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Tartine dough very sticky

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rasmus's picture
rasmus

Tartine dough very sticky

Hey guys, this is my first post so I hope I'm doing this right. 

 

I've been doing the Tartine bread for a few months now and the results are great. There is one point however, that I can't seem to figure out. When I fold the dough it keeps being very sticky, not smooth like I see it in Chad's videos. My understanding is that the stickiness can come from several things:

 

1) Too much hydration in the dough. I've cut down the water content to 700 grams total instead of the 750 grams in the recipe.

2) Low protein content in the flour. I'm using flour with 12% protein, which is the highest I can find here in Denmark. (Bread flour is usually 12-14%).

3) Not enough time during folding to create the gluten network. I've folded for 6 hours, put the dough in the fridge and folded for 4 hours again the next day, and the dough is still super sticky. 

4) The method of folding. I'm using a big baking pan, and really trying to stretch and fold the dough and much as I can, and as similar to other people's suggestions here on the forum.

 

Of course I can always just powder the dough with flour and it won't stick (as much) to the kitchen towels, but there must be a way of achieving a dough that isn't sticky, right?

 

Thanks in advance and happy baking :)

lk757's picture
lk757

I am dabbling with Tartine bread as well.   And my bigger problem (besides too much stickness which is not that bad for me) is that the loaf does not hold its form when put in the oven.  After I take the dough from the proofing bowl and invert it on the bottom part of my La Cloche it seems to loose its height quickly and flatten significantly (not totally of course but more than I would like/expect).   It gets some oven spring but the final bread still comes out a bit flatter that I would like.   Is it because my dough is too wet?   I would appreciate some advices on how to address this.   Thanks in advance.

Also how critical is it to proof in the flour dusted towel lined bowl as opposed to a very lightly greezed bowl dusted with seeds/floor (without a towel).  Could that be a problem?

 

All at Sea's picture
All at Sea

... it seems. I have seen various folk here complaining about the flabbiness of the gluten structure with their Tartine dough. Your comments about stickyness, combined with those complaints about lack of gluten strength all suggest the recipe is open to interpretation a little too freely, or - perish the thought - inaccurate.

There is a Tartine recipe on Martha Stewart's site - is this the one you have too?

All at Sea

lk757's picture
lk757

Thanks for replying.  Yes, that is the recipe.  I got it from his book but it is the same one slightly condensed (and fewer pictures) that is on the Martha Stewart's site. 

I have been using KA bread flour which is higher in gluten content but the gluten structure seems to be somewhat missing.   Robertson is also very keen on using "young starter" (mostly with the purpose of avoiding too much sourness in the bread) and I have been following his recommendation (I strongly believe that I have a pretty "healthy" mature starter).  Could that have anything to do with it?   The dough seems to be much more relaxed and wetter at everty stage comparing to the corresponding stage pictures from this book.

Outside of the bread being a bit on the flat side, it comes very nice and tasty (with plenty of wholes in the crum, great chewy crust) otherwise.   I am just trying to get it perfect :)    Maybe my shaping skills are lacking...

Toad.de.b's picture
Toad.de.b

Yes AaS, Martha Stewart presumably got permission to reproduce not only Robertson's formula and process on her site, but also Eric Wolfinger's lovely b&w photos from the book.  So what you cite is Robertson's recipe.  And yes, it appears to be problematic with some novices (me included).  From his account in the book, his method was not especially widely tested (e.g., compare with Peter Reinhart's army of far-flung testers) and its low robustness is probably a direct result of that.  The Tartine formula and process is not especially exotic or finicky, although it is a high hydration (75%) jumping off point for the uninitiated.   Perhaps structural development of such a wet dough by S&F is a high hurdle for beginners (I can attest).  I've also wondered about temperature -- Robertson dictates some fairly high ambient temperatures for the home kitchen -- more like bakery temperatures (78-80˚F if I recall).  I've suspected that in my challenges with his formula/process, esp. since I began my effort to master his method in a season during which our kitchen is never above 60˚F.  

