The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Open crumb with baker's yeast vs sourdough starter

tttt1010's picture

Open crumb with baker's yeast vs sourdough starter

Something that has been baffling me is why my sourdough have a more open crumb than my yeast breads. I would use the same ingredients and the same hydration, and roughly the same handling. My sourdough breads would turn out with large holes in the crumb but somehow yeast breads would look hardly more open than a sandwich bread (and at 75% hydration!). The only time I have achieved an open crumb, and this was by accident, was with using a 50% biga on my 80-90% hydration ciabatta (wasn't sure about the hydration as I was improvising, hence the accident).

Is this just me or is this everyone's experience in yeast vs sourdough baking? I can't make sense of it, since, if my knowledge is correct, the acid in the sourdough should weaken the gluten right. We should expect the opposite, which is that sourdough should have a less open crumb and less oven spring than a yeasted bread. Could the difference come from the LAB or the different strains of yeast?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

a longer bulk rise with less yeast?

happycat's picture

Extensibility of dough is the answer.

Previously answered (try searching... everything has probably been answered before)

Ming's picture

I believe both yeast types should yield the same result if their operating fermentation cycles are understood and controlled properly. Commercial yeast especially instant yeast have a very short fermentation cycle so it would peak very quickly if a large quantity was used. Most newbies like me would have a tendency to over ferment the dough which usually would result with a tight crumb structure because the dough would pass the peak point long before being baked. I did not quite understand this concept until recently (I am new to baguette baking) and nowadays would get some good open crumb outcomes. I wish we have a universal formula to correlate the amount of commercial yeast vs. the amount of time we have to ferment the dough before it peaks but we don't so we have to go by feel and experience. Nonetheless, reducing the amount of commercial yeast being applied should give you more time to work with the dough. The tricky part is to determine when to stop the fermentation before it peaks. 

Ming's picture

I have only baked with a sourdough starter three times so far so i am still learning about it but from my observations between the two, sourdough yeast seem to operate at a much slower pace than commercial yeast based on a "standard" 20% levain recipe. If I increase the percentage of SD starter then perhaps I might be able to speed up the fermentation time somewhat, don't know as I have got to that point yet.