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Sourdough Bread Troubleshooting (Part 1)


adrober
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After an annoying experience yesterday morning, when my proofed loaf stuck to the peel and ended up in the garbage (that's what happens when I bake at 8 a.m. and forget the parchment), I put up another loaf for baking today.

Much better results, as these pix show:

gallery_6902_5624_21145.jpg

gallery_6902_5624_401.jpg

And, it tastes really good, used for making a couple of panini with prosciutto and cheese.

That's fantastic looking--what an achievement. At what temp do you bake it and how do you steam it (if you do)?

I assume you use a banneton?

thanks

josh

josh

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Beautiful Mitch!

But, I have a question: you put your proofed loaf on parchment? Does the parchment go into oven as well?

I use a lot of semolina and make sure everything is 'slidey'.

Especially if the dough is really wet or slack, I'll just turn it out of the banneton onto a sheet of parchment on the peel - then the whole thing gets slid onto the stone - no need to worry about cornmeal (of which I didn't use enough the other morning) and the mess it makes...and never a need to worry about sticking.

The loaf pictured above was baked in a cast iron dutch oven pre-heated to 450 - for 25 minutes with the lid on and 20 minutes or so w/lid off. No parchment, just turned out of the banneton into the dutch oven, with only slightly burned fingers.

And, I've made a bit of a confession about the loaf above, which can be seen by clicking here.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Everyone,

Jackal was very kind and sent me some of his starter. I'm a fairly novice baker, I've probably baked 20 or 30 loaves of commercial yeast bread. In the past I've never had any success even with commercial starters from Ed Wood or ones that I bought on Ebay. However, the one jackal sent worked great. The first loaf I attempted was pretty bad. I over proofed it in too warm of a temperatue. The dough completely fell apart. On my next try I had much better success. I used the Breadtopia sourdough no-knead recipe. I needed a pretty long proofing time, about 24 hours at 65 to 70 degrees. Then I used a simple method where I put the loaf directly on a baking stone and then cover it with a romertopf lid for 30 minutes and then uncover and bake for 15 more minutes. Here are the results, the bread tasted fantastic. I didnt use any commercial yeast. It had a very nice flavor with just a slight sour aftertaste. Exactly the way I like it.

Here is a picture:

gallery_59101_5884_494564.jpg

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  • 4 weeks later...

Sometimes I just have to laugh at the thoughts that I wake up to...

I've been thinking about steam in my sourdough baking, and also about my cheapo standard oven v. my friend's outdoor wood-fired brick oven. What if you took a bunch of wood chips - the ones you use to smoke BBQ, soaked them, put them in a pan in your cheapo oven and used them to steam your bread. I would still do my squirts for high steam content, but I wonder if it would be useful, and if it would impart some type of flavor. Has anyone heard of this technique?

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I tried this yesterday - using soaked wood chips in the baking. It definitely imparted a subtle flavor - I used cherry wood. I'm not sure it was an improvement, and it definitely conflicted with my lime curd this morning, but its worth trying again, maybe with a heartier bread.

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after working with the sourdough ..finding my bread baking Zen and baking bread enough bread on the grill (because I loved that woodsmoke flavor and texture of the crust) ...I have resorted to rereading my old Mother Earth News (again) and my husband and I are goign to build an outdoor bread/pizza oven this summer ...just a small one....it is so worth it I think and the cost/space is minimal after looking at what it takes ...

I have used wet chips on the gas grill to make pizza but never in the oven ....and usually have been baking bread on the woodburning grill because the flavor was so much better

why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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  • 2 weeks later...
Desiderio, from your pics I think the following may be your problem.

It would appear that you are baking on a stone that has not had enough time to come up to oven temperature, and also I think your oven temp may be way too high.

So what is happening is that the top crust is cooking and hardening before full oven spring, and because the baking stone may be cooler the bottom of the loaf is the softest part so thats where it tears. I also think from the colour of your crust that your loaves are way overcooked, if you have done this to get the crumb cooked then this supports my theory that the oven temp is too high.

Hope I have been of help.

I'm having the bottom and side tumors on most loaves of all shapes. I was following Jackal's demo using my juniper berry sourdough starter. Bill44 suggested my stone isn't hot enough or my oven is too high. I know my stone was hot enough (1 hour in preheated oven), but I am baking at 495 F. Any suggestions how to not have my breads split?

BTW, the crumb and crust are absolutely perfect.

