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Thoughts on my gummy, dense tragedy

mburns87's picture
mburns87

Thoughts on my gummy, dense tragedy

Hey, all!

I've been baking sourdough for a couple of years now and have posted some great successes here, but now I've picked up a new book/recipe method and I'm producing some of the worst loaves of my life! I'd love some insights from the pros on what's going wrong here. I'll share my suspicions as well.

I'm using the recipe for Pain de Campagne from Thomas Teffri-Chambelland's Sourdough Baking: A Treatise. I'm including a photo of that recipe here. I'm using KA Whole Wheat flour with the exact 120% hydration rye leaven Teffri-Chambelland is using, and even have the pH dialed in to 3.8. 

15 minutes of slap and fold hand kneading, then bassinage and five more minutes of kneading. I've been trying to do more with high hydration doughs, and this one didn't feel unreasonably wet when I finished the kneading. The dough felt like it was developing as expected during the bulk. Divided into two equally sized loaves around 850g each, but I noticed very little rise during the proof. I could tell from handling the loaves as they went into the baskets that they felt denser than I'm used to, and likely didn't have a lot of air pockets in there.

I used a Creuset 5 quart Dutch oven (preheated for one hour at 475) with some steam inside for the first 20, then removing the lid and continuing as specified. Because I am using a home oven and not a deck, I moved the heat up to 475 but continued to notch down the heat as suggested.

The loaf came out dense as a brick, rubbery on the tooth, and shot through with canals, and spongy despite the hour in the oven. In the past I've noticed this when not giving the bread enough time to proof, but I've honestly never had a loaf go this wrong on me before. Gruesome photos included below.

Abe's picture
Abe

Instructions for bulk ferment should be: "Till Ready!"

suave's picture
suave

The recipe calls for 8% of prefermented flour and 3 hours of bulk fermentation.  No way, it needs more like 5-6. 

MichaelLily's picture
MichaelLily

It is clearly underproofed and the answer is to bulk ferment longer. However, what does the "base temperature" mean? Is that bulk proofing temp? Because that's pretty warm and would certainly make the proofing speed up. I'm curious. It's also worth a measurement of the dough temp since you have the desired dough temp listed in the recipe. If your leaven is the same and just as active, and the dough temp is the DDT, and the proofing atmosphere is the same as called for, then you should expect equivalent proofing times to those printed. If these variables are not equal, then you would expect changes to the proofing times.

mariana's picture
mariana

Interesting. I saw your Tartine which is identical to this bread, the same 200g of 120%H levain, the same 3 hrs bulk, the only difference is that you let your loaves puff up significantly as they proofed and you've got a fairly open crumb,

https://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/62780/tartine-country-loaf-attempt-1

I watched Teffri's videos on his levain, his mechanical kneading and his making this bread. At 80% hydraton his dough (and bread crumb) is much wetter than yours. 

Therefore, fermentation proceeds much more rapidly. If your flour is drier than his and requires more water to obtain the same consistency, then either adjust fermentation times or hydration. 

 

 

You most likely had your starter past its prime ( did it smell alcoholic? yeasty?) and haven't kneaded enough, because 20 min by hand is not the same as 20 min in a mixer. 3 hrs bulk at 25C  is ok, his dough is not that fluffy either, but it is very well developed by the end of kneading, full of bubbles see at 10:40.

See how bubbly it is just due to kneading, not to fermentation, as he tests it at the end of kneading after incorporating more water. These are air bubbles trapped in dough as it is being kneaded. If you must knead by hand then count slap'n'folds, give it 800 s&f. 

If 1.5 hrs at 25C is not enough for your proof, then give it more time. Just make sure it is as puffy as it was when you proofed your Tartines in the fridge overnight. 

mburns87's picture
mburns87

Thanks for this, very insightful. I was cautious with the starter and made sure it was at the right point, but you raise a point about the kneading times. In the book it says 15 minutes kneading and describes slap and fold technique, so I assumed that was 15 minutes of hand kneading, then bassinage and three minutes more of hand kneading.

The recipe (and nothing before it in the book) mentioned using my stand mixer for the 15 minute mix, and that seems like an insanely long amount of time for machine mixing.

mariana's picture
mariana

I usually knead for 20 min mechanically, in a mixer or on a bread machine, because my Canadian flour is so strong (and needs more kneading to develop its gluten) and because wet dough requires longer kneading times to develop gluten.

Have you checked your flour nutritional labels? Flours in NA tend to have zero sugar, both rye and wheat flours, whereas French flours have a minimum of 2% of sugar content even in white flour. They ferment better and the starter has more yeast due to good aeration of starter when it is kneaded in a mixer and having at least 2-5% sugar in French rye flour.

