Too much moisture in finished bread
Posted: 26 March 2008 03:47 PM   [ Ignore ]
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After decades of bread baking where excess residual moisture in my loaves never was a problem, it has become a major issue.  I’m trying to figure out why, and how to avoid it.  At first it seemed a no brainer: add less water (liquid).  But, when I do that, the dough doesn’t come together well at all.  Note also that I am now baking in Southern California, whereas before it was in Ohio.

Although to some extent I had this problem with a gas oven after moving to Southern California, we redid our kitchen and now have an electric Thermodor wall oven (by the way, the only reason we went with electric was that that was the only version that had a built in microwave). 

After reading Rose’s comments about moisture retention and leaving the oven door open, etc., I plan to try a number of things, including—
longer preheat (and using convection during that period)
cracking the oven door during the last 10 minutes or so, OR using convection during the last 10 minutes.

I just am flabbergasted how difficult this has been to correct.  Any comments would be appreciated.  Thanks.

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Posted: 26 March 2008 07:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Gary, are you using the same flour as before?

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Posted: 28 March 2008 03:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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You asked if I have changed flours.  Good question.  Although I have started to use Gold Medal’s Harvest King in the last year, my moisture problem preceded that change (I previously used the regular Gold Medal unbleached).  By the way, I have always added home ground flour, and lately some fresh ground corn meal as well.  For example, for a batch using 10 to 12 cups of unbleached, I add 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups of whole ground hard wheat flour and 1/2 to 1 cup of corn meal.

Also, I almost always bake in glass or aluminum pans.  I suppose I would lose more moisture if the loaves were free form.  At this point I’m desperate enough to change almost any previous pattern in order to have the moisture problem go away.

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Posted: 28 March 2008 04:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Gary, there are too many variables at this point.  I would just keep trying.  Unsure if the low amount of the wonderful home ground flour you add will make a difference, but it may as wheat grown from different parts of the country differ a lot!

Do you have The Bread Bible?  Lots of information there, if not ALL answers.

I always bake free form, but the first half on a 1-hour pre-heated cast iron pot sitting on quarry tiles.  The first 5 minutes covered, then 10 minutes uncovered, then I remove the loaf from the pot and sit the loaf directly on the tiles until bread is done.  The first 5 minutes covered is to develop the crust (gelatinization), the next 10 minutes uncovered is to set the bread enough so I can remove it (there is no need to cover it at this point as the bread won’t rise much more and gelatinization has already occurred, plus you want the moisture to go out).  The time outside the pot, directly on the stone, will be the final and ultimate moisture release.  I used to bake on the pot all the way (covered only 5 min), but since I do the pot removal as soon as possible, the wet is far less.

Another idea, specially when baking on aluminum pans, is to remove the loaf once possible, and continue the baking directly on the tiles.  Tiles need to be preheated always.

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Posted: 28 March 2008 05:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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What an interesting idea to remove the loaves from bread pans after gelatinization and another 10 minutes or so have gone by.  I’ll try it.  Many thanks, and I’ll report how it goes in a couple weeks or so.

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