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Gfron: oven temps are a funny thing. You could calibrate your oven...or get one of those handy dandy infared hand held thermometers. I use mine all the time (not only as a cat toy) and it's amazing the variation in temp from one spot in the oven to another.

It takes a lot of the guess work out of what you are doing.

Depending on the size of the loaf, roll, bread, etc. I adjust. I might start at 500F, then start dialing back the temp.

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Hmmm.  That's interesting because I did 2 baguettes, a small boule and large boule, and all three had the oven at the same temp, and all three split.  But you think its the temp more than my slashes or the moisture content of the dough?

That is officially beyond my skill set.

Slashes are decorative, they aren't going to cause splits.

I know by feel, I'm useless at hydration, ash, potassium percentages... I'm sorry.

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I'm having the bottom and side tumors on most loaves of all shapes.

Are you slashing deeply and often enough? The slashes should direct the expansion of the loaf (oven spring) to prevent blow-outs or at least control it so that it happens at the slashes. By tumors, do you mean blow-outs?

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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Yep - blowouts. What's interesting is on my large boule tonight, my deepest slash led to the blowout, while the other shallow slashes stayed pretty and intact. So, I'll read up on slashes and play Johnny Depp (either one of his barber characters) and make that boule think twice before erupting on me.

And hathor...ash, potassium...just you being able to know that you should mention those two things puts you beyond my knowledge.

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Yep - blowouts.  What's interesting is on my large boule tonight, my deepest slash led to the blowout, while the other shallow slashes stayed pretty and intact.  So, I'll read up on slashes and play Johnny Depp (either one of his barber characters) and make that boule think twice before erupting on me. 

It could also be a sign of underproofing. You could try extending your final proof and see if it makes a difference.

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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Rob, it could be in the shaping as well. If you aren't getting out all of the larger air bubbles during shaping, you could have a large gas pocket which will give you a tumor or blowout during baking. Really work for that nice surface tension and make sure to seal all your seams well when you're shaping your loaves.

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Not completely. I lowered my temp and that gave me a crust that was less desirable than when I was baking at 495F. So I've taken my temp back up. I've proofed a bit more and that didn't make a difference - one loaf blew out the other didn't. Same with less proofing. I've also paid a lot more attention to my shaping and getting bubbles out - that seems to have helped. I think I may still not be slashing deeply enough.

In other words, I'm not being consistent enough in my technique to pinpoint the problem. I'm also messing around a lot with what I throw into the dough (seeds and such) and whether I hydrate those add-ons, and what impact that might have.

I guess the end of the story is that everything is selling as fast as I can put it out, so I'll continue to pay attention and see if I can't pinpoint the problem. I would say that 30% are blowouts at this point, but you know what...to most people that makes it look cool and artisenal instead of factory bread - which is added value.

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I also want to add that I'm eating a baguette I just baked that had a really ugly blow out. And I share this with all of you because like many of you, anything I bake gives credit to all of my eG friends who taught me much of what I know.

This bread is incredible. The crumb is chewy and not so tight that its boring. But not too airy that it won't hold butter and feel substantial. The crust - and this is what I'm most excited about - is perfectly crisp but not so thick that you cut up your mouth eating it. Its just perfect and the best mistake I've ever eaten! :laugh:

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I've been inspired by this thread, the EGCI course on sourdough, and hathor's post on her blog about the need to knead to really try to make bread on a regular basis for my little family of two. I was so pleased with this week's results, I thought I could actually contribute something by sharing! Unfortunately I just spent an hour reading about ImageGullet and haven't figured it out yet, so I will have to link the photos instead.

I started Lulu back in March with some rye flour and slowly switched her over to regular white flour. I don't have any pictures of her, but she's pretty happy hanging out in the fridge in between my baking days. One thing, though, she used to be runny like pancake batter and now she's pretty thick, I'd like to get her back to that consistency, so if anyone has any suggestions....

First loaf: This is a no-knead loaf, loosely based on a recipe from the blog chezpim. Hers was a mixed-flour loaf and I've been doing that (before I had a camera), but I wanted to try an all white loaf using the same method to see if I could get some lighter texture. So I made a fairly shaggy dough using 14.5 oz. flour, 240 g water, 255 g starter/sponge, and 10 g salt (don't ask me why I used ounces and grams! I don't know!). Let it sit covered on the counter for about sixteen hours, folded it envelope-style twice, let it rest 2-3 more hours, then baked it in a dutch oven at 450 for 30 min. with the lid, 15 min. without.

