Bread Porn

The Homebrew Forum

Help Support The Homebrew Forum:

Joined
Jul 27, 2020
Messages
3,417
Reaction score
3,307
Location
St Albans, Herts
I often find I need more water than dough recipes call for; and even then it's hard to knead properly because the gluten is so tight.
I've always just put it down to variations in locally-sourced flour and/or my rubbish kneading technique, and worked round it.

But today I thought I'd make chapatis so I got some off-the-shelf 'Elephant' brand Atta flour, and I noticed the effect again.

It got me thinking... and on the off-chance I looked up the effect of hard water on gluten development.

According to an article in Bakers' Journal (reproduced here):
Excessively hard waters (above 200 ppm calcium carbonate) are undesirable because they retard fermentation by tightening or toughening the gluten structure too much. The minerals present apparently prevent the proteins from absorbing water.

Bingo. My water is extremely hard: around 350ppm.

Don't know why I didn't think of this before: I'm always fighting the alkalinity to get the mash pH right.
It's probably even more significant in my sourdough bread because of the buffering effect on the pH for the lactic acid bacteria.

Time to dig out the RO filter...
 
Joined
Jan 13, 2016
Messages
8,428
Reaction score
5,332
Location
Sleaford - Lincolnshire
……

Bingo. My water is extremely hard: around 350ppm.

I didn’t think of it either!
:mad:

Quick check at Anglian Water shows a Calcium Carbonate and Calcium total of 355.6ppm!

Not only do I seem to use more water than a recipe calls for, I also need at least 4.5 hours before a loaf does the “double in size” trick and becomes big enough to bake!

So far, I’ve blamed my Sourdough Starter, or for ordinary loaves I’ve added three or more times the recommended amount of Allisons Dried Yeast!

I even gave away a Panasonic Bread Maker ‘cos it stopped making “decent bread”!

Of course, brewing is different (Doh!) so since we moved I have brewed as follows, after checking the hardness of my tap water:
  • Beer - 75% of tap water.
  • IPA’s - 50% of tap water.
  • Lager - 25% tap water.
  • Wine - 0% tap water.
… and use Spring Water to make up the difference!

I will bake a loaf tomorrow, using my existing Sourdough starter but with Spring Water: and let you know how I get on.
:hat:
 
Joined
Jul 27, 2020
Messages
3,417
Reaction score
3,307
Location
St Albans, Herts
OK, it probably won't come as too much of a surprise that TETB is going to overcomplicate this...

20.0g of Atta flour in each bowl, 10ml of either RO and Tap water added with the graduated pipette; then the labels go on the underneath of the bowl and I swap them round a few times so it's a blind trial.

Screenshot 2022-07-30 at 14.41.37.png


After initial mixing. They both could have done with a drop more water to be honest, but should be OK for a comparative trial.
I'd say one of the two felt a bit softer than the other and the water went in more easily - but I don't know at this stage whether that was the RO or the Tap.


Screenshot 2022-07-30 at 14.48.34.png


Identical (near enough) kneading for 5 mins...


Right. Dough is now resting for 30mins, then I'll check whether there's any noticeable difference in the gluten...
 
Joined
Jul 27, 2020
Messages
3,417
Reaction score
3,307
Location
St Albans, Herts
OK, it probably won't come as too much of a surprise that TETB is going to overcomplicate this...

20.0g of Atta flour in each bowl, 10ml of either RO and Tap water added with the graduated pipette; then the labels go on the underneath of the bowl and I swap them round a few times so it's a blind trial.

View attachment 72461

After initial mixing. They both could have done with a drop more water to be honest, but should be OK for a comparative trial.
I'd say one of the two felt a bit softer than the other and the water went in more easily - but I don't know at this stage whether that was the RO or the Tap.


View attachment 72463

Identical (near enough) kneading for 5 mins...
View attachment 72465

Right. Dough is now resting for 30mins, then I'll check whether there's any noticeable difference in the gluten...

OK resting complete, and I 'unblinded' the trial.
The dough made with the RO definitely seems a little more extensible athumb..

In reality however both samples are too stiff to make a proper comparison.
I'm going to repeat the test with a little more water.
Stay tuned for more riveting chapati action.
 
Joined
Jul 27, 2020
Messages
3,417
Reaction score
3,307
Location
St Albans, Herts
OK resting complete, and I 'unblinded' the trial.
The dough made with the RO definitely seems a little more extensible athumb..

In reality however both samples are too stiff to make a proper comparison.
I'm going to repeat the test with a little more water.
Stay tuned for more riveting chapati action.
Hmmm - do you know what, at least as far a chapatis are concerned I think there is a small difference - but nothing really eye-popping :confused.:
I'd say the RO dough maybe mixed in a little easier at the start; but in all honesty after resting they both rolled out about the same - and if anything the tap-water one actually puffed up better !!

Jury's still out for me. @Dutto I'm really interested to hear how it goes with your SD loaf :hat:
 
Joined
Nov 13, 2013
Messages
4,559
Reaction score
3,740
Hmmm - do you know what, at least as far a chapatis are concerned I think there is a small difference - but nothing really eye-popping :confused.:
I'd say the RO dough maybe mixed in a little easier at the start; but in all honesty after resting they both rolled out about the same - and if anything the tap-water one actually puffed up better !!

Jury's still out for me. @Dutto I'm really interested to hear how it goes with your SD loaf :hat:
Why don't you just add vinegar to your tap water? The yeast will thank you for it as well.
 
