The Fresh Loaf

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Bakers. Lend me your ears...

benjamin163's picture
benjamin163

Bakers. Lend me your ears...

Hello, I am baking bread with strong white flour and a dough that is 75% hydration.

I mix in a mixer slowly for 15 minutes until I have a nice silky dough that stretches and behaves.

I bulk ferment for three hours with three or four stretches in between.

I pre shape, building tension successfully.

I shape. It never seems quite as easy as King Arthurs or proof bread make it look but I'm getting there. It feels a bit looser and more wobbly than their final shape but it behaves well enough.

I put it in a banneton and in a fridge to cold proof overnight.

In the morning I turn out and score with the blade at about 30%. The surface cuts but the dough does spread fairly quickly, almost instantaneously. 

I bake on a stone in a hot over at 220 with steam.

The result is in the picture. A nice light loaf. Airy enough. But with absolutely no ears or evidence of massive spring.

Is it in the shaping that I'm failing? Or in the scoring? Do I need to try a dough with less hydration. I'd expect more holes too. Is that related.

Any help and guidance gratefully received. Here's a couple more pics of baguette prepared the same way...

 

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Please describe the baking mode that you are using.

Is this the combi oven you were using before?

Fan on or fan off? 

What heating elements are you using ?  Bottom, top, back side?

--

The surface of the crust reminds me of a gas oven, or using top heat in a convection oven.

--

Pronounced oven spring with ears also generally requires the dough to be underfermented slightly. So you may need to experiment with that.

--

What country are you in?  What brand and types of flour are you using? Please be as specific as possible.  

And whose formulas are you using?  Sometimes using US formulas with non-US flours is a challenge.

benjamin163's picture
benjamin163

Thank you for your reply.

I am using an oven which can bake with moisture.

I have used both fan assist and top and bottom heat with similar results.

Bulk fermentation of a 1k dough takes roughly three or four hours using 200g starter which has doubled in size before using.

I shall definitely try some underfermentation as you suggest. 

It has to be said, I sometimes get a wonderful spring but still no ears. The slash just seems to make a nice surface pattern rather than cut into the loaf.

I then pre-shape and rest for about half an hour. And then I shape and put in the fridge overnight, so about 10 hours. (there doesn't seem to be too much of a rise in that time.)

I'm in London England.

I use a standard organic 'strong bread' flour.

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Spreading after scoring, particularly refrigerated dough after overnight retard, strongly suggests either insufficient gluten development, or overfermentation, which would also both cause limited oven spring and no ears. You say you knead in a mixer until the dough is nice and strong, so my primary suspicion is overfermentation.

How much starter and at what temperature do you use? Most importantly, how do you decide when to end bulk fermentation? That is one of the most tricky decisions in baking with sourdough

(I am assuming this is sourdough, from the length of fermentation).

benjamin163's picture
benjamin163

Thank you so much for your reply.

I use 200g ripe starter with 500g strong white flour and 350g water.

The temperature of each is room temperature.

I usually end bulk fermentation after three stretches with an hour in between, so three hours.

I put the dough into the oven to prove at 30 degrees with some moisture during this bulk fermentation (there is a setting which allows me to do this). I assume this brings better results but I'm now wondering.

I always assumed the dough should rise during bulk fermentation which mine does when I use the dough proving setting in the oven. However, I'm wondering if this is contributing to the overfermenting you speak of.

Are there any tell tale signs of overfermenting? Like I say, the dough seems to behave itself reasonably well after bulk fermentation and during pre-shape and shape. I believe I am achieving strong gluten content. The dough comes out of the bowl in one nice elastic go and I'm able to create good surface tension.

I wonder if I should try bulk fermentation at room temp and then try baking one loaf immediately and one overnight from the fridge as an experiment

I do find that when I take the loaf out of the fridge it scores easier. When I do it at room temp it is harder to score and sticks a little. 

I always try and let the dough rise by about two thirds before baking but if I do this in a warm place it's always harder to score. From the fridge it all feels easier. I noticed the dough didn't rise much in the fridge overnight with the bread pictured. 

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

200 g starter for one loaf is quite a lot with 30C proofing! Even though your bulk is only 3 hours, it's very possible you are overfermenting. Are you keeping it in a straight-sided container where you could see how much it grows? It's difficult to estimate it in a mixing bowl.

Try bulk fermenting less, or not so warm, or use less starter, or a combination of these.

