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Old 10-21-2008, 05:02 AM
Wlodek's Avatar
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Default Cavities in loaves - help?

Dear All,

Everything was going smoothly and bread was coming out well, and then many of the larger loaves started to develop large cavities inside them. Large as in 1/5 - 1/4 of the total volume, so quite large. Otherwise the crumb and the crust are just like in the ones with no cavities (and very tasty.)

The bread is sourdough, baked in tins for 20 minutes and on the hearth for 10-15 (until it reaches 200F internally). It is a highly hydrated dough based on the Moro book recipe.

What has changed? I now use a big Kenwood Major instead of a hand-held (both with dough-hooks on slow revs). Possibly also the flour composition: I keep experimenting (within a small range) with mixing unbleached, stone ground wheat and whole-rye with some malted stone-ground wheat (all organic).

Procedure:
I prepare the first "round" (mixing half of the flour and all the water with the starter) on Friday night, add the remaining flour on Saturday morning and bake in the evening after the heat has subsided following our family pizza ritual. I mop the floor and also put a flat tin of water in the back of the oven for steam. I attempt to slash the loaves in tins, but the dough is so highly hydrated that the 'slash' quickly heals and becomes merely a 'scar'.

Any suggestions what to watch out for or blatant mistakes I am making? Too hydrated perhaps? I noticed that the rye flower (less gluten) absorbs less water, so the dough becomes more runny with higher percentages of rye. Could this be the reason?

Many thanks in advance (from really sunny and Autumnal Cumbria),
W.

P.S. I am thinking (not entirely seriously, but who knows) of installing an oven-cam cum cat-cam, although possibly a oven-roof cam would be better, as the view from up there is great.
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Old 10-21-2008, 05:12 AM
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Default Re: Cavities in loaves - help?

Wlodek
How long is your final proofing stage? Is it possible that it is overheated slightly and thus overproofing? Dough temperature out of the mixer should be no more than about 78F for sourdoughs. In our experience those large cavities are usually created during proofing and not in the oven. Perhaps a slightly shorter final proof...we usually look for our sourdough at about 80% proofed...the cavities created during baking should be shaped like teardrops moving away from the bottom...as the superheated hearth forces them away...
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Old 10-21-2008, 05:51 AM
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Default Re: Cavities in loaves - help?

Aha, I think you may have just put your finger on it.

These cavities are not tear shaped, more ellipsoidal, which makes perfect sense.

The loaves were probably over-proofed in both cases this has occurred. I did the second mix a little earlier a week ago (so it proofed longer), and until this week-end I kept the dough outside, but now started to keep it in the house since the colder weather began. So it could be time last week and temperature this weekend.

I'll keep my eye on both and report next week-end.

Incidentally, I noticed that with sourdough a slightly longer proofing in lower temperature makes it taste better. Does this make sense?

Meanwhile I'll eat what's around the cavities, although buttering it is quite tricky. Sandwiches do not look right either, as things tend to fall through ...

Many thanks for this,
W.
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Last edited by Wlodek; 10-21-2008 at 05:55 AM.
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Old 10-21-2008, 08:54 AM
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Default Re: Cavities in loaves - help?

Wlodek,

A few things to add to what Dutch contributed. By manipulating the temp of the water, I make sure that the kneaded dough does not exceed 76 F for sourdough/barm/levain loaves. A longer, cooler (38-40 F) retardation will always improve flavour, because the lactobacilli and enzymes have more time to break out the grain sugars. When I divide the dough by weight after the bulk rise, I give each piece two sharp slaps with the palm of my hand to deflate any large air pockets. This is the wildly overused and misunderstood "punching down." With very high hydration doughs like Ancienne baguette, you might try snipping the dough with kitchen shears held at a very shallow angle (almost parallel to the surface). It doesn't always work (depending on the percentage), but it will give you a more consistent pattern. One ten year old calls my baguette "shark bread" because the snips remind him of shark teeth.

Dutch is right on: you want to bake the loaves at 80 percent of their rise, no more.

Hope that helps.

Jim
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Old 10-21-2008, 09:04 AM
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Default Re: Cavities in loaves - help?

Many thanks for this information Jim. I suspect I can think of a 7 year old who would call it the same I'll try the kitchen shears. And yes, it will definitely be "cold room proving" from now on.

I'll report next weekend.

All the best,
W.
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Old 10-21-2008, 02:04 PM
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Default Re: Cavities in loaves - help?

One more question. What about folding?

I too am jumping back into the world of sourdough (after a few years off) thanks to Jim's starter, and I was wondering how you fold sourdough during bulk fermentation. Is is the same as you would with a yeast dough? I use the Hamelman folding technique.

Would folding help with Wlodec's big cavities?

Thanks guys.
James
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Old 10-21-2008, 06:15 PM
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Default Re: Cavities in loaves - help?

James
From what I know of the process of folding is primarily to develop gluten and thus the structure of the bread. I think the combination of not degassing the dough and the possible overheating of the dough and overproofing contributed most to wlodek's issues. We fold only a few of our bread doughs...in fact they tend to bit the most "slack" ones...ciabatta and focaccia because of the wetness and that they get so little time in the mixer. If you would run two batches and compare them I would be interested in the your thoughts on the results...
Best
Dutch

Quote:
Originally Posted by james View Post
One more question. What about folding?

I too am jumping back into the world of sourdough (after a few years off) thanks to Jim's starter, and I was wondering how you fold sourdough during bulk fermentation. Is is the same as you would with a yeast dough? I use the Hamelman folding technique.

Would folding help with Wlodec's big cavities?

Thanks guys.
James
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Old 10-22-2008, 01:23 AM
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Default Re: Cavities in loaves - help?

Thanks D. (and J.).

There is some degassing and a sort of folding involved, as after the second proving I pour the dough into tins having given it a gentle stir (there is no possibility of folding the way I understand it - it is too sloppy) in folding motions - exactly to degas it.

Then it goes into tins for an hour or so, to rise a bit and then it's the oven.
I think I need to work on my timing - overproving was certainly a major factor.

I have a feeling I just need to go on a WFO baking course, but travelling over the ocean to one of you guys might be not too efficient, never mind the carbon footprint (or is it a wingprint when you fly) ... but since you seem to have the patience - I'll stick with the forum

Thanks again,
W.
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