Here she is:

http://i195.photobucket.com/albums/z83/sj_...ze/IMG_0013.jpg

Inside:

http://i195.photobucket.com/albums/z83/sj_...ze/IMG_0023.jpg

Really airy crumb, almost too light! I like it a bit more dense than that. Flavor was great, just lightly sour, a wee bit undersalted for my tastes.

Second loaf: This is the one I kneaded--I followed more or less weinoo's descriptions, including a 1/4 tsp. yeast just for kicks. Kneaded about ten minutes, using a bastardized version of Bertinet's. Overnight in the fridge for again about 16 hours, then in a preheated 450 oven for about 45 min. I baked it right from the fridge. Weinoo didn't say if he let the dough come to room temp or not, so I was on my own there. Anyway, the result:

http://i195.photobucket.com/albums/z83/sj_...ze/IMG_0025.jpg

Inside:

http://i195.photobucket.com/albums/z83/sj_...ze/IMG_0031.jpg

I liked this loaf a lot more. The crust was perfect, nice and crispy, and the crumb was a bit more dense. It was also easier to slash, in fact I think I got a little carried away there!

So, thanks all for inspiring me, if you've got any tips for me, I'm all ears....

P.S. The kneading part of it was easier than I expected, maybe because it was a smaller amount of dough than I've tried before?

Edited by Eilen (log)
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The breads look really lovely, Eilen. I like the looks of the second one better as well. I wish my slashes were as good.

My mother is a tough bird, it looks like any preferment, and rises like crazy so I'm not sure the runny mother is the way to go. But others may know far better than I!

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  • 1 month later...

Oops :rolleyes: :

gallery_43248_6017_24249.jpg

gallery_43248_6017_61827.jpg

I didn't follow directions, simple as that. I missed about three hours of proofing! And here's what happened when I did follow directions:

gallery_43248_6017_2314.jpg

YUM:

gallery_43248_6017_89830.jpg

The crust and crumb were just about perfect. I'm still using my dutch oven to bake loaves in as I'm not sure how to otherwise introduce steam. About 20 minutes with the lid on at 450F, 15 minutes with the lid off, ten minute rest with the oven off. The crust had more crunch than any loaf I've ever done. I bake straight from the fridge so I can slash more easily; I've never tried it otherwise and don't care to. I followed this recipe. BTW this blog has been enormously helpful for me in the past month or so, answering questions about hydration levels, etc. and I feel I have a much more clear understanding of how starters work and how to work with them.

I can't seem to shape my loaves into nice batards; any tips?

And thanks to gfron and hathor for helping me with ImageGullet!

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Eilen, nice looking bread!

I'm curious about the baking straight from the fridge business. Any of those more scientific oriented brains, step in here.

What happens to the bread and yeast if it goes directly into the oven? Does the rapid heat escalation change anything? To go directly from fridge to oven seems innately wrong, but that's probably based on habit and nothing more.

But, Eilen, if you free yourself from the dutch oven, you can make all sorts of shapes and sizes, which for a family of two is handy. From a typical batch I'll makes some rolls, some loaves, or a baguette or two, whatever my needs are for the coming week. Everything goes into the freezer and gets pulled out when I need it. Then your dinner guests think you are some sort of super hero...which of course, isn't true, but that's our secret.

Spray bottle is what I use for hydration. Spray the bejeezuz out the first minute of so, then maybe a spritz or so later. The hard part is to only open the oven door a crack so that you don't lose the precious heat.

You know I'm just enticing you over to the knead side of things........right? :laugh::cool:

Bread is great fun, and that's probably the only truly immutable fact about baking bread.

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Well, as Jack stated in his eGullet Sourdough class:

When ready to bake, take the dough out of the fridge. Some advise letting the dough return to room temperature --a couple of hours or so, but I find I it better and easier to cook these very soft doughs straight from the fridge. The cold dough is stiffer, handles easier and spreads less.

Sometimes, I'll give the dough 30 minutes to an hour out of the fridge, other times right into the oven (or dutch oven)...play around and see what works best for you. Be careful when spritzing into a hot oven, however...I've read horror stories about shattered oven glass or shattered oven lights, but it hasn't happened to me.

Jude, do you ever spritz your actual breads before putting them into the oven...certainly gives them a nice, shiny crust. imo.

And, this topic makes me a little jealous, as I curtail pretty much all baking activities during the months of June, July and August...no a/c in the kitchen, and it's bloody hot here.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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