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Question about Developing Sourdough Dough

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bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

Question about Developing Sourdough Dough

I apologize in advance if this is a stupid question. But when I've been building a dough with a poolish and with yeast here are my steps:

1. Build the poolish.

2. Let the poolish sit overnight of for hours - UNDISTURBED

3. Add poolish to rest of flour and water etc

4. Stretch and fold dough multiple times to get the gluten developed

5. Do a bulk fermentation to x 2 in dough volume

6. Cut and shape

7. Final Rise

8. Bake

It occurs to me I don't have a step-by-step process worked out in my mind of how sourdough dough development works. Could you tell me if I'm messing up my steps please?

1. Build the starter up to active state. (Takes as many days and feedings as necessary)

2. Add starter to rest of flour and water. Mix it up and let it autolyse for an hour or so.

3. Add salt and other ingredients into the dough mixture.

4. Stretch and fold dough multiple times to get the gluten developed

5. Do a bulk fermentation to x 2 in dough volume

6. Cut and shape

7. Final Rise

8. Bake

 

Are these the right steps or did I miss the part where the newly mixed dough with starter needs to ferment undisturbed? Can anyone give me a step by step guide for a basic sourdough bread or is each recipe different in it's methodology?

BROTKUNST's picture
BROTKUNST

There are many ways to Rome ... and you described one of them.

One remark though : Strictly, Autolyse would just be the combination of flour with water. The levain you'd add would be already the leavening which should follow the Autolyse and preceed the addition of salt.

Personally I like to refresh the barm about 8 hours before I prepare the levain which then again ferments for about 8 hours. This works fine for me since it appears to support a more subtle 'sour' flavour and leaves more room for other flavours from the wheat (or other flour).

Almost no statement is absolut and not just one way is the right way ... I thought Raymond Calvel's Book "The taste of Bread" was very interesting if you want to learn more about the ifs and buts in each particular step. This book is quite pricy though and is best ordered from the library.

BROTKUNST

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

this...(and thanks for educating me about the proper use of autolyse! One day I'm going to "get it" you know? So every little bit of reinforcement for proper terminology is greatly appreciated!!!)

1. Start the starter (takes as many days as it takes to get active)

2. Feed your starter (barm) and let ferment for 8 hours

3.Combine your water and flour only and let it sit for x amount of time (please fill in  "x" blank for me) - Autolyse Step

4. Combine the autolysed flour/water with the starter (levain) and let it sit for x amount of time (please fill in the "x" blank for me)

5. Add salt to the dough and let it sit the remaining time to about 8 hours.

I guess my question is your steps "seem" from my newbie perspective to be all about the flavor development and not about the bread structure. (Unless it happens at the same time?) So at what point do you do the stretch and folds or kneading to develop the gluten structure of the dough? Is that done during the 8 hours of fermentation following the addition of salt to the dough? And at what point do you shape your loaves and bake them?

I will put Raymond Calvel's "The Taste of Bread" on my wish list! I've heard of his book from several sources as being excellent!

Thanks Brotkunst!

susanfnp's picture
susanfnp

If your recipe includes a liquid preferment, such as a poolish or liquid starter, I believe it is OK (even necessary) to include it as part of your autolyse. Because a liquid starter contributes significantly to the hydration of the dough, an autolyse without it would be too dry.

Also, an autolyse is not mandatory. It helps to increase the extensibility (stretchiness) of the dough.

Susanfnp

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

As Brotkunst said, there are more ways than one to do this. Here is my preferred method...

1. Refresh starter and let it ferment however long you prefer (8-12 hours)

2. Combine flour, water and starter until a shaggy mass. Let autolyse for 20 to 30 minutes. According to what I read in Hamelman's book, the inclusion of the starter here doesn't really hurt anything since the yeast really doesn't start to grow in that short length of time. Furthermore, the inclusion of the starter is sometimes necessary to achieve the proper hydration to be able to mix the mass.

3. Add the salt and oil (if any) and mix the dough until it forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

4. If you want to retard the dough, here is where I do it. Otherwise, go to next step. If you retard the dough you won't need as many stretch and folds after you take the dough out of the fridge to finish developing it.

5. Do a bulk ferment during which you do a stretch and fold every 40 to 60 minutes to develop the dough. The length of the bulk ferment varies but you can tell when the dough is developed properly.

6. Divide the dough, let it bench rest for 10 to 20 minutes, and then shape your loaves.

7. Proof loaves, slash and bake.

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

reply! This is exactly what I was hoping to see! I'm afraid I missed many of those steps today and am baking a brick! LOL! No oven spring to speak of even though it looked as if I was getting a rise during the stretch and folds!

A question for you. What if you are doing a recipe totally by hand? How do you tell when it starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl?

On average, how many stretch and folds do you have to develop the dough when you don't retard in the fridge and how many do you have when you retard overnight?

Am I over-simplifying?

Gibbeon's picture
Gibbeon

I'm pretty new to breadmaking. I started trying to make sourdough a little over a year ago, and so far, so good. My friends and neighbors like it, anyway.

After scanning through this thread, I have to ask; The words 'Poolish' and 'Autolyze'...I've never heard those words before. I can pretty much figure out their rough meaning by the context that they're used in, but I'm curious as to their true meaning and where they came from, if possible.

