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Troubleshooting my buns


NulloModo
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Heya,

Yesterday my order from Honeyvillegrains.com came in, so I jumped straight into trying my first low-carb bun experiment. Here is the recipe I used (basically, I can't get the exact data because the board it is on is down at the moment):

6 T Vital Wheat Gluten

5 T Flax Seed Meal

4 T Oat Fiber

2 T Polydexstrose

1/2 t salt

50 mg Ascorbic Acid

1 Packet of quick-rise yeast

Enough warm water to make it all pasty

My method:

I combined all dry ingredients in a bowl, mixed, then added the warm water till I had enough to make it into a thick pasty texture that I could knead. I tossed it around a bit, then let it sit for 45 minutes so the yeast could do its work. It rose a bit in the bowl, but didn't come close to doubling in size.

Next, I divided into four equal portions and placed on a baking sheet. These went into the oven at 375 for half an hour.

The results don't have a bad flavor, but are not like the light fluffy rolls I was hoping for. In fact they are very flat, have no fluff at all, and are incredibly dense.

What might I need to do to make this all rise into more of a regular hamburger bun type of result? Should I have let me yeast work longer, used more of it, or added backing soda/powder/an egg ? Any suggestions would be most welcome. Thanks.

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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How bread works is that the air bubbles are trapped by the gluten, but it is the moist starch that cooks and sets them in place. Since your recipe has no starch (duh), I doubt you can get more fluffiness out of it by varying your technique.

This is why neither gluten-free nor carb-free purchased products are especially like the real thing, and why they are usually full of additives and other odd ingredients.

I think if the person who wrote the original recipe said they were fluffy, they were delusional.

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Well, this is a reverse-engineered recipe from a commercial product that has unfortunately left the store shelves. The product I am trying to duplicate was indeed just like a regular bun, and contained the ingredients that I am working with.

There is a minute amount of starch in the recipe, as the Vital Wheat Gluten still has some (the difference between VWG and What Protein Isolate I'd assume). The flax also has a minute amount, now, whether this is enough or not, I'm not sure.

I am thinking that the grains in my flax seed meal might have been too coarse, so I Am thinking about running it through the coffee grinder a couple times before my next attempt to get a more flourlike consistency, in hopes that that might do the trick. But I Am a baking novice, and really have no idea how this stuff works, how long I should knead, how long I should let rise, etc...

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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Nullo, here is the base recipe that I posted to the other forum:

gluten 6 T

flax 5 T 1 t.

oil 1 T. 1 1/2 t.

fiber 3 T. 1 t.

polydextrose 2 t

salt 1/4 t.

I think you might have forgotten the oil. Oil makes a huge difference in achieving a soft/fluffy crumb.

Did you toss it or 'knead' it? The gluten has to develop in order for the air pockets to form.

I think a punch down/second rise might be in order.

Did you measure the temperature of your water?

You'll want a very 'loose' (high moisture) dough. It should be fairly sticky when you begin kneading it and then lose that stickiness once the gluten is developed. In fact, you might want to break out your food processor, since that will knead a dough that is too sticky too work with.

For best oven spring, rolls need to be formed correctly. The forming process works to stretch the gluten around itself and seals any cut edges.

All in all, it sounds like a good first effort. Do you have any chicken broth lying around? If you dunk them in that, they could make nice dumplings.

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Ah, thanks Scott, that was the one I was using, but since ADBB is down I couldn't retrieve the specifics (I did use those last night however, and I did use the oil).

Hmmm, I Didn't knead them, I more just mushed it around with my fingers for a while, and my dough was far from wet.

Thanks for the ideas, looks like I might be ready for another attempt today...

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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I just made up another batch of the dough. This time I beat the hell out of it for a while, but the gluten never seemed to get really stretchy, and it is still quite wet, almost like an oatmeal consistency.

It did however rise a ton more than the last batch, although when I took the film off from the bowl the rise quickly died. I am now letting it rise a second time after working the 'dough' a bit more... I am not sure how this stuff is going to hold its shape on the baking sheet, but I will report back when I get some results.

