The Fresh Loaf

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Wholewheat sourdough bread doesn't oven spring

Paneski's picture
Paneski

Wholewheat sourdough bread doesn't oven spring

Hi

All of my wholewheat sourdough breads (but one!) turned out to be more or less, pancakes. Delicious tho, but pancakes. I generally don't like white bread so all of my breads were wholewheat (I sometimes make sourdough with ww + white flour or add not more then 10% of semolina flour).

Today I wanted to make a test and bake simultaneously a 100% wholewheat bread and a 100% white flour semolina bread. It turned out that semolina was actually wholewheat, but nevertheless I gave it a shot :)

 

Here is the step-by-step process. I've done the same procedure for both loafs:

 

Fist of all - the starter https://photos.app.goo.gl/1yYmGRLQTzzKchSQ2 Refreshed 10h prior the usage, should have been less, my bad. The last 50g of white semolina I had + 50g of water

1. Wholewheat https://photos.app.goo.gl/WNQ5Y8WNKCRZjpEa2 -> 350g ww flour @80% hydratation, 2% salt, 15% sourdough

Semolina ww https://photos.app.goo.gl/xF8I5ElkDGPsaC8U2 -> the same as for the previous one 350g ww semolina flour @80% hydratation, 2% salt, 15% sourdough

The dough is left to autolyse for 30mins (with 250g of water. The remaining 30g was mix with salt and added later)

 

2. Added salt (I used himalayan salt, that's why it's reddish) with the https://photos.app.goo.gl/16JSEwxRNHk0aEYr2

3. Added sourdough https://photos.app.goo.gl/iLL4qwHpvMtdcCP62

4. First fold, right after mixing the sourdough https://photos.app.goo.gl/wyYPEAv1F6pICgfF3

5. Second fold, after 30mins https://photos.app.goo.gl/8GMBLkoSukGRSzr63

6. Third fold, after 30 mins https://photos.app.goo.gl/suhwc0ZVk5DLBqnR2

7. Forth fold, after 30 mins https://photos.app.goo.gl/oYFhB2iRbeCC7CQw1

8. Fifth fold, I forgot to take a photo

9. Pre-shaped and did a bench rest for 40min with a kitchen cloth (I actually wanted it to be 30mins) https://photos.app.goo.gl/JLf8R3NVre4oTFzi1

10. Shaped https://photos.app.goo.gl/w9Cwmvcm6DlMWpCL2 https://photos.app.goo.gl/5Hj5h25bwG1Afwti2

Immediately after shaping I've done a finger proof test, just to see if the dent would spring back (like it never does when I'm making bread :D) video -> https://photos.app.goo.gl/1QWEH2qt1voQcaBH2 so for the ww loaf the dent remained as if it was overproofed where for the semolina ww it sprung back, why is this?

11. After proofing for 2.5h https://photos.app.goo.gl/NAWtpUFArucLTjQ33 

12. Baking https://photos.app.goo.gl/8y11c4My6o3JZqg42 I tried to bake both of them at once, but it was a bit crowded. I usually cover the loaf with a big metal bowl, this time I've just added a tray with water.

The results: https://photos.app.goo.gl/KA4jAcwroUI3PJrK2 ww semolina 1, ww 0. The loafs are still warm so I haven't sliced them yet.

And my question is: why didn't the ww loaf have any oven spring? This has been happening since I've been baking sourdough bread (i.e. march this year). The only thing I can think of is that the problem is in the flour itself but I've changed so many flours and the result is more or less always the same. In this case both flours have 12g of protein (semolina ww has 12,5g). 

The only time I've made a "perfect" ww bread with a regular ww flour + spelt flour (https://photos.app.goo.gl/aHh9yT8q8I05LMU63) was by chance and I was doing a fridge proofing. I tried to reproduce the steps in order to make another one of these beauties but tough luck.

 

Please if you have any advices I would be most grateful.

 

Sorry for so many photo links, but posting images with the forum's "Insert image" is a nightmare :D

 

Cheers

 

 

WatertownNewbie's picture
WatertownNewbie

What was the dough temperature after the initial mixing?  And what was the temperature of your kitchen during the bulk fermentation and the proofing?  Given the dents made right after the final shaping that did not fill in (shown in your video), I am wondering whether the dough was overfermented and not aided by the proofing.  Others with more experience please weigh in here and educate us both.

