The Fresh Loaf

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Loaf cracking outside of the score

bijection05's picture
bijection05

Loaf cracking outside of the score

Hi!

 

I'm fairly new to sourdough and just bought an oval banneton. 

I've baked great loaves but it seems that most time they crack a bit outside of the score which I feel Ike is preventing a greater rise. Here's a picture of my last 50-50 while wheat sourdough following the perfect loaf recipe.

What do you think this is due to? 

mariana's picture
mariana

Hi bijection05!

This is due to one and only thing - the recipe is not that perfect. Or at least it is not perfect for your kind of flour. 

Well, the physics of the process is that the surface will break or split where it is the weakest and the pressure from the inside is the greatest. Wheat dough has strength due to gluten development, basically due to kneading. The more you knead, the stronger the dough would become. It will open up only in the indicated by you weakest places, where it is "injured', or scored. 

If the recipe doesn't prescribe a sufficient kneading time, then the resulting bread will behave like so in the oven, as if it had no gluten, as if no kneading was necessary, as if it was a soda bread or a rye loaf, or a no-knead bread. 

This soda bread has cracks outside the slashes, because the bread dough was not kneaded

Irish Soda Bread

Rye bread is cracking all over outside of the slashes, it was not kneaded. Just flour, water and salt barely blended together with a spoon. 

No-knead Rye Bread

NO-knead bread, slashes and the result - bread surface cracks all over the place. 

dough rising for no knead bread 

Making bread at home has never been easier than with my recipe for the Easiest 2 Hour No Knead Bread. Only 4 ingredients and 2 hours to hot, delicious bread on your table.

So, when you combine your water and flour into dough, mix it a little bit longer and shape it tighter, so that gluten would become even stronger, then this problem will disappear. Like so

 

bijection05's picture
bijection05

I'll try slap and folding longer next time then. I did 5 sets of stretch and fold after kneading 4 min as instructed but I'll increase the kneading time then.

My shaping skills are not that good too haha, I tried to follow the method described in tartine bread and adding stitches after putting It in the banneton to increase tension

mariana's picture
mariana

Hi, 

I took a look at your previous discussion and it seems that you are using French T65 and French T150 blend and that your T65 has 11% protein. I don't know if you know that in the US is corresponds to the 9% protein cake and pastry flour, not suitable for yeasted or sourdough bread making. This difference is due to the fact that in France millers indicate protein content of the dry portion of flour, as if flour had 0% moisture, whereas in the US they indicate protein content of 100g of flour with 14% moisture content. 

So, yeah, your initial issue is that your current flour is too delicate for the US recipes. It has 35% less protein and only 2/3 of the gluten necessary for the US recipes of bread.  That difference alone explains all the surface cracks on the outside of the slash in your loaf.

Your flour behaves more like cake flour or non-gluten flour. Seek stronger flours, please, if you want to bake  using Tartine method of kneading and shaping loaves. 

In the US, bread flour (white flour) has 11-12% protein (14% moisture based), which in France would mean a bag of T55-T65 flour with 13.5-14.5% protein (dry matter based). Can you imagine that you need 12% protein flour for the recipe and your flour has only 9% protein? The difference is huge, no baker in the US will dare to substitute such flours in a recipe and expect the same quality of bread.  

12:9 = 1.333

33.3% less gluten than necessary. 

Another thing is that you've been kneading (or slapping by hand) for 4 min and shaping as in Tartine bread. Kneading by hand (slapping and folding) would require about 20 min if you are strong and steady. 30-40 min for a person of average strength. So it is better to count the number of slaps and folds than minutes of doing it. 

Tartine bread is done like this, to get the phenomenal rise

-  Refresh your Tartine starter and let it rise at room temp. Let it ferment for 4 hrs at room temp. 

