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Oven spring


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#1 Darren72

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 12:05 PM

Hi everyone,

I bake bread fairly regularly. One of the persistent issues that I have is that the bread doesn't rise very much in the oven - this rise is called "oven spring". I'm wondering if anyone has tips or thoughts about what factors might cause a lack of oven spring?

The first potential problem is that the yeast is dead. In my case, this is not what is happening. I get a nice primary and secondary rise, so my yeast is alive.

It's possible that my dough is over-proofed, but I don't think this is the case.

Any other ideas?

Usually I make free-form boules. The crumb turns out great, even if there wasn't much of an oven rise. Yesterday I made two whole wheat loves in bread pans. The dough doubled in size during the second rise and basically came up to the top of the pans. With an oven spring, it should have risen a few inches above the top of the pan. It didn't rise at all in the oven and, though it still tasted great, the loaf was too short and the texture too dense.

Thanks in advance.

#2 jackal10

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 12:23 PM

Almost certainly you are over-proving.
Doubling in size is very misleading.
Cut your proof time in half - for yeast bread no more than a total of 2 hours at room temperature from mixing to baking.

#3 tino27

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 12:36 PM

Does your whole wheat recipe include either vital wheat gluten or some bread flour? If you are going with 100% whole wheat as the only type of flour, you may not be getting the level of gluten development you need to get the kind of oven spring you are looking for.

Also, make sure that you are either misting the tops of your loaves with some type of liquid (usually water) or creating steam in your oven to encourage ovenspring -- although you only benefit from this during the first 8-10 minutes of cooking.
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#4 Darren72

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 12:39 PM

Hi Jackal10 - thanks. Your class started my sourdough career.

When you say 2 hours from mixing to baking, does this two hours include the first rise (which I had been doing for two hours), plus shaping and then a second rise?

Any guidelines you can suggest so I know when each proof stage is complete? Do you subscribe to the poke test (poke the dough; it's ready when your indentation lingers)?

#5 Darren72

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 12:45 PM

Does your whole wheat recipe include either vital wheat gluten or some bread flour? If you are going with 100% whole wheat as the only type of flour, you may not be getting the level of gluten development you need to get the kind of oven spring you are looking for.

Also, make sure that you are either misting the tops of your loaves with some type of liquid (usually water) or creating steam in your oven to encourage ovenspring -- although you only benefit from this during the first 8-10 minutes of cooking.

View Post


Thanks for the reply. I do mist the loafs and usually spray water directly into the oven.

I didn't include any vital wheat gluten or bread flour. This particular recipe was all whole wheat flower plus some course ground oats (it is from Peter Reinhart's Bread Bakers Apprentice). I'm glad you suggested this because it may also explain why my 100% whole wheat dough never gets as elastic as white flour dough. For example, I cannot get a 100% whole wheat dough to pass the window pane test.

I'll try the wheat gluten. Just out of curiosity, how much bread flour would have to be in the dough if I didn't use wheat gluten - would 10% of the flour do the trick?

#6 tino27

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 01:17 PM

Does your whole wheat recipe include either vital wheat gluten or some bread flour? If you are going with 100% whole wheat as the only type of flour, you may not be getting the level of gluten development you need to get the kind of oven spring you are looking for.

Also, make sure that you are either misting the tops of your loaves with some type of liquid (usually water) or creating steam in your oven to encourage ovenspring -- although you only benefit from this during the first 8-10 minutes of cooking.

View Post


Thanks for the reply. I do mist the loafs and usually spray water directly into the oven.

I didn't include any vital wheat gluten or bread flour. This particular recipe was all whole wheat flower plus some course ground oats (it is from Peter Reinhart's Bread Bakers Apprentice). I'm glad you suggested this because it may also explain why my 100% whole wheat dough never gets as elastic as white flour dough. For example, I cannot get a 100% whole wheat dough to pass the window pane test.

