The Fresh Loaf

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Ralfthebutcher's picture
Ralfthebutcher

Help

Hello everybody.

I am baking bread for several years now, always in the bread machine. Until a friend send me the tartine link and I saw the movie on theire website. I immediatly bought the book and after reading it I started making the starter.

Everything was going quit allright. I baked two country dough breads before moving on to whole weat bred, wich I prefere. 

Nowadays I can't seem to bake anything that resambles my first loaves.

I do everything by the book, have a lively starter with wich I make the leaven, wich floates beatifull. I mix the dough, do bench rest for 45 minutes, before adding salt and 50 grams of water.I do my turns during bulk at 80 degrees, every half hour for three hours. then it becomes a problem. When i get the dough out of the container, it is a blob. I cant work with it. I have tried shorter bulk rise, longer bulk rise, but nothing seems to work. I can not get the beautifull mass of dough that looks like everything i see in the book or on the pictures and films online.

Could it be the flour( organic from a watermill nearby)? i don't seem to have enough strenght nor tension in my dough. Please, if annyone could help me, I am getting desperate. I threw away 3kg of flour this week alone! And I hate throwing away stuff, I am Dutch for god sake!

 

Greetings Ralf

Faith in Virginia's picture
Faith in Virginia

Hello

cranbo's picture
cranbo

When i get the dough out of the container, it is a blob. I cant work with it.

I'm assuming you mean it's too sticky? If it's sagging too much and won't hold shape, it's probably too wet. You have a few options:

  1. Try adding a little bit more flour to the recipe during mixing, it could be too wet. Or hold off on adding the additional water. 
  2. Use  more bench flour while doing shaping.
  3. Try a different flour; different flours absorb water differently.
  4. If you want to keep the dough as wet as it is and still be able to somewhat shape it, try dipping your hands in water during shaping, or (my preference) rubbing your hands with cooking oil.  

Using some combination of these tips might help.

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Start out by using the appropriate flour.

From what I've seen, my guess is the appropriate flour would be, what is called over there(Europe),  a "strong bread flour". Probably at least 12%  protein.

Don't be afraid to use flour when handling/shaping.

Here is a one video(link) showing some possibilities. You can see that by the time he is ready for shaping, the dough is quite wet, but very well developed. That is what you are shooting(striving) for.

By the way, I think this guy is the proprietor/administrator of pizzamaking.com. He has other videos showing more of how he makes the Tartine dough, but uses it as a pizza crust.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fqry9EAtXpI&feature=related

jcking's picture
jcking

Ralf,

It sounds to me like either the organic flour is too young ( less than 6 weeks old) or it may need malt flour. Malt flour is added at commercial mills to adjust falling numbers and other values to ensure the flour will be good for baking. I'd check with the mill to see how old the flour is first.

Jim

Ralfthebutcher's picture
Ralfthebutcher

Thanks a lott for all the response sofar!

@Jim, I now that the flour is less than 6 weeks old. They always mill fresh. this could be the problem. The flour I started out with, was severall months old, so that could explain, why it worked the first few times, but doesn't now! I will call them in a minute.

@mr frost, thanks for the tip on the strong bread flour. At first i was afraid to use flour when shaping, I got over that stage and tried it with as much flower neccesary, but then my dough incorporates so much flour, it breaks appart. The movie you recomended, I watched it 10 times already. What strikes me the most is that from the beginning he has a cohesive mass. With my dough this is not the case. it's wet, stays wet and not able to handle. I can't even make a round of it. I will search for this website of his. Thanks.

@cranbo, tips 2 and 4 I have already tried, nothing! as for 1, I want to stick to the recipe, for i see that it is possible, so want to be able to do it! Tip 3 is my best option if the miller doesn't have any advice for me.

@ all you guys, thanks for helping someone @ the other side of the world with his bread. Total gratitude!

Ralf

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

It is more like free flow cement and is a gooey mass that runs sideways no matter how much flour is added?  More detail is needed here.  

I suspect thiol compounds.  

Mini

Ralfthebutcher's picture
Ralfthebutcher

Hello guys.

I spoke to the miller. He asured me that the flour is always fresh, so it can never be older than 6 weeks old, seen that i've bought it 2 weeks ago..I asked him about the % of proteïn. He thinks it's about 12%, but doesn't now for sure. Pretty soon he wil get a device that can messure this, but for now it's a assumption.I asked him about the malt flour. He told me there are 2 kinds of malt flour. 

1 is for the colour, beïng used to colour a bread darker so that it looks if it where a whole wheat bread.

2 is to compensate for a lack of enzym activity, but he asured me, this is not the case with his organic flower.They have this tested.

He also told me that in non organic flour, the % of glutten/ proteïn is up to 14%, but if it's bad luck, in the organic flour it could be 11,5%. He recomended me to use a little less water, to compensate for this. 

@mr frost, i watched the other video from the extreme cook, in wich he makes his tartine pizza dough. I can tell during the bulk rise, his turning and folding, that his dough gets more cohesive. this is not the case with me. 

Hoping to hear from you, and thanks again.

Ralf

 

Ralfthebutcher's picture
Ralfthebutcher

Hello Mini, 

 

It's not like free flow cement, it holds a little of it's shape, doesn't keep running sideways.

What do you meen with thiol compounds?

Ralf

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

...your answer cleared that up.   :)  

lumos's picture
lumos

Could it just be a matter of insufficient gluten development?   I know you're following what the book tells you to do, but sometimes it's difficult to achieve what a book says unless you know how the dough should really feels like, even you think you're following the instruction loyally. 