- Then mix your bread dough sans levain, give it 150 slap-n-folds, and let it sit for 15-30 min. Next, add leaven (starter), blend it with your dough, and slap and fold the bread dough 200-250 times more. That would incorporate le levain and mix the bread dough to homogeneity with initial signs of gluten formation and development. 

FYI please see how bread dough made with 10% protein flour (equivalent of French T55 with 12-12.5% protein) looks like after the initial 200-400 slap-n-folds, at 3:47 min mark. It must be bubbly on the surface before it starts fermenting. And how to incorporate more water (or liquid levain) later if you want a wetter dough for a Tartine style loaf - at 4:05 mark. 

- Let your bread dough ferment for 4 hrs at warm room temperature (27C), stretching and folding it from time to time with wet hands. 

- Divide it into pieces of desired weight, preshape, let rest for 15 min. Shape loaves, place them into bannetons generously sprinkled with rice flour. 

- Proof for 2 hrs at 27C, refrigerate and continue proofing for 8-10 hrs at 10-12C. Take them out 2 hrs prior to baking and let them warm up to at least 18C

- Slash and bake. 

source: p.222 in The Bread Builders (1999). The story about Chad Robertson's bakery and his Tartine bread. 

You can vary the process of fermentation of course as it suits you or the recipe. Just make sure to count your slap and folds when you are mixing by hand, instead of watching the clock. 300-400 total is the absolute minimum if you continue to develop dough later with stretch-n-folds and long cold proof. 

Otherwise, seek recipes that work well for T65, 100% levain and high hydration dough. Like this one. It relies on super long "autolyse". See if it works for you. It makes sourdough bread with great slashes that open beautifully, a loaf with typical Tartine-like crumb. In the article, they mix dough in a mixer, but you will get the same results with 400-600 slap-n-folds by hand. 

 

best wishes

m. 

Yippee's picture
Yippee

Hi, Mariana, 

Which American flour should I use in place of the above French flour? I'm so confused 😵😵😵

Thank you 🙏🙏🙏

Yippee

mariana's picture
mariana

Hi Yippee

T45 is white flour, something like Italian 00. Normally it would be something like Hodgson Mill Unbleached All-Purpose Flour: 9.5-10.5% protein. US all-purpose from the southern states (White Lily APF, Martha's White) or US pastry flour are bleached. In France T45 is used for pastry (cake and pastry flour) and it is unbleached. 

These are all T45 equivalents by ash in the US, but they are all different in protein: 

T55 is creamy flour,  what they use for baguettes and daily white bread. In the US it would be 'artisan' flour sold by some millers like KAF or Guisto's. What is sold in the US stores as 'bread flour' is way too white and too strong compared to T55. The closest to it from the more widely available US flour is Hecker's-Ceresota All-purpose. No additives, winter wheat, very moderate gluten content, makes excellent bread. 

I use these tables shown below when I search for equivalents, although in Toronto we get European flours in Polish grocery stores, both T45 and T55, and cheaper than Canadian flour. They are not just white and creamy flours from Europe, their protein structure is different, they behave differently during mixing and fermentation and the resulting bread gives you different sensations in the mouth when you bite it due to differences in gluten. 

High Protein

King Arthur Unbleached Enriched All-Purpose Flour: 11.7% protein

Heckers/Ceresota Unbleached Enriched Presifted All-Purpose Flour: 11.4-11.8% protein

Moderate Protein

Gold Medal Unbleached All-Purpose Flour: 10.5% protein

Gold Medal Bleached All-Purpose Flour: 10.5% protein

Pillsbury Unbleached Enriched All-Purpose Flour: 10-11% protein

Pillsbury Bleached Enriched All-Purpose Flour: 10-11% protein

Hodgson Mill Unbleached All-Purpose Flour: 9.5-10.5% protein

Martha White Enriched Bleached Pre-Sifted All-Purpose Flour: 9-11.25% protein

Low Protein

White Lily Enriched Bleached Plain All-Purpose Flour: 7-8.5% protein

 

bijection05's picture
bijection05

Thank you for your answer ! I've switched flours, I'm now using a T65 that has 12.7% protein but considering the french/american equivalent that you posted below It's just barely enough (about 10.7 in the chart you posted below). It's really interesting, I had no idea that there was such a huge difference and this explains also why i usually use 5 to 10 percent less water than what the recipe accounts for.