Paneski's picture
Paneski

It was around 22°C (71°F) in the kitchen today so it wasn't hot at all. I think I could try skipping the proofing and put the loaf into the oven right after the bulk fermentation but it's wrong on so many levels that I never wanted to try that :)

IceDemeter's picture
IceDemeter

so could you please confirm that I have this right:

mother/starter/chef (pick a name) is 100% hydration semolina (durum) flour

Your whole wheat loaf is:

levain: 52g (26g flour + 26g water)

dough: levain + 350g whole wheat flour + 280g water + 7g salt

So - you are using 7-1/2% prefermented flour (the 26g in the levain) and doing everything at a room temperature of 22 deg C. 

Your total time with the levain in the dough is 4-1/2 hours from first mix to bake.

Frankly, I'm not sure how you're getting any rise at all out of the white flour / semolina version either, since this doesn't seem like anywhere near the amount of time you should need for fermentation and proofing for that small amount of prefermented flour at the low of a room temperature. 

Using the sourdough rise time table found here as a rough guide: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/5381/sourdough-rise-time-table (and the actual table: http://www.wraithnj.com/breadpics/rise_time_table/bread_model_bwraith.htm), I would estimate that you should be looking at a fermentation time (including the stretch-and-folds) of somewhere around 5-1/2 hours, with another 2-1/2 hours of proofing time after shaping, for a total of 8 hours from mix to bake.

I suspect that your one loaf with a good rise was the result of actually having closer to the needed total time for the yeast to do their job, thanks to the long refrigerated proof.

If I've figured this correctly, then you should try the same recipe with the much longer time for both fermentation and proofing.

Paneski's picture
Paneski

Yes that's true, well I've had the same results (pancake bread) during the summer when there were around 28-30°C in the kitchen so I was trying to shorten the proofing time and refrigerate as much as I could in order to get a decent loaf but I didn't manage to find the sweet spot. Now it's not that hot but the dough acts the same way, so I've shorten the fermentation time thinking it somehow over-fermented again but it look like it's the contrary :) The thing I don't understand is the finger proof test I did right after the bulk fermentation: shouldn't the dent spring back?

A question regarding the table: If i'm not mistaken, generally when you calculate the sourdough percentage in the dough you use both flour + water in the equation, right? So in 1000g of flour, 150g of levain is 15%. But in order to use this table I should calculate like this: 1000g, 75g of levain (75g f + 75%w) = 7.5% Correct? 

Btw semolina is also ww but it's more yellowish so it seams like white flour.

 

Thanks for the help!

IceDemeter's picture
IceDemeter

and capable of reading comprehension before answering things!  For some reason my sleepy brain read the semolina dough as being white flour - with some added semolina.  Sorry about that!

Regardless, I still think that your primary issue with the flat loaves is not enough time for the yeast to actually create bubbles to raise the dough.

Your question about the finger proof test on the bulk ferment leads me to believe that there might be a secondary issue, which is not enough gluten development.  Gluten needs either time, or kneading, or both, to develop, and you need a well developed gluten network to contain the bubbles of gas expelled by the yeast.  With your description of your technique, it sounds like you are doing a basic dough mix, but not kneading at all to even start developing the gluten.  The stretch-and-folds will allow developing gluten to be more in the structure that you want it, but when you have such a short period of fermentation there really isn't enough time for much to develop.  With not much gluten developed, there really isn't a tight structure holding in the gas.  It is that tight structure that snaps back when the poked during the time when the gas is really pushing outwards --- and the slow return on a fully fermented dough indicates that the gluten is no longer strengthening but is starting to relax. 

When you poke a dough with little gluten development, but during the period when the yeast are expelling lots of gas, then you are also going to get a slow return --- since the gas is there to push it back, but there is no strong gluten elasticity for it to be fast. 

Another thing to keep in mind, is that the results of a poke test are going to vastly differ depending on the hydration of the dough.  While a firm 65% hydration dough will have a very obvious strong spring-back to an early fermentation poke, a high hydration 80% or more dough (like yours!) will always have a softer feel and slower spring-back.  It is faster and easier to develop the gluten structure in lower hydration.  I suspect that the difference between your semolina dough and your other whole-wheat dough is the the durum is a higher protein flour and will be more "thirsty" than the other flour, so will act as if at a lower overall hydration (slightly more gluten development, and so a better ovenspring).

