The Fresh Loaf

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what makes my multi grain tangzhong crack?

freerk's picture

what makes my multi grain tangzhong crack?

I am currently in the process of  putting together a multi grain unenriched loaf, relying on the tangzhong method to keep it nice and fluffy. Here is the latest result from its prettiest side:


But this is what I would like to talk about: on the dark side of the moon this is what is going on

The bread has ripped in quite some places in a way that I have never seen before. It makes it all look even more rustic, and that is fine, but I want to know the cause.


Here are some pieces of info that might help:

Multi grain, with manitoba, rye, oatmeal, barley, whole wheat and malt powder.

Made using a water roux; the famous Tangzhong method (that I love more and more every day!)

Baked on 220 C in a dutch oven. 20 minutes with lid, the rest of the bake without lid. Was it too hot in the first 20 minutes?

A friend of mine baked the same loaf not using a dutch oven, but a little tin foil tent and had the same cracks going in his dough.

The dough didn't spill out or anything. The cracks look more like "dry cracks", something hydration related.

The formula is on the dry side, about 54%  AND there are quite some "heavy drinkers" in the mix, like oatmeal. Nevertheless the crumb is far from dry, and is actually remarkably fluffy (because of the tangzhong-method used)

Since the dough held quite some seeds, I added gluten powder, the formula called for 35 grams, which seems on the high side for a 1.1 kilo loaf. But I have never baked with it before, so I really don't know... Any idea?


Would love to hear back on this from you guys, thanks!



clazar123's picture

I have used the water roux on many occasions and agree it is a great technique to use for a moist,lean whole grain bread. I just never knew the name. Thank you.

As for the cracks, could a simple explanation be that you have great oven spring,fairly dry crust on the dough and not enough scoring. Something has to give.  I would try a more aggressive scoring on the next loaf and see what happens.

You mention it is a fairly low hydration bread.How did it fare after the first day? My instinct would be to increase the moisture, esp since itis a whole grain bread.

Looks delicious!

freerk's picture

That could be the case indeed. So far I rejected that option, because there are no "bulges" that I usually see when the dough tries to find another way. But now I realize that I baked it in a Dutch oven, and it fitted snuggly. It was impossible for the dough to come through, but it played up enough to cause a rupture?

I did score quite deep, and it really bloomed open during the bake. The cracks are in strange places. Because of the fact that they all go vertical, I also wonder if my shaping is to blame.

Part of the experiment was to see how a lower hydration bread would perform when given the tanzhong treatment. I hear rumours that it stays fresh quite long. That certainly was the case with the tangzhong white rolls I made not too long ago. But then again; this is rather a heavy duty mix.

I most definitely will go on higher hydration next time. Meantime, let's see how this one holds up tomorrow.



Chuck's picture

I've never done this, so I don't really know :-( But if this happened to me, below are the things I'd try. (I expect that my evaluation of some of these ideas would be "well THAT turned out to be a bad idea" ...but still they're worth a try.)

1. As noted above, more scores. Try a # pattern rather than a + pattern; both are traditional for boules, but the # has twice as many scores.

2. Proof a little bit longer - more rise out of the oven and less "oven spring" during baking.

3. Proof in a slightly more closed/humid environment: can you put an upside down bowl or the top of a cake carrier or an inverted plastic drawer or some such thing over the proofing loaf? (Just a little bit, not a *lot* of humidity, you don't want the hydration level to change completely or to have to "wring out" the dough:-)

4. Mist the crust with just a little bit of water from a spray bottle just before putting the loaf in the oven.

freerk's picture

Good points! The proofing is also high on my list. I am just starting out with Manitoba flour and am still learning where its characteristics come in handy and where it doesn't. A strong bread flour should work well in this formula, and I guess it does, but getting it in the oven at the right time is still a challenge at times.

# scoring: check!

I was thinking about the same when it comes to misting the crust. I am going to do that next time with this loaf. The longer it can go up, the better, is what I say!

Thanks for the feedback


Franko's picture

Hi Freerk,

I'll echo Chuck's point #3 in providing a more humid environment during final proof. You say the crumb is quite moist so hydration is not the issue, but with the various non glutinous grains you have in the mix you won't have the elasticity in the outer sheath of the dough that you would have in a higher percentage wheat dough. You might also try rounding/ shaping so that the loaf is a little slack, giving some room to move. Typically these types of dough are fairly low profile anyhow, but with some humidity correction in the final rise you should get the result you're after. I'd also recommend against using a dutch oven for this type of bread. Strong, initial bottom heat will set the crust sooner and help prevent the splitting if the final proof is adequate.

Keep us posted and good luck with the next bake,


freerk's picture

Hey Franko!


I (tried) to make up for the non-gluten flours by (for the first time in my life!)  adding gluten powder to the mix.


I guess in the end what happened is a combination of things (isn't it always when disaster strikes): I royally floured my banneton with rice flour, and that took more moisture away from the skin of the dough than I anticipated. I have noticed that most cracks appeared in the spots where the rice flour was "thickest". Also, being relatively inexperienced with manitoba, I feel I might have under proofed a little. This flour is really fast; last time I used it, I really had to step up my pace to keep up with it! I was using the oven for another bake, but it took only like 40 minutes for my first rise!


I have made pan breads similar to this one without any sign of cracking, so I learned that lesson; no more dutch oven for this one! And although I love my rice flour and its non stick capabilities, I'll have to cut back on the royal use of that too! And make 10 more loaves with manitoba to get a feeling for it. That last assignment won't be too hard with my ample supply!


Thanks for the feedback




Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

will work against you encouraging tear.  If I was to tangzhong any of the flours, WW would be high on my list after a good soaking.

The cracks look more like "dry cracks", something hydration related.

I would agree.   Added yeast (faster rise) would also add to the cracking/expansion just like the dusting of the loaves with flour which subtracts moisture from the surface.        

freerk's picture

That's it!


I used a royal amount of rice flour whilst the dough was proofing in the banneton, and that is indeed a "heavy drinker"! It makes total sense now. Thanks Mini