This bread was made by using the recipe for the fifty-fifty whole wheat sourdough loaf from the website the perfect loaf, so a bit different from the original tartine bread recipe I was using before (https://www.theperfectloaf.com/fifty-fifty-whole-wheat-sourdough-bread/)

You mention "shaping as in Tartine bread", could you maybe explain why is that a bad thing ? (or did you mean the global recipe?)

I've seen many people (on instagram mostly) shape like explained in Tartine Bread but adding an extra step consisting of stitching the bread after folding the top half. 

I have done this on this loaf but only after putting It seam side up in the banneton as I felt some additionnal tension could help.

I've also tried shaping in a batard shape as demonstrated here once https://www.theperfectloaf.com/guides/shaping-a-batard/

But I think I was being too gentle and didn't get the proper tension.

Thanks again !

mwilson's picture
mwilson

it's even more complicated...

The figure of 12.7%, is this printed on the packet under nutritional values? If so then this does include moisture content. However, protein values provided as part of the nutritional content are represented as Nitrogen x 6.25 in the EU.

US and Canada always Nitrogen x 5.7 and always 14% moisture.

suave's picture
suave

mwilson's picture
mwilson

I'm asking bijection05 about the French flour they are using... "I'm now using a T65 that has 12.7% protein"

@ suave, you rather jumped the gun there with your comprehensive response. Foolish jester

suave's picture
suave

Foolish jester

You just had go all twitter here?

bijection05's picture
bijection05

Yes, the amount of protein i'm indicating is under nutritional values. How does this different Nitrogen proportion affects the final amount of protein ? 

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Nutritional values in the EU are per 100 grams of product which includes moisture. But what that that moisture content is, could be "as is" or 14%. It depends on how the testing was performed. Importantly, because of this, the flour you have which states 12.7% protein is not on a dry basis.

Physiochemical tests that demine protein content are done by analysing nitrogen content, the accepted conversion for flour is to multiply by 5.7. But other food substances may use other multipliers.

However, in the EU all nutritional values for protein are required to be given as equivalent to Nitrogen x 6.25 regardless of the food substance analysed. In this case some millers may just re-calculate the data to satisfy this requirement.

You could simply back convert that figure to x 5.7 but in the end protein content doesn't provide much insight into flour performance, not all protein is gluten and the composition of gluten varies also. Rheological tests (alveograph, farinograph, extensograph) can provide much more specific information with regard to flour performance.

Previous discussions around protein, moisture basis and conversion:

FYI: Calculation Errors in Calvel's Book 'The Taste of Bread' | The Fresh Loaf

Flour and hydration in the UK | The Fresh Loaf

Flour for panettone | The Fresh Loaf

mariana's picture
mariana

Hi bijection05!

Good for you! I believe that next time you will be able to bake great loaves with flours with just about any protein content. After all, for bakers it is not the protein in flour that matters, but gluten in dough and what we do to it. 

American flours make dough with a lot of strong gluten right away, as soon as we mix flour and water.

European flours make dough that has little gluten initially, but with time the amount of gluten in dough increases dramatically. So, methods of handling dough are different, out of necessity, but both European and North American flours make great tall loaves. 

When you shape batards stitching is an absolute must. It is sine qua non of shaping batards, baguettes, boules of pain quotidien, etc. Batards are baked from medium consistency dough and without stitching the sides of the seam won't stay together. Pinch and press them together as hard as you can. 

Tartine-style loaves, both oblong or round-shaped, are baked from a very soft dough with more water in it. It is tacky to the point of being sticky. We don't have to stich or pinch the seam. Overlapping them sides is enough. The sides will glue themselves to each other together naturally. 