I would suggest that you maybe try a bit of an experiment with a small loaf of whole wheat, where you drop the overall hydration to maybe 70-72%, and either do a long autolyse prior to mixing in the levain (say - 8 hours or more in the fridge), or do a good job of kneading the dough to a good level of gluten development as soon as the levain hits the flour.  Follow this up with your usual stretch-and-folds, but keep an eye on the dough and watch for it to be fully fermented (volume increase of 50-100%; lots of bubbles visible on bottom and sides; smooth domed top).  Once it is really airy and puffy feeling, then gently pre-shape, bench rest, and then proof.  Please use the table for a rough guideline of timing, but go by the dough and not the clock!

As for your final question about the table - yes, you are correct that it goes by % Prefermented Flour, and assumes that the flour in your seed starter and levain are included in the Total Flour.  So, in a dough with 20g of flour in the original seed starter, and then another 55g of flour added to it in the levain, there would be a total of 75g prefermented flour.  If this is added to another 675g of flour in the main dough, there is a Total Flour of 750g, of which 10% (75g) is prefermented. 

I believe that some bakers / authors treat the levain / sourdough as a complete separate ingredient, and don't include the flour from the levain in the Total Flour and don't include the water in the levain in the Overall Hydration.  They apparently will refer to a levain comprising 75g flour + 75g water = 150g being added to a dough with another 675g flour in it as being 150/675 = 22% levain / sourdough.  If the levain is 125% hydration, then it would be 75g flour + 94g water = 169g, which would mean 169/675 = 13.8% levain. 

By keeping the total levain as a separate ingredient, it doesn't actually state what the levain hydration is, and so the percentage vs dough flour is, in my opinion, meaningless.  The water in the levain is not the active leavening agent, so it should not be considered when looking at the amount of prefermented flour vs added flour to determine how much natural yeast is being added and what kind of timing to be looking for.  It seems to me that it would be the equivalent of telling someone to use 245g of ADY in a recipe --- and let them guess whether you are talking about using 1g of yeast in 244g of water, or 5g of yeast in 240g of water.  The leavening power and timing are going to be very different depending on what they actually mean!

I hope that this is of help to you - and please do let us know how your next bake turns out, and what changes you decided to experiment with. 

Edit to add:  I should very clearly mention that the above mini-rant is purely my own opinion based on my own experiences.  Your method of stating the % sourdough is not wrong - and is fully supported by some of the "big names" in baking.  I just find the % prefermented flour terminology to be more accurate for what I want to get from that bit of information. 

Paneski's picture
Paneski

thanks for all of this info, I really appreciate it, it goes straight to my "baking tips notebook" :)

Ok so it looks like that the gluten was under developed, unlike what happened during the summer when most likely it over-fermented due to the high temperatures. And correct me if I'm wrong but the poor gluten developed dough in early and late stages will act basically identical as the over fermented one, when doing the finger proof test? Both of them will have slow if any spring back?

Another question is about kneading: I really love kneading the dough, it relaxes me in a profound way, but everyone advised that the sourdough bread shouldn't be kneaded in order to preserve the fermented gas bubbles but from my understanding you advise to knead only right after mixing the dough with the sourdough, which makes sense since the gluten hasn't developed yet. Is there some particular technique you could suggest me or just basic kneading? How should the dough look like after kneading or how much time I should knead it?

The idea of calculating the ratio of pre fermented flour to flour vs pre fermented flour + water (aka sourdough) to flour actually makes sense to me and I'll definitely consult the table in order to have a better guideline regarding the timing and do some tests during the weekend as you suggested.

Regarding the table: in my case I had 22°C, 7,5% pre fermented flour, 80% hydration, 2% salt: I should intersect between 21.1° and 23.9°C on the left and 5% and 10% on the top right -> the result is something around 9,5h of total ferment time + wetter dough should ferment faster (I think) = around 9,3h? I know that making bread is not a rocket science but just to be sure I got the table more or less right :) 

Again thanks for all the help and useful info!