This sticky Tartine dough discussion is cyclical @TFL, yet still unresolved for those looking for a cure.   I'll certainly post any breakthroughs I experience.  For now, I'm happy to simply tame sticky wet doughs with AP flour liberally added to its surface from a handy tub thereof on the bench, as I work at mastering a 70% hydration mod.  I'd counsel others frustrated by a literal interpretation of Tartine Scripture to consider the same compromise of principle :-).   I'm happy to report that a 70% version of Robertson's formula makes awfully good bread.

Good luck.

Tom

All at Sea's picture
All at Sea

... Tom, your comment about temperature perhaps being a problem doesn't seem so likely to me. I've baked bread both back in the UK and here in the tropics. Back home, that means in ambient temps as low as 50 degrees F; here in the Caribbean as high as 95 degrees F. While the cool UK temps directly affect proofing times, they don't seem to impinge on gluten development, well not so far as I am aware. But I have to confess, I've never relied solely on SFs to develop gluten. I always slam-dunk comme M. Bertinet - for at least a nominal 5 minutes, then use SFs later after periodic restings if necessary.

Out of interest, you might enjoy reading Shiao-Ping's account and photos of her learning curve with a Chad Robertson style sourdough. Not sure if you're aware, S-P is an absolute fabulous baker, so her thoughts and observations are always worth the reading. Hope it helps, anyway.

All at Sea

 

 

 

 

 

Toad.de.b's picture
Toad.de.b

That's a keeper, AaS. I'd be delighted if your experience blocks my "maybe it's the temperature" shot. Works for me. That way I could stop fretting about acquiring a kitchen space heater for next winter, etc.
I have read many postings from Shao-Ping in the archive, but assume she's checked out from TFL of late, having not seen recent contributions. She is obviously very talented, definitely in the TFL pantheon. I don't recall reading her account of negotiating the Tartine learning curve, besides a vague recollection that she was posting about him and his methods before his book came out. I'll follow the link you provided. Thanks for that.
This issue of peoples' varying success with Robertson's method is fascinating. More work to be done.
Thanks,
Tom

Lewis Mcintosh's picture
Lewis Mcintosh

Hey, i've been making tartine bread for a few months now, they started off sticky until i bought some good Organic hard wheat flour. for me, using cold tap water is better for my flour too and it doesnt really affect the fermentation time!

I also just made another starter just using my organic flour and this too seems to have improved it aswell, it's like the dough knows what it needs to do it's amazing, i follow chad's technique, perfectly and since my new flour arrived i've really enjoyed the precess so much more.

i'm a chef, but i'm helping my boss to evolve the breads in his bakery and i'm baking 70 loaves everyday perfectly, i'll upload some pics soon!

 

Hope this helps.

Toad.de.b's picture
Toad.de.b

Thanks Lewis,

While switching flours may seem a likely solution to a sticky dough problem, I've prepared dozens of Tartine doughs, all with good organic hard wheat (well, AP, so they've been mixes of hard+soft) flours and various temperatures of tap water, having never found that either had a salutary effect on stickiness of the dough.

But the fact that you're working in "his bakery" (your boss's) lends credence to one of my pet theories on this issue -- what's the temperature of the air in the space where you prepare these doughs? Of course, that affects the temperatures of the work surfaces and equipment as well.

Congrats on scaling up the Tartine method -- your customers must be pleased.

Tom

pjkobulnicky's picture
pjkobulnicky

Tartine is my go-to bread and I nearly always have great success ... when i don't it is because i have 10 other things on my plate. Here are some suggestions:

Make sure that you give the flour a good autolyse ... I do about 45 minutes.

Make sure that you use non-chlorinated water ... better for the yeasts and better on the dough structure. 

Make sure that you are using linen toweling to line the couche and use a non-gluten grain to dust the loaves .. I use brown rice flour but a white rye is nice too. Dough releases better.

A refirgerator retard will help the loaf hold its shape for a tad longer.

