The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sticky sticky arrgggh

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JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Sticky sticky arrgggh

This weekend I had an absolute baking disaster. I've not had time to blog about the mess I made (or the things I did successfully bake: veggie Piroshkis from Laurel's Kitchen, rolls that my daughter shaped from leftover Piroshki dough, absolutely divine 100% whole wheat (with oats) cinnamon rolls from King Arthur Flour Whole Grains Baking), but I did want to throw this out to the group for help.

How the %*@!! do you keep really wet doughs from cementing themselves to the proofing surface, whether it's a couche, a banneton, or whatever? I totally suck at this. Up to about 85% hydration with whole wheat, I'm good. But beyond there -- forget about it.

I did have some luck a couple of weeks ago making a varient of Tomsbread's whole wheat loaves. Essentially, I made a 2 lb loaf at 90% hydration with 1/4 tsp instant yeast, all very cold and then let it sit in the fridge overnight. I then let it rise slowly the next day. Why 90%? It seems fresh gound whole wheat flour requires more water than bagged flour, so I was trying to get the same consistency that Mountaindog and Tomsbread achieved in their masterpieces.

Goll-darnit, it stuck a bit to the banneton and flattened out. I'd used a mix of white rice flour and AP flour to dust the banneton, but it still stuck. Thankfully, though, it poofed up in the oven enough to pass for dinner bread for the family, and it did have a fantastic crumb, though it was nonetheless one heck of a butt-ugly loaf thanks to the signature "Cow Patty" top endemic to loaves that stick.

This weekend, I decided to try sourdough at 90%. Again, I didn't knead, but just folded it 4 times. Nice development, actually. On a totally different note, I'm always surprised at how ... gelatinous really wet whole wheat dough is, at least at first. Anyway, I went crazy with the rice flour and, this time, used a bowl and some baker's linen that my wife gave me for Christmas.

Holy Toledo, you'd think I'd lined the cloth with Elmer's Glue. What a mess -- I just chucked it in the trash.

So, what do I do? I need a really wet dough to get the kind of crumb I want, but I can't get the dang dough to release from the basket. Help?

Susan's picture
Susan

JMonkey, here's how I've approached that, and only for boules:  Put the shaped dough upright on parchment and lower the parchment into a bowl with vertical sides.  Refrigeration does help.  At baking, lift the parchment and dough right out of the bowl and set it on your baking surface.  I slash or snip with scissors before removing the dough from the bowl.  If the parchment sticks to the dough, I quickly push it flat before closing the oven.  
Perhaps some rice flour on the parchment and sprinkled down between the dough and the parchment after inserting into the bowl would help, as well.  
With your vast experience, you probably have tried and dismissed this method.  If so, just ignore my feeble offering!  Thanks for the times you've helped me out!
Sounds like SD-G's new method may make all our dough easier to handle, tho, and these questions moot.
Best,
Susan

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Hey! That's a good idea. I think I'll try that this weekend. Heck, can't be any worse than what I've been doing. :-)

BTW, my experience really isn't vast. I've been baking only about 18 months, and, believe me, I've got lots to learn ...

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

Hi jmonkey, i don't know if being such a newbie will be able to offer anything constructive since I can't even manage to figure out how to knead proper dough...but I made Floyd's Daily Bread recipe again this weekend. It's a pretty wet dough, don't know the % of hydration on it but made it with a 1 cup (measure) AP flour and 1 cup water and 1/4tsp yeast for the poolish, then later used 1# AP flour, 11oz. water, 2tsp salt and 1 tsp yeast. It's very wet from my perspective.

I don't have couches but tried a test to shape them. I placed the folded loaf (folded 4 total times) on a well floured kitchen towel then placed the towel and boulle into a stainless steel mixing bowl to rise as a "fake" couche. It rose very well but oh my, turing it out onto the parchment was a nightmare! It stuck all over the place and ended up flattening out quite a bit. All the extra flour ended up getting very dark while baking and it was a big clean-up. But the crumb was very nice and so moist and chewy. The best yet.