WatertownNewbie's picture
WatertownNewbie

Trevor J. Wilson obviously enjoys handling dough, is very good at it, and has some great videos.  Here is a link to one of them, and I recommend watching as many different ones of his that you can.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuk8Ma4gaeA

IceDemeter's picture
IceDemeter

I'm so glad that you realize that it is just a starting point - and not written in stone ;)

I look at the process of raising bread as being the result of 2 distinct actions: the creation and organization of the gluten structure (water + gluten protein + time / physical manipulation = gluten strands), and then the creation of CO2 bubbles (yeast and bacteria breaking down the starches of the flour in to sugars, feeding on those, and reproducing while excreting CO2).  If there isn't sufficient gluten built up, then the gas bubbles will just escape, and there will be little to no "rise" in the dough.  If there aren't sufficient gas bubbles created, then there also won't be any "rise".

So, the first step in creating your bread is to develop the gluten structure, and then to allow enough time for the yeast and bacteria to excrete enough gas for the crumb that you want.  By creating the gluten structure first, then the gas bubbles haven't even started developing yet, so that isn't an issue if you want a really open crumb.  The method of developing the gluten is really a matter of personal preference.  I most often use the in-the-bowl kneading methods that I learned from Trevor J Wilson (already noted by Watertownnewbie!) on his site: http://www.breadwerx.com/   Depending on my mood, I have also used the slap-and-fold method (also called French Fold, or Bertinet method, or a variety of other names) demonstrated here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dUZ0O-Wv0Q  

I'm sure you'll have read that one of the difficulties with using whole wheat flour is that the sharp edges of the bran and germ can slice through the gluten strands, and so some folks stress using time instead of kneading for the gluten development (with the idea that less manual manipulation means less movement of the sharp edges and less chance of damage to the gluten strands).  Since there is a higher chance of too much enzyme activity in whole wheat dough, it is a fine line to balance enough time for the gluten to form while not being long enough for the enzymes to break them down again.  This is where you'll see folks recommending doing at least a couple of hours of autolyse, or even using Trevor's overnight mix of the flour, water, and salt (where the inclusion of the salt slows the enzyme activity).  These options can allow for enough gluten to be formed so that very little kneading is needed (just enough to thoroughly mix in the levain), which will then be strengthened and organized by the stretch-and-folds.  Using very small amounts of leaven also increases the time that the water and flour and starter are mixed, giving more time for the gluten to develop.

For myself, I am usually trying for a light but fairly tight crumb, since I most often use my bread for sandwiches.  This means that I really don't want a bunch of random bit holes in my bread, and I actually make a point of patting out the big gas bubbles during pre-shape and final shaping.  I always do at least a couple of hours of autolyse (and often the overnight mix), so I find that the bran is softened enough by long soaking that I'm not as concerned about damage to the gluten while kneading.  I find that I get better overall results by being more concerned with creating a good gluten structure and not worrying about being so gentle with the dough.

As for the very important second bit of raising a loaf - it is very important to make sure that your starter is healthy and active, and to realise that timing of the dough fermentation is going to differ depending on what stage you use the levain at.  Using a "young" levain (where it hasn't yet peaked after the last feed / refreshment) means that there won't be quite as many wee yeasties in there, so fermentation will be a bit slower.  Using a "mature" levain (where it has just peaked, or is up to a couple of hours after peak) means that you have the max amount of yeast in there, and so timing will reflect that.

Finally, you are also correct that an over-fermented dough will feel very much like a dough that hasn't ever had good gluten development.  Over-fermentation actually is when the yeast / bacteria / enzymes have finished eating all of the starches and easily digested sugars, and start breaking down the gluten protein to start eating that.  The result is less gluten and a weak structure.

I'm looking forward to hearing about your weekend experiments!

Paneski's picture
Paneski

So, I've done the little experiment with 2 loafs, one with 72% hydration and the other with 85%, both wholewheat with 3% of pre fermented flour and around 8h of rest period (flour + water + salt). The end result - pancake due to the over fermentation (in my opinion). I should have looked more at the dough and less at the clock, I know, but since I lack the experience, I'm often not sure what to look at when I'm looking at the dough :) I've noticed the bubbles you've written about during the bulk phase (only on the 85% hydration dough, tho) so that was a good indicator on when to start the pre-shaping. I guess the problem was in the second stage or too much rest/autolyse period because much of the time it was on the counter and not in the fridge, but since I've added salt I thought it was fine to leave it like that. The good thing is that the crumb wasn't sticky like it usually is, this is in my opinion because the gluten was well developed. The next time I'm trying with 2-3h of autolyse (no salt) and some good slap and fold to get that gluten developed. Looking forward to the next weekend bake :D

