Bread inner texture question
Posted: 29 November 2012 03:43 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Hi Everyone,

I’m new to baking bread, and new to this forum also. I was baking a couple of loaves today and used Rose’s recommended Gold Medal bread flour, and was intrigued when I saw her blog URL on the package, so I thought I’d stop by and ask questions.

I started baking bread a few months ago using a Jamie Oliver basic recipe. The bread I make tastes great and the crust is usually nice and crunchy, but the main issue I have is that I’m disappointed with the texture of the interior. When I started I had visions of big bubbly interiors, like a Tuscan loaf of bread that you use to mop up sauce with or something. Instead, I’m getting very dense, heavy bread with very fine bubbles, like that of store bought loaves of sliced bread.

So my question is, how do I get that bubbly, lighter interior?

The recipe I use calls for a lb. each of strong flour and AP flour (I’ll switch it up sometimes with whole wheat), an ounce of salt, 3 1/4oz packs of yeast, tepid water to dissolve it in and honey. I use a baking stone in a gas oven, and today I used Rose’s recommendation of putting a pan of water in the oven with the bread, and doing the 2nd rise with the olive oil coated cling wrap to cover the dough.

Jamie’s recipe calls for only rising for an hour and a half, but lately I’ve been letting it rise more like 6 or so hours to see if that made a difference (not…). Any ideas?

Thank you!

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Posted: 29 November 2012 09:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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And so the quest begins…

There are a lot of bread bakers out there whose goal it is to make crusty artisanal loaves with an open, large-holed crumb- you’re in good company!  That said, my first suggestion would be to find a recipe for ciabatta or pugliese, as these are designed to have an open crumb.  Once you’ve succeeded with a recipe designed for it, you’ll have a better idea of how to tip other recipes in that direction.  Rose’s pugliese in the Bread Bible is one of my favorite breads, the durum wheat is delicious and the crumb nice and open.

Basically, you need a moderate amount of protein in the flour- not too strong- and a gluten structure that is just shy of fully developed.  Combine that with a fairly wet dough and gentle shaping that somehow manages to create a firm skin around a slack, sticky dough without deflating the bubbles in the interior.  Finally, lots of steam in the oven, or else bake the bread in a dutch oven so that it can create its own steam. 

Good luck!

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Posted: 29 November 2012 10:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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As Julie says, you need a wet sticky dough to achieve that type of texture.

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Posted: 30 November 2012 02:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Thanks to both of you for replying. It looks like I’m in for a lot of experimenting! The Dutch oven trick sounds intriguing, and I’ll have to pick up a copy of Rose’s bread bible, since I’d like to wean my family off of store bought bread altogether and feed them only homemade varieties.

So with a wetter dough, would I add more water than my basic recipe calls for?
And is strong flour the same thing as bread flour, or is that a reference to the gluten content of the flour?

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Posted: 30 November 2012 09:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Strong flour = bread flour, with a higher gluten-forming potential than AP flour.  For an open crumb, I would suggest looking for a unbleached flour with around 11-11.5% protein, anything higher will be counterproductive because a dough with a high level of gluten tends to produce smaller holes (think chewy, dense bagel).  In the U.S. that would mean KAF AP or Better for Bread from Gold Medal. 

Hydration, when you take the weight of the water and divide it by the weight of the flour, should be around 69-70%.  Once you are able to produce a reasonably open crumb with that level of water, you can then move on up to 75% or even 80%, but those levels of hydration will require more kneading or stretch-and-folds to create enough structure (gluten) in the presence of all that water.

Whole grain changes everything, you might want to limit whole grain content to 10% or less while working on creating large holes.  In general, with whole grains you need higher hydration, shorter fermentation times (rise times), and a higher gluten content in order to create a good texture.  And it is very difficult, if not impossible, to create large holes in a whole grain bread.  With some recipes you might also need more yeast, but it sounds like your recipe already has a lot, I wouldn’t add more.

Have fun experimenting.

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