I need help with my muffuletta bread


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So Ill start by saying Im no baker and what little I know is self taught. My muffuletta bread is good but not where I want it to be. The crust is kinda crackly/crunchy and authentic muffuletta bread crust is more soft like sandwich bread. The crumb of my loaves are fine because they are dense enough to stand up to the oil/olive salad. I will attache my recipe and some pics of mine and pics of New Orleans style muffuletta loaves below. And here are a few questions if anyone can help.

1. How do I get a softer crust?

2. How do I get that beautiful golden brown color? I brush mine with egg wash before baking.

3. I bake mine in a 9" pan. How do the get those smooth rounded edges? I assume the dough is flattened out and left to rise, then its baked on a stone with no pan.

4. How do I get more lift in the center of the dough (like a dome shape)? Mine tend to be kinda flat.

RecipeMuffuletta Bread

12 oz/355g warm water (between 105°-110°)

2 Tbsp/18g shortening (or olive oil)

1.5 tsp/5.25g table salt

2 tsp/7g instant yeast

1 Tbsp/12.5g sugar

3.5 cups/518g bread flour



Add yeast, sugar and water in stand mixer bowl and let bloom for 10 minutes to make sure yeast is alive. Add oil. Add salt to flour and then incorporate into bowl attached with dough hook on low speed. Continue to knead until dough comes together nicely. At this point I split the dough into two even portions and then roll and tuck until smooth balls are formed. Place in two lightly oiled bowls and spritz a little oil on top of dough, cover with cling wrap and let proof in the oven with oven light on for 1.5 hours. After proofing, punch down doughs and place in two oiled 9” round pans. If dough feels really elastic from overhanding, let it rest in the pans for 10 minutes covered for the gluten to relax. spread evenly into the pans, cover and let rise a second time for 45 minutes in the oven. After the second rise, remove from oven and preheat to 400°. While preheating, mix one whole egg with a tad of cold water, whisk and then gently paint the tops of the loaves. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake for 18-40 minutes. The length of time depends on the amount of egg wash. It can get dark in as quick as 18-20 minutes, buy may take between 18-40 minutes. Keep an eye on it. Let cool on racks (I do it in front of a fan for quicker cooling), slice and load with muffuletta goodness. The first 2 pics are mine and the second two are bakery muffuletta bread.
 

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Your bread did not rise in the oven, that is why you do not have the dome and rounded sides.

But first, let me clarify that instant yeast is not proofed. It is designed to be mixed into the dry ingredients.

Bread fails to rise for one or several reasons:

  • Over-proofing
    • Dough collapses from excessive expansion of CO2 and weakened gluten matrix
    • Fix: know the signs of properly proofed dough
  • Under-proofing
    • Dough does not expand from low CO2 production
    • Fix: know the signs of properly proofed dough
  • Dry crust
    • Dough exposed to air during proofing forming a dry skin that inhibited rise
    • Fix: cover container with loosely with plastic
  • Instant yeast
    • Instant yeast reproduces so rapidly it plows through it food sources and begins to die off before dough is baked
    • Fix: use active dry yeast
  • Too large pan
    • Pan is too large for the amount of dough, causing too much displacement of dough
    • Fix: use smaller pan or increase dough batch amount
  • Sugar
    • Too much sugar in the formula is killing the yeast
    • Fix: reduce the sugar
  • Salt
    • Salt came in direct contact with yeast killing it
    • Fix: check mixing method to ensure salt is not poured on yeast
  • Desired Dough Temperature (DDT)
    • Dough exceed DDT, 74°F (23°C) - 77°F (25°C)
    • Fix: keep dough temperature within DDT
  • Proofing Air Temperature
    • Proofing temperature exceeded 80°F (26°C) - 86°F (30°C).
    • Fix: control the air temperature where the dough is set out to proof

Just reading the instructions, I would say the dough was exceeded DDT after it was mixed. Then left in the oven with a light on for 1.5 hours, which is too long for a dough with instant yeast, the dough was over proofed in the bulk fermentation. It is a really bad recipe with bad methods. But you can make a couple of adjustments and maybe get a better result.

Desire dough temperature (DDT) is the temperature in which bakers keep the dough to control yeast development, keep butter plasticity, and other things. Typically after mixing the dough, you want the temperature of the dough to be in the range of 74°F (23°C) - 77°F (25°C). There is a calculation for DDT, but I am not sure I want to explain it since it is a bit complex. Just know that the mixer creates friction; friction creates heat.