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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Nullo, the "ton more" rise is a good sign. However, the fact that it deflated when you took the plastic off is not so good. Did you let it rise past double? As dough goes past the doubling phase, it has a tendency to get weak and collapse. If it was only doubled and it fell, I'd say it could be a little too much water. Oatmeal is definitely not what you're looking for, just sticky wet dough. It definitely shouldn't be stirrable beyond those few seconds when the ingredients are combined with the water.

As far as 'working' the dough after the first rise, I think you'll want to avoid that. After the first rise, it's very easy to overwork the gluten and tear it. Just a punch down/seond rise is sufficient. A punch down is what it sounds like. You punch down the dough in the middle and then fold the edges inward. This redistributes the yeast on the inside of the dough to the outside, giving it fresh nutrients.

If it truly is 'oatmealy' I think forming this into buns could get tricky. You might want to dump the whole thing onto a greased cookie sheet, let it rise a bit and bake it.

It absolutely essential that the flax seed be ground as finely as possible, as any course edges will have a tendency to slice the gluten and deflate the loaf.

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Hmm, the second baking attempt was not much better than the first. The dough was too wet and sorta flattened out on the baking sheet.

I am thinking that for my next attempt I might use a bit of pure WPI as well as VWG in order to give it a more stretchy gluteny character.

I am also thinking that I seem to be losing a lot of air inside when taking the big lump of dough and shaping int into individual rolls, so perhaps I will shape it into individual rolls right after mixing/kneading and them let it rise on the baking sheet, that way I won't deflate them before sticking them into the oven.

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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Nullo, getting the right amount of water in the dough is crucial. It's very possible that this recipe needs more wheat protein, but I'd give one more shot at adjusting the water. The first time was too little water, this time too much, maybe next time it'll be just right.

A final rise (called a proof) on the cookie sheet is essential. Make sure you handle it gingerly as you put it in the oven as it can be easy to deflate once fully proofed.

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Another attempt is in order for this afternoon. I will try using less water than last time, but more than the first time. I think I will also substitute a tablespoon or so of WPI for one of Flax, the breadlike thigns that I have produced so far tasted more flaxxy than I would like them too.

I will also make sure I let them rolls raise formed on the sheet this time, I am thinking that letting them rise only in the bowl, then being ripped into portions, patted down, and tossed right into the oven had to do somewhat with my earlier failures.

I might also look into seeing if I can find 'baking rings' or something that I can put around them when they go into the oven so that they keep their shape.

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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So results after attempt #3 -

I let the dough proof in big muffin tins, to try to establish a more bun-like shape. This definately helped, but I am wondering if there are other issues at play here.

The results are still much more dense than I would like, and have a more muffiny than breadlike texture.

I am contemplating playing with baking powder/soda as addition leavening agents. I have no experience with what these actually do though, which would I use, would I still use yeast, and would I need some sort of acid to activate them? Also, would these be conducive towards a more breadlike texture, or am I barking up the wrong tree?

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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Last night I tried a different approach. I figured I might just try to use baking powder as opposed to yeast, and after reading a bit on baking911.com, thought I had a relatively good handle on how it worked.

I simplified the recipe: 1/2 cup WPI, 1/2 cup oat fiber, 1 teaspoon Baking Powder, 1/4 Teaspoon Salt, 1 Cup water.

This mixed into a thick almost corn-meal looking batter, which I plopped into tins and into a 425 degree oven. I got much more rise this time, and a fluffier biscuitier corn breadier texture (still not what I am looking for) but the flavor profile was not nearly as nice as with the yeast rolls, in fact, these just tasted sort of like uncooked flour, so back to the drawing board yet again...

At least I am getting a better idea of how the different variables work in baking. I might attempt to do a yeast plus baking powder or soda roll, but I'm not sure if the leavening would boost each other, or if the time required for the yeast to rise would be too long for the soda to hold up and still leaven...

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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Nullo, if there was a perseverence award, I would definitely nominate you for it. My life revolves around food and I can get pretty tunnel minded, but I don't think I ever went after anything with the ferocity you're going after this. Bravo.

Baking Powder

Leavening problems aren't always about insufficient leavener. If the protein framework isn't strong/elastic enough, the leavening won't give it rise. With single action baking powder, the powder has lost it's leavening abilities long before the yeast has risen. With double action, you get half of it's leavening potential. If you do need additional leavener, add more yeast.