I understand you'd been baking bread in breadmaker before you started with sourdough bread in Tartine book, but it looks like a quite a big jump to take, to my eyes.   Why not try making dry-yeasted bread a few times to learn the feel of hand-kneaded dough, so that you can compare that with the one you used to get from your breadmachine. (I'm assuming here that your breadmachine only used commercial yeast and you sometimes used its Dough programme and have experienced how the dough with sufficient gluten development felt like)

I'd personally worry about the quality or age of flour, or hydration of dough, after I checked those things.

best wishes,

lumos

Ralfthebutcher's picture
Ralfthebutcher

Thanks for responding.

It is quite a big jump indeed, but my first three four loaves were outstanding. I don't know how to post a picture here,than i could show you. So I did the right things, but now that I have new flour, things don't work anymore!

 

Gr Ralf

lumos's picture
lumos

If your miller doesn't have a right equipment/system to gauge the specification of his flour yet, that could well be the reason your recent batches came out not as good as your earlier; the new flour is much lower in gluten/protein than before. It is not unusual for smaller scale millers. With big boys, they often need to blend various kinds of wheat from multiple growers, so that the specification of a particular flour they have to produce in large volume always (more or less) stay the same. 

If that's the case, you can hand-knead more to ensure sufficient gluten development to compensate for that.  Traditional French bakers have been doing that for a long time to deal with their soft flour and (relatively) high-hydration of their breads.  Their traditional technique (French folds = 'Slap & Fold' ) Trying to emulate a certain recipe written by a baker whose flour is different from what you can get is always one of the most difficult part of breadmaking at home.  Following the instruction literally sometimes don't work, unfortunately. Yeah...been there, done that. :p

best wishes,

 

lumos

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Trying to emulate a certain recipe written by a baker whose flour is different from what you can get is always one of the most difficult part of breadmaking at home.  Following the instruction literally sometimes don't work

I totally agree with lumos here; my tips were written in line with this. 

as for 1, I want to stick to the recipe, for i see that it is possible, so want to be able to do it!

Just like the previous comment, you can't expect the same results if you're using different ingredients. If you're modifying a recipe from what the original ingredients were, you will have to make adjustments, so don't expect to be able to make it exactly as written and achieve the same results.

All that said, you mentioned your first few loaves were fine. I'm guessing this problem has to do with your flour. You mentioned that it was successful using your 6-month old flour, but not using the fresh-milled flour. I suggest trying the same recipe with some other commercial flour, using your same techniques, and seeing if it turns out well again. If so, the culprit is almost certainly your flour. 

Ralfthebutcher's picture
Ralfthebutcher

Hello everybody, 

I followed youre advice and bought some commercial flour with 12,3% of proteïn, and my bread turned out beautifull. The problem is most certainly the flour! I conferred with the miller about all this again and he now gave me other flour. Instead of a 65% this is a 55% wich is richer in proteïn according to him. As we speak, I'm mixing a dough again, so lets see how this turnes out!

@Jim:

Can you explain to me WHY the flour need to be older that 6 weeks? I am verrt curious about this!

Ralf

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Hi Ralf,

Not Jim here, but here's a thread discussing flour aging. In a nutshell, certain compounds develop over time that strengthen gluten as a result of aging. 

When you say 65 or 55%, do you mean it's a T65 or T55 french-style flour? If so, you may already know that those percentages refer to ash content, but T65 (which has higher ash) I believe has a higher gluten level, if only slightly.

jcking's picture
jcking

cranbo,

Thanks for the thread reference; saved me a lot of typing {:-)

Ralf,

Plan ahead and age the flour yourself. Ask the miller if the wheat is red or white, Summer or Winter, hard or soft. That would help to indicate what the flour is best used for.

Jim

jcking's picture
jcking

Thiol proteins in the flour must oxidize (age) and in the process they donate a sulfur molecule to the existing sulfur, creating a di-sulfide. In the presence of di-sulfides, gluten bonds can form most effectively.
Jim

Ralfthebutcher's picture
Ralfthebutcher

Thanks for clearing the scientific stuf up. But now for the practical stuff. My flour comes in sowed paper bags of 5 kg. What and how do you suggest on "aging" the flour. Should i store it closed, or open the bag? At wich temperature.I really want to bake my bread with this flour, since it is organic, produced localy, and not to expensive. I now understand that baking the bread "out of the book" is not possible as I first thought it would be. Thanks for clearing this up Lumos! 

Could it help to mix the dough in an early stage in say a kitchen aid, to develop more glutens and so get a better cohesive mass?

Are there books you guys recomend for helping me get better knowledge of the processes needed to get were I want to get?

Thanks again, Ralf

jcking's picture
jcking

As far as storage; keep the bag closed, temp range 15-20°C (60-70°F). I would wait 6 weeks, try a loaf, see how it goes. You may have to try adding some diastatic barley malt. As mentioned above, knowing the type of wheat would be a big help. Soft red and white winter wheat is only good for cakes, pastry and muffins.

Under-mix and use stretch and folds to develop dough strength.

Books; J Hammel, Bread a bakers book of technique and recipes - any of the Peter Reinhart books - D. DiMuzio's, Bread baking. I find myself reading and rereading these books and lab studies found around the Web and am constantly learning and making sense of bread science.

Bread baking; a hobby you can eat!

Jim

Ralfthebutcher's picture
Ralfthebutcher

I just found out, that you guys in the USA grow much harder cereals, this due to the climate. In holland it is verry hard to get anything close to 12%

The new flour i got from the miller turns out to be a dissapointment again. Ofcourse this could also be, because it's younger that 6 weeks!

Ralf