Sunday, June 7, 2009

Warning for Substituting Baker

If you bake hearth bread often you may have had this problem:

You decide to substitute a fraction of very coarse flour or cracked or whole grain for processed flour. You add the normal amount of water to the recipe but when you mix the dough it looks too dry so you work in more water. The dough proofs well, looks a little wet, seems fine after shaping but when you put it in the oven it spreads out rather than springing up.

Here is what may have happened:

Coarse flour, cracked and whole grain absorb more water than processed flour. When you added the water to the recipe, the coarse fraction absorbed more of the water than the fine fraction. You thought there was not enough water so you added more. The dough then had too much water so when it went into the oven it spread out instead of springing up.

6 comments:

Tags said...

Damn water! It's such a troublemaker.

If it's not flooding your basement it's ruining your dough!

Mike Pardus said...

Soak the adjunct overnight before adding it to your dough. I'll double check, but I think it's 2.4 grams of water for each gram of adjunct. The other problem is that ading the adjunct at the beginning shears the gluten anf inhibits proper development. Make the dough as you normaly would, knead for 5-6 minutes to properly develop the gluten, and then add in the soaked adjunct for the final few minutes oof the kneading. Problem solved.

Thanks to Eric Kastel, Certified Master Baker at CIA...gave me the answer last summer when I doing hearth breads at my CSA - saved my ass.

IdahoRocks said...

Okay, this may be a really dumb question/comment, but, here goes.... When I decide to add coarse flour to my basic bread recipe, I usually add it at the beginning and then add the processed flour until the dough forms the texture that "feels right." I don't seem to have the problem of the dough spreading. I know that fresh flour absorbs more water than flour that has been on the shelf for a while so I apply the same principle. So, I guess my questions is, at what stage of the bread-baking process does the addition of coarse flour cause the bread to spread?

Usually the only time I have problems with speading dough is when the dough sticks to my proofing basket and tears too much, before being slid into the oven.

Mike Pardus said...

I was under the impression that BDG waa asking about adjuncts such as spelt, wheatberries, flax seed, etc.

Can you define "Course Flour"?

Bob del Grosso said...

Mike
By "coarse flour" I mean flour with a high % of grains the size the coarsest commercially produced corn meal.

As far as adjuncts are concerned I was only referring to the ones that absorb significant amounts of water so oil seeds, nuts etc are out: wheat berries (whole and cracked) spelt etc are in.


Idahorocks
"at what stage of the bread-baking process does the addition of coarse flour cause the bread to spread?"
It doesn't unless you fail to account for the water it absorbs.

See, stuff like very coarse rye flour absorbs water so well that it can appear to the eye that the finished dough needs more water. If, during the construction of a subsequent batch, you add extra water to compensate you now can have too much causing the dough to spread when it hits the oven floor.

BTW when your dough sticks to the proofing basket and tears there
1) may be too much water in the recipe or
2) it might be over-proofed or
3) you have insufficient gluten development or
4) it proofed too long and your yeast/bacteria produced protease enzymes that weakened the gluten.

IdahoRocks said...

Thanks, Bob. I always thought that my dough occasionally stuck to my proofing basket because I hadn't floured it enough, but as I peruse the reasons you gave, it could well be one of those problems. I'll keep an eye on it. Thanks again.