4

During the last weeks I have repeatedly failed to get a decent bread out of the oven and most of them shared a prominent characteristic: a crack or tear at the bottom as shown (image shows the underside):

bread bread underside

This happened with various recipes but all of them used dry yeast as you get it in Germany. All breads were baked in a sort of Dutch oven. I proof them seam-side down, then the seam-side becomes the top and is supposed to rip and produce an open crust - which never worked with the crack shown below: These problems seem to be obviously connected. I used to get nice breads and don't know what changed in the process.

Do these cracks at the bottom look familiar to anyone?

9
  • Question implies no change in process or ingredients, correct? If it used to work with dry yeast as you get it in Germany, that's not the issue. Bread is usually not terribly sensitive to weather changes, but if nothing else has changed...
    – Ecnerwal
    Sep 8, 2022 at 20:05
  • It was never exact the same recipe, they might have included some buttermilk or quark or a higher/lesser amount of wholegrain flour, but this exact crack kept recurring together with an unwelcome flat shape. Something is wrong with the oven spring. Maybe it is related to a temperature that was still too low? For the sake of energy, I turn the oven on with the pot inside and wait maybe 20-30 minutes. But I hadn't waited much longer before and it had still often turned out very well.
    – johnny7
    Sep 8, 2022 at 20:26
  • More thinking (without being sure enough to make it an answer) that the kitchen outside the oven might be warmer with summer heat, and the dough may be over-proofing before the bake if you are rising by the clock/time, rather than how much it has risen. And not thinking these were all the same recipe, but that the various recipes used to work, and you haven't changed type of flour or how you shape the loaf or something like that...
    – Ecnerwal
    Sep 8, 2022 at 20:32
  • @johnny7 The crack indicates expansion is occuring, though may not be related to the root cause. Can you add 1) at which temperature you preheat the Dutch oven 2) how you add the yeast to the doughs, and proofing conditions, 3) if the issue is from the same batch/container of yeast, how long ago you purchased it and what brand, and 4) some pictures of the loaves from other angles? Sep 8, 2022 at 23:03
  • 1
    I am thinking you may be introducing a fold in the shaping process, and the fold expands in baking.
    – GdD
    Sep 9, 2022 at 7:28

2 Answers 2

0

Based on the yeast being weeks old from purchase, I'd agree that the issue was caused by underproofing due to age of yeast reducing viability.

Ideally you'd get a new packet of yeast, though the same old yeast can still be used by 1) adding additional yeast to account for reduced viability, or 2) gently nursing the yeast to recover while rehydrating - both will require some experimentation.

For option 2), assuming you are mixing the dry yeast directly into the dough and not rehydrating and tempering the yeast beforehand, there is an article published on rehydrating lager yeast for increased viability referenced below - in short:

  1. sprinkle mass of yeast onto 10x yeast mass of water at 25C-30C
  2. allow yeast to slowly hydrate undisturbed for 15 minutes
  3. gently stir yeast and water to form a slurry
  4. allow yeast to acclimate undisturbed for at least another 15 minutes

Viability over time of one strain of yeast

Figure of one rehydrated yeast from "Rehydration of Active Dry Brewing Yeast and its Effect on Cell Viability". A=immediately after sprinkling on water, B=15 minutes after sprinkling, Cn=15 minute intervals after forming slurry.

An additional step you can add is 'proofing' or 'proving' the yeast with some added sugar - generally, a step used to verify yeast activity with gas formation, though it will also provide some nourishment to restart yeast metabolism before incorporating into dough. The King Arthur Baking Company and a MasterClass article describe the procedures; you can also replace a quarter of the added sugar with flour to provide the yeast with protein for reproduction and to acclimate it to amylose metabolism. I'd recommend forming the slurry before adding sugar and flour to avoid further osmotic stress during rehydration.


Rehydration of Active Dry Brewing Yeast and its Effect on Cell Viability. D. M. Jenkins, C. D. Powell, T. Fischborn and K. A. Smart. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/j.2050-0416.2011.tb00482.x


Additionally, the small cracking throughout the top surface of the loaf and the 'pinched' appearance of the left two score marks suggest the scoring might not be deep enough - the cracks specifically are a sign that gas expansion is being restricted by the hardened crust until pressure builds up enough to tear the crust.

You may have better oven spring by scoring a little deeper as well.

0

I think two things have come together here: 1) The bread was underproofed because of old yeast and not enough time. 2) The "crack" may have been formed by the little sheet of baking paper that I used to transfer the dough piece to the pot.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.