So, when I mentioned Tartine style shaping possibly being unsuitable for your dough I meant that unless your dough looks and behaves like Tartine-style dough, you won't get good results from shaping it like Tartine-style dough. 

Please, take a look at how Tartine-style dough looks and behaves as it ferments, as it is being stretched and folded, as it is being pre-shaped and shaped and how it springs up and opens up with it is baked. Notice that you don't have to preheat your Dutch oven to get a giant oven spring out of your loaves. All of it is done with European flour! 

Chad Robertson's masterclass in Denmark

Below are the results of determining gluten content of different flours mixed with water. See how they behave differently with time.

Amount of gluten in 100 g of flour

First number is 20 min after mixing, second number - 1 hr after mixing, third number - 2-3 hrs after mixing flour and water

When you get about 30% of gluten, you can bake medium tall bread loaves (4x rise), when you get about 40% gluten, you can bake VERY tall loaves (6-8x rise). Closer to 50% gluten gives loaves that rise 11-fold. 

European flours

T45 flour 34% -> 36% -> 40% gluten content rises drastically 2-3 hrs after mixing. 

Semolina rimacinata (durum, Italy) 28-32-34%

Tipo 00 (Italy) 34%-35%-40%

T55 flour 10% protein 28% - 37% - 37%

T55 flour 11% protein 33% - 42%

North American flours

RobinHood cake and pastry flour 12% -> 28%. This low protein flour has low gluten content upon mixing, but with enough time resting after mixing even this flour will make bread tall enough to look great! 

Ceresota All-Purpose flour 37%-37%

RobinHood All-Purpose flour 43%-45%

RobinHood Bread flour 41%-46%

So, please remember that European flour benefits from plenty of quiet rest after moistening it with water. Let the gluten form. And then you can slap and fold it, stretch it, ferment it, shape it and bake it and your breads will be gorgeous. 

bijection05's picture
bijection05

Thanks again for such a thorough answer !

I had seen that video before and the way he preshapes the dough is out of this world haha, It doesn't look like that when I do It.

So i should consider maybe lengthening the autolyse. I'll try to use maybe recipes that uses european flour just to get a feeling of the changes that are made considering the differences in the flours. It's much easier to find american content on the internet though and I find the perfect loaf website really great too so i'll come back to that later in my bread journey I guess.

I think i'm too gentle with the dough when i shape too, I'm afraid to degas It completely but there is a subtle line between too gentle and too rough that I have still yet to find. If I was to shape too agressively what would be the final result ? A denser, more uniform crumb ?

I would have never thought there were such differences to be honest. I knew american flours where stronger but I had no idea that the way of measuring was different.

mariana's picture
mariana

You are right! You can continue using any recipes from any websites, just account for the nature of your flours.

Because gluten in T65  forms slowly with time, knead to develop gluten into thin strong films later on in the process, 1-3 hr later than in the original recipe prescribed for the American flour where we can knead righ away. You can ferment and then knead, you know. There is no rule that says that you must knead ONLY in the first 4 min of mixing flour and water.

Traditional long kneading by hand lasts so long, up to one hour of kneading by hand, that it coincides with the time necessary for the gluten to form. It's when we knead by hand only 4 min in the very beginning, we fail do develop gluten, because at that time there is barely any gluten present. Most of it is formed later and remains unkneaded...

Earlier I gave you a link to a Tartine style recipe with T65, where they let their dough sit overnight after mixing flour and water and only then knead. They were not so much autolysing dough as they were waiting for enough gluten to form with time and only then knead it into thin film.

To degas or not to degas should be written specifically in the recipe. With some breads we degas, for example when we are shaping baguettes and batards we press and slap and push strongly, with others such as ciabatta we don't degas. The kind od bread we are making determines what to do. 