It's normal the dough doesn't rise much or at all in the fridge, a lot of the CO2 is dissolved in the dough itself, and then when it comes out of solution it causes a big oven spring. And indeed, scoring cold dough is much easier. I also prefer final proofing in the fridge.

benjamin163's picture
benjamin163

This is so useful and I'm excited to try your suggestions.

I do bulk ferment in a bowl so I don't see the growth.

What sort of growth should I be looking at in the bulk fermentation? Should it double before I stretch it? Or should I stretch strictly on time? Time or volume, that is the question! If I bulk ferment at room temperature I'm sure it would take a good two or three hours between each stretch for the dough to double. Would that mean only stretching it once?

It seems like a big balancing act between time and volume. I'm not sure which one should be the master.

I wonder if I should try the same recipe but not put the dough in the oven to prove and keep the three hour stretching and proving time. I'll give that a go and will happily add to this thread to show results.

On a related subject, should I put the shaped loaf in the fridge immediately after shaping or should I be waiting until it has grown? If it's the latter, how much should it grow before refrigerating? Double in size? (I often wonder if this can be right because where will I get that elusive 'spring' from if it's already 'sprung'.

Your advice is gratefully received.

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Time is definitely the least important factor - "watch the dough, not the clock". It's often given as a guide in recipes, but it will actually vary widely depending on a variety off factors, including but not limited to starter strength, temperature and exact flour you are using.

Amount of growth is a better estimator, since it actually reflects how much fermentation has occurred in the dough, taking all of the factor above into account. So if you have a straight-sided container to see how much the dough has risen, or if you want to try using a small sample of the dough in a small jar (google for "aliquot jar") to monitor the dough rise, it will at least help you nail down a particular recipe over different bakes: you'd know whether you need to ferment more or less from the previous bakes, and you would have a good measure of that for a particular dough.

For a straight white dough with strong flour you can probably let it double in volume - but with sourdough that's quite a lot of growth, and I would start lower. I'd try to aim for 50-60% growth overall for the whole fermentation time, and see where it leads. However this approach requires you to develop gluten upfront, and not reply on time and folds, since then you degas the dough during folding - but you can approximate it by monitoring growth after the last fold. That's the approach Foodgeek uses, by the way, if you've seen his videos on youtube, and he aims for around 25% growth after the last fold, as far as I remember. This would not work with such high inoculation and warm fermentation, you'd get too much fermentation before the last fold already.

I usually place the dough into the fridge right after shaping, but that depends on a lot of factors - if you think you didn't go too far with bulk, you can leave it outside for a short time first. That's something no one can tell you how to do, you have to either bake the same recipe a lot and know your own conditions and what works, or just guess using baker's intuition :)

benjamin163's picture
benjamin163

I'm fascinated by (and grateful for) this masterclass!

If I'm getting you correctly you are saying I can have a go at developing all the strength in the mixing stage then leaving the dough to double in size with no more stretching. When it has doubled in size, that's a good indication the dough is ready to pre-shape. So basically do away with the intermittent hourly stretching I perform now?

 

 

 

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Certainly, developing the strength in the beginning and then leaving it alone is a valid approach! You might want to still do one or two folds just to get a bit more structure and tighten up the dough, but it's not totally necessary.

Doubling is quite a lot of growth for sourdough, and depending on your flour it might be too much. But you'll only know after you try.

Note that Benny below has an opposite argument than the dough is underfermented! And he might be right :) But I think until you establish some system to monitor the fermentation (and the easiest way is to monitor the growth), it'll be difficult to know for sure, and difficult to adjust from bake to bake.

benjamin163's picture
benjamin163

Ilya, If I do the folds, aren't I in danger of overfermenting? Imagine this scenario. My dough has risen 50%. Then I fold it. A couple of hours later it's risen 50% and again I fold it. And then another rise and another fold. Crudely, have I let my dough rise 150% by doing that and is it too much? 

I love your suggestion about monitoring the dough rise but I don't know how to do that at the same time as folding which negates the monitoring if you see what I mean.

 

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Woah don't fold the dough when it's risen by 50%. Fold the dough in the first 1-2 hrs of bulk, when it's not rising much. I guess with 200 g starter for 500 g flour and 30°C it might start growing very quickly, but then you have to develop gluten very well from the beginning. At least don't warm up the dough until you have your folds done and the dough is very strong.