The problem I often have while baking is that 99% of videos, articles, recipes, techniques ecc are referred to the white bread/dough (or with a small percentage of wholewheat) while I use only wholewheat. Not having much experience I often have to improvise and adapt the techniques, articles, fermentation time ecc by myself which creates plenty room for errors :) I think I should also try making some white loafs but I haven't done it since because I really like the wholewheat (the flavour, the nutrition values ecc) and I thought that I can manage it by myself. So far not much luck, but ok, I'll get there :)

I wanted to ask one thing regarding the fermentation: you said there are basically 2 phases bulk + proofing, but during both phases the dough is constantly fermenting. The standard procedure is to develop the gluten and then leave it to proof but in theory I can do the bulk period (folds) even during the whole process and then put it in the oven?

 

IceDemeter's picture
IceDemeter

taste so good, isn't it?!

That was a good idea to run two different hydrations at the same time to see how differently they felt and reacted, and it is definitely a step in the right direction that you ended up with a non-gummy crumb this time.  I am curious though as to when exactly they "pancaked" on you --- did they pre-shape and shape well, was there any rise during the shaped proof, or what?  Did you score them, and what did the score do during the bake?

I agree that the long soak even with the salt is too long at that warm of a room temperature and using whole grains.  The whole grains have more enzyme activity, so I would either refrigerate with the salt if I wanted to do an overnight soak, or would keep the autolyse (no salt) to about 2 to 3 hours.  Using the really low pre-fermented flour amount will still give the flour lots of time to soak in the water and soften up.

I hear ya on loving the flavour (and nutrition) of whole grains, but personally have to limit them somewhat in order to limit fibre intake.  I have noticed the same issue on there not being many video resources for lean whole wheat breads, but the basic techniques are the same, so it really is a matter of personal experience to learn what to watch for in your dough, made with your flour, in your home...

The designation of "bulk ferment" basically means the original fermentation of the dough in a single chunk, regardless of how many pieces it will be split in to for baking (multiple loaves, or rolls, or whatever) and is also called "first rise" for commercial yeast dough.  The idea is for the yeast and bacteria to be eating and multiplying and expelling gases, while the gluten is developing and strengthening.  The "punch down" on a commercial yeast dough, or the pre-shape or divide and pre-shape on a sourdough serves to break up over-sized bubbles of gas, redistribute the smaller bubbles of gas (so that the final rise will be more even), and move the yeast around for access to more food so that the fermentation can continue.

Hitting the right degree of fermentation means that you have a good distribution of small bubbles, an increased population of yeast and bacteria, and a good development of gluten, so that when you shape the dough you can create a strong structure with a taut outer skin.  This structure needs to be developed well enough to evenly contain the gases generated as the yeast feasts on the new foods that you gave them access to by the manipulation of pre-shaping and shaping. 

While you can certainly just treat it as an overall fermentation, by continuing to fold and manipulate the dough right up to putting it in to the oven, you would be basically knocking back all of the gases that you worked so hard to build up, and so would have minimal oven-spring.  Even essentially unshaped loaves like ciabatta still have a final proof period before going in to the oven (a shorter one in a commercial yeast version - since there is a bigger yeast population).

You know - as I'm thinking about this, I'm wondering if the main issue might not be your starter and levain build.  Talk to me about your starter (type of flour, hydration, age, refrigerated or room temp, maintenance routine with size of feedings and timing), and about your routine for building the levain.  Especially when going with small amounts of pre-fermented flour, it is really critical to have your starter built for high quantities of faster yeast types, and that you are using the levain either at peak or shortly after so that you get the highest amount of yeast.

What's your plan for this weekend's bake?

Paneski's picture
Paneski

You see I've never thought that it could be the levain.

So let me see, I made this sourdough on March this year. I make bread on Saturdays so on Thursdays I take the jar out of the fridge with the sourdough. In total there's around 100gr of sourdough in the jar. I take 1 full tsp and I mix it with around 40g of flour and around 40g of water, I do it by the eye but by the consistency of the levain it is 100% or a bit less hydrated. I feed it every 12h and I feed it the final time around 6-8h before the bake, it's usually at the peak after 6h at 23°C.

