How to get an open crumb using a stiff dough

I am posting my failures on 2 bakes I have had using a technique off Breadwerx. I also included the URL for anyone that has not seen. I think my issue is actually the protein content of the Turkey Red in attempting this but I am no expert BY NO MEANS. Each direction is followed by what I did in strong text.

My bake diary:

Breadwerx Boule

(First Bake)
460g whole wheat flour
Used Turkey Red Heritage whole wheat, unsifted
290g water
10g salt
55g starter

Mix flour water and salt, refrigerate until bedtime then remove and let sit on counter to warm.

Dough was on the wet side but manageable. It was elastic and had structure to it

In morning add starter and dimple in, rolling in as necessary per video. Typically 3 rounds of folds until dough tightens up.

Dough turned very sticky almost gooy and lost all the structure. It was extremely extensible.

Bulk ferment for about 6 hours. Every 2 hours do a stretch and fold (S&F) total of 3

Each successive S&F made the dough worse. Dough did not rise but spread out. Thinking there must have been something wrong with the starter I tried to save by adding ½ teaspoon of instant yeast and folded in. Dough became very active and puffed up.

Pre-round into boule.

Dough degassed completely, sticky, very messy, dipping hand in water made it worse

Shape boule for baking.

Bake at 450F

Boule flattened out to a 1 1/2” pancake. Crumb very dry, more like a quick bread. Made bread crumbs out of it.
Observations/Questions: Was starter bad or was the proteins in the flour degraded by the long autolyse?

Breadwerx Boule
(Second Bake)

436g Turkey Red flour: sifted through a 40 and 50 mesh screen. Added 19g of Vital Wheat Gluten
24g whole wheat flour
290g water
10g salt
19g VWG
55g starter

Preparation: Made a new starter from 10g of the old over a 2 day period. Starter doubled in size so refrigerated overnight.

Mix flour water and salt, refrigerate until bedtime then remove and let sit on counter to warm.

Did not refrigerate, mixed in the morning and let sit out for 2 hours on the counter. Checked at 1 hour to check for structure.

In morning add starter and dimple in, rolling in as necessary per video. Typically 3 rounds of folds until dough tightens up.

Dough very tight after first fold and wanted to tear. Let sit 15 minutes and did another fold. Dough was not smooth like in the video and was very tight (looked a bit rough on the outside) It would not extend out very easy. (too much gluten development?)

Bulk ferment for about 6 hours. Every 2 hours do a stretch and fold (S&F) total of 3

Bake room was 78F so I expected dough to rise fairly quickly. After 3 hours and 2 S&F’s there was no significant rise to the dough. Dough though was holding its shape pretty well without spreading.

Pre-round into boule.

Preshaped tight.

Shape in tight boule and place in banneton. Let sit for 2 to 4 hours.

Dough spread to edge of banneton and top in 2 hours. Then stopped. When placed in combo cooker it felt very soft and even with a light hand seemed to degass very easily.

Bake at 450F

Boule flattened out to a 1 1/2” pancake (slightly less than the height of the banneton.) Crumb moist with medium holes and a few ¼” holes throughout. Crumb nice texture, good flavor, poor rise. Crust a little not much.
Observations/Questions: Enzyme degradation should not be a problem with this bake as only a 2 hour autolyse and only until the dough had structure. Starter not the problem as was very active when added to mix. Protein content of flour? Supposedly this wheat makes an excellent bread flour and have used previously by itself and to make my rye each week. Was not old flour as I grind fresh for each bake. If there was an issue with gluten the added VWG at 1 teaspoon per cup of flour should have helped and seemed to as was a very tight loaf (until baking.)
The combo cooker was heated WITH THE DOUGH IN IT to try and avoid degassing the dough when it was proofed and placed.

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I would love to see photos of some of these stages to help you diagnose the issues. Off the top of my head, though, a few things struck me as possible issues.

Dough 1) after the first autolyse 63% hydration dough, you reported that it felt wet and sticky. That hydration, especially with whole grain, would feel dry in my experience. 67% is usually easy to hand knead. Not sure what is going on there. How long was the total autolyse?