I'll try the wheat gluten. Just out of curiosity, how much bread flour would have to be in the dough if I didn't use wheat gluten - would 10% of the flour do the trick?

View Post


In my wheat loaves I normally do 60% whole wheat flour and 40% bread flour (no need for vital wheat gluten at that level). If it were me and I didn't want to use vital wheat gluten, I'd probably start at 75/25 and work your way down from there.

Yeah, I also find it pretty hard to get a 100% whole wheat dough to pass the windowpane test.
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#7 jackal10

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 04:34 PM

Sourdough (at least for me) takes about 4 hours at room temperature from mixing the dough, bulk fermentation (2 hours), divide, shape a prove (2 hours). However this is using 33% of the flour as a pre-ferment.

Yeast dough moves about twice as fast, so 1 hour for bulk fermentation and 1 hour for proof.

Vital gluten won't make any difference to the oven spring.
Using part white flour will make a lighter and a more open crumb, but not affect oven spring.

Best test is experience and experimentation with different times.
You can make a cut in the bulk fermenting bread and look for very small bubbles on the cut surface
Another traditional trick is to put a small lump of dough in a galss of water. When it floats its ready.
Another way is to measure the expansion more accurately - pack some dough into a graduated measure - I use a glass measuring jug, and mark the level on the outside.

Here is a sequence of sourdough 0-5 hours, by which time it is overproved and the structure breaking down.

Start: about 100ml dough
Posted Image

1 hour
Posted Image

2 hours
Posted Image

3 hours. Bubbles in the dough are visible
Posted Image

4 hours
Posted Image

5 hours
Posted Image

Most people greatly overprove their dough. You will get more total volume if you do not let the dough prove to its maximum expansion, but let that happen in the oven. Halve your fermentation and proving times, and see.

Edited by jackal10, 30 December 2008 - 04:40 PM.


#8 dougal

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Posted 31 December 2008 - 05:11 AM

... The first potential problem is that the yeast is dead. In my case, this is not what is happening. I get a nice primary and secondary rise, so my yeast is alive. ...

View Post

It might be helpful to reveal what sort of yeast was being used ... :smile:
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#9 Darren72

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Posted 31 December 2008 - 06:48 AM

For non-sourdough, I use instant yeast.

#10 dougal

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Posted 31 December 2008 - 09:26 AM

For non-sourdough, I use instant yeast.

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Instant should be fine, if mixed with dry flour and blood-heat (not warm, not cold - utterly neutral to the touch) liquid.

Yeast isn't, in absolute terms, either "dead" or "alive". Its composed of millions, or even billions, of tiny wee beasties. The question is, how many of them are alive?

"Active dry" and slightly stale "fresh" will have a much larger proportion of dead yeast cells. (And heh, treat instant harshly and you'll kill more cells than if its treated with respect ...)
Dead yeast cells contribute a natural chemical that makes dough less strong (and more stretchable).
The longer your fermentation and proofing, the (much) weaker that stuff makes your dough.
So it rises less.

You get the same natural 'dough conditioner' chemical in wholegrain flour. Which is one of the reasons it doesn't rise as high. One "antidote" to this pesky stuff is a tiny spot of Vitamin C.
Make up a one-a-day soluble Vitamin C tablet in a glass of water. Put a tablespoonful of the solution per loaf into your dough (drink the rest), and you should notice an improvement.


All that said, I'd agree absolutely with jackal10 that you should try dramatically reducing the duration (or temperature if its 'warm') of your fermentation and proofing.

Edited by dougal, 31 December 2008 - 09:28 AM.

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#11 Emily_R

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Posted 31 December 2008 - 10:23 AM

I find this thread interesting, as I've intermittently had problems with lack of oven spring, but I can't really predict when that happens, and I never make 100% whole wheat bread -- I usually make part white/part wheat or whole grain sandwich breads...