I have given alot of thought to the next baking event of this. I'm convinced I must master one bread at a time, and Floyd's Daily will be it...so here's what I think I will do this next time. I will use parchment this time instead of a towel. I will dust the parchment with cornmeal and place the folded loaf on it. I will place it in the stainless mixing bowl and cover it with another stainless mixing  bowl so that it can rise without having anything touch it and without having to try to "flip" it out onto another piece of parchment...and I will simply bake it for the first 10 minutes right in the stainless pan with the parchment, taking the top stainless bowl off when it's ready to bake.

Once it's been par baked, I will try to peel/remove the parchment and remove it from the stainless bowl and see what happens.

Do you think something like this technique would work wtih your 90% hydration bread?

Happy baking!

Thegreenbaker's picture
Thegreenbaker

I have worked with a few high hydration doughs lately, but I dont tend to use bannetons etc......dont have any. I havent tried couches yet either. I have only proofed a sourdough in a bowl once and at that time I used a cotten teatowl. I rubbed so much flour into it I couldnt see the pattern. I also threw in a whole lot of semolina flour. It didnt stick at all.

I dont think it was 90%hydration though...............when I get there, I will let you know if I fail or succeed.

 

good luck!

 

thegreenbaker 

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

JMonkey, you're in new territory for me, dude...I have not yet tried a 90% hydration WW dough, but gosh darn, I mean to soon! So I hope you get this sticky problem solved by then, or else I'll end up with cow patties, too... I cannot think of anything else to try either except Susan's parchment method. Sounds like you gave it plenty of folds, too, which I would think would tighten it up enough, but it must just be too much hydration for folding alone to do the trick. What about ditching a floured cloth altogether and letting it proof in a lightly-oiled bowl? Just a thought...

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

Hi,I don't think I'll ever want to try a 90% hydration bread (scary!) but I just thought I'd mention that someone on this site suggested using corn starch instead of flour on the couche because the dough will not stick to it. That's what I use and it does work great. I never minded some flour on a baked loaf but didn't like too much. The corn starch rubbed well into a linen towel is working good. But 90%, who knows. Good luck.            weavershouse

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hi JMonkey,

I have had some problems with AP flour sticking. For example, I have had few sticking problems with 25% rice flour and 75% KA bread flour, but when I use AP flour such as the KA organic AP or regular AP, I've had some sticking problems. When I use rice/bread flour, I rub it into the cloth and then shake some of it out, so there isn't a lot of extra flour. However, I haven't gone as high as 90% hydration with my larger loaves.

I just did a 100% hydration ciabatta dough that uses a "sifted whole wheat" (Heartland Mills Golden Bufallo). It absorbs plenty of water, but it was quite wet at the shaping stage. However, those loaves are light. They don't seem to be sticking with the same flour combination. The cloth I use is just one of those KA cloths. I've used the same one, washing it out w/water once in a while for a long time. It's all ratty, but it seems to stick less now than it did when it was new for some reason.

I saw a "synthetic couche liner" on the SFBI site, which I've ordered to try. Maybe I'll give your recipe a shot if you could post the basics of it and see what happens. However, it won't happen for weeks at the rate I bake and consume bread.

Sorry, that's about all I can come up with. Susan's right, it sounds like you're in new territory.

Bill

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I just finished cooking up a big batch of 100%WW at 90% and it turned out great. I didn't have any sticking or clean up mess either. My answer to this dilema is to rename the offender and deal with it on a physical properties level. I call my mix,

PANCAKES!

Eric :~)

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Alas, I've made my fair share of pancakes, though not intentionally ....


Truth be told, though, I don't think I'm going out too far on a limb here. Fresh ground flour is really thirsty stuff, and to get the equivalent of 85% hydration with bagged flour, I have to go higher with the fresh stuff. Or at least, that's my thinking.

Thanks for all the suggestions, folks. I think I'm going to try this: spray a thin layer of oil on the cloth or banneton and then go nuts with some sort of flour.

