The Fresh Loaf

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Bread temperature - rubbery texture

virgule's picture

Bread temperature - rubbery texture


I've been experimenting for the past 6 months in making bread in tropical climate (Bangkok). My favorite is baguette, made with 35% starter at 1:1 hydration, and overall 65 to 70% dough hydration. So far so good, bread has nice oven spring, good crust look and tastes good - but it's not sour at all, and the inner crumb has a much more rubbery texture than an average baguette "made in France".

I suspected that the "rubbery texture" was actually gelatinised starch rather than "normal bread", and decided to stick my digital thermometer probe inside a baguette just before cooking was done. To my great surprise, it read 99.9C (211++F). I've read in a number of places that bread is "done" when inner temperature reaches around 205-210F (96-99C), while stopping earlier around 194-205F (90-96C) would produce a rubbery texture...?

I've tried several experiments, and each time the inner temperature reaches 99C (211F) very quickly - less than 10 minutes into the baking, crust is not even colored yet. This means my dough is boiling rather than baking, which seems odd - but it would explain the gelatinised texture.

In my next experiment, I dramatically lowered the over temperature to 190C (375), attempting to compensate with a longer baking time. Bread inner temperature was already 99C within 18 minutes, while outer crust was barely shading into yellow tones. I took out the baguette after 32 minutes, crust still not quite golden brown - but the inner crumb was much nicer, springy and light, without the rubbery texture.

And yes, my thermometer is calibrated, and no I don't measure oven temperature by mistake - I take the bread out of the oven to measure it's temperature. Temp stabilizes within 5 seconds and doesn't move after that.

I would be really interested in feedback from those of you with an inclination for a scientific approach to baking:

- have you tried measuring your bread 50% into the baking? What temp do you get?

- do you see any difference between baking a thin baguette and a large loaf? (I imagine inner temperature will be lower for a loaf - but by how much?)

- if you do have a "boiling dough", do you also obtain a rubbery texture like me? (perhaps some of you like this - but it's not how bread is normally made in France...)

- if you are able to obtain a nice springy/light baguette texture, what is the inner temp at the end of the baking?

Thanks for any suggestions and advice!



MisterTT's picture

your baguette did not color well even after 32 minutes at 190C, I think it is one of two things: you are not fermenting the dough enough (or overfermenting with all the sugars gone) or you are not steaming enough.

Sometimes rubbery texture is a product of too strong a flour -- what are you using? -- but I doubt it on this occasion. The best way that we can diagnose what is wrong would be with the help of some pictures of your bake and the formula and process that you use.

Ant lastly, don't say that the dough is boiling. Boiling an object means that is submerged in liquid that is, well, boiling. I wouldn't read too much into the temperature mid-bake, but I used to take the temp of about 650 g batards about 20-25 minutes into baking (I used a dutch oven) and it was pretty high as well. Nonetheless the bread needed quite a bit more baking to be done properly.

claudiarana's picture

Hi there!  I have been making sourdough test since forever and i know one thing that produce that crumb.

If after baking in any kind of oven, you left the loaft inside with the door slightly open (about 15 mins)  the crumb change to that clear and  "gelatinazed"  look.

If you want a soft and white interior, all you have to do its to take it out as soon as is done and cool it fast.

I have make a lot of test of this and thats how it works at least for me (:

Aditional facts : i bake my sourdough inside of a clay oven, max temp , for 50mins aprox. Theres lot of water in my recipe.

virgule's picture

HI. I did practice this approach in the early days, but bread would loose too much humidity and become very dry within 24 hours. I forgot to add this criteria in my reply below, but I'm also trying to improve a bit the shelf life of bread in tropical weather (bread typically becomes very soggy within a day - or excessively dry if left in the oven to cool down).

I now always take it out immediately when done, and let it cool on a rack with adequate air flow below, and no draft (to avoid loss of moisture more than required to cool down).

The last 2 tests with a sour taste have definitely doubled the shelf life of my bread, as I expected based on my readings.

Thanks anyways!

virgule's picture

Funny how I missed the possibility of not enough sugar left in the dough. I should have known better... Thanks!

This is going to be a long post, possibly a bit confusing as your comment has opened a can of worm in my tests: I was expecting other results, not that one, which means I varied something that has an impact which I missed.