Gadjowheaty's picture
Gadjowheaty

It's incidental but as I'm trying to get a better mastery of proofing some newer types (to me), I find it difficult to turn the dough out from something like a 6 qt. round container.  Turning from a bowl is so much easier but as you say, difficult to judge volume increase in a bowl.  I think it's probably paramount to work with the volumetric container, at least until I get proofing with higher-hydration doughs better in hand.

Benito's picture
Benito

The photo of the crumb is a bit blurred but from what I can see it shows an underfermented crumb.  What I believe I see is fairly typical of this as it has a tight crumb structure with larger holes in the upper half of the bread.  I don’t think you’re bulk fermenting long enough.  Now regarding the spreading, if you overferment then yes that is one cause of spreading, in your case I don’t think that is the case, rather I think that your may need to reduce the hydration of your dough.  I believe this is an all white flour dough, no whole grains is that correct?  I think it is over hydrated for your flour and that this is the cause of the spreading and lack or ears.  It is hard to build enough structure if the dough is too hydrated.  I’d bet if you reduced hydration to 70-72% and pushed bulk longer then you’d get better crumb and better structure and then possibly ears if you build good structure and shape well.

Another observation from the crumb photo which admittedly is blurry so I’m not 100% clear on this, but the bottom crust looks rather pale to me, are you baking low enough in your oven?

Benny

benjamin163's picture
benjamin163

Thank you for taking the time to reply.

As you observed, a typical loaf of mine will have good holes up top but still be quite dense below so you may well have hit upon something there.

On the lower hydration. I am desperate to get confident at higher hydrations which is really the reason I am persisting with 75% and sometimes above. What is great is that I have learned how to avoid it becoming a sticky mess. However, like you suggest, I have baked some great loves in the past with wonderful ears and slashes, but always with lower hydrations. I may just have to bite the bullet and go down a few percent. Maybe I'll try 70%, make sure it's not under or over fermented and see what happens then.

Quick question. Ilya (above) has taught me that I should go by the dough not the time. With this in mind, I know that my starter ripens far far quicker in my oven on the dough proving setting and I believe my dough probably does too. Do you think this warm, damp environment has any effect on any of this? Should I continue to use it, keeping an eye on the bulk ferment, or should I just be patient and do everything at room temp? Your thoughts gratefully received.

Like Ilya said above, the best way to find out whether I'm under or over fermenting is to be a bit more disciplined about my ferment. I intend to monitor it far closer this weekend, whether in a dough proofing oven or at room temp and hopefully that will give me some answers.

 

Benito's picture
Benito

Ben, I like to ferment relatively warm and in fact I have a dough in bulk now and the proofing box set to 82ºF that is often the temperature I will use.  So yes your oven’s proofing setting of 80ºF is good.

In order to improve bake to bake, may I suggest you consider try using an aliquot jar.  Here is a link to the aliquot jar thread I posted last year.  My baking greatly improved once I started using an aliquot jar.  One of the best uses of this is that it allows you to make pretty precise adjustments going from bake to bake of the same recipe.  For example, had you used an aliquot jar on this bake and say you ended bulk with the aliquot jar showing 30% rise and then a 40% after a bench rest before cold retard and you’ve decided that it was underfermented.  Then next time you might allow the dough to bulk until the aliquot jar showed a 40% rise and 50% rise with bench rest before cold retard.  

 Benny

benjamin163's picture
benjamin163

I shall order one of these for sure. It sounds like it can really help to take some of the guesswork out of this.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

SEE THIS POST. The aliquot jar is a precise method to judge fermentation. In that post there is an excellent link to Benny’s instructions.

Hey Benny, you got in minutes ahead of me. I agree...

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Ben, have you tried reducing the hydration? 68% would be a good place to start.

Some get ears right away and others (like me) take years. And I can’t explain the difference. Makes things easy on yourself (68%). Once you succeed then gradually work your way up to where you want to be.

Also, ferment less. Much less than you think. Oven spring takes faith. The thought of putting a plump, airy dough in the oven that will blow up like a balloon appeals to common sense. BUT “the magic” takes place in the oven.

Danny

benjamin163's picture
benjamin163

Thank you for your thoughts on this. Yes it's tempting to try and get the loaf perfect BEFORE it goes in the oven. It's interesting to read all these excellent thoughts back. Don't overferment. Don't underferment. At first they all seem contradictory. But actually I think what they all say is 'don't guess with fermentation', something I've been doing this whole time. I've got one of these jars on order and in the meantime I've been fermenting in a glass bowl to get a better visual clue of what's going on at this crucial time. 

