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Cracks on the bottom of a loaf? | Sourdough Companion

Cracks on the bottom of a loaf?

Hi all,

I'm just baking a loaf that I think is over proved: it went *splodge* and stayed pretty flat in the oven. There was some rise in the oven but it was later than I'd expect. Other clues for over proving: it has a reddish crust.

Sad

Anyway, photographs if needed tomorrow (it's in the oven for another ten minutes to finish off in case it's edible, so no photographs right now!), but what's the #1 cause of cracks in the bottom of a loaf, please?

If it matters, it's a white bread loaf, shaped into a boule, and cooked on a stone.

Giles :cross:

P.S. My other loaf for the day was a rye variant of "The mill loaf" from Dan Lepard's "The Handmade Loaf". It is under proved, but that's not so bad, especially for the first time with a recipe.

I am studiously ignoring the fact that I burnt myself again. Some people are slow learners.

Embarassed

25 comments

I've been meaing to follow up, but ... well, been busy.

For the loaf I made after that one, I reduced the bulk ferment and the proving time. I got good oven spring, but a slightly under proved loaf. There is a happy medium, obviously, but any suspicion that the starter was not up to the job is allayed.

I was less generous with the flour on the tea towel and covered the loaf a little more tightly. This eliminated all but one crack near the base, and I'm blaming that one on the under proving.

So thanks all for the advice!

Cheers,

Giles
[/code]

Hello,

For me, it is the first time I see this kind of problem.
I concur with the idea of a too dry dought in surface due to an exposure to dry air or an excess of flour ; the loaf seems to be much floured, even at the bottom wich is abnormal.
Also, the crumb looks heavy, especially at the bottom of the loaf (2nd photo). Maybe your second fermentation has been too short.
An other thing is the crust wich seems to be better coloured on the top than at the bottom which appears a bit pale (but it is not easy to see well). Maybe the top of the oven was too hot and there was not enough steam. That could also explain the heavier crumb at the bottom and the cracks (usually, the bread doesn't crack at the bottom).

 -- 

Éric

 

[quote="TeckPoh"]
Been there. Now, each time I bake, I write down the recipe (usually short, anyway), and jot down notes as I go along. Then, post-baking comments.

Or....keep [url=http://sourdough.net.au/]a Blog[/url]. A good way to remember, at the same time, it may help others climbing the curve.
[/quote]
I am making notes: I think that's pretty much essential if I"m to remember accurately what I have done.

For a blog ... if I had more time and less commitments, perhaps, although other than as examples for future beginners it wouldn't be too interesting!

Perhaps when (he says optimistically!) I've got to a more competent level I'll see about writing up an article about my experiences.

Cheers,

Giles

Been there. Now, each time I bake, I write down the recipe (usually short, anyway), and jot down notes as I go along. Then, post-baking comments.

Or....keep [url=http://sourdough.net.au/]a Blog[/url]. A good way to remember, at the same time, it may help others climbing the curve.


[quote="giles"]
Given that I have made some decent loaves I don't think there's anything too wrong with ingredients, starter, or oven. I think there is major inconsistency in technique!

Embarassed

[/quote]

sounds like my problem, i'm all over the place with everything
i experiment a lot and sometimes when i get things right i want to go more in same direction but by the time i'm done i don't remember to the dot what i done that one time where it worked out for me so well.

Bake Me !

[quote="Jeremy"]
Hi Giles,
Try rye flour instead of white so it wont stick, as well I think your leaven doesn't have enough ummph! feed it some more and see if that helps!Do you have it on schedule?

Jeremy
[/quote]
Yeah, I need to start using rye flour. I know.

I believe the starter's OK -- it has made good loaves before, and seems about the same. For this problem loaf the dough rose in the bulk ferment in (for me) unprecedented fashion. Plus I made another loaf (part rye, using up a "bread mix" someone sold me in error) using starter from the same bowl and it was fine.

Given that I have made some decent loaves I don't think there's anything too wrong with ingredients, starter, or oven. I think there is major inconsistency in technique!

Embarassed

Cheers,

Giles

Hi Giles,
Try rye flour instead of white so it wont stick, as well I think your leaven doesn't have enough ummph! feed it some more and see if that helps!Do you have it on schedule?