Change the recipe

After giving it some thought, the amount of fiber in this could be preventing the gluten from doing it's job. If you remember, my calculations worked with a higher vital wheat gluten lower flax ratio. I'd give that a shot:

gluten 6 T + 1 t.

flax 4 T.

oil 1 T. + oil for bowl

fiber 3 T. 2t.

polydextrose 2 t

salt 1/4 t.

Flax seed vs. meal

I took a look at my calculations and noticed a miscommunication. My numbers are for flax seed not flax meal. I'm pretty sure seed, once ground, doubles in volume, so if you've been using my numbers, you've been using half the require flax. For the recipe above, 4 T. flax seed should be 8 T. meal. As far as your bread tasting too 'flaxy' have you tasted the meal by itself? It may have turned rancid. I've had that happen to both the seeds and the meal a bunch of times.

Kneading the dough

5 minutes by hand or 3 minutes with a machine (food processor or mixer w/ dough hook)

Not a minute less

Regular yeast/Proof the yeast

Your yeast may be old. I'm also not a big fan of instant yeast. Get your hands on regular yeast. And proof the yeast. Add 105-110 degree water to the yeast with 1/4 t. of sugar, whisk it briefly to promote aerobic respiration, set it aside for 5 minutes. When you come back, the yeast should be bubbly.

Adjust vitamin C

Yeast doesn't like too acidic of an environment. If memory serves me correctly, the ascorbic acid should be around 5 milligrams, 10 times that might be killing your yeast off.

Vital Wheat Gluten

Are you out of VWG? Get some more. You're making your life a lot more difficult by using WPI for these rolls.

I think the flax seed/meal issue should make a huge difference. Using half the flax meal might be the reason your rolls didn't come out right. Flax provides a certain amount of fluffiness, without it, the gluten will have a tendency to be rubbery.

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Hmm, thanks for the ideas.

I have been using the meal yes, not that measurement of seeds. My bag of meal was just opened prior to this experiment, but it had been sitting on a shelf for who knows, up to a year perhaps, before that. So, although it was sealed, it is plausible that that could have happened. I have a bag of fresh seeds in my freezer, maybe I will try grinding the flax fresh for my next try.

I have been using instant 'active dry rapid-rise' yeast, red-star brand (or red-dot, or something like that). I have used a full packet per attempt. Is the other yeast the kind in the jar? Maybe I will pick some up and see if that helps, I need to go by Wally-World today anyway.

The reason I tried to switch to WPI from VWG is that the dough didn't seem gluteny enough to me, it was pasty instead of stretchy like I would explect gluten to make it. When I have tried to roll out pizza crusts from LC pizza crust kits (which have a lot of gluten) I am amazed and how stretchy the dough is, I guess perhaps I was expecting something similar.

I will try to knead in my food processor the next time, and see if that helps, maybe by hand I'm not beating it enough.

By proofing the yeast, am I not wasting any of it's rising properties? I would think by letting it bubble in the bowl that I am letting it expel gasses into the air that could be expelled into my bread instead...

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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Year old flax seeds, sealed packaged or not, most probably rancid. If they did turn on you, they'd lend a very strong flaxy (and not pleasant) flavor to anything you use them in.

The jar yeast is for buying yeast in bulk. Packet yeast is fine. Red star is a good brand, but I just find rapid rise yeast a little too gimmicky. It feels like a something for nothing kind of product, and I just don't buy into it. Any brand of regular yeast is good, just make sure it's got a good date on the package. Also, I'm not 100% sure about this, but I've always found unrefrigerated yeast to be fresher than refrigerated packet yeast. I could be wrong though. When I made bread, I used to buy a 1 lb. block of fresh compressed yeast for $2 from a local baker. It had phenemonal leavening properties.

I don't think that the osolo rolls are very similar to the output from the lc pizza crust kits. Some gluten is needed for a bubble framework for the bread to rise, but too much and you've got rubber. The recipe I listed should provide sufficient elasticity when kneaded for the right amount of time. If, after needing this the full 5 minutes, the dough isn't springy, than I'll take another look at my calculations and see if a greater proportion of gluten will work numerically.