A couple of pics of two new loaves to follow...

benjamin163's picture
benjamin163

I have taken on board all comments and here are some results.

Above is a white loaf, the dough was 1k with a hydration of 70%.

I mixed for 20 mins on a low speed to develop some strength.

I proved it until it risen roughly 70%. This took about 4 hours in my oven at 30 degrees C.

I pre-shaped and rested for an hour.

I shaped and refrigerated overnight.

I slashed at roughly 30 degrees and baked in a 220 degree oven on a stone for 15 mins with high humidity and then 180 degrees with no humidity for 20 mins. 

Whilst I wouldn't describe the ears as massive, there's definitely something trying to happen here. The dough still opened quite quickly when slashed but in the oven there is an ear struggling to form. The crumb though, I am very pleased with. Lots of those elusive holes and they aren't all at the top, they are from top to bottom. I believe this is because I proved for longer as suggested. I will try this recipe again but maybe with 65% or 67% hydration and see if that helps further with the ears.

The question that arises for me is why bother with the stretches? If you mix long and well enough, what is the point of the additional stretches. I shall post my second effort shortly...

benjamin163's picture
benjamin163

This is a rye loaf made with 80% white and 20% rye and the dough is 65% hydration.

I mixed in a mixer for 20 mins getting some good strength.

I then proved at 30 degrees without stretches until the dough had roughly doubled. It took a few hours.

I then pre-shaped and rested for half an hour then shaped and refrigerated overnight.

I slashed at about 30 degrees and put in a 220 degree oven on a stone and baked with moisture for 15 minutes and then 180 degrees without moisture for 25 minutes. 

The ears on this one are a lot more prominent. Instinctively I feel this is more to do with less water in the dough than anything else. Again, the crumb has really pleased me. Lots of holes throughout, top to bottom. I definitely think this is due to the advice of letting the dough prove for longer. Again, I'm wondering if there's any need to stretch and fold if you get these results without it. Would it build more structure and give more prominent ears? I'll give it a go. 

What's most pleasing is that I know I can get good crumb without having to work with massively high hydration dough. I shall certainly be investing one of these jars you all mention. I think it will take some of the guesswork out of the proving stage. Proving in a glass bowl certainly helped me understand how much these lat two loaves had proved by. Before, I would simply stretch three times and then shape without paying any heed to whether the dough had risen at all. It feels to me now having put your advice into practice that the dough benefits from rising in the proving stage. I have no idea of the science behind that but it seems to have improved both those loaves.

More work to do but some pleasing results coming through and I thank you all for your advice. Although some of you seemed to contradict each other with overfermenting and underfermenting I think you were actually saying the same thing which is to monitor the fermentation stage.

Thank you for taking the time.

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Both of these sure look good! And if you like the crumb (and flavour?) that's definitely a step in the right direction, even if it appears my advice was opposite of what helped. Benny gave good advice regarding hydration - basically, it's much easier to work with lower hydration dough, and it's very good to practice all steps.

Regarding getting a nice ear, I think the most important thing, except for on point fermentation and a good oven spring, is very strong dough and particularly the gluten skin on the surface, and of course good scoring technique.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Your focus is best centered on more oven spring. Oven conditions are important, but the largest determination of oven spring is fermentation and dough condition.

Without huge oven spring, ears are not possible.

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Dan has a video of how too high a temperature and maybe too much steam causes the ears to lay down even when there is oven expansion.

His channel: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7mXjnPpTDoVJxRdrG3ZeYw/videos

This is the video I'm thinking of, good expansion, but no ear: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCVYIBakGQE

You might be using too much steam, or for too long.

---

Also, this is unclear: 

"I have used both fan assist and top and bottom heat with similar results."

Did you try bottom heat _without_ the fan?   Using a fan, even with bottom heat can have unwanted effects as to expansion and ears.

benjamin163's picture
benjamin163

Interesting. It looks like he has loads and loads of steam.

I have two ovens which can cook with moisture.

In one you can choose the level of 'humidity'. 1, 2, 3. 

The other is the same, however the temperature is limited on the second and third ones. Level three goes to 150. Level two goes to 200. Level one goes to 240. 

In the recipe guides they all suggest level one humidity. I don't know what the rule is. I have tried level two and three and I can't really see much difference, but now I've learned a lot more from this thread I can try again.