My process:

Original method:
I take out my 1:1 starter from the fridge, discard 90%, and feed it twice 1:1 (rarely more), leaving it in a humid-cloth covered jar at room temperature (hot + warm in Bangkok). Starter rises well, and fast, 6 to 8 hours max.
I prepare a 70% hydration sourdough in a bread machine with 25 to 35% starter (depending on my experiments), and optionally 1 x tsp of instant-yeast (helps the raise, but bread comes out fine without it). I use local Thai brand flour, no protein indications on the package, but they do have bread and all-purpose. I use 20% bread and 80% all-purpose flour mix (100% bread flour is too strong when I knead). After 5 minutes kneading, 5 minutes rest and 5 min more kneading in the bread machine, I take the dough out and leave it 12 to 16 hours in the fridge. Coming home from work the next day, I remove dough from the fridge and proceed with 3 x S&F at 30 minutes interval, all at room temperature (30C and humid), followed by dividing into 2 portions, 15 minutes rest, pre-shaping, 30 minutes rest, final shaping, and then the hard part: final proof in a cloth couche for anywhere between 1 to 3 hrs (I can't figure out the correct duration for final proofing. Finger test pops back 50% virtually same regardless of duration, except when dough seriously over-proofed. The baked bread doesn't differ enough in the end to be able to conclude which duration is most suitable). Finally, baking in a regular over containing 2 x large garden stones, 4 x cast iron plates from a BBQ set, all heated up at 230C (450F) for over an hour (I use a stand-alone oven thermometer to check temperature). I throw in 2 x glasses of boiling water at 0 and 5 minutes on the iron plates, creating a (dangerous!) blast of steam. It doesn't matter whether I do a loaf or baguettes, results come out typically as below. Everyone is impressed - except me ;-) because the texture is rubbery / gelatinised. Although not an issue, it's also not sour at all.

New method:

I'm trying to understand why the bread is not sour, why the texture is rubbery, and always trying to improve on the heat baking properties of my home oven, as I've been told by a professional baker that the #1 difference is the oven, which makes all the difference.

After studying many bread websites, I've tried to play with the following parameters:

- Starter acidity and temperature. I've noticed my starter has become "lazy" in recent months, not bubbling as much as before, and turning into a soupy mixture with only small bubbles after the normal feeding cycle. I believe the organisms have adapted, and LB are overwhelming the yeasts due to the high temperatures in Bangkok.

- Since dough has a texture that I believe to be "gelatinised", I've come to the conclusion that perhaps there is too much water in my dough. I don't have photos (bread is eaten too fast!) but resembles a lot these:, so I am attempting to reduce hydration down to 65%.

- I've read in a very technical site here: that flash heat at the start of baking is a bad practice, as it will tend to form the crust too early, preventing good oven spring. Also, I've been thinking about yeast growth curves. Since oven spring comes from yeast up to the point until they die from heat (and existing CO2 bubbles of course), I've come to the conclusion that a too hot oven might kill the yeast too fast. I would probably be better off with a lower temperature oven which might give more working time for the yeast before they die. Hence baking at 190C for my test.

- I've finally managed to buy online a rectangular pizza stone that the vendor was willing to mail to Thailand at a not-excessive shipping cost. Garden stones are out, and I've moved one set or cast iron plates to above the stone, to shield from the red-glowing grill bars in the top of the oven. I'm trying to maximize radiated heat rather than grilling my bread ;-)

- Since flash heat is supposedly not very good, and I risk scalding my face one of these days, I've made a dripping aluminum foil container with a small hole, so that my glass of hot water can be safely deposited at the bottom of the oven, and create a milder steam without the dangerous blast, lasting roughly 60 seconds before it dries out.

- I've read that overworking a high hydration dough can result in rubbery texture (too much gluten), hence only 5 minutes kneading now. I compensate with an additional S&F instead (works very well).

- Finally, still in the spirit of trying to create a sour taste, I rest and proof my dough in an air-conditioned room at 24C (75F) to prevent the LB from overpowering the yeast until the last stage.