Teffri also inoculates his rye levain with a small amount of starter, about 1:10, this promotes yeast growth: 500g whole rye, 600g water, 100g starter, several minutes of kneading in a mixer, 6+ hrs of fermentation at 25-30C.

The crumb and the overall heaviness of your loaf indicate that there is something wrong with yeast, not enough of it or not active enough to lift that dough in the time allotted at 25C or higher. How was it tastewise? Was it sour, like sourdough sour?

Add that sugar to your starter and bread dough accordingly, to imitate French flours or else your ingredients will be too different from the recipe and it won't work for your ingredients.

 

rondayvous's picture
rondayvous

In french flour? I’ve never heard that before. What kind of sugars are you talking about? I have a small bag of T55 and can’t find it on the label.

mariana's picture
mariana

Ron, I linked the page with the sugar content of French medium rye and French T55. It's about 2% sugar each, darker flours with higher ash have more sugar. 

Rye flour type 130 

carbohydrates 65,9% of which sugars are 2,07%

Wheat flour type 55

carbohydrates 69,3% of which sugars are 1,82%

https://alimentation.ooreka.fr/astuce/voir/588773/farine-de-seigle

Whereas USDA lists 1% of sugar even in whole rye (5-10% in European whole rye) and 0% sugar in bread flours from every US chain or miller (analytical value is 0.31%) . 

https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/?query=bread%20flour

 

albacore's picture
albacore

Very interesting Mariana - I must admit I wasn't aware of the sugar content of French flours, even though I have used them. I just checked Foricher T65 and that has 2.5% sugar!

Yet British and Italian flours have very low sugar levels. I wonder if French grain has high levels of pre-germination - either by accident or design?

Lance

rondayvous's picture
rondayvous

From this source: https://www.cooksinfo.com/french-bread-law-1993

3. Relative to the weight of the (wheat) flour used will contain no more than
a) 2 percent broad bean flour;
b) .5 percent soya flour
c) .3 percent malted wheat flour

So the question becomes where is the “sugar” coming from? the malt, beans or soya. My guess would be malted wheat.

BTW I also read (unsourced) that french flours (in general) retain the wheat oils that are removed in american flours to increase shelf life.

albacore's picture
albacore

Malted flours do not necessarily contain high amounts of sugar. Eg Giusto's Vita-Grain All-Natural Artisan Malted Unbleached Bread Flour contains 0% sugar.

Only when the flour is hydrated will the production of sugars start.

Lance

rondayvous's picture
rondayvous

True, diastatic malts are added for the enzymes that break down the wheat starches to sugars. It is added to flour in order to adjust the falling number. As I stated, I don’t know the source of the sugars, Malt was a guess based on the three choices of soya, bean and malt.

Beans have sugars (some indigestible) so I suppose that could be a source as well.

albacore's picture
albacore

Well, I've had a re-evaluation of sugar content in UK flour - I've just checked the labels on some of my stock and there is indeed sugar present - up to about 2.5%.

So why American flours tend to have less, I'm not sure!

Lance

rondayvous's picture
rondayvous

Yeah, it's bizzare since everything else in this country is loaded with added sugars. Mostly of the hi fructose corn syrup variety.

mariana's picture
mariana

Lance, it has to do with farming practices. Our North American wheats grown in prarie regions are dry and sound, they are not allowed to germinate in the fields, are harvested in dry weather, kept in dry environment, etc.

European wheats and especially North European ryes germinate a lot even in fields, they are sweeter even before milling and produce sweetly tasting flours after milling. Thus, they ferment well even without added malts, whereas NA flours require amylases or malts added by the miller or by the baker. In essence, in North America, millers blend nongerminated grain (wheat) with fully germinated grain  (barley malt), or its active ingredient (pure amylase), to "imitate" baking properties of European wheats.

No miller would ever add sugar to flours, those are sugars naturally present in the grain due to germination in humid weather or humid storage conditions.

albacore's picture
albacore

I get it now - climate seems to be the key.

 

Lance

rondayvous's picture
rondayvous

Then why not advocate adding malt to make American flour more like french flour?

mariana's picture
mariana

The difference is in the amount of germinated grain in the mix, not malt. Europeans also add malt, it is in every recipe, but as part of the recipe, not as part of the flour in the bag, In Europe, malt and ascorbic acid are added to the mix by bakers, not by millers. The new generation of instant yeast in Europe has amylase and ascorbic acid added to instant yeast, so that bakers can skip adding it to flour themselves. 