The thing I've never understood about the "overproofing" explanation is this: Imagine that the bread fills half the loaf pan when I put it in for the second rise. Often I will just let it rise to the top of the pan as Darren describes, and then may or may not get oven spring. If I dramatically cut back on the second rising time, it seems that the bread would be going into the oven at only filling up only around three quarters of the pan. Even with oven spring at that point, it wouldn't seem likely to go much over the lip of the pan, leaving me back where I started at with the longer proofing and no oven spring? Does this make sense? Am I missing something?

#12 Darren72

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Posted 31 December 2008 - 12:46 PM

I find this thread interesting, as I've intermittently had problems with lack of oven spring, but I can't really predict when that happens, and I never make 100% whole wheat bread -- I usually make part white/part wheat or whole grain sandwich breads...

The thing I've never understood about the "overproofing" explanation is this: Imagine that the bread fills half the loaf pan when I put it in for the second rise. Often I will just let it rise to the top of the pan as Darren describes, and then may or may not get oven spring. If I dramatically cut back on the second rising time, it seems that the bread would be going into the oven at only filling up only around three quarters of the pan. Even with oven spring at that point, it wouldn't seem likely to go much over the lip of the pan, leaving me back where I started at with the longer proofing and no oven spring? Does this make sense? Am I missing something?

View Post


Emily this is exactly what I was thinking.

(I realize I could just use a smaller pan than what the original recipe called for...)

Dougel, thanks for the vitamin C suggestion. When I speculated that my yeast isn't dead, that was short hand for most of them were alive - my evidence being that the dough rose well before it was baked. I should have been more clear.

Edited by Darren72, 31 December 2008 - 12:49 PM.


#13 jackal10

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Posted 31 December 2008 - 03:45 PM

Even with oven spring at that point, it wouldn't seem likely to go much over the lip of the pan, leaving me back where I started at with the longer proofing and no oven spring? Does this make sense? Am I missing something?


Oh yes it will. The oven spring will give a greater total volume than proof alone.

Use lots of bottom heat so the bread souffles. Baking in a hot casserole such as a Le Crueset is good

#14 Emily_R

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Posted 31 December 2008 - 04:14 PM

Hmmm. Ok. Am making a loaf of 50% white 50% wheat sandwich bread right now... Its already in a loaf pan so no hot casserole is possible... I'll try not letting it rise as high as I normally do (which shouldn't be hard as the house is so cold its hard to get my bread to rise much at all at the moment)... Will report back later...

#15 Mark Andrew Brown

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Posted 31 December 2008 - 04:56 PM

In the past I have used 65% whole wheat with 35% all-purpose.

#16 gregnz

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Posted 31 December 2008 - 09:47 PM

Good question!
Can I ask for clarification of some of the answers?
jackal10 - when you say that "Doubling in size is very misleading", do you mean that it is incorrect as a principle? Or that the average bakers' judgement of doubling is inaccurate?

Secondly, at what point in the series of sourdough rising over 5 hours would you say that the dough is ready.

Are we talking about the first rise here? Can you discuss differences between the first and second rising?

Currently I bulk ferment, then will punch it down (really just knead it again for a few seconds) and either shape, or allow it to rise again. If I let it rise for a second time, I will try to minimize the loss of volume, then let it rise a little more before baking.
The test I've been using for all rises is whether or not a floured-fingertips indent will remain.
The result I get seems quite dense (feels heavy).

#17 jackal10

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 04:34 AM

jackal10 - when you say that "Doubling in size is very misleading", do you mean that it is incorrect as a principle? Or that the average bakers' judgement of doubling is inaccurate?


Both.
Its wrong in principle. The amount a dough rises depends on many factors. The optimum point to shape is when the dough is saturated with carbon dioxide and micro-bubbles have begun to form, but the sponge is not yet so delicate that it will lose gas and collapse as its handled. That is much earlier than when the dough has doubled. Many commercial bread processes such as "no-time doughs" omit the bulk fermentation stage entirely.
Its also wrong to let the proof stage double. Bear in mind that properly conditioned the dough will more than double in the oven from the outgassing and the steam before setting. If it has already doubled the most dough stuctures will not take that expansion, and heavy bread will result.