Are you aware of any rules regarding humidity or steam? My oven certainly doesn't blurt out a load of steam like in the videos you pointed me to. Like I say, it's more humidity than steam.

benjamin163's picture
benjamin163

Are you suggesting I use just bottom heat without top heat or fan? I can certainly try that. But I thought the bread would benefit from heat all around the oven. What would the benefit of just using bottom heat be?

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

I haven't noticed much difference with my oven/setup, but I usually preheat the oven with top and bottom heat (and convection), but then when loading the bread I change to bottom only (no convection). In theory top heat can cause the crust to form too soon on top, and limit oven spring and/or cause blow-outs.

benjamin163's picture
benjamin163

Ah, that makes sense. I'll give it a whirl.

Another question (apologies!). I am finding the advice of the aliquot jar really sage. 

But I'm wondering how stretching and folding affects the whole thing and it's puzzling me.

So I am proving the main dough in the same conditions as I prove the dough in the aliquot jar. But then I need to stretch the main dough to strengthen it. 

This means I have the dough in the aliquot jar rising nicely but the main dough has been punched down and has to start again in terms of rising.

Am I to assume that I ignore the rise of the main dough and bake it when the aliquot jar tells me?

ie is the doughs readiness more to do with the time it's had to ferment or the amount it has risen? 

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

You are right about this, folds will degas the main dough and reduce its rise. That's actually a feature of the aliquot jar, not a bug: its height doesn't depend on the handling of the dough, and simply shows how advanced the fermentation is. So you can make decisions about the readiness based on that, instead of the main dough which you might decide to fold differently every time. So the aliquot jar is particularly useful for reproducibility, and adjustments between bakes - you can stop bulk at a particular rise level by the aliquot jar.

There might be cases when the actual rise of the main dough is important, if you don't degas it during shaping - e.g. I guess with ciabattas one usually tries to preserve the gas inside the after bulk. So perhaps in that case the discrepancy between the aliquot jar and the main dough can be a negative factor.

Benito's picture
Benito

For the reasons mentioned and also mentioned in the article, the aliquot jar will underestimate the total rise of the main dough.  It is an additional data point that you can use in deciding when to end bulk.  I started to use it because I was underfermenting my dough and my bulking container wasn’t one where I could accurately determine rise.

The amount of rise is an indication of the amount of fermentation that the dough has undergone.  It isn’t just time, it’s also temperature, how active your levain was among other factors.

benjamin163's picture
benjamin163

So on Saturday I took all your comments on board and made use of an aliquot jar.

This is a picture of a 68% dough which has fermented with no stretches for about 5 hours. 

The  dough in the aliquot jar had doubled in size. I then pre-shaped, rested, shaped and stuck in the fridge overnight.

The dough rose in the fridge and came out of the banneton very well.

I scored and put on a hot stone in a 220 oven with moisture for 15 mins and then without for 25.

The bread tastes nice but of course, no ears and no 'spring' to speak of.

I'm wondering if this is due to overfermenting? It seems like the dough spreads rather than rises and there's also a tell tale sign of cracking beneath the score which I'd like to understand a bit more about.

My initial thoughts are that I may have overproofed and also that the loaf could have benefitted from stretches and folds along with the initial mixing to strengthen.

Any help gratefully received

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Ben, when mist bakers mention retarding in the fridge, the expected temp is 39F (3C) or slightly lower. Since your dough rose in the fridge you can expect that the fridge temp is higher. A few degrees make a big difference.

To determine fridge temp, place a glass of water at the location in your fridge where the dough is located. Wait 6 hr or so and check the temp.

benjamin163's picture
benjamin163

Thanks Dan,

temperature in the fridge is 4 degrees. Are you saying the bread shouldn't rise in the fridge at all?

I'm presuming that the dough is still warm when it enters the fridge so I'm expecting some rise. Also I wondered if it was a good sign actually because it shows that although the rise is being retarded, there's still lots of life in there for when you put it in the oven.

Lemme know your thoughts. And thanks for the reply.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Ben, the great majority of my loaves don’t rise at all during retard. But just yesterday I had 2 doughs rise a bit during an overnight retard. I think that was because the dough proofed very warm, 79-80F. Normally the dough is BF cooler.

You are correct, the dough will take 5 or more hours before it reaches the temp of the fridge.

Benito's picture
Benito

Outward appearance would suggest overfermenting but to be more certain you need to share photos of the crumb as well.  This spreading could also be from overhydration as I have found out myself recently so show the crumb if you want to be more certain.

