The Fresh Loaf

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Air pocket under crust

pmiker's picture

Air pocket under crust

Lately I've made a recipe from the Ankarsrum Original USA site that I need help with.

This is a 100% whole wheat recipe using fresh home-milled flour.  It's meant to demonstrate the mixer capabilities.

One problem that has happened the last couple of times is that the crust separates and inflates.  This is in the middle of the loaf giving the the bread the silhouette of an old automobile.  The last time I made the bread I slashed the center. This stopped all rising and left me with tiny loaves.

Until now I have not had this happen.  Its like all the rise is just under the crust and not throughout the bread.  I've made the recipe with sticky and drier dough and both versions did this.  My only change to the recipe is to use melted butter instead of olive oil.  My wife said the honey and oil in the recipe didn't work together for her taste buds.  I cannot see where the choice of liquid fat would do this.

I'd like the rise to be uniform throughout the crumb and not just under the crust. Any suggestions will be appreciated.


joann1536's picture

I had the same problem with one recipe that I'd used, too.  It sounds like "flying roof", and I believe it's caused by over-rising.  I know exactly how discouraging this is.  ;-((  

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

but Texas heat might be a problem, try using ice water in the recipe to lower the dough temp.  The dough is likely fermenting too fast or unevenly. 

pmiker's picture

Well, I try to keep the house a cool 78F.  I occasionally let it get a bit warmer to keep the electric bill down.  This last batch seemed to rise primarily just under the crust.  Once I slashed the pocket, no more rise.  Not on the shelf or in the oven.

The recipe uses more yeast than I normally do and it uses a bit of wheat gluten.  The first batch I made I gave the first rise a bit too much time and it quadrupled in size.  This time I shaped it right after it doubled in the first rise.  I expected more rise than I ended up with.

'Flying Roof Bread'.  I'll have to do a search for that.

Thanks for the replies. I appreciate them.

pmiker's picture

Most of the pictures I found show gaping holes in the crumb.  Some near the crust.  The loaves I baked were pan loaves baked at 350F.  The only hole was between the crumb and the crust.  The crust is about as thick as a few pieces of notebook paper.  Thin.  The crumb was tight and evenly holed with tiny holes.  I don't know if this makes a difference.

KathyF's picture

All other things being equal, how about trying a new package of yeast? Or you could try a loaf with store bought flour and if it works there, then maybe a problem with your flour?

pmiker's picture

I just opened the yeast package this week.  It's kept in a sealed container in the freezer.  The flour is a mix of hard red and hard white wheat milled by me just prior to mixing.  I'm not saying the problem is not the yeast or flour but they are low on my list of suspects.

I plan to make J. Hamelman's Honey Spelt bread this weekend.  I've made it before without problems.  I'll see how it goes.  It uses 25% bread flour.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

is forgetting the salt or adding it too late.  The other is lack of surface tension.  How are you shaping your loaves?  Keeping track of the top of the loaf?

Also known as the "baker's bedroom"  <--- something else to look up

if you've drastically cut back the salt this can be a result.  Also, with time, eyeballing to "double" is overrated.  Use a marked bowl, premark one if needed so you don't raise your dough too high.  Whole wheat loaves should not be allowed to "double" and do better just below that.  Fresh yeast is great stuff, I prefer it myself.

Well, something did change or you wouldn't be having these problems.  

 "I slashed the center. This stopped all rising and left me with tiny loaves".

That would indicate the dough was rising too long, slashing deflated the dough.  And no rising happens afterwards... even when reshaping the loaves after deflation?  (try it should it happen again)  

Basic Q's    How full is the pan when fresh shaped dough is laid inside? 

How full when you baked it?  

Where or on what do you place the dough to final rise?  Was it covered?  Was there a draft?

Taste your raw ingredients, has anything gotten rancid with time?

Was your finished loaf pale?  Or did it seem to brown slowly, slower than previously?  Paleness would be the second indicator for over proofing.   If color is good, and browning nicely, look to shaping.



pmiker's picture

For the past couple of months I have been shaping my loaves the way that is shown in Dough by R. Bertinet.  I keep the seam down and fold the ends over.  You can see how most of my breads turn out at  I normally get good rise both before and in the oven.  I will try patting the dough into a rectangle and rolling it up to see if that seems better.

I will search out the "baker's bedroom".  Hmmm, I found mention of bedrooms and a C. Hitz baguette shaping video.  I am downloading the video to watch after work.

Salt.  I went by the recipe, two teaspoons, which I weighed at 0.40 oz.  Per the recipe, I added the salt to the liquid. You can hear it grind in the mixer under the roller attachment in my Ankarsrum mixer.  From other recipes this size, two loaves, I believe 0.4 is correct.  It worked out to 2.11%.

Rise.  I placed the dough into an oiled 6qt Cambro see marked through bucket.  It started half way to the 2qt line and I took it out for shaping at the 2qt line.  The rise was 40 minutes.  My house temperature is 78-79F.

Yeast.  A new one pound package of instant yeast.  I order it on the internet since only packets and 4 ounce jars are available locally.  No cake yeast available close by.