Anything that is mixed in a mixer is going to heat up. A dough that is mixed for 10 minutes is going to get very hot.

When you start with water that is 110°F you’re ready above DDT.

Then when you put it that oven with the light on, that dough was so far out of DDT, there was no way that dough was ever going to bake properly.

After mixing, you want the dough temperature to be in the range of 74°F (23°C) - 77°F (25°C).

For proofing the dough, the oven should be in the range of 80°F (26°C) - 86°F (30°C)

So just make sure that dough stays in DDT your water has to be cool. The water (or liquid) is the ingredient bakers use to control the dough temperature. As the baker it is the only variable we have control over when we are trying to control dough temperature. Even though the recipe says to use 110°F water, ignore it. The person who wrote the recipe is clearly not a trained as a baker since they did not take the heat from friction factor of the mixer into account. Like I said, there is a calculation for DDT, but I don’t want to try to explain it to a non-baker. After you mix the dough, all that friction from mixing will heat the dough. So you use water that is well below 110°F. The 10 minutes of mixing will heat up your dough, as will the warm oven.

Also long before you stick your dough in the oven, lower the rack to the second lowest slots. Take the temperature of the oven without the light on. Place a pan upside down on the rack, then place a coffee mug on top of it. Then lay an instant read across the top of a coffee mug so the tip does not come in contact with any thing. This will take the temperature in about the center of oven chamber. If the oven is significantly colder than the DDT. Turn the light on. After 20 minutes, check the temperature of the oven again. You want the oven to be in the range of 80°F (26°C) - 86°F (30°C).
 
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Hey Norcalbaker...Thanks for such an in depth reply. I realized some discrepancies with the recipe I posted and what I actually did, so I will revise some things and I have an update with different results.

  • Over-proofing
    • Dough collapses from excessive expansion of CO2 and weakened gluten matrix
    • Fix: know the signs of properly proofed dough
    • Me- There was no collapse that I saw. I had to punch it down.
  • Under-proofing
    • Dough does not expand from low CO2 production
    • Fix: know the signs of properly proofed dough
    • Me- There was plenty gas expansion from what I saw.
  • Dry crust
    • Dough exposed to air during proofing forming a dry skin that inhibited rise
    • Fix: cover container with loosely with plastic
    • Me- I put my dough balls in oiled dough retarding pans with a spritz of oil on top to keep from sticking.
  • Instant yeast
    • Instant yeast reproduces so rapidly it plows through it food sources and begins to die off before dough is baked
    • Fix: use active dry yeast
    • Me- turns out it was Fleischmann's active dry yeast, not instant like the recipe says.
  • Too large pan
    • Pan is too large for the amount of dough, causing too much displacement of dough
    • Fix: use smaller pan or increase dough batch amount
    • Me- I think I may need to increase the amount of dough. I revised my recipe a couple times since posting here. One result to follow below.
  • Sugar
    • Too much sugar in the formula is killing the yeast
    • Fix: reduce the sugar
    • Me- Don't know how much sugar is too much.
  • Salt
    • Salt came in direct contact with yeast killing it
    • Fix: check mixing method to ensure salt is not poured on yeast
    • Me- I add water yeast and sugar and wait to see that yeast is working then add 3/4 of the flour and mix in stand mixer. Then I add the oil and mix some more. Then I add the remainder of the flour with the salt at the end and mix till it all comes together nicely.
  • Desired Dough Temperature (DDT)
    • Dough exceed DDT, 74°F (23°C) - 77°F (25°C)
    • Fix: keep dough temperature within DDT
    • Me- I did not check the dough temp with my Thermopen.
  • Proofing Air Temperature
    • Proofing temperature exceeded 80°F (26°C) - 86°F (30°C).
    • Fix: control the air temperature where the dough is set out to proof
    • Me- I proofed the updated recipe at room temp which is 69° in our house so that should be good.
Just reading the instructions, I would say the dough was exceeded DDT after it was mixed. Then left in the oven with a light on for 1.5 hours, which is too long for a dough with instant yeast (turns out it wasn't instant but active), the dough was over proofed in the bulk fermentation. It is a really bad recipe with bad methods (Im sure it is but every muffuletta bread recipe I find on the internet sabot the same as mine). But you can make a couple of adjustments and maybe get a better result.