Preheat oven and dutch ovens to 500F for better oven spring ... the wetter the dough the higher you want your starting temperature in the oven. Reduce immediately to 400F

indiesicle's picture
indiesicle

I had problems when I started with the Tartine method myself. Never really sticky dough but no oven spring. The thing that helped me the most early on was letting my leaven go a little farther in the process and use a higher seed %. Meaning I would let it go 8-10 hrs. and double or more instead of the 20-30%. It made for a little more umph.. in my dough. Not sure the science but I think it has to do with a larger and more robust yeast population. That little step helped me tremendously. It also gave me more confidence to know it wasn't going to be a failure over and over and I worked back leaven rise from there.

The stickiness problem is most likely due to under development and over working it on the bench at pre-shape and final shape. It doesn't take much to go from smooth to sticky if you mess with it too much and the strength isn't there at those high hydration's. I now use a 2% inoculation in my leaven and let it go about 10 hrs. with a 30% rise before use and stay at 78-80% hydration for white and 86% hydration for ww/ rye. I bulk at a low temperature (71/73-ish) for all my breads daily (rye, whole wheat, and white) with no problems. My actual internal dough temp rarely gets above 73. At these temperatures the full 4 hr. bulk is perfect for me and my surroundings. Sometimes 3 for ww and rye. My mother culture is also very strong which could also be a problem for you.

Just keep tweaking it and I promise it will work out. The formula and method are solid and will produce great bread with a little time and patience.

 

lk757's picture
lk757

Thank you very much for the word of encouragement and good idea on incresing leaven % in the dough to get more spring.  I was thinking about it myself but was afraid to mess with the formula :)  I believe my active starter is pretty mature and powerful enough but who knows for sure.

Can you please elaborate please on "I now use a 2% inoculation in my leaven and let it go about 10 hrs. with a 30% rise before use".  Are you refering to the amount of starter you use in you leaven mix (if so, 2% seems awfully low or is it?) and "30% rise" is how you know that leaven is ready?

Thanks again to you and eveybody else for very useful and thoughtful advices.

 

indiesicle's picture
indiesicle

Yes, 2% to inoculate the leaven. It is very small but it's more of a time thing for me. I make 4kg of leaven a day for a small bakery and 2% (80g seed, 2kg water, 2kg AP flour) works out for me and when I need it. I now realize my post was a bit confusing and I apologize. What I did was try everything. I added more starter to my leaven (up to 25%) and also added more leaven to my final dough. Mr. Robertson recommends 20% in the final dough but you can move it up and down till you find what works for you. I also meant to let your leaven go a little farther in the process as not to use it so 'young' in the beginning (maybe double at least). I gained more confidence and in turn handled the dough a lot better and achieved much better results. Your bread will be more sour but you can find that balance in time to fit your tastes. These are just things that helped me. I'm sure there are differing opinions on this. Hope this helps.

 

Toad.de.b's picture
Toad.de.b

I was looking at Hammelman this morning and revisted his sidebar (p.39) on 'Damaged Starch' that seemed uncannily apt, re: Tartine stickiness issues.  The bullet points with which the sidebar ends could pass for a description of typical Tartine Fail symptoms:  weak dough structure (due to over absorption of water and re-release), slack dough after mixing, dough becomes increasingly sticky during fermentation, shaped loaves flatten out, scores open poorly in oven, crust softens after baking.  All too familiar.  Take home lesson for me: Always use the highest quality flour you can find/afford.  And that includes that 10% portion of whole wheat in Roberston's formula as well.  Stack the deck in your favor and use Central Milling, King Arthur or equiv, at least until you (and I) learn to compensate for ingredient shortcomings.  Why Robertson's process is so sensitive to these, or some other, issues -- the mystery remains.