Jeremy

Oy U2!
Pssst, I have to work tonight , but I have started the oz mix and introduced it to American water and flour, it's turning into a Bordelaise 2kilo monster!Maybe if you two get going you can still stay in the race

Jeremy

Laughing

Wow -- thanks all! While I've been out this has been a busy thread!

[b]Chembake[/b] -- thanks for clarifying what colours to expect. The loaf probably was loosely moulded if I understand what you mean: it was proved in an improvised tea-towel in a collander.

I also used more flour on the tea-towel than I have before; perhaps too much of a good thing, and maybe the loaf "skinned" as [b]slowdough[/b] suggests, or just too dry as [b]Bill[/b] suggests. Or are those suggestions the same thing?

Returning to chembake's comments: I can't say my dough [i]tends[/i] to flatten: I'm not getting enough consistency yet to determine a trend. Some loaves are fine, some are not.

I have a picture of the crumb now that I have cut the loaf: the bottom appears a bit compressed:

[img]http://stonerows.net/giles/2006/07/sourdough-problem-crumb-7518.jpg[/img]

I'll keep experimenting. I definitely had too much flour on the tea-towel, so I will reduce that. (Hey, it didn't stick though!) Unless there are suggestions otherwise, I'll also reduce the bulk fermentation time and the proving time. (OK, one more change: the next loaf will be 100% Laucke Wallaby; the problem loaf under discussion here had my previous flour in the starter.)

Cheers

Giles

[quote]
Opinion from a mug
[/quote]

Bill you are also right in that point, yes the way how you handle the dough could occasionally influence the result

Cool

Opinion from a mug. Could it be as simple as a very dry bottom caused by a combination of a lot of flour and the fact that the bottom is usually the top and may have had a lot of air exposure. The very dry surface would not have any expansion and so it cracked.
As I said, just a mugs opinion prompted by the amount of flour on the loaf.

[quote="TeckPoh"]
Psst! Bill! I've passed the 200-post mark. Don't drag your feet or I'll overtake you.
[/quote]
TP watch out for the New Yorker, he's been making a sprint the last few days.

Laughing

[quote="slowdough"]
This is my first time on the forum, and its a hell of a lot of fun, even though we operate from a commercial bakery i find that i learn an enormous amount from everyone on this site.

Regards,

slowdough
[/quote]

Welcome, slowdough! Glad you've taken the plunge into this forum jar. Have been following [url=http://slowdough.sourdough.net.au]your blog[/url] with much interest. Very educational.

Psst! Bill! I've passed the 200-post mark. Don't drag your feet or I'll overtake you.


Thankyou, that makes sense to me. I would add more flour water etc to a motherdough starter.
Teresa

Okay, that makes sense, what is confusing me is why a motherdough bread has such a reddish crust. By motherdough, I mean a bread made with a large portion of a biga like starter, where the dough is at a lower hydration and is fermented for a long while over days. The bread made from such a starter has a wonderful reddish crust and it is very fermented. That doesn't square with the sugars being all used up. So why the red crust for a motherdough fermented starter if it has fermented for so long?
Thanks
Teresa

A biga like consistency pasta madre ( mother dough) will result in slower fermentation if compared to the wet starter...
Firm or fluid ....Still a form of sourdough starter

Cool

Besides you are likely to add that mother dough to flour then bulk ferment it again and so on.and so forth...

BTW
From my experience a stiff starter is less likely to produce a pale crusted bread than a wet starter and can tolerate overfermentation better than the fluid starter.

Welcome back Chembake, Now you have me mixed up, do you mean a reddish cast because of long bulk fermentation and whitish loaf becasue the dough is overproofed second proofing?

What I am saying is that I am now confused as my motherdough breads are very much fermented during bulk fermentation to get the reddish crust, so do you mean the second proof is underproofed or first proof? Get me unmixed up please!
Teresa

Hello Terry,
A reddish cast in the bread crust indicates chemically a lot of reducing sugars as well as residual amino acids left in the dough which is the likely result of young dough....

What makes the confusion is partly is to improper terminology- bulk fermentation and proofing of dough.
Its better that the dough is well bulk fermented and slightly underproofed before baking ....than the reverse...

An over bulk fermented dough will usually result in paler crust even if the molded dough is slightly underproved.