Anything that is mixed in a mixer is going to heat up. A dough that is mixed for 10 minutes is going to get very hot. (It was warm. I wouldn't say hot but I didn't temp it so Im not sure.)

When you start with water that is 110°F you’re ready above DDT. (water was 105°)

Then when you put it that oven with the light on, that dough was so far out of DDT, there was no way that dough was ever going to bake properly. (I will post my update in a moment. It wasn't proofed in the oven).

So just make sure that dough stays in DDT your water has to be cool. The water (or liquid) is the ingredient bakers use to control the dough temperature. As the baker it is the only variable we have control over when we are trying to control dough temperature. Even though the recipe says to use 110°F water, ignore it. The person who wrote the recipe is clearly not a trained as a baker since they did not take the heat from friction factor of the mixer into account. Like I said, there is a calculation for DDT, but I don’t want to try to explain it to a non-baker. After you mix the dough, all that friction from mixing will heat the dough. So you use water that is well below 110°F. The 10 minutes of mixing will heat up your dough, as will the warm oven. (Duly noted)

Also long before you stick your dough in the oven, lower the rack to the second lowest slots. Take the temperature of the oven without the light on. Place a pan upside down on the rack, then place a coffee mug on top of it. Then lay an instant read across the top of a coffee mug so the tip does not come in contact with any thing. This will take the temperature in about the center of oven chamber. If the oven is significantly colder than the DDT. Turn the light on. After 20 minutes, check the temperature of the oven again. You want the oven to be in the range of 80°F (26°C) - 86°F (30°C). (Duly noted).

Now for the update. I revised my bakers percentages on the recipe though I don't have them with me at the time of this post.I am going to bake four more loaves tomorrow so I made dough for five loaves. I made four of them and put them in the dough retarding pans to cold ferment for 24 hours (Maybe that was a mistake but we'll see tomorrow). The fifth dough ball I let proof for 1.5 hours at room temp...69°-70° in an oiled dough pan with oil on top of the dough ball. After 1.5 hours I de-gassed the dough and instead of putting it into a 9" pan, I patted it down into a 9" round on parchment paper on a baking sheet and covered it with lightly oiled, loose cling wrap for another hour.

After the second rise, I brushed the top with egg wash and sesame seeds then baked in a 400° oven for about 30 minutes. There was an improvement. The shape without the pan was more like a New Orleans made loaf. It didn't however have much oven rise to it. The crust was not quite as crusty as my previous tries. It was somewhere in between sandwich bread crust texture and crusty baguette texture. I will take the info you have given my and try to use it tomorrow on the 4 loaves I am doing. The pic below is that latest attempt. I like it much better, just wish I had a little more rise to it. Im thinking about next time adding more flour and adjusting my percentages to see if I get a higher loaf. Thanks!

MB10.jpg
 
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I am sure every recipe on the Internet uses warm water. But that doesn’t make it correct.

They teach in culinary school. It’s written in every baking textbook. Every professionally baker in the world uses DDT.

You can ask for information, I can provide it. And it’s your choice whether or not you want to accept that information.

That’s why I didn’t want to waste my time to write out the full explanation on how to calculate DDT.

You can read an explanation on King Arthur flour‘s blog if you want


 
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Hey Norcal...as I said in my last post thanks for your help. I WILL choose to use your information and I'm glad you didn't "waste your time" in writing out the full explanation. The smile in your profile pic belies the condescending attitude in your replies. If it is a waste of your highly informed education to provide help to us lowly uneducated people, then by all means pass right by. Im just looking for answers without the attitude. It seems by replying that you genuinely want to help people which is good. As someone with a degree in education I learned that if you really want to foster education in people, then a caring, attentive attitude is the way to go about it but hey...you do you. Now that I've had a wonderful start to my day, Im off. I'll expect you will have to have the last word , so knock your self out, but really don't bother as Im over it now and won't read it, so if you reply it will truly "waste your time". Im sure you make a wonderful bread. Thank you again for your help. Cheers!
 
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@Mojoman

There are as many types of Teachers as there are students.

If you take offence at the tone of the teacher, maybe that’s something mutual that didn’t work out. But to throw shade with reference to Norcal’s profile pic when she uses one and you don’t, that’s low.
Have a wonderful day mofoman.
 
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