I hope I haven't forgotten any other change... Here is new method.
I take out my 1:1 starter from the fridge, discard 95% (to dilute left-over acids to the max), and feed it 3 times 1:1 and doubling the total volume each time, every 6 to 8 hours. The starter is kept in a jar, itself inside a water-filled container, in an air-conditioned room. I check the starter temperature with a probe in the water, and can see it produces heat throughout (hence water cooling; remember I'm in hot weather). This makes a very powerful starter, which triples its volume in 5 to 6 hours each time (still too hot here!), with big healthy bubbles and a very sour smell and taste.

I prepare a 65% sourdough in a bread machine with 35% starter, no yeast added, and only 5 minutes kneading. **No retardation** in the fridge, and instead 4 x S&F at 30 minutes interval, while resting the dough in a loose but sealed bag in air-conditioned room (to avoid loss of moisture). Dough lightens up and strengthens nicely. After 30 minutes more rest, I divide dough (we're 2.5 to 3 hours into the process), rest another 15-30 minutes, preshape, rest 30 minutes, and final shape (total 3 to 3.5 hr depending on how busy I am). In the pic below I made loaves rising in banetons, enclosed in sealed bag, still in air-cond room. I've tried final proofing 2 and 3 hours. Baking at 190C for 25 to 30 minutes to try to get some color. Water dripping system works well, definitely less dangerous and less flash heat. I used same qty 2 x glasses of boiling water, in a span of 3 minutes. Both tests came out NOT colored.  The test at 2hr proof had huge oven spring. The test at 3 hours had no oven spring (pic enclosed here), but fortunately did not collapse. This was unexpected, as the dough was overflowing the baneton and I didn't think I'd be able to load it in oven without breaking - but it worked fine (good shaping!).

The result is that my bread now has a nice tangy taste which my family noticed immediately, and the dough is mostly NOT gelatinized, except near the crust, and strangely in a 1cm diameter cylinder where my temperature probe went in, smack in the middle of the loaf!

Conclusion: it seems I'm on the road to fixing 2 of my objectives, but have unexpectedly created a new complication :-)

In all cases (old and new method), the bread temperature is at 99C (211F) within 10 minutes, which seems wrong based on everything I've read. I accept your statement about the need to be submerged for something to boil, but I would like to point out that protein/starch molecules in a 65% water suspension is pretty close to being submerged 8-P

Any comments or suggestions very welcome (sorry, no crumb photos, kids ate all the bread!).

PS: Keep in mind that I'm not in regular continental weather, and I have to adapt all recipes. If I follow regular sourdough processes as typically found in this website, the dough becomes excessively soft and weak by the end of proofing, and bread has no rise at all - and is rubbery.



Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

"I take out my 1:1 starter from the fridge, discard 90%."

Why?  Many of us continue keep the 90% in the fridge and next time we bake take out another portion to inoculate another loaf, replacing the starter when it is almost used up.   In your climate a 1:1 feeding should be doubled in about two to three hours, not 8.  I suspect the yeasts are terribly low but not sure.  The bread coming out heavy is more like a cheese reaction (bacteria) than yeast.  Get the yeast numbers up, the crumb will improve.  

Use summer time feedings for the starter, with higher food ratios. 1:5 or 1:10 and a thick paste.  

Try this first.  Take 10g of your refrigerated starter and add 70g water and 100g flour.  Stir well and cleanly place into a tall straight narrow glass or see-thru container.  level out the soft dough and cover.   Put a strip of tape up the side and mark the starting level and the time.   Mark it every hour.  The first 3 to 4 hours there may be no rising but then it usually starts to rise.  A dome will form as it rises and level out as it reaches a peak.  First sign is a dimple in the dome.  How long does it take to reach this peak?  When done pop it into the refrigerator.  

virgule's picture

Hi Mini,

Thanks for your reply and advice. I got lost in 4 years of weekly bread experiments and never checked back this thread :-)
I've done so many experiments with test tubes, strip tape, refreshing cycles and hydration levels, that I lost count and lost the plot as well!!

My conclusions are that making bread is an art, interlaced with some science, and that there isn't any single-method fits all. I still have issues with gummy crumb (occasionally), misbehaving starter (tropical climate), and highly variable sourness. Strangely, despite all this nagging issues, my bread is vastly improving. I have not baked a dud in years, I'm quite proud of my oven spring and the color, crust, texture and flavor of my bread is usually excellent - even if not what I'm trying to achieve. Let's close this thread.

Thank you!