd play it safe so put it back in oven for another 6 mins. When I got it out the base was starting to overcook slightly but the loaf had a fabulous crust, had a better colour than my other loaves (which were all a bit pale - another nod to underbaking) and tasted great - but still had a slightly firm and rubbery crumb - definitely BETTER but not quite right. Just to add, I try to be very good and wait about an hour before cutting into it. I know early cutting is not good.
Thanks everyone. Any advice warmly welcomed.