The Fresh Loaf

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A great dough supplement + why is crumb more open on edges?

mandaclair's picture

A great dough supplement + why is crumb more open on edges?

This is (or was... we are devouring it at record speed)  an 85% hydration loaf of primarily bread flour, but about 1/3 of the total flour was a mix of buckwheat, whole wheat, and a 7-grain "hot cereal" grain blend from Bob's Red Mill (whole wheat, rye, triticale, oats, oat bran, barley, brown rice, flaxseed). 

Dough was quite slack due to reduced gluten but I managed. This oven spring was perhaps more than I would have expected.  But a question: why the open crumb around the sides but less in the center?  I've heard this can happen due to shaping method.  Lately I've been shaping by dumping the dough out; folding the 4 sides inward to tighten the skin underneath; flip the loaf and use bench scraper to roll and ball it up more, then flip it again into the banneton for final proofing.  One earlier post I read here said that this method tends to compress alveoli in the center; such that I might interpret the outer regions of this crumb as being "what I would have had throughout" if I hadn't balled it up so much after folding-in.

Do you think this explanation (shaping method) fits this crumb photo, or can you think of other explanations?  Underproofed? (I wouldn't be surprised since more recently I had an overproofing problem, and may be overcompensating now).  Despite the parameters of this particular recipe, I have to say that open crumb around the outside and denser in the middle tends to be my most common outcome, albeit with more spring since I usually use more bread flour.

This is the tastiest loaf I've baked in more than a month, by the way, while averaging 4-5 loaves per week...

idaveindy's picture

Yes, it could be the final folding/shaping method.  

I suppose it also could be that the outer edges received more warmth during the proofing process, and thereby fermented more than the colder inside.

Supposing... If your bulk ferment was cold (in the fridge), and your final proof at room temp, the outer edges warmed-up and fermented more than the colder inside.

Suppposing... your final proof was in the fridge, but you took it out and let it sit at room temp for a couple hours before baking, the outer edge could have warmed/fermented more than the inside.

Does your standard method include either of those two supposings?


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

expect it to look if I flipped out the dough after bulking and didn't degas the middle of the dough.  I imagine that the handling of the outside edges into the inside middle degassed it so it is more compact and the outside crust is degassed from stretching and handling it but the layer or zone between the two areas still has larger elongated gas cells that will expand when heated.  

The desire is for more even distribution of those gas cells and a rounder shape so I would suggest better degassing before shaping.  Everything the same just degas the dough a little more before folding up the sides into the middle and tightening up the skin.  

My suggestion would be to:  Pounce on the tipped out dough like a cat with outstretched paws, open fingers (trimmed nails) and pretend for an instant you want to make mointain lion focaccia.  :)  This colapses the big cells into more smaller ones that during the final proof should give a better distribution of gas cells and the dough will be less puffy. This in turn leads you to judge the proof as less oven ready letting you give the compacted areas of the dough more time to expand and form larger gas cells.