Dough 2) this is more in line with how dry the dough should have felt with whole grain and low sixties hydration. Did Trevor use whole grain wheat for this recipe? As for minimal rise in 6 hours, i would suggest you go longer when this is the case. Even in a warm kitchen, your times may not match a recipe’s times.

Edited to add: turkey red wheat should be fine fora nicely risen loaf of bread.

Dough 1) autolyse appx 11 hours give or take, 5 hrs cooler rest at room temp., although dough was not warm to the touch at 6am. I expected to add more water as was whole grain. And yes was wet I thought I had made a mistake on the water addition but had not.

The kicker though was adding the starter; it turned to a very, very soft dough with no structure to it. The longer it sat the worse it became.

Dough 2) Trevor did not use whole grain, he used bread flour. I tried to mimic BF by sifting and adding VWG not knowing the content of Turkey. I realize there is going to be a difference between. As far as rise goes, it acted like out of gas it just stopped. Placed in 90F area and did nothing so I baked it. NO spring at all as a matter of fact it deflated.

I have used Turkey numerous times (no sourdough) and never had an issue. First time! (OK 2 times)

Have you ever heard of “falling numbers” of flour? How does Breadtopia know their Whole Wheat bread flour has more protein? Has it been tested? I am going to finish a bit of research on this issue, but my bet at this point it has something to do with the protease gnawing away at the gluten structure. The only way I am going to know I guess is to use commercial yeast. What was the difference between the Turkey and the other 15 loaves you made?

As I continually try different approaches and experiment with this I guess I need to start taking pictures like you do when making something new. All I have is the finished product which I hate to admit I made TWICE.

Remind me – you’re baking a freestanding loaf in an open oven/grill, correct?

That maybe 50% of the issue if not more. The crumb of the bread you just posted looks okay, but without a preheated baking vessel, you may be getting extra lateral spread.

You’ll notice in my “How to get an open crumb” blog post that all the round boules are flatter than the side-supported clay baking vessel batards.

I think a 0-1 hour autolyse, 3-4 stretch and folds in the first 2-3 hours only and a cold final proof to stiffen the dough shape will help. Check out the info in the Instagram account i linked you to in the fibrament thread for more info on heat and spread.

I actually used a Lodge combo cooker (the small one) on the grill. I hear ya on the preheated vessel but I believe I read on this site someone tested both cold and hot vessels and did not find a difference. I will definitely try heating when I get a loaf I can handle…LOL!!!

The crumb looks okay but I have to slice horizontally through it to make a sandwich out of it. It is only the thickness of 2 slices of bread…LOLROF!!!

I was on “The Artisan” and “Sourdough Home” today and they both have done testing on various flours and I am quite surprised at their findings. Neither did Ancient or Heritage wheat but just the stuff on the market today has major differences. No wonder recipes are just “basic guides” and a person must know how to judge what to do with each. Leaves me out :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

If you have a place I can send a document to (don’t want to post it here, I’ll leave it up to you what to do with it) I have managed to garner some specific info on "delayed fermentation, Slow final proof and Retarded proofing. Explanations, temperatures etc. Also a bit on “Falling Numbers” which I think may be part of my problem using delayed fermentation and enzyme activity. Maybe you already have… for me I am still looking for info.

Going to do more tests. Will definitely keep your suggestions handy. BUT I think I’ll do your Sourdough Wholewheat so I have something I can feed to friends and not be embarrassed. :sob:

So much for my open oven spread theory :slight_smile:

Here’s how to email us Breadtopia

Here’s a recipe/blog post I wrote a while back that shows how an ancient grain flour (Kamut) behaves from start to finish, when it’s the only flour used, at 40% and 20% of the flour weight. The bulk fermentation looks different, the shaped loaves… everything.

I think so much of bread knowledge and best practices are centered around experience and experiments with refined flour.

We have to rewrite the book with our experiences using ancient grains and even using modern wheat but in whole grain form.

I saved that recipe and actually made an 80% Kamut and 20% Durum from it. If I have some pictures I’ll share with my notes.