Most important is to not to break the surface when you are shaping. Don't be so rough, don't tear the surface of you loaves when you shape. What's inside is less delicate and important because there is less tension inside than on the surface!  As I mentioned, baguettes are degassed when shaped, yet they have an open crumb structure due to layering of dough in the process of shaping.

Dense and uniform are two different characteristics, unrelated to each other.

Dense crumb mostly means dry dough or something that was not let rise long enough to be fluffy, may be too little yeast or weak sourdough starter. 

Uniform crumb depends on how long you were kneading and how you were creating layers when shaping, allowing larger bubbles of air to be trapped in  between layers of gluten or not.

You can't degas completely by hand, that's impossible without using mixer on high speed, so don't worry. It is very difficult to degas completely! 

To summarize this long discussion, knead longer by giving it more slap'n'folds and  knead later on in the process of fermentation , when enough gluten has formed in your dough, and you won't have those cracks on the surface of your loaves outside the slashes.Count the total number of your slaps and folds. 

And tell us about your success. We will be waiting :)

 

 

bijection05's picture
bijection05

Hi, 

I've baked this loaf making the changes you suggested but still following the initial recipe.

I mixed the flour and the majority of the water (saved 20 for adding the levain and salt) 8 hours before adding the levain. 

I did 200 slap and folds after adding the leavin and fifty more after adding the salt.

Bulked for 3h with folds every 30 min, I stopped the bulk before It was completely done because i knew I couldn't bake the loaf until late the day after so I was hoping that It would compensate  the extra time during final retard in the fridge.

Turns out It did not (about a 15 h final retard) so It's super overproofed. 

The thing is that altough I did the extra kneading you can still see a massive crack perpendicular to the score.

Is It a cause of the overproofing or would It have happened either way ? Should I knead more next time ?

mariana's picture
mariana

Hi bijection05, 

You loaf looks different and a bit oversteamed if you ask me, but the crack problem it still there. The good thing is that the major crack is only one this time and it is very narrow, whereas before there were two large and wide open cracks. Are you happy with the taste of this bread? 

I cannot comment on the recipe per se, since I never baked it and don't know what's normal for it: % inoculation, bulk fermentation time and temperature, retardation of fermentation or cold proof before baking. 

Please, tell me  that you refrigerated your dough when you did this: 

I mixed the flour and the majority of the water (saved 20 for adding the levain and salt) 8 hours before adding the levain. 

Because your flour has very high ash content, T65 blended with T150, you should refrigerate whenever it sits unleavened (without starter or yeast in it) and unsalted for longer than 1 hr. Otherwise it will spontaneously ferment or even rot. There are too many microorganisms in flour itself and it is not safe to keep it at room temp unfermented and unsalted. 

For the purpose of gluten formation 30-60min rest before beginning to knead is enough, but you could also give it 8 hrs., if refrigerated all this time. 

250 turns is not enough even for blending ingredients to homogeneity. Your dough was never mixed (not kneaded).

Aim at 

- 300 turns (slaps and folds) to blend ingredients to homogeneity

- 450-600 to reach the initial stages of gluten development, enough for very rustic loaves

- 800 medium gluten development

-1000-1800 well developed gluten (well kneaded)

I would say that your cracks this time have nothing to do with overproofing, i.e. with proofing the loaf too long before baking it, because overproofed loaves never crack, they shrink and sag and flow meaning they have a typical wrinkly surface. See examples here, please:

https://www.seriouseats.com/2014/11/troubleshoot-bad-bread-messed-up-loaf.html

Your were retarding something, some process was stretched out in time or arrested by refrigerating your dough, but I am not sure what it is that you were retarding.

Cold proof of shaped loaves inside home refrigerator (at 2-4C) shouldn't last longer than 2-8 hrs.(in my experience). However, a piece of bread dough (unshaped) could sit there for as long as 1-2 weeks even if fully mature (fully fermented) without any trouble and be later on shaped into a loaf and warm-proofed in a proofer and baked into a beautiful loaf. 

