Tight crumb...Is it overproofed?
I'm back after a few month away from sourdough baking and have been trying to get back on the saddle...And it's not been easy!!!
Here is my latest bake, not too bad for a 75% T110 La Milanaise and 25% whole red fife mix, and they were absolutely delicious, but I'm a bit perplexed by the crumb though and am unable to say if the breads are a bit over-proofed or not, given the tight crumb; or maybe it's something else...I know that I could not expect a crazy open crumb given the high content of whole wheat in those 2 loaves, and it was not my goal anyway, yet it seems that the crumb could have been a bit less dense and tight...Do you think it's a proofing issue, or kneading maybe? Shaping??
Thank you a gazillion times in advance if you would be willing to share your 2 cents on my loaves!
Here is the protocol I followed:
75% T110 + 25% Whole Red Fife
Hydration 75% / 20% active levain
Autolyse 30mn at RT
Add salt + levain (very active) / Knead 5mn with Kitchen Aid (I have a tennis elbow that does not allow me to use my right arm for kneading unfortunately) + a few stretch and folds
30mn rest / stretch and folds / dough was still very strong and stiff, so I waited 1h before the next set of coil folds
Rest another 1h30 / coil folds
Total bulk time at 24 °C (in a proofing box) = 7h45
Then 15h at 3 °C
One loaf was baked in a Dutch oven, the other one in a ceramic cloche / 25mn at 230 °C + 25mn at 220
Based on his criteria I wouldn't think it was overproofed but I'll wait for the experts.
What jumps out at me is 20% active levain and 7 hours 45 minutes bulk ferment at 24°C seems quite long. At room temperature and with that amount of levain it should be ready to shape at around 3.5 - 4 hours. I'm not saying this is the cause but it just seems quite a long time for the levain percentage.
Other things to consider is how the dough was handled and that it had 25% red fife which will challenge an open crumb. Not impossible though.
It seemed quite long to me as well but the dough did nor show any sign of good fermentation before that time...The levain seemed to be pretty active though when I used it...That's why i'm puzzled and was considering an over-proofing issue...
Thanks a lot for the link, very useful!
I don’t think that the fermentation of the dough was off, it looks well fermented and neither over or under to me.
A clue to your query is that your dough felt very strong and stiff early on. Perhaps for your flours used and the low humidity of the season your dough was relatively under hydrated and could have used more water. The dough also seemed to require very few coil folds again suggesting that the hydration could be increased to make it more extensible.
Regardless of the crumb, which I think looks great, these loaves are beautiful Gaelle, I love how you scored them. Also the pattern you have on the crust from the banneton/liner is very pretty.
Thank you so much for your help Benito, as usual you seem to be right on point!!! Now that you say it, it totally makes sense!!! I could feel that the dough was unusually tight and stiff, but as I hadn't baked for some time, I did not pay attention to my instinct and thought that it was because of the KA kneading process (which I usually never do, just this time because of my arm issue)...
Do you also think that 7h45 at 24C is weirdly long?? Could my levain be in cause here???
Your bulk at 24ºC does seem a bit long to me, not horribly long but a bit long. It is possible that your levain/starter wasn't quite as active as you were used to when baking more regularly.
You are right in thinking that the KA mixer may also have played a part in the stiff dough. If it quickly fully developed the gluten then the dough would be tighter and firmer and possibly less extensible.
Thank you Benny for your insight, I really appreciate it and am looking forward to my next bake to see if increasing the hydration a tad and paying more attention to my levain are going to make a difference!