I agree with rewriting the book. Maybe a new entry in the forum to allow users to add their experiences with the ancient and heritage wheats? Maybe a form to fill out each time one changes or adds a recipe with their experiences. Of course all pertinent bake info would be required, and pictures help. At some point they each grain could be all summarized into one. BUT I do understand that even that will subjective because the Red Fife Eric buys today could be different from another grower or supplier. But at least there would be something to start from. Would seem to be a “draw” to the Breadtopia website as I have not seen anything like it anywhere.

Look for an email

Got your email – will check it out.

I’ll start a ancient and heirloom grains observations thread :slight_smile:

Without looking at the specific recipe on Breadwerx, I’m going to hazard a guess from having paid attention to Trevor’s baking over a few years that he is using either 90 or 100 % white bread flour for the recipe. And I’m about 90 to 100 % sure that no amount of sifting Turkey Red and/or adding VWG is going to turn it into an equivalent of white bread flour, and my guess is that’s the primary driver of the difference between what you are getting and what you want to get. As an experiment, try following Trevor’s recipe / technique using his same ingredients and then you’ll know how much of the difference is in the flour vs. in your technique.

Paul he uses bread flour in this particular recipe as far as that is concerned. I don’t have or will not buy store bought flour. I think if I have heard once it must have been a 100 times that recipes are just guides and the baker must know how to adjust using what he has. The Turkey did not absorb the amount water when full grain nor when sifted even with the added VWG like his did. The texture was not the same either not that it matters I guess. I SHOULD HAVE known better to hold back some liquid when mixing the first time. The second time I held some back but not enough. Then I needed flour to get off the table. So I NEED practice.

I did some research yesterday (I am very new to this) and found sites where they actually compared numerous bread flours in experiments and found major differences just between the brands in protein content, water content, the ability to absorb water, enzyme content etc. So your comment is 100% correct… I can’t make TR into another flour period, I have to deal with what I have or go to a store and buy BR that performs like I “think” it should.

Thanks for the comments. I am learning and BTW you make some great looking breads.

Hi, Dennis…I’ve made several batches of Breadwerx stiff dough bread, using King Arthur’s organic bread flour (12.7% protein) and KA’s organic whole wheat flour, and they’ve all turned out great. I bake them in room-temperature inverted Pyrex casseroles (lid on the bottom, bowl on the top), in a 500 degree oven for 20 mins, then uncovered for another 20 minutes at 425. BUENO!
Jim B.

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This won’t help you troubleshoot your Breadwerx adaptations, but I’ve had great luck following @eric’s 100% whole spelt sourdough recipe with different combinations of whole grain flours, including khorasan and organic WW flour. On several occasions I’ve upped the water content and the result has been a more open crumb. Not sure how Turkey Red compares with spelt in terms of how absorbent they are, so you might have to adjust the hydration. Eric’s spelt recipe is 66% hydration; I’ve made it as written but also with up to 72-74% hydration, each time with success. There’s no autolyze involved, and just three rounds of stretch and fold early on.

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Hi Susan: From what I have read the Turkey probably would do better than the Spelt but then who the heck knows. I’ll check it out appreciate the post. Those that use Store Bought flour or mix it into the whole grains don’t know the issues we CAN have.

I have had 2 successes so far one with Melissa’s Sourdough Einkorn, and the other a Sourdough Artisan Rye styled after Eric’s recipe. As the rye has been repeatable a dozen or so times I am going to change the recipe to reflect issues I have found that could be affecting the dough structure. I made reference to them on Melissa’s post for Ancient & Heritage Wheat. I’ll keep track and then do a comparison with the past as I have plenty of pictures of the rye. Hey the worst that can happen is I have another pancake :smile:

brdbkr: I had limited success with Breadwerx as I reduced the water the second time to get a consistency EXACTLY like his in the video. I thought I had it nailed but the first problem was the Turkey did not hydrate like his bread flour and then after the first shaping the dough lost all its structure. As I tried this another time with Elly’s Sourdough Whole wheat I had the same problem right at the last minute the dough structure failed. I don’t know the solution yet.

Dennis, here’s a pic of a spelt loaf I made a few months back – this was in fact the first spelt loaf I made.

Hmmmm! If all mine would come out that way I’d be a happy camper. Looks nice, actually looks perfect. :+1::+1::+1::+1:

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