Benny 

benjamin163's picture
benjamin163

ah, I shall do that next time.

I can tell you the crumb was pretty even and tight. No big holes at all. Does that suggest overfermentation to you?

Benito's picture
Benito

Again hard to say, but typically an overfermented dough has decent crumb rather than tight.  Better to see the crumb in a clear picture than to guess without.

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Ben , excuse me for butting in one more time...

Have you ever gotten ears on bread when using convection mode ?

If you've never gotten a good ear using convection mode, try baking without convection, and use bottom heat only.

IMO, your formula is not your problem (in getting ears), it's your baking mode.

Too much steam will cause the ears to lay down too. But even if the steam (both amount and time) is perfect, convection during the first half of the bake  is also a problem.  

Here's my prediction:  If you stop using top heat and stop using convection (at least during the first half of the bake, you will then get beautiful ears. Now, of course, your current baking times and temps are geared for convection mode, so they will have to be adjusted (both time and temp) when you turn off convection mode. 

 

benjamin163's picture
benjamin163

Oh please, butt in whenever you like, this is all most useful.

Yes since I got my new oven which is able to introduce humidity I've gone a bit steam mad.

It hasn't occurred to me that steam might actually be a problem!

I'll try some stuff as you've suggested. Less/no steam, bottom heat only, less fermentation. 

Let's see how that goes and I look forward to posting the results.

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

I'm sorry. I did not compose my previous comment in a way to prevent misinterpretation.  It was a tad unclear.

First off, the primary thing I want to suggest is to stop using convection mode. That is... turn off the fan.  This means bottom heat only and no fan.   Your last comment hints that l failed to communicate the importance that I place on this.

None of the bread cookbooks that I own recommend convection mode in a home oven when baking uncovered hearth loaves.  You've got to divorce yourself of the notion that convection mode is somehow better than non-convection mode.  When used judiciously, it can sometimes help during the last portion of the bake, in order to facilitate browning. But during the first phase of the bake when  expansion and ear-forming occur, convection mode works against you -- the moving air dries and stiffens the skin of the dough and prevents that "curl of the lip" at the score line.

Using "bottom heat only" while still using convection mode will likely not solve the ear issue.  

Second, I did not suggest "no steam".  You do need steam.  I made note that too much steam causes ears to not form.  However, this is secondary to the convection/fan issue -- something to consider only if the problem still persists after turning off convection.

So, here's what I suggest; First, top-heat and convection/fan mode are fine for pre-heating your stone.   Then, when loading the dough into the oven, keep your steam procedure as is, just turn off the fan and use only the lower (bottom) heating element during the first half of the bake. This will likely also require a slight increase in temp and a slight increase in baking time.  Watch the loaf carefully.  It should be okay to turn on the upper heating element and the fan (and lower the temp slightly) during the second half of the bake to facillitate browning ... if it looks to you like the crust is browning too slowly.

Only if the above procedure does not create the desired ear, should you experiment with less steam.  However, in no circumstance would I recommend baking an uncovered artisanal-style hearth loaf without any added steam. You do need at least some steam.

Also, I think your other helpers have you pretty well set as far as fermentation goes, so I don't feel I need to comment in that regard.

Best of luck, amigo. And bon appétit.

benjamin163's picture
benjamin163

The quest for ears goes on and this morning I baked two loaves from the same batch of 68% hydration dough, proved overnight in the fridge. I suspect I overfermented because by the time I got to shape my aliquot jar had more than doubled in size. I noticed the dough was pretty flat and spread out after pre shaping which I guess is telling me the strength just wasn't there.

However, I thought this would translate into a loaf that didn't spring but from the look of these, the loaves sprung in the oven well enough. But look at the slashes. Absolutely no ears whatsoever. Does anyone know what this means? Does it have something to do with the overfermentation and consequent lack of strength, structure and tension in the dough? If so, then how come the loaf still seemed to spring pretty well in the oven?

All thoughts as always gratefully received.

benjamin163's picture
benjamin163

I mean, I want some nice big holes but this is ridiculous! Such a drastic crumb, I'm hoping someone will confirm what that's all about! Is it a sign of overfermentation?

 

gerhard's picture
gerhard

when doing the final shaping? I had big holes, not quite that big, once and attributed it wet hands introducing moisture in the dough during shaping. I had seen a video were the claim was that it is easier to handle wet dough with wet hands but I didn’t like it for final shaping.