BTW...bulk fermentation simply is the stage when the dough is fermented as a whole,,,proving is usually the stage when the dough is already in molded state ready for baking....

Cool

[quote]
>Other clues for over proving: it has a reddish crust.
[/quote]

An overproved dough should produce a bread that has pale crust due to the depletion of the reducing sugars and amino acids that contribute to crust color formation.

If your dough tends to flatten easily may I ask if it was molded somewhat loosely?

If you said that the crust color was reddish then the dough may appear young ( or under bulk fermented )before you finally molded it.
In that situation
With an acidic starter it will likely tend to flatten during proofing....

Thanks for the info Giles

My monitor is not the best so it was a little hard to tell the exact nature of the loaf in your photo. Being that there is no rye in the recipe and the levain level is not high it does sound like your on the correct path, over prooving will also increase acid levels causing not only for the loaf to drop when placed into the oven due to gluten degradation, but it will tend to "skin up" some what and then crack when baking. Would it have been possible for the loaf to have "skined" during final proof?

This could explain it.

This is my first time on the forum, and its a hell of a lot of fun, even though we operate from a commercial bakery i find that i learn an enormous amount from everyone on this site.

You would be amazed at how similar the challenges are even though the circumstances and enviroment are so different,

Regards,

slowdough

"Lifes Short, Bake Hard"

Hi Giles, the dough looks heavy to me for being 68% hydration. My guess is that it was overproofed the first proof and somewhat gluey when you shaped the loaf. Then when you also overproofed it the second time (you said it was), it lost some of the gluten bonding, which caused splits especially where the heat was. That is just a guess, but as you can see from my blog, I did a lot of overproofing during the first fermentation in my newbie days and had some of these problems myself. I try to catch my dough before it has completely doubled the first time. Once it has that gluey crepey feel, it can't really recoupe in my opinion. Is your crumb somewhat doughy and dense?
Teresa

A whacky theory: listen with half an ear, take it with a jar of salt, then whoosh it out of the other.

Could be the shaping. Did you seal and pinch the dough properly? If it isn't pinched together well, it could catch some of the flour or whatever you use to dust the top before covering it. This willl create cracks during the baking.

Confused


[quote="slowdough"]
Hi Giles,

There can be a number of reasons for cracking of this nature and without the formulation its a little difficult to determine how much of it is to do with recipe balance.
[/quote]
Forgot that detail. It should have been 68% hydration, and other than a smidge of wholemeal flour in the initial starter, it's 100% white flour, no rye. Leaven was 35%.

[quote="slowdough"]
Good luck let us know how you go, Slowdough
[/quote]
I'll keep working. I'd just like to get some consistency here.

Smile

I can report that the loaf /tastes/ OK. (I like it better than the part-rye loaf I also made today, which did rise nicely.)

For now I'll work on the theory that it's over proved, and bake sooner next time. (Over proved dough when I'm called out unexpectedly is one thing; over proved dough when I've been home all day is sad!)

Thanks,

Giles

Hi Giles,

There can be a number of reasons for cracking of this nature and without the formulation its a little difficult to determine how much of it is to do with recipe balance. Although in saying that, it appears that the loaf may have a quantity of rye in it if so be careful how much levain you run, as to high a level of acidity will definitly cause this promblem. This is an area where alot of people get caught out because their own levain may be very different in nature and balance to the authors.

Other areas to look at also are dough develpment, hydration and prooving times. Try reducing back the levain level to begin with and see how that goes, doughs that contain rye flours create a greater degree of enzyme activity, leading to higher acid production and there for more strength but less extensibility.

Good luck let us know how you go,

Slowdough

"Lifes Short, Bake Hard"

OK, I can do pictures. Really I can. Ready for the sourdough hall of shame?

Sad

[img]http://stonerows.net/giles/2006/07/sourdough-problem-top-7514.jpg[/img]
[img]http://stonerows.net/giles/2006/07/sourdough-problem-bottom-7514.jpg[/img]

All wisdom and suggestions for improvement welcome. When laughing, please laugh quietly! Thankyou.

Smile

Giles

P.S. Yes, I botched the colour in the top picture. My white balance skills need improving. [ Edit: Later, improved, and not so bad now. ]