I'm also pretty new to this website. I love it! :)

 

susanfnp's picture
susanfnp

Hi Gibbeon, welcome to the site! Floyd has been kind enough to provide us with this glossary, which should help you with these terms and more. I don't at all mean to imply that you shouldn't feel free to ask about any terms you don't understand, but the glossary is good to know about.

 

Susanfnp

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

I'm a newbie too!

Boy I can empathize with the terminology thing. I had heard of a poolish before but never an autolyze before coming here and I find I still use it incorrectly! I think the idea of the glossary is great cuz that way we are all speaking the same language lol! I guess by poolish I mean a preferment really.

It's the part of the recipe you make ahead and let it sit out until it develops flavor. It's main purpose is to build dough complexity but as Susan has mention I'm guessing it may help with dough consistency too? I don't really know.

Autolyze I always thought was the period of heavily mixing your ingredients then setting it aside to sit so that the wetness of the dough starts the gluten development. But now I'm learning that it's mainly just the time that the flour and water alone are mixed then left to sit. (In the absense of any leavening or salt or other additives).

But please check out the glossary because I'm still not sure I have my head around these meanings!

susanfnp's picture
susanfnp

It's the part of the recipe you make ahead and let it sit out until it develops flavor. It's main purpose is to build dough complexity but as Susan has mention I'm guessing it may help with dough consistency too? I don't really know.

King Arthur Flour has a nice explanation of preferments and why they are used, if you are interested. It is on the "Professional Bakers" area of their site but you don't have to be a professional to access it. They also have a number of other things there that might interest you (all about the function of salt, e.g.).

 

Susanfnp

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

:)  You know, learning the vocabulary is the easiest part but learning the real definitions and true meanings and import of the words is the "work" part! ;)

edh's picture
edh

Hi Bluezebra,

I know this is really a thread about sourdough, but you brought up preferments et al, and I was wondering if anyone could tell me how you get a preferment to mix into the rest of the dough when you're working by hand?

I made Hamelmann's country bread (very yummy), but it uses a stiff preferment, which you're supposed to drop in chunks into the mixer with the rest of the dough. Didn't work so well mixing by hand. Should I just knead it all together into an uneven mass and do more stretch and folds during the bulk ferment to even it all out?

Thanks!

edh

tattooedtonka's picture
tattooedtonka

I mix all my doughs by hand, so I can understand your frustration with some of the books that only tell you how to do it with a mixer.

I am currently making a sourdough from "Crust and Crumb" and it required me to make a stiff starter yesterday, and then overnight it in the fridge.  Today I had to cut it up and mix into my final dough.  Here are some photos of the progress. 

I then added in my water and started squishing it all together with my hands. To squish it I would grab the dough with my hand spread open and make a fist squishing the dough out between my fingers. Once it was fairly incorperated I would take the mass and pull it apart and squish it into the bottom of the bowl so the sticky part of the dough would pick up additional flour in the bowl.  Eventually I was able to pick up all the flour.

From there I dumped it onto the counter and kneaded the dough by hand, kneading and folding for about 8 or 9 minutes.  Then I placed back into clean bowl.  Here is what it looks like after kneading.

I hope this helps a little edh.

TT

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

Can you tell me does it mix up easily TT or do we expect to have to "really work" to get it incorporated? Your finished dough is beautiful!

What do you think a pastry cutter would work like before adding the water? And incorporate it kinda like you would a fat with flour in a pastry? Would that work or be just more "work" of another kind?

tattooedtonka's picture
tattooedtonka

I dont have a pastry cutter, I use the two knives method.  I think this would be just extra work, because you would still have to mix them all together again when you add the water. 

I think the squooshing (real technical sounding huh?) was pretty easy.  I do it for most of my doughs.  I do all breads by hand, and I never get good mixture using a spoon.  And my hands are always around, I dont have to look for them, or find they are in the dishwasher.  So it works for me.  But I didnt put a vulcan death grip on the dough or anything.  Just squoosh until its all mixed up nice.

TT

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

Hi edh... I have made a recipe from BBA, I think it was the sourdough (I'm not home right now to check). You take your preferment out of the fridge in the AM, cut it into 6 or 8 pieces (I think), cover with some plastic wrap and let them sit for 45 min or so. They start to rise a bit and are soft when you incorporate them with the rest of the flour. I found it very easy to mix that way. Maybe this might help.....

edh's picture
edh

Thanks TT!

That looks alot like what I did, though the recipe I was using was probably a little easier as the preferment was being combined with a dough, not just dry ingredients. I was squeamish about squooshing the preferment too much; afraid of tearing the gluten or something. As a result, the kneaded mass never looked finished and smooth, and there were still wetter and drier spots when I went to scale and form the loaves.

I won't be so timid next time!

Thanks again,

edh

tattooedtonka's picture
tattooedtonka

In the top photo above,  you can see a glass of water next to the bowl.  This was my water that I put into the mix before I started squooshing.

I wouldnt be too worried about harming the preferment.  You still have to do at least 1 rise after mixing and kneading so your dough will have plenty of time to rise.  At this stage even though you have a preferment you are still doing an intial mix of final dough so you shouldnt worry about harming it.

TT

edh's picture
edh

Thanks TT,

I'm mixing up another preferment tonight to try the same recipe again.

If at first, etc...

edh