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Old 12-01-2009, 03:11 PM
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Default Managing crumb size

I have a question on crumb size that I want to throw out here. These pictures are actually from my first WO bake. It was a sourdough adaptation of the roasted potato & garlic from Hammelman's "Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes" (an excellent bread BTW). I was very pleased with the outcome and the crumb size here was fine. I have since baked off several loaves of Pain au Levain with similar results, however, sometimes I want a smaller, finer crumb for sandwiches and spreadables. The WO really increased the crumb size! I've made this bread many times in the electric oven, but never seen this . Is the main control over crumb through hydration or are there augmentations to the ingredients that will help? Thanks for any input.

Pdiff
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Managing crumb size-loaves.jpg   Managing crumb size-crumb.jpg  
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  #2  
Old 12-01-2009, 03:51 PM
Il Pizzaiolo
 
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Default Re: Managing crumb size

Nicely done! Great slash and finish on the baguettes.

Hydration is a factor but...there are other contributors that range from how dispersed your yeast is to how aggressively you form the loaves and to a small extent how long the bread rises and how humid the oven is.

I helped a local restaurant improve their Pane Pugliesi this summer and they wanted finer grain and not the traditional open structure so their bruschetta wouldn't "bleed" through the holes. We solved it in several ways. First we dropped the hydration a couple of points and we increased the handling - Pugliesi is traditionally only poked down (so some of the pockets get really big (attics - huge holes that almost span the loaf - are an ocassional Pugliesi fiasco when not done properly). We increased the handling by simply kneading the bread lightly at boule formation. The result is a bread with a crumb much more like white bread but with the flavor of a longer ferment bread. Most likely all you need do is increase the handling at loaf formation and you will likely be pleased.

Good Luck and let us know how it works!
Jay
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Old 12-01-2009, 04:21 PM
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Default Re: Managing crumb size

Thanks for the quick reply. This is what I was looking for and suspected my technique was lacking a bit. I know, for example, that the larger holes there are from my sloppy shaping. I've pretty much corrected that in the later runs, but am anxious to try your tip on increased handling. Sounds like an experiment or two is in order .

Pdiff
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Old 12-01-2009, 08:45 PM
Il Pizzaiolo
 
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Default Re: Managing crumb size

Be kinder to yourself, Pdiff! Big holes are not just from sloppy shaping and handling (but I must admit it can contribute!) Just for fun, next time you do a batch do one with minimum handling (or your norm) and knead one and see what the difference is. Or if you have three loaves give one the min, one some, and one a lot of kneading. Then you will have a reference. The latter will probably stiffen some and the change in feel is part of what you may want to try to look for in the future.

Good Luck!
Jay
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Old 12-03-2009, 08:05 PM
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Default Re: Managing crumb size

I would add that the addition of some fat to the dough will give you a finer crumb. When I make sandwich loaves, there's generally some butter, oil, or egg in them. The fat helps create a fine, moist crumb.

Stan
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Old 12-03-2009, 11:03 PM
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Default Re: Managing crumb size

I am just sitting here being impressed. Those are wonderful loaves -- talented baker meets wood fired oven, and look at the results.

Can I use your photo in the next FB newsletter?

I think one part of controlling oven spring and you crumb structure is not letting your loaves proof too long outside of the refrigerator. With the spring from the WFO, you can put a cooler (and seemingly denser) loaf in the oven, and it won't go too crazy.

Complimenti,
James
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Old 12-04-2009, 09:33 AM
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Default Re: Managing crumb size

Quote:
Originally Posted by james View Post
I am just sitting here being impressed. Those are wonderful loaves -- talented baker meets wood fired oven, and look at the results.

Can I use your photo in the next FB newsletter?

I think one part of controlling oven spring and you crumb structure is not letting your loaves proof too long outside of the refrigerator. With the spring from the WFO, you can put a cooler (and seemingly denser) loaf in the oven, and it won't go too crazy.

Complimenti,
James
Thanks much for the compliments from everyone! And to think the oven isn't even complete yet (and due to weather, probably won't be for another 4-5 months .)

James: of course you can use the photos. Their subject wouldn't have even been possible without this site and Forno Bravo. Thank you for those resources!

I hadn't thought about the proofing bit. I had not been refrigerating the doughs as they are sourdoughs and the suggestions on this site seem to be against cold retarding of sourdoughs. Still, my starter is very strong (Hammelman again). Will add it to the experimental list.

Thanks also to Stan. I had thought about tinkering with the ingredient list, but would rather not unless forced to. It's a purist thing .

Hopefully I can try some of these things this weekend. The oven only has bare insulation blanket on it right now and is usually tarped. Don't want to remove the tarp unless it's dry outside, and right now the forcast is for snow. ... Is it spring yet!!!???

Pdiff
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Old 12-04-2009, 09:58 AM
Il Pizzaiolo
 
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Default Re: Managing crumb size

Hi Pdiff!

I don't think your proofing is off though the flour coating on your loaves is thick enough I can't see the crust and comment for sure. Still, you have a nice golden on the slit which implies you have both reasonable oven humidification and residual sugar (so you aren't overproofed). The oven spring you got also suggests your proofing is pretty much right on. Obviously trying a retard will teach you some things. My bet is it will teach you that you don't want to retard your sourdough! (I have NEVER gotten good results from retarded sourdough because it takes forever to get the yeast going again and I always give up!)

I tend to push my sourdough a lot harder in the oven (i.e. darker crust and probably a higher internal temp - about 209 most days). (The higher temp gives a roasted flour flavor to the loaf that I like)

I am 100% with you on sticking to lean dough (no oil, milk, etc.) I think you can get what you want my simply doing a fold or two or a brief kneading (about two to four conventional kneads, rotating the dough) to insure you don't have big bubbles at loaf formation.

You are off to a great start! The crumb is wonderful (though perhaps a hair "loose") and close to what many aspire to. I would only work the dough a bit more WHEN I wanted finer crumb (and I don't think you will find what I suggest too much).

Good Luck!
Jay
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Old 12-07-2009, 12:18 AM
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Default Re: Managing crumb size

Todays launch was scrubbed due to very cold temps and high winds. I think if I had loosened the tarp on the oven it would be somewhere over Montana by now. Will shoot for next weekend. Did manage a decent indoor bake, but was bummed to be away from my new toy It will be nice to have it done and I can finally stop worrying about weather issues!
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Old 12-13-2009, 07:17 PM
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Default Re: Managing crumb size

Ok, I baked four loaves yesterday: half with no extra kneading and half with. It definitely helped reduce the crumb, although I was disappointed with the overall bake. I got little oven spring and the colors were pale (bread temps were ~208 or so). It would appear that I over-proofed the loaves. Will have to be more careful with that. I think the house got a bit warm with the heater kicking on. That, and I'm still working on the firing timing thing. Practice, practice!

Still, I'm glad to have another technique for the arsenal and will post pics when I get better results :-) Thanks to all here for the tips.

Oh, and the ribeye roast + potatoes after the bake ... now those were delicious :-)

Pdiff
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