The Fresh Loaf

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Unable to achieve more lacy crumb

sirrith's picture

Unable to achieve more lacy crumb

Hello everyone, it's been a while since I've posted here. I've been trying to achieve more "lacy" and open crumb in my sourdough loaves, but I'm having a hard time doing so. No matter what I do, my bread turns out a bit denser than I'd like. I've managed to achieve nice ears and improve my shaping, but the crumb still eludes me.


My recipe is (following the fullproofbaking video on YouTube for technique): 

Night before, measure out 25g starter, add 75g flour (50% rye, 50%white bread) and 45g water, leave on counter overnight.


In the morning, mix 425g white bread flour, 301g water, autolyse for 2h.


Mix in the starter, leave for 30 mins then add 10g salt,mix and rest another 30 mins.


Do a stretch and fold (video does a lamination but I don't have counter space for that), then transfer to a baking tray


Do 3 sets of coil folds 45 mins apart, then leave to bulk for another 30 mins.


Shape and directly into proofing basket, leave at room temp for another 30 mins or so then into the fridge overnight.


Baked with steam at 260C 15 minutes, and 25 minutes uncovered.


Any tips?

loaflove's picture

that's a beautiful crumb and crust and scoring. how many folds are you doing per set?

sirrith's picture

Thank you for the kind words. I do 4 folds per set (fold the "top" then the "bottom" then both sides) 

loaflove's picture

I didn't know what coil folds were and when i googled it , it looks very gentle.  maybe it's too gentle?? I used to do 4 sets of stretch and folds and 16 each set because it was so fun i didn't want to stop. However I might have been overdoing it.  I had a really nice open crumb but also had dense gummy spots so, i decided to tone it down and do 4-5 stretch and folds per set.  But then i notice the crumb was tighter .  I would give anything to have a crumb like yours.  It looks perfect to me but maybe try the s and f's rather than coil?

How many grams of starter is in your mix?

sirrith's picture

used to do stretch and fold, but I got similar results as this, so I don't think this is the reason. I'm using 25g unfed starter built up with 75g flour and 45g water.


The open crumb with sense gummy parts in your bread could be underproofing. 

pmccool's picture

Said the old lady as she kissed the cow.

Seriously, that is exactly the crumb that I prefer for most of my breads.  From my point of view, it’s a winner.

Once in a while, when a style of bread is characterized by an open or lacy crumb, then that is what I shoot for.  But on most breads, a crumb like you have pictured is eminently practical. 


Benito's picture

I agree with Paul, that crumb is a winner in my mind as well, good work.


sirrith's picture

Thank you Paul and Benny, I agree it is a very practical crumb and nothing I'm disappointed with at all.  I'm just trying to achieve something more open/lacy and was wondering why I don't seem to be able to do it!  It's a problem that I can't seem to solve and I don't like that, more a matter of challenging myself than anything else, really :)    

The Almighty Loaf's picture
The Almighty Loaf

I quite like the Full Proof Baking recipe as well and I've been able to acheive a fairly open crumb with it so I'm wondering it the skipped lamination step is part of the problem. According to Kristin (I think that's how you spell it?), the lamination step is meant to add a crap ton of strength to the dough and contribute to the open crumb. I'm fortunate enough to have a counter that can accomodate the step so I've been able to follow the recipe as instructed but maybe an extra coil fold or two could help up the strength? It also seems like you're using a mature levain (fermented overnight) as opposed to the young levain (fermented for 5 hours) in the recipe so it could be stemming from that? But I still agree with the others that you've got yourself a lovely crumb as is and should be proud.

dmsnyder's picture

I also agree with Paul and Benny. Your dough is 70% hydration, and this is a fairly typical "good" crumb for a 70-75% hydration dough. You can probably increase the openness of the crumb a bit by meticulously avoiding de-gassing during shaping.

If you really, really want a more open crumb, you could boost the hydration to 80% or more. You will have a stickier dough of course. You may not be able to shape it or score it as usual. Think ciabatta.

Another approach it to develop the gluten really well but really minimize the dough handling/degassing after bulk fermentation. Professor Calvel used to make what he called "Pain Rustique" with yeasted baguette dough. Rather than pre-shaping, resting and shaping then proofing, he would just cut pieces - I'd estimate they were about 350g each - and proofing then baking them. Because you haven't degassed at all, really, you get a very open crumb with a relatively low-hydration dough. I did this once or twice many years ago, and it does work. I cannot think of any reason it wouldn't work with your dough.

Happy baking!