Its wrong in practice, since its very hard to estimate a doubling in volume, especially for boule.

For my sourdough I shape 2 hours after mixing (at room temperature - say 75F), and then eithr immediateky retard overnight and bake for cold, or bake after a further 2 hours. a toatl of 4 hours form mixing the dough. The dough includes 33% by weight of flour an overnight pre-ferment.
Typically
Preferment:
200g flour
100g water
10g culture
Mix and leave 24 hours at 75F

Dough
All the preferment
400g flour
12g salt
320g water (70% hydration)
Mix roughly, then stretch and fold every 1/2 hour for 2 hours
Shape, prove for 2 hours or overnight in the fridge.
Bake 40 mins 450F, bottom heat, steam in first minute

The processes happening in dough during fermentation and rise are complex and interacting.
They include:
Formation of the gluten matrix (chiefly from hydration)
Splitting of some of the starch into sugars and shorter chains
Fermentation by the yeast of sugar to produce CO2 and flavour by-products. Gentle mixing during the bulk fermentation stage redistributes the available food, and stretches the forming gluten matrix.
Saturation of the dough with CO2
Formation and growth of micro bubbles, partly from initial mixing
Stretching of the gluten matrix as the cells expand
Collapse and amalgamation of the gas cells

As the dough matures the sponge becomes more fragile and liable to collapse. When you have just mixed it its pretty robust stuff and can be banged about, but as it matures you need to handle it with increasing gentleness so as not to lose that precious gas and bubble sructure.
The original reason for punching down was to give a fine, even crumb, like pullman bread or pain de mie. Now we prefer a more open texture, so don't punch down, but handle and shape as gently as you can, and earlier so the dough is not so delicate.

Bake before the bubbles reach their maximum size so that there is room for expansion (mostly from steam) before the cell walls cook and freeze. If they grow too much they will rupture and and collapse, losing the gas before setting

Edited by jackal10, 01 January 2009 - 04:46 AM.


#18 Emily_R

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 09:56 AM

Jackal -- This is very interesting and I appreciate your post. Would you say the science described above also applies to non-sourdough non-prefermented sandwich-type loafs?

Emily

#19 jackal10

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 11:17 AM

Yes it applies to non-sourdough yeast doughs as well.
Sourdough is even more complex as the yeast does not directly metabolise the complex sugars from the startch but the lactobacilli split the complex sugars into simple sugars that the yeast can use.,

Timing is a bit different, about twice as fast for yeast doughs.

How did the bread come out?

Edited by jackal10, 01 January 2009 - 11:18 AM.


#20 DanM

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 04:05 PM

Good evening.

Another factor not mentioned is that the bran in whole wheat flour will interfere with gluten development by cutting the gluten strands during kneading. I have found that using some King Arthur Flour white whole whole wheat helps give a good rise due to the very fine grind they use.

Best of luck


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#21 judec

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 05:23 PM

Hello. I always check for a number of things before baking to get maximum oven spring. This is my list in order of importance:


Judging proof time using the poke test - This, in my opinion, is the most reliable way to judge whether or not the dough is ready to bake. I look for dough that slowly springs back about halfway, leaving an indentation when pressed lightly.
I start checking at the minimum recommended proofing time. If it's not ready yet, I check every 15 minutes afterwards.
I've found that the proofing time is never the same, as much as an hour difference for the same formula, especially for sourdough.

Starting off in a hotter oven - About 25 to 50 degrees higher than recommended. Adjust the baking times around the minimum.

Use steam even if the recipe doesn't call for it - A hotter oven also helps disperse the steam much faster, which is critical to get the maximum expansion during the first few minutes of baking. A half cup to one cup of boiling water is enough for most.