European millers blend sound wheat or rye with the grain damaged by germination/sprouting in certain proportions before milling that blend. They expect to have the resulting T55, for example, to have 2-3% sugars in flour, mostly maltose. 

North American wheat is all sound, the amount of germinated grain in it it really minuscule, so the sugar content is near zero and millers add fully sprouted barley malt in small amounts just because it contains active amylases. The resulting flour still has zero sugars but they will appear with time due to amylolysis.

Why not advocate adding malt?

You mean add it, if it is not in the recipe? I do add it to NA rye flour (along with "sugar", i.e. a bit of non diastatic malt syrup, to eliminate the deficiency) , wheat in NA is already malted.

Malt itself is not sugar, and in sourdough its acids block amylolysis, production of new sugars. Also, malt is proteolytic, its ferments digest flour proteins as well, it will damage gluten which is already weakened due to acids in sourdough.

Therefore, even if malt is added by the millers (or us, bakers), there are no sugars to eat to begin with and sourdough yeasts will have to rely on lactic acid bacteria (LAB) to supply them with fermentable  sugars. This shifts proportion of yeast cells to lab cells towards 1:100, very few yeast cells and a lot of lab cells. In sweeter starters, the proportion of yeast to lactic acid bacteria is higher, closer to 1:1. This gives taller and less acidic to taste loaves of bread even if bread dough is prepared in a cool environment, fermenting overnight in unheated bakeries etc.

rondayvous's picture
rondayvous

Different types of sugar:

  • Glucose: Fruits and vegetables are natural sources of glucose. It’s also commonly found in syrups, candy, honey, sports drinks, and desserts. 
  • Fructose: The primary natural dietary source of fructose is fruit, which is why fructose is commonly referred to as fruit sugar (also extracted from corn). 
  • Galactose: The main dietary source of galactose is lactose, the sugar in milk and milk products, such as cheese, 
  • Sucrose (glucose + fructose): Sucrose — most often called table sugar — is a natural sweetener derived from sugarcane or beet. It’s added to foods during processing and occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables.
  • Lactose (glucose + galactose): Also known as milk sugar, lactose is found in milk and milk products.
  • Maltose (glucose + glucose): Maltose is found in malt beverages, such as beer and malt liquors.

The sugars found in malt are primary maltose. This is the same sugar produced in sprouted wheat (or any grain for that matter) as the malting process is started by sprouting which activates the amylase enzymes and starts the process of digesting the starches. The consequence of semisprouted wheat being used for flour is a lower falling number. Diastatic malt (or amylase enzymes) are used to lower the falling number of intact grains with falling numbers over 250-300. Nondiastatic malt adds the maltose sugar without lowering the falling number. So all things being equal, adding maltose (non diastatic malt) should fix differences in sugars without changing the falling number.

mariana's picture
mariana

Yes, Ron.

Normally, at home, one would add simple table sugar (sucrose), or glucose (dextrose) if yeast propagation or yeast fermentation is the primary goal. Up to 4% flour weight based is a safe number, it would last for 3-12 hrs of fermentation depending on temperature and will be fully used by the end of that term.

But adding malt extract, either dry or liquid (DME or LME), barley, wheat, or rye based is a more elegant solution, necause it is more natural, it mimics the full spectrum of sugars found in sprouting grains. More importantly, it seriously impacts the fragrance of preferments, bread dough and baked breads. The aroma it imparts is amazing.

mburns87's picture
mburns87

I tried your suggestion of switching out from 15 minutes of hand kneading to 15 minutes in the mixer and I am not sure this is the way to go.

Besides overhearing my poor Kitchenaid Pro 600 twice, after 15 minutes of machine kneading and 5 minutes of bassinage the dough came out as essentially a formless paste with no structure at all, looking nothing like the dough in the videos. Not only were there no air bubbles, there seemed to be no gluten structureto speak of. More like a fluid than a dough.

mariana's picture
mariana

Ok, mburns87, thanks for the feedback.

I did not know you mixed with KA 600. I had it as well, so I am familiar with it. It develops gluten very well, but it cannot handle 20-30min of continuous kneading even on low speeds, it overheats and burns. 20-40min kneading in a designated bread mixer or a bread machine is normal for any bread dough. KA, even Pro models, is not really bread dough friendly, in is more geared towards cake and cookie dough.

It can be used for gluten development, but in stages. Each stage of mixing should last only 6 min. Then you need to let the mixer cool down. Altogether, you can accumulate 6x3 or 6x4= 20-25 min of kneading needed to develop gluten mechanically before bassinage.