BTW, has anyone actually used wheat bran for the banneton in the NYT / Sullivan St. no-knead recipe? I didn't, because I thought it would make for an unappealing crust, but, heck, the original recipe is just shy of 80% hydration, which is crazy wet for white flour, and in the video, the dough just pops right out of the couche. If you've used wheat bran, how'd it turn out? I'd love to hear.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

jmonkey, wheat bran is all I have used on the KN bread method. I toss a liberal amount in the pot or clay cooker just before the dough goes in and then I top it with a little sprinkle on the top. It always comes out cleanly and the crust is as rustic and crispy as you can imagine.

Eric

PS: Nice jacket too jmonkey, your wife is quite the photog!

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Thanks Eric. You know, I think I'll give wheat bran a shot. It's about all I haven't tried .... How do you get it to stick to the sides? The Breadtopia guy, in his video, sprays the sides of his banneton a bit with oil to get the wheat bran to stick, but if Bill is right (see above), oil is a terrible idea. What do you do?

And, much as my wife would probably like for me to look more like Nicholas Cage (have you seen his abs recently? -- holy crap, he must do crunches in his sleep), if I owned that jacket -- or any snakeskin jacket, for that matter -- it would mysteriously find its way to the dump within a day or two of its purchase.

Guarranteed. ;-)

bwraith's picture
bwraith

JMonkey,

My problem was specific to oiling the couche and putting flour on it. I could imagine it would be very different with bran, and it might work fine. Also, I think putting oil on a hard non-absorbent surface like the banneton itself (not sure if I got you right on exactly what was done and have not seen that video) would also be very different from spraying oil into the somewhat absorbent cloth.

For example, I think it helps somewhat to spray the sides of a rising bucket, although I've heard some posts suggesting the contrary. Whereas, oil spray on couche cloth, then covered with flour was the one thing that gave me a true aaaaaaargh experience. There was another poster a while back who had the same problem, as he had read the same part of the BBA that suggests this. I believe his problem was also solved by not oiling the couche, for what it's worth.

Anyway, if you figure something out from all of this, please let me know. I'm thinking about trying to use a little higher hydration w/some whole wheat, possibly one-step miche experiments. So, I'll probably be with you in aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh land.

Bill

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Great, great advice. I'll use just a wee bit of oil on the sides and slather it with wheat bran. I'll report back on my results.

By the way, after having fed the starter for two days, ground the flour, mixed the dough, folded it four times over four hours, shaped it carefully and monitored the temperature in my makeshift homebrew beer-cooler-proofbox for two hours, only to see it ooze out in a big sticky-stuck stringy mass when I attempt to get it onto the peel -- well, there's only one image that adequately expresses how I feel.



How I miss Charles Schulz.

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Right, I know the feeling. I've been very lucky not to have that happen to one of those big loaves so far. I'm afraid it may be in my future, though. Are you sure that the extra hydration is worth it? It sounds like you've decided the crumb is especially good w/the higher hydration, or at least there is an aspect of the crumb you are targeting in these recent breads. About the highest I've gone is around 85% with my miche recipes. They have enough white flour to make them fairly wet at that hydration, but they don't have that extremely sticky feel that the 100% whole wheat seems to have. By the way, what type of wheat are you using?

Now I want to go back and see what the recipe is your working with, too. Can't remember if it's in the posts above. Some other possible ideas are to use a preferment to add some acid to the dough or add a little more salt? Sometimes the texture can be more workable that way. It seems like the one-step method results in a somewhat stickier looser dough than I've had with two-step SD recipes, if my recent tries are indicative. I'm just getting to the end of trying a one-step ciabatta, and there was a difference in texture by the time I got to the shaping stage.

One other idea might be to see if it helps to keep dusting what will be the top and sides of the dough with flour while it's rising and also leaving it less covered or uncovered while rising, so it can form a drier skin on the top and sides. Also, if you let it sit after forming the boule to seal the seams underneath, maybe dust it and leave it uncovered to let the skin dry out a little. Just some ideas...