Tom

 

Roo's picture
Roo

I made the Tartine Country loaf yesterday for the first time.  I followed the formula as written.  However I have a white and wheat starter in my fridge, so I started with 50/50 of that last Tuesday and built and fed it with 50/50 until Saturday night when I built my leaven.  I was a bit worried as on Saturday my starter looked a bit flat and unresponsive, which concerned me esp. since Friday it was all happy and bubbly.  But I went ahead and made the leaven.

I was very surprised as it did exactly what the the book said it was going to do increasing to around 30%.  I mixed the final dough and went through the bulk rise, bench rest and final shaping and  rise with the dough going through every stage the book said it would.  It was the wettest dough to date that I have worked with, and was a bit concerned about the final shaping.  Very sticky and was sure I was not getting the tension I was going to need.  I let it rise for 4 hours in a lined bratform with the 50/50 rice flour/wheat flour. 

I had fired my wood fired oven earlier in the day with the hopes of having this bread for dinner along with our lamb chops and mushroom risotto.  However that was quickly dashed when I saw the time it was going to take to go through the stages.  It had to bake after dinner (we eat late).  so while we were finishing dinner I tossed a few more logs on the fire to get the oven deck back up to 500 from the 430 that it had dropped during meal prep.  At 10:00 it was back up to 502 so I pulled the dough out from under its cloth wrap and put one on the peel.  Man do I need to work on my lame skills.  I could not score either loaf to save myself.

But backing up a bit, as I took the dough from the baskets I thought I may have "dropped" them a bit hard as they came out on to the peel and flattend very quickly.  While I worked the dough, my wife steamed the oven and we got the loaves in and the door closed. After 20 minutes I vented the oven and closed it back up for another 20 mintes.  At 40 minutes I checked on the loafes and they were indeed lighter and very nice looking color wise.  I set them on their sides and closed everything up for the night.  This morning I checked on them and the crust had gotten a bit softer, but not to bad.  Oven spring was increadible as it was easily 2 - 3 times taller and easily 2 times the diamater of the bratform.   Unfortunetly I do not know about taste or the crumb as I had to go to work today so there it sits on my counter waiting for this evenings meal.

To make up for the temperature diffenreces between kitchen temp and what is called for, I simply placed the dough in the oven with the oven light on.  The thermomoter I placed in the oven alongside the dough registered 80 f so I knew I was good there.  

I will make this formula again as I loved working with such a high hydration dough.  I will also take some ideas above into account and see if I can get more tension in the final shaping.  Perhaps the overnight retarding in the fridge is what it will take.  Who know but it will be fun to keep moving forward and perfecting it in my hands.  That and I want to master bread in the wood fired oven.

Toad.de.b's picture
Toad.de.b

What kind of flour(s) did you use for your Tartine dough (mfr and type)?

Roo's picture
Roo

I used King Arthur Whole Wheat and a local bread flour milled by Con Agra.  I have no clue ast to protien % in the bread flour as I am unable to locate it on the bag.

rasmus's picture
rasmus

Since I was the one who posted this question, I should probably answer it as well. I solved this issue and here's what did it for me. Moving from Denmark to Florida was a big factor, the weather is hotter here and dough seems to rise much better here. Also, using King Arthur Organic flour made my dough exactly the way it should be. I now use 750 grams of water and the dough isn't sticky at all. Another thing I did was change the part about putting the dough in a floured kitchen towel and just using an oiled plastic bowl instead. This may not be the intended way of doing it but it makes things much easier. The dough just slides out of the bowl and straight into the cast iron skillet. No sticking issues anymore and the rise is great. And the bread still taste as awesome as ever.. :)

putneyal's picture
putneyal

So, simple, we all move to Florida :-)

smignogna's picture
smignogna

the book doesnt mention this but chad does in his masterclass video with claus. at the bakery they mix it in a spiral mixer after the autolyse and then do the fold techniques. To simiulate this, I've been giving it a 2-3 min light knead (more just heavy folding) in the bowl before I transfer it into the cambro. this seems to help with early gluten buildup and helps give that silky smooth texture which is not that sticky. give it a shot, its made a big difference for me in terms of oven spring and crumb openness.