Here is the method, as reported by another experienced baker on this forum:

1) Add flour and water only (no salt, no levain), mix a medium consistency dough (60-65% hydration) for 6 min@speed2, let it rest 30min, then follow by 6min mix @speed2 &15min rest repeated 3-4 times. During the last 6min stretch of mixing incorporate salt and levain.

2) After the final 15 min rest check for gluten development, if windowpanning, then slowly incorporate the remaining water (bassinage) to obtain a highly hydrated dough (80% hydration and higher) with good gluten development. 

This is her description verbatim

The initial mix of a 63% hydration dough is 6 minutes at speed 2 followed by a hydration rest of 30 minutes.

Gluten development is accomplished by futher 6 minute intervals with 15 minute rests to relax the dough.

Starter and salt are added at the beginning of the third and final interval. If after the third kneading the dough fails to pass the window pane test a fourth interval may be required.

Again, the above is accomplished using the spiral dough hook and a speed setting of 2.

The rest periods between kneadings does a better job at developing gluten than would a straight 18 minute kneading by the machine [overheating limit is a tad beyond 12 minutes]. The rest periods allow the machine to cool down.

 

That said, there is either something off with your flour or the way you do double hydration mixing since you have a soupy blend in your mixer's bowl at the end. It should look like the dough in the video provided by the author of the book that you are following. This one.

Make sure you add only as much water as needed for your dough to look like his in the mixer, ok?

So, please, separate these two issues (1) your mixer's peculiarities, (2) your flour strength and absorprion capacity, and address them separately.

 

 

mburns87's picture
mburns87

So I'm back with Round 3 of this recipe, with the added sugar and a warmer bulk fermentation and proof. The results are...mixed. The dough seemed to respond much better throughout the process, and I got it to a nice level of gluten development through hand kneading stretch and folds (and then slap and folds in bassinage). Even with better mixing, I'm getting nowhere near that glossy shine of the dough in the videos above.

The final dough was much better feeling and looking than either of my first two attempts, and even baked up very pretty. However, the crumb. While I would no longer describe the crumb as gummy, it is incredibly dense -- very similar to a pumpernickel and, honestly, not very pleasing to eat.

As you can see in the photos, it's a very closed crumb and still feels a little damp inside even after cooling fully. It's clear there's some progress happening, but not enough! This is a half recipe, so a 1kg loaf that came out of the oven 830g.

Abe's picture
Abe

Many would be happy with those results. Difference being down to taste and personal preference. Have you tried to allow the dough to double during the bulk ferment stage? Even when a recipe says, for arguments sake, 30% risen it's ok to aim for doubled if it produces the results you're after. You've got a good fermentation going on, as it's no longer under fermented, but there will also be a learning curve to fine tuning it for the results you're aiming for. 

Some other factors might be the flours you're using. Or the recipe itself is not to your liking. 

mburns87's picture
mburns87

I am going to experiment with it further -- I'd be happy with it except for the taste is just too dense, chewy, and far from what I know pain de campagne to be. It really did remind me of a dense German rye in terms of consistency.

Abe's picture
Abe

For a less chewy bread go for a softer flour. If you're using very strong bread flour 13% protein and higher then perhaps try 11-12% protein. If you do watch the hydration as it might need less water. Also try for a longer bulk. Anything up to doubled is fine. For a less dense bread don't knock out too much of the air bubbles when shaping. Keep tweaking till you get it how you like it. 

Try other Pain de Campagne recipes. I like country loaves with some spelt and rye for the wholegrains. 

albacore's picture
albacore

Although fermentation seem to be the issue, I would like to point out that the dough hydration in the OP's original recipe is 83.5%. This seems very high for French flours!

Lance

mburns87's picture
mburns87

Part of my concern is that my King Arthur Organic Whole Wheat may not be 1:1 with a French Type 80 wheat flour, so I picked up a 25 pound bag of Central Milling Organic Type 80 and I'm going to continue experimenting with this recipe until I figure out where I'm misunderstanding it. The KA is 13.8% protein, the Central Milling is 12.5%, both are hard red wheat.

For experimentation purposes is it reasonable to cut this recipe in half and just work with a smaller amount until I get the dough to a consistent place?

mburns87's picture
mburns87

Hey all, I wanted to provide an update.

I finally figured this loaf out, but it required switching to proper Central Milling T80 flour and being MUCH more judicious about the amount of kneading I was putting into the bread. For good measure I also restarted my rye starter from scratch and made sure that was properly built up.

An entirely different experience beginning to end, and I think the flour played a large role. 

mariana's picture
mariana

Congratulations! Good ingredients, such as good flour and good starter, do play a role. I am so happy that you succeeded. Good for you!