I was looking for a video on kneading and all I could come up with is this real audio file:

http://pmedia.meredith.com/bhg/food/cookschool/kneading.ram

This is a good link on kneading:

http://www.baking911.com/bread101_knead.htm

And, while looking for that, I came across this:

http://www.baking911.com/bread_problems.htm

Yeast is a living item. It isn't like you add water, start the clock and off they go for a set amount of gas/time. They feed, they grow, they multiply, they excrete alcohol/carbon dioxide, and, once they hit a certain temperature, they die.

As long as you provide the yeast with some nutrients and a suitable environment, they're happy as clams. Yeast propagate a lot faster in an aerobic environment (oxygen rich) than an anaerobic one. Hence the vigorous wisking when the yeast is combined with water, as well as the punch down later on. The initial proofing with a tiny amount of sugar is an excellent way of determining the potency of your critters.

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Thanks for the info again...

I decided against another attempt this evening, had a pile of dishes to do instead, so I will most likely try my next version over the weekend, and report back how it goes.

The baking powder rolls however proved interesting in a new fashion tonight: I made a big pot of chili, and really wanted something with it, so I took one, cut it in half, toasted it a couple times till browned, and put a little butter on it. While a little dry, it had a great english muffiny taste and texture... I will have to remember that the next time I am jonesing for eggs benedict.

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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Update, and Success!

Scott, thanks for all the help, I think my biggest problem was I wasn't kneading the dough enough. Today I tried it with your latest recipe version, and kneaded in the food processor for a solid five minutes. Also, I used a jar of yeast and proofed it with a single packet of sugar (hopefully 3/4 teaspoon of yeast was enough to eat all that sugar). The dough turned out exactly whatI wanted, and rose much more than I expected, next time I will make the pre-baked rolls smaller. I baked in muffin tins again, used to the loose dough, but the next time I don't think I will need to. The texture was very breadlike, the crumb nice and breadlike as well, and the flavor was very similar to the O'So'Lo rolls. I forgot to put any salt into the dough, so that might have explained the slight flavor deficit in these, but I will remember next time.

I also ground my own flax from some fresh seeds I picked up. The flax flour was much lighter than the pre-ground stuff, and the rolls did not have an overly flaxy flavor this time. Here they are:

egrollz.jpg

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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Nullo, congratulations. Those look phenomenal.

I think the jarred yeast is probably superior to the packets.

I'm also guessing that the fresh flax seeds made a big difference in taste.

I'm curious about something. Was the crumb opaque or more on the translucent side? Are they at all rubbery/spongey? I'm trying ascertain if the extra protein from the WPI affected them adversely at all.

Salt, btw, is a yeast inhibitor, so they may not rise quite as much when you add salt to the next batch.

Overall, though, they're looking great. When are you going to open up a bakery? :smile:

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The crumb was not rubbery at all. It was slightly more spongey than crusty real bread, but well within the bounds of a normal bread experience.

I got the idea in my head last night to try to bake up a batch of cinnamon rolls using this dough as a base. I made it up, kneaded again, rolled it out into strips, painted them with a melted mixture of Xylitol/Butter/Cinnamon, rolled them up, and then baked.

They didn't rise quite as much as I might have expected, but perhaps the bit of salt in the dough had something to do with that, or my rough handling of them to get them into the rolls. Either way they taste good, I am going to keep playing with the recipe and see what happens next.

As I think back however the seeds Iused might have accidentally been sesame and not flax, I have too many unmarked bags of random seeds and spices around here...

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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Sesame seeds, huh? Yes, there is a resemblence.  Sesame seeds would definitely change the leavening situation pretty dramatically.

I tried a few when I got back today and I think they _Taste_ like flax, but it is hard to tell from frozen seeds. When a ground them they pretty much turned into a nice light golden flour, nothing oily/pasty like tahini, so, I am leaning towards flax at the moment. I just remember buying bulk sesame and flax seeds at some point, putting both in bags in my freezer, and eventually tossing one, but not sure which.

Which would have greater leavning properties?

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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Well, sesame seeds have zero binding abilities and flax, when hydrated, has a gelatinous egglike quality that forms a very loose framework for leavening, which is then augmented by the wheat protein. Not to mention the difference in fat content. Sesame seeds have a lot more fat than flax. Fat gets in the way of gluten and prevents it from doing it's job.

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