 

best wishes

m. 

bijection05's picture
bijection05

Hi ! 

I didn't know that you weren't supposed to mix flour and water and not leave It at room temperature, I've seen It in so many recipes that I thought It was what was recommended. The bread tasted really good though but on the flat side as you can see.

I followed your advice and I wanted to bake another loaf before answering. This one is a different recipe from the same website and It had a pretty good ear !

I did about 700 slap and folds (550 before adding the salt), I felt that It became more easy to do them after the addition of salt. Is there something that the salt is preventing when kneading ? Because most recipes I see kned and then add the salt.

It cracked a bit but I think It was because I wasn't confident enough in my scoring and had to do It a second time... 

What do you think ? Is It because It lacked a bit more kneading ? I stopped when It passed the window pane test successully, would oyu consider that a good indicator ?

So basically with the flours I use I won't be able to do no knead methods like Tartine's and not get cracks If I understood everything correctly.

Once again thank you very much this has been really helpful and informative ! 

Have a nice day

 

mariana's picture
mariana

I am so happy to see you baking! Good for you!

You keep baking with European flours using methods designed for hand-mixed US flours. This time it is about salt addition and what it does or blocks from happening. Salt with help with gluten formation and tightening (making your loaves tall) and salt will block autolysis (gluten destruction). 

With European wheat you MUST salt your dough right away, basically when you measure your flour you mix it with salt. Or when you add water to flour, you mix water with salt.  And keep your dough on the cooler side, at about 20C to let gluten form as quickly as possibly. We add salt before everything else, even before adding yeast or sourdough. 

With North American flours you'd rather autolyze, destroy gluten, or else it will be very difficult to knead by hand. The flour is too strong. So salt is delayed as much as possible and sometimes added after the dough is fully kneaded, stretched and folded and even fermented! Like they would have a fully fermented sourdough, ready for shaping, add a bit of salt to it and shape it into loaves and it would make an amazing bread from North American flour.

As you see these flours behave very differently and require different approach. They are polar opposites. 

The summary about salt, based on research, is as follows

Salt is best added to dough in the beginning of its mixing, during the first 3 minutes of mixing, before stopping mixing to autolyze dough during artisan bread-making.

Salt is best added to dough in form of saturated brine: per each 10g table salt 30g water from the total water in the formula, dissolve well, add to dough while mixing. Or else use dry salt flakes (kosher salt in the US), they dissolve in dough more evenly and 3 times faster than granulated salt. 30-60% of all salt in formula is usually added to liquid sponge, should  that method of dough-making be chosen by the baker.

Benefits of late salt addition - during the last 2 min of mixing - saving in time and energy spent on developing dough by kneading, late salt addition cuts kneading time by half. 

Problems with late salt addition: pooling of salt brine in mixer, serious decline in bread quality due to wash out effect - excessive bleaching of dough, excessive oxidation, risk of over-mixing, loss of bread flavor and aroma, excessive bread volume, irregular crumb quality. 

Early salt addition amplifies bread flavor, late salt addition washes it out. 

Is there something that the salt is preventing when kneading ? 

- Yes, the destruction of gluten. In the US, when mixing by hand, the goal is to soften, to weaken gluten, to destroy it, so salt is delayed and mixing becomes 2x easier. But your flour is already nice and perfect, you don't need to ruin it by banging it salt-free. 

Because most recipes I see knead and then add the salt.

- It's because you read North-American websites and blogs, or people who bake with strong 13-14% protein flours in GB ;)

You too have a nice day and keep baking. I wish you the best of success!

m. 

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Hi Mariana.

You're quite right on the details of the differences in flour analysis standards but there is a context to where this applies.

In the EU commercially sold food items are required to include nutritional information per product by weight. If I were to pick up some flour from an EU or UK supermarket the protein listed on the bag would be found under the nutritional values, which includes moisture content.