Different. The recipe is new to me.  Using wheat gluten is new.  Using this much yeast (2 Tbsp, 0.60 oz, 3.16%) is unusual for me.  I am not comfortable with how a dough with honey mixes in the Ankarsrum.  I tend to end up with sticky dough.  This is a volume based recipe and it calls for 4 to 4.5 cups of freshly milled flour.  My last try was with 20 ounces of flour, 58% hard red and 42% hard white.

Final rise. In loaf pans on the counter away from windows.  Shower caps for cover.

Ingredients.  Brand new local wildflower honey.  It's a dark honey that tastes great.  I just bought it from the beekeeper Thursday.  Salt it salty, flours seem ok.  Water is Ozarka Spring water.  (My tap water is a bit yellow.)  The butter seems fine.

The loaf pans seem to be about 50% full.  With the last bake they did not reach the top of the sides when done.  Normally I let the dough get about one to one and a half inches above the side before baking.  Then I slash and put them into a pre-heated oven with a baking stone.

The finished loaves had good color.  Usually with a lot of sugar/honey browning is an issue.  These were baked at 350F for 30-35 minutes.  Inside temperature was about 195F.

This coming weekend I plan to try another recipe, one I've successfully made before.  I want to make sure I and the mixer are working correctly.  The Ankarsrum was going great until I tried enriched breads.  Simpler formulas worked fine that were about 50% whole wheat.  I'll back up and work my way back to this.

Thank you for the reply.

MANNA's picture

Here is my input. I see that the loaf is whole wheat. I think a factor here is the exposed crust is drying out causing a skin, be it ever so slight. Once in the oven the skin dries even more trapping the air your talking about. I suggest after the bread is final shaped place a well rung out damp towel over the loafs. Then place inside a plastic bag to keep the moisture in. This will prevent premature drying of the crust before baking. I would even get a spritz bottle and give the loafs a quick spray after loading into the oven.

RoundhayBaker's picture

...mention in all this fantastic detail and experimentation (I bet that in desperation we've all tried and failed with slashing tin loaves) is to what height you let your tin loaves rise. I mention this because, most commonly, flying crusts are caused by over-proofing. Here's an excellent visual guide from the KAF blog that takes you though what to aim for in a final rise:

Now I know you're not getting collapsed loaves but there is a link in common with your flying crusts. Looking at the recipe, hydration is about 75%. Very wet. If you over-proof a dough like this, the crumb will become established in the rise, but with 100% wholemeal there is a lot less gluten (even though you've added some) than, say, a white loaf. If over-expansion occurs during proofing, the interior becomes quite weak. Once it's in the oven, the already partially dry crust stays in place but the frail cell structure of the crumb underneath collapses, leaving big tunnels at the top. This is quite common with wholemeal/wholewheat loaves (and in wet loaves, in general). It also applies if you use the larger amount of flour - a 66% hydration of a 100% wholemeal/wholewheat can easily go the same way.

Possible solutions are to check your proofing frequently (using the KAF guide until you're comfortable with the process), be aware that doughs made with a new flour will probably prove at a different rate to what you're used to, and work as hard as you can to make sure you maximise gluten formation in a 100% wholewheat loaf. Also, if you are really desperate to get a good uniform rise on this type of loaf, try using a tiny amount of ascorbic acid. KAF sell it in the States, Doves Farm in the UK, and I'm not sure about anywhere else, sorry.

As you can see from all the comments there are many other causes, but this is first suspect I investigate when it happens to me, and it's usually the culprit.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and you might be seeing a result of more diastatic activity in the dough messing with your familiar rise times.  Just a thought.

pmiker's picture

Thanks for the link on honey.  I like the technical info.

As to loaf pan rise.  Normally I let dough rise about 1 inch or a bit more in the pan.  It depends on how it looks.  I normally slash right before putting them into the oven.

Once I get off work Saturday afternoon, I can get back into the kitchen again.

pmiker's picture

I took a tried and true recipe and made it today.  I cut back on the yeast a bit to gain a longer rise.  Since I needed to make sure I knew how to properly use my mixer, I left used a recipe that had flour, water, salt, yeast and butter.

bread flour 13.20 oz 55%

whole wheat, fresh milled 10.65 45%

water 16.00 oz 67%

butter, unsalted (melted) 1.50 oz 6.3%

salt 0.35 oz 1.45%

yeast 0.30 1.26%

First rise was 40 minutes at 79F.  Shaped, the dough felt a bit slack, then allowed to rise in covered pans (2 - 8x4 inch) for 45 minutes.

I slashed the loaves and put them into a pre-heated oven at 375F for 35 minutes.  Good oven spring, no flying crust, good color.  The bread feels just a bit heavier than usual when chewing it.  Not as soft as I normally make.   may cut the yeast back a bit more and do a fold halfway through the first rise when I make it next time.

So, butter is good, flour is good, yeast is good, salt is good and so is the water (Ozarka Spring Water).  That leaves honey.  If I did not have 9 loaves in the freezer from last weeks testing  might try again this weekend just to test the honey. It just may be sandwiches for lunch and supper this week.

Thanks for all the wonderful feedback folks.