Bill

bwraith's picture
bwraith

JMonkey,

I guess it's worth a try, but my experience has been that oil on the couche is a disaster. That's when I've had the aaaaargh experience with dough sticking to the couche. What solved it was the combination of bread flour and rice flour. I wonder if there is some combination of rice flour, corn starch, semolina, that would do the trick. Those are the less sticky things to use, I think. Actually one other thought: do you spray your loaves or the rising bucket w/oil? I wonder if there is a problem with oil on the surface of your dough that causes the same stick problem I had w/oil?

Do you turn the loaf over and peel the couche off? I'm just wondering if there is some different detail.

Having said the above, I just used my usual method of 25/75 rice/bread flour on this 100% hydration ciabatta dough and got a little sticking of the type that can be bothersome. It was only in a couple of spots though, and interestingly, it was on the sides near where I had sprayed the top of the loaves with oil. Something to think about, anyway.

Bill

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

No, I haven't been oiling, but thanks for the tip. No oiling this weekend for me.


Maybe I should roll the dough around in some flour before putting it into the floured couche?

pjkobulnicky's picture
pjkobulnicky

I'm a bit late to the discussion but two comments:

The first is to remember to use linen to line a couche. It has the best non-stick properties of any cloth because it has few fibers sticking up.

The second is to remember that the couche has to breathe ... one wants the surface of the dough that is in contact with the cloth or bannelton to work with the flour and air to dry out  the surface a bit relative to the rest of the dough mass. This also helps in slashing. So ... I think parchment is a bad idea. Better just to use a wad of flour and, as others have suggested, adjust the blends of flour.

I have also experienced one downside to wheatbran ... it burns very easily and can give your loaf a burnt taste.

 

Paul Kobulnicky

Baking in Ohio

browndog's picture
browndog

I haven't a clue how you get blobs out of baskets, but seeing STICKY STICKY ARRGGGH lined up about a dozen times in the latest comments column has in my opinion JMonkey, made all your troubles worth it.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Tastes better than flour when you need a thick dusting, and use a seeve or sifter to dust evenly.   Should be there, next to the corn starch.     Mini Oven

caryn's picture
caryn

Typically when I bake loaves of free form breads, I bake them right on the parchment paper.  As of yet I have never baked a loaf that after baking that the paper stuck.  Perhaps the answer is as one person suggested, to line the basket with parchment paper and put the whole thing (including the paper) on to the peel and bake on the paper. 

Might this work?  Has anyone ever baked a  loaf where the baked loaf adheared to the paper?  And I guess if this could be a problem, you could oil the parchment before putting it in the couche.

BROTKUNST's picture
BROTKUNST

When I use a banneton I first use Semolina flour, then I 'rotate' with soft tapping some AP flour (KA) around in the banneton. I finish this of with some more Semolina Flour. I coat the dough lightly with AP flour as well. Since I do that I had no more stuck doughs ... The loafs turn out nicely, with distinct circular patterns

 

I hope that helps.

 

BROTKUNST

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU everyone who helped me with my sticky sticky argggh problem. I just flipped a 90% hydration dough of Desem onto the peel and NOTHING stuck. It was awesome. I used a 50-50 mix of rice flour and whole wheat flour for dusting, and, as Bill recommended, I dusted the loaf itself before putting it in the banneton.

Loaf is in the oven. We'll see how it turns out. Thanks again!

Susan's picture
Susan

We will be waiting with "baited" (shrimp, minnows?) breath for photographs of your success!
Susan

bwraith's picture
bwraith

JMonkey,

Thanks for the details. Now I have something to go on if and when I finally get to try making a still higher hydration, higher percentage WW miche. So, after this one comes out of the oven and you can evaluate the results, I'll be interested in whether you are happy with having gone to an even wetter WW dough.

Bill

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

Wooooohooooo! You're a rockstar! Congrats and happy eating. :D