It is only the flour analysis data that is subjected to this distinction of moisture basis and this type of data is something that millers would provide on a spec sheet.

mariana's picture
mariana

Hi mwilson! Thank you, I read previous discussions on the topic to which you provided links and they are illuminating for those who shop in EU in bulk or in grocery stores. Or in Japan, for that matter. 

Yes I agree that for a home baker we must be aware or this tricky situation with numbers in EU. I bought wheat flours from several EU countries when visited including England and Ireland and local flours are simply remarkable! They are so different from what we have here in Canada! But the labels are indeed for 100g flour and I always assumed it was for "freshly milled flour", at 14.5% moisture. But who knows! Maybe it was for the flour "as is" with 10% moisture on average when stored and sold from dry environment.

A bit more relevant to the bread we were discussing is ash content which is also determined differently in EU and in the US. If we are not matching ash content to the recipe, then good bread is hardly possible, because flours with  higher ash content won't have much gluten even if their protein % is respectable. A lot of that protein would be in bran particles or in form of andwater soluble protens and won't contribute to gluten formation. Plus higher ash flours behave a bit differently during fermentation and proof.

I mostly wanted to bring bijection05's attention of to the issue of gluten in European wheat flours and gluten does relate to protein content. Experience taught me that European flours behave more like North American lower protein flours upon mixing them with water and only an hour or two later they show their true strength.  And then it's the best time to knead dough or to punch down energetically. Otherwise, the resulting bread is not so good tasting or not so good looking, even though the flour itself is excellent and has great potential

It is particularly important not only for those who in Europe mix by hand using recipes meant for North American flours, it is even more important for those who use mixers and bread machines either to bake bread in them or to simply  knead dough in a bread machine or mixer.

Plain flour does not do too well in a bread machine for example. Because bread machine needs flours that form at least 37%gluten immediately upon contact with water and would be kneaded vigorously right away for 20-30min. But if one premixes plain flour with water, salt, yeast , etc. and gives it time to form gluten and only then knead, by hand or in a bread machine, the bread would come out very good, beautiful. 

Again, thanks for your kind contribution to this conversation. It is such a pleasure to read all your comments and articles here on TFL. You are very knowledgeable and very helpful. Thank you.

m.

suave's picture
suave

Poor shaping, insuffiecient proof, perhaps - insufficient steam.  I hesitate to say to which degree each contributes to the outcome. 

bijection05's picture
bijection05

I baked It in a dutch oven so I don't think steaming was an issue. Bulk ferment lasted 4 hours and final retard happened in the fridge overnight.

Thank you for such a detailed answer

suave's picture
suave

With flour it is sometimes hard to judge steaming - dull poorly steamed crusts and floured ones at times look similar in the photos.  It's not steaming then.  As to the times - at first sight it sounds dufficient but times are somewhat irrelevant - 4 hours may mean anything depending on ambient temperature, state of the starter and the amount of prefermented flour, but assuming it's not the recipe that leaves technique - you certainly need to shape better - the bulges I see should not be there, and the lumps speak of gas pockets left from insufficient geassing/preshaping.  If you bake in the dutch oven how do put your bread in there - slash then lower it in or drop and slash?  Or do you use Lodge combo? 

bijection05's picture
bijection05

I could definitely imrpove on my shaping, I don't think I did a particularly good job on this one indeed. 

As for the dutch oven, I drop the bread gently on a piece of parchment paper (seam side down), I then slash It (not really good at that either haha) and transfer It to the dutch oven.

Sometimes the slash closes a bit because of the way I lift the parchment paper, It sticks back together a bit.

Walter D's picture
Walter D

Disclaimer: I am an amateur baker and my little knowledge is just based on trial and lots of error.

I find I get more splits when my loaves are under proofed. I don't really mind them, but I seem to get rid of them with longer final proof. I also  proof my loaves in the refrigerator. Sometimes I get impatient and bake them early.