A well-preheated baking stone - I put equipment last because I think that judging the final proof and controlling the temperature should be the most important things to consider. I get much more volume baking directly on a pre-heated baking stone that a sheet pan.

#22 Emily_R

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 09:09 PM

Yes it applies to non-sourdough yeast doughs as well.
Sourdough is even more complex as the yeast does not directly metabolise the complex sugars from the startch but the lactobacilli split the complex sugars into simple sugars that the yeast can use.,

Timing is a bit different, about twice as fast for yeast doughs.

How did the bread come out?

View Post


Bread came out decently -- the flavor was good, and it did have more oven spring then I expected, but still a little less than I'd hoped... That probably doesn't make much sense -- I guess the idea is that I like a sandwich loaf that towers several inches over the loaf pan once its baked. Sometimes this happens, but as I mentioned its not very predictable for me. I did get more oven spring then I expected given how slowly the dough was rising in the loaf pan prior to getting it in the oven, and given the fact that the dough hadn't fully doubled in the loaf pan before putting it in the oven. Sorry for the vagueness -- you can probably tell that I haven't treated my bread making very scientifically, and have been willing to leave quite a bit up to the mystery of the day and the batch of bread and the ambient house temperature, and how finicky the oven temp was that day... But I will re-read this thread and try to be more observent of my results in the future!

#23 gregnz

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 11:46 PM

How did the bread come out?

View Post


Better! The texture of the crumb is a lot softer, and it probably sprang up half it's volume again.
I'm designing a couple of experiments to help me fine tune it a bit.

Thanks! I feel that you have re-directed me on a couple of points.
i. I didn't know that oven spring was important - certainly I didn't expect a doubling in volume (usually I'd get a little... maybe 10%)
ii. that oven spring would allow me to get a greater volume for my bread. I thought all of my problems were a result of not proving long enough - or proving too long at the bulk phase, which impaired the doughs ability to retain carbon dioxide during the final proof.

I remember the best loaf I ever made - I had mixed it the night before and put it straight into the fridge. The next morning I took it out, punched it down and let it rise again for 2 hours maybe, then shaped it. The feeling of the dough really stood out to me - it felt taught, tending towards what a balloon feels like. Then when I baked it, it had a huge spring and the finished bread had a soft crumb, and the whole bread felt light (relative to it's size).

#24 TheSwede

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 06:37 AM

I'm certainly no master baker like a lot of the posters in this thread, but in my limited experience the advice below is very important:

...
Starting off in a hotter oven - About 25 to 50 degrees higher than recommended. Adjust the baking times around the minimum.
...

View Post


You need a HOT oven to get oven spring. You can always turn down the oven after 10-15 mins. Preheat your baking sheets.

#25 Darren72

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 09:44 AM

The loaf I baked yesterday was an improvement over the first one, but like Emily_R I'm hoping for a loaf that rises well over the lip of the pan.

This time I replaced about 1/4 of the whole wheat flour with bread flour and also cut the rising times by about half. This dough kneeded much better (it easily passed the windowpane test) - probably because of the bread flour. I restricted the first rise to an hour (instead of two). Instead of fully doubling, this time it probably increased in volume about about 70%.

Then I split the dough into two pieces, shaped them, and put them into loaf pans. Instead of rising for 90 minutes as I did the first time, I let them rise for about 45 minutes. Then baked them.

These loafs rose in the oven a little bit more than my earlier batch. The interior was noticeably lighter. But the overall height still shorter than what I hoped for.

Luckily, this bread tastes good. I'll report back on the next trial.

#26 shacke

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 10:35 AM

The loaf I baked yesterday was an improvement over the first one, but like Emily_R I'm hoping for a loaf that rises well over the lip of the pan.

This time I replaced about 1/4 of the whole wheat flour with bread flour and also cut the rising times by about half. This dough kneeded much better (it easily passed the windowpane test) - probably because of the bread flour. I restricted the first rise to an hour (instead of two). Instead of fully doubling, this time it probably increased in volume about about 70%.

