How to control volume in breadmaking? 3/4

27 Jun How to control volume in breadmaking? 3/4

The breadmaking process

Volume is an appearance factor that is decisive for the consumer, in that it is assessed on first glance. A controlled yeast fermentation process and the formation of the gluten network are two key factors for obtaining adequate volume and rely on a great many technical parameters, including the choice of breadmaking process. This article takes a look at the successive stages in breadmaking that have an impact on the final volume of a loaf of bread.

Mixing

During mixing, the insufficient unravelling of protein skeins can compromise the formation of the gluten network that will help retain the CO2 necessary for the ultimate loaf volume.

Furthermore, the dough should be maintained at a temperature of around 18-20°C to optimise the achievement of volume. This temperature depends both on the temperature of the ingredients implemented and the temperature of the environment.

Shaping

Risk of tearing on the surface of the dough mass during shaping brings about a lack of permeability, which can result in loss of loaf volume. A resting phase prior to shaping may therefore be recommended in such cases.

Final proofing

This stage, which follows that of mixing, is the most decisive stage in the breadmaking process for the final volume of the product. If the length of this stage is not carefully controlled, it can lead to two types of problem: if baked before proper proofing, the dough mass can burst open leading to misshapen loaves. If proofing is too long, the dough mass will not rise and the loaf will be flat.

Furthermore, it is important to maintain good ambient humidity to prevent “crusting”, a phenomenon that can undermine the loaf’s volume and give rise to cracking on the surface of the dough mass.

N.B.: Good dough tolerance offers a certain flexibility as to the final proofing time.

Scoring (the case of crusty loaves)

Scoring has a fundamental impact upon the loaf’s volume and structure. Also referred to as “scarification”, it consists in slashing the dough pieces just before they go into the oven. It plays two key roles:

  • aesthetic, in the way that the scores are formed,
  • structural, since they create “vents” through which the gases can escape during the first few minutes of baking and are therefore directly involved in the dough’s development in the oven.

The way in which the gases can escape from the dough in the oven will also dictate the final air-hole texture of the loaf.

N.B.: this operation is performed when the dough mass is at its most fragile, and destroys its permeability: proper tolerance is therefore essential in order to avoid the collapse of the dough pieces or their failure to acquire oven spring.

Baking

Baking is mostly responsible for a loaf’s volume, notably through the expansion of gases under the effect of temperature.

Heat: an insufficient amount of heat is likely to compromise the proofing of the dough mass during baking:

  • excessive heat can result in a dense crumb,
  • lack of heat can result in flat loaves.

Steam: this is used in the case of bulk batch bakes to prevent tearing as a result of overly rapid crust formation. If it is not properly controlled, steam can also bring about defects in volume:

  • a lack of steam (sometimes linked to heavily limescaled equipment) can lead to under-risen loaves with tearing,
  • excessive steam can result in flattened loaves with no scoring visible (INBP, 2016).

 

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