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How do I get a more open crumb?

Ashcroft

Thanks to everyone who has posted on his site. I just began eating my first loaf of sourdough made entirely from scratch and it is delicious! I am curious about how to get a more open crumb, and would welcome suggestions. I have relatively little bread baking experience, so I just followed the instructions on starter from scratch and got a rough idea of fermentation times, etc. by browsing the forums. I fed my starter twice the day before I used it, so it was really active. The dough was 3 cups hard wheat white bread flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 cup water, and 1/2 cup starter. I kneaded the dough by hand for 10 minutes and it was very silky. I did a 12 hour bulk fermentation at 65 degrees F. I punched down the dough completely, and formed the loaf by using a cupping motion to stretch the dough on the surface. I let the loaf rise for about 3h, baked it at 450F for 15min on a floured pizza pan, then slid it directly on to the oven rack for another 30min at 450F. Cooling time was 1h. The bread flavor is perfect for my taste with a nice tang and it definitely has that lovely sourdough chewiness. I included photos of the uncut and cut loaf. I would love suggestions for improvement!

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farinam's picture
farinam 2014 December 8

Hello Ashcroft,

The first would be to work at a higher dough hydration (more water).  While it is a bit hard to be specific from cup measurements, yours could be as low as 55% and I would think that you could add an extra quarter cup of water without getting into too much trouble.

The other thing would be to use the stretch and fold technique for dough development rather than kneading.  This method seems to create larger air bubbles for the gas to migrate into during rising than you get from the higher energy input over a shorter time with kneading.

The other thing is to get familiar with the concept of the window test where the dough can be stretched into an almost transparent very thin sheet without tearing as a sign of proper development.

Good luck with your projects.

Farinam

Ashcroft 2014 December 8

Thank you farinam. I just watched a couple of Youtube videos on this that were very helpful. Sounds like getting a couple of banettons would be a good idea if I start working with high hydration dough. I have definitely been bitten by the sourdough baking bug and I am willing to purchase a few useful items (including a baking stone).

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