Then I split the dough into two pieces, shaped them, and put them into loaf pans. Instead of rising for 90 minutes as I did the first time, I let them rise for about 45 minutes. Then baked them.

These loafs rose in the oven a little bit more than my earlier batch. The interior was noticeably lighter. But the overall height still shorter than what I hoped for.

Luckily, this bread tastes good. I'll report back on the next trial.

View Post


Only after baking many years did I realize the power of understanding TIME and TEMPERATURE. I ignored these basic intertwined principles. Rising times are highly dependent on temperature - of final dough and the ambient temp. In my experience, I was always an underfermenter and with a probe thermometer and some attention to detail I was fast tracked to great loaves time and time again.

FWIW, Jeffrey Hamelman's book "Bread" is utterly fantastic and pays strict attention to these basic principles in his recipes. I cannot recommend it highly enough to anyone interested in bread baking.

Good luck.
Dough can sense fear.

#27 Darren72

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 12:09 PM

I've been paying attention to temperature as well as time since reading Jackal10's sourdough course. :)

Thanks for the book recommendation. I'll check it out.

Edited by Darren72, 02 January 2009 - 12:12 PM.


#28 Alcuin

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 12:40 PM

jackal10 - when you say that "Doubling in size is very misleading", do you mean that it is incorrect as a principle? Or that the average bakers' judgement of doubling is inaccurate?


Both.
Its wrong in principle. The amount a dough rises depends on many factors. The optimum point to shape is when the dough is saturated with carbon dioxide and micro-bubbles have begun to form, but the sponge is not yet so delicate that it will lose gas and collapse as its handled. That is much earlier than when the dough has doubled. Many commercial bread processes such as "no-time doughs" omit the bulk fermentation stage entirely.
Its also wrong to let the proof stage double. Bear in mind that properly conditioned the dough will more than double in the oven from the outgassing and the steam before setting. If it has already doubled the most dough stuctures will not take that expansion, and heavy bread will result.

Its wrong in practice, since its very hard to estimate a doubling in volume, especially for boule.

For my sourdough I shape 2 hours after mixing (at room temperature - say 75F), and then eithr immediateky retard overnight and bake for cold, or bake after a further 2 hours. a toatl of 4 hours form mixing the dough. The dough includes 33% by weight of flour an overnight pre-ferment.
Typically
Preferment:
200g flour
100g water
10g culture
Mix and leave 24 hours at 75F

Dough
All the preferment
400g flour
12g salt
320g water (70% hydration)
Mix roughly, then stretch and fold every 1/2 hour for 2 hours
Shape, prove for 2 hours or overnight in the fridge.
Bake 40 mins 450F, bottom heat, steam in first minute

View Post


This is very similar to what I do, except with 350 ml for the dough which is 75% hydration. I still don't get big holes, though my crumb is cool and light. Do you get an open crumb with 70% hydration?

I usually do about 12-16 hours for the pre-ferment, then about 2-3 for the bulk ferment depending on how fast it's going. Then I like to retard overnight and bake straight from the refrigerator in a dutch oven. I'm pretty happy with the crust and crumb, but I'd like the crumb to be a bit more open. I use a flour with an average of 12% gluten--should I switch to something with a bit less?
nunc est bibendum...

#29 jackal10

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 01:22 PM

The crumb also depends on the flour. Particles of bran will puncture the gas cells, so whole wheat is denser then white flour.
The texture depends on the gluten matrix. For large cells you want weaker gluten so more cells coalesce. I tend to use soft white flour around 10% protein, but flour has many variables.
More yeast activity, so more yeast and longer bulk fermention times relative to proof times will give larger, weaker bubbles that coalesce in the moulding process and hence a more open and uneven crumb.

Posted Image

Edited by jackal10, 02 January 2009 - 01:28 PM.


#30 adey73

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 01:42 PM

Wow Jack that is very extremely impressive. Was that baked in you Aga or your wood oven?
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