Joined
Jul 27, 2020
Messages
3,417
Reaction score
3,307
Location
St Albans, Herts
Why don't you just add vinegar to your tap water? The yeast will thank you for it as well.
Fair question @foxy but the taste threshold is sensitive with acetic acid I’m not sure I’d want to risk it :-)
I think as a first step I’ll eliminate the carbonate buffer and let the lactic acid bacteria do their thang
 
Joined
Jan 13, 2016
Messages
8,428
Reaction score
5,332
Location
Sleaford - Lincolnshire
Why don't you just add vinegar to your tap water? The yeast will thank you for it as well.
It’s a thought, but I already have an inline water softener to (hopefully) extend the life of my pipework, boiler and radiators.

I say “hopefully” because even with the water softener SWMBO still has to clean out the electric kettle every month, so God only knows what the water is doing to our pipe work!
 
Joined
Nov 13, 2013
Messages
4,559
Reaction score
3,740
It’s a thought, but I already have an inline water softener to (hopefully) extend the life of my pipework, boiler and radiators.

I say “hopefully” because even with the water softener SWMBO still has to clean out the electric kettle every month, so God only knows what the water is doing to our pipe work!
I have soft water and still use vinegar, it extends the life of the bread and drops the pH to a level the yeast will work better in. I add 10 ml of vinegar to 310 ml of water.
 
Joined
Jan 13, 2016
Messages
8,428
Reaction score
5,332
Location
Sleaford - Lincolnshire
I’ll give it a try in about a week …

… or maybe Monday if tomorrow’s effort goes belly-up!
:D

PS
Extending the life usually isn’t a problem, but in the hot weather we had last week, I had to cut a bit of mould off the end of a loaf after only 5 days!
 
Joined
Jan 13, 2016
Messages
8,428
Reaction score
5,332
Location
Sleaford - Lincolnshire
Well, that experiment didn’t go very well! Nearly SEVEN AND A HALF HOURS of proving @ 24.5*C!

Recipe:
  • 180g Sourdough Starter (*)
  • 420g Plain Flour (*)
  • 5g Salt
  • Warm water to mix (**)
The photographs start at 12 noon and go to 7.19pm before I put it in the oven to bake.

E14183F6-828F-4BE4-A075-AD84BD64FDAC.jpeg

2A6A7B1D-ED7A-4CB1-9273-A3D396970D4A.jpeg
D4513860-0152-409C-AEAB-DF72818E3D4E.jpeg
BA6EF918-127F-4E51-8C18-03C6A1A7AC79.jpeg


Now the baked bread at 8pm!

Give it 30 minutes to cool and I’ll cut the crust off and have it buttered with a cup of coffee for supper!

384AFD08-6A17-4D7E-B847-EAF0E1FA2A9A.jpeg


(*)
The Starter and Plain Flour included +/-5% of Wholemeal Flour.

(**)
The water used had only 50ppm Calcium Carbonate.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jul 27, 2020
Messages
3,417
Reaction score
3,307
Location
St Albans, Herts
Well, that experiment didn’t go very well! Nearly SEVEN AND A HALF HOURS of proving @ 24.5*C!

Recipe:
  • 180g Sourdough Starter (*)
  • 420g Plain Flour (*)
  • 5g Salt
  • Warm water to mix (**)
The photographs start at 12 noon and go to 7.19pm before I put it in the oven to bake.

View attachment 72531
View attachment 72532 View attachment 72533 View attachment 72534

Now the baked bread at 8pm!

Give it 30 minutes to cool and I’ll cut the crust off and have it buttered with a cup of coffee for supper!

View attachment 72536

(*)
The Starter and Plain Flour included +/-5% of Wholemeal Flour.

(**)
The water used had only 50ppm Calcium Carbonate.
Do you keep your starter in the fridge? I find the activity level of mine is better if I take it out a couple of days before I bake, and feed it a few times
 
Joined
Jan 13, 2016
Messages
8,428
Reaction score
5,332
Location
Sleaford - Lincolnshire
Do you keep your starter in the fridge? I find the activity level of mine is better if I take it out a couple of days before I bake, and feed it a few times
I do indeed!

I usually take the Starter out the night before and give it a 100g flour + 100g water feed.

This time I didn’t ‘cos I thought it may explode into activity with the low ppm water! Big mistake!
asad.

I will get back to my normal regime next week, see what happens and Post on here!

Here’s hoping!
🙏🙏

BTW the 7+ hour loaf tastes fine with loads of very small cavities.
 
Joined
Jul 27, 2020
Messages
3,417
Reaction score
3,307
Location
St Albans, Herts
I do indeed!

I usually take the Starter out the night before and give it a 100g flour + 100g water feed.

This time I didn’t ‘cos I thought it may explode into activity with the low ppm water! Big mistake!
asad.

I will get back to my normal regime next week, see what happens and Post on here!

Here’s hoping!
🙏🙏

BTW the 7+ hour loaf tastes fine with loads of very small cavities.
I'll keep my fingers crossed... I too used to take mine out and feed it the night before; but I've since discovered that if I take it out two days before and give it an intermediate feed it perks up considerably.
I agree: longer proving time = better flavour :-) The only problem is that with a very long proof the gluten structure tends to suffer...
 

Crappyfish

Regular.
Joined
Dec 28, 2018
Messages
457
Reaction score
264
Location
Derby
My starter is in the fridge and i feed Evey now and again. I fed it regularly with even weights of flour and water and chucked some away etc. It seemed no different from feeding it every now and again about once a week or when I remember which ever comes first.
 

soupdragon

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2010
Messages
1,104
Reaction score
350
Location
Wallasey
Anyone use a tangzhong/roux in their bread? I've just made one and am leaving it to cool before I make a loaf in the morning. I'm curious as to how much "fresher" the loaf feels on the second day using it.

Cheers Tom
 
Top