The flour I use for the feeding is either semolina flour or lately farro since I have a lot of it or some other white flour (which I have because I was trying to make Chad's Bourdon bread :)) 

I'm usually making 750g of bread in total, in 1 or 2 loafs because that's how much I can eat in a week. I'm experimenting with 10 - 20% of levain incuation and adjusting fermenting time accordingly.

What do you think about the routine and the sourdough itself?

 

My next bake will be this beauty from Phil http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/33735/home-bread-fighting-gravity well, I'll follow this recipe and hope for the best :) Also I have so many breads I want to make (with beer, 100% spelt ecc) but I figured that first I need to understand how to make a standard bread that rises well and understand every part of the process. I've started reading The Bread Builders by Alan Scott and Daniel Wing hoping to find some additional info I might find useful.

Ok, I understand why proofing cannot be skipped. Knowing this I think I'll experiment a bit more with no-knead breads. Basically in the no-knead bread I'm counting on time to do it's thing and develop the gluten and then I'm doing around 1h of proofing to get some bubbles. Needles to say that neither this type of technique didn't make my bread rise :) but maybe it will be different now knowing everything you've thought me, starting from the table to the bulk/proof and everything else, so again, a big thank you!

Also sorry for the late replies, I've had a rough period at work

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Paneski, good luck with the recipe.  Like you, I use 100% whole wheat, and there is not much info on that, especially when you get to home milled and sourdough.   I really like that recipe because it lays out both time and temperatures, which make it easier to follow.  

Paneski's picture
Paneski

Needless to say, the bread ended up flat :) 

Reading "The Bread Builders" I've found out that the flour that creates weak gluten structure generally requires less water and all of my bakes were from 75% hydration up to 90%. The reason is because I'm using whole wheat flour which generally soaks more water so I've never tried lowering the hydration to, for example, 65%. When I'm buying flour my only concern is that is stone ground (and therefor whole wheat) so I've never actually thought of the protein level in it. Currently the flour I'm using has 10g of protein (or maybe 10,3g I'll check when I get home). I think I might lower the hydration next time to like 65% and see how it goes (or make 2 small loafs, one with 60% and one with 65%).

I really hope it's the flour because I really don't know what else could it be. Fingers crossed.

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Paneski, did you follow each of the steps as laid out, and held the temps mentioned?  I got great spring using this recipe, and I used 100% home milled white whole wheat.   I was very wet and sticky, went in the oven very flat, and really sprang about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way through the bake.  

IceDemeter's picture
IceDemeter

that it might just be your starter that needs some TLC.  While we all have some adjustments to make in timing even with such a great, detailed recipe, there shouldn't be any way for the result to be so wildly over-proofed that you got a flat loaf.

So - would you have time to do some TLC at room temperature on your mother starter this coming weekend?  Peaking in 6 hours at 23 C sounds almost reasonable - if the "peak" is pretty close to triple the original volume.  If it is less than that, then I suspect that you just might not have enough of the faster strains of yeast in your starter to get the dough rising within predicted time frames.

What I would suggest is that you take about 4g of your mother starter, and feed it to 80% hydration and keep it around 28-29 degrees C.  Start with the water warmed to that temp, and either use a proofer (if you have one) or heat 500mL of water in the microwave for 1-1/2 minutes, then tuck your starter in beside it and close the door.  That should keep it at roughly the right temperature range.  Have it in a large enough container that you can keep adding to it (no discards!) for at least a few feedings, until it really takes off.  The feeding level that I use when re-building a starter is:

 

 FEED 1FEED 2FEED 3FEED 4FEED 5
 4g @ 100%    
STARTER4113398292
WATER3102986259
FLOUR41236108324
      
Total Wt113398292876
Hydration83818080

80

Keep a close eye on it and feed at peak, or within an hour afterwards. The reasoning behind this is that the maximum amount of yeast is present between peak volume and about and hour afterwards, so feeding at this point allows the maximum population to avail themselves of the fresh food and continue multiplying.  By not discarding, you are keeping all of the beasties in the mix to keep breeding.

The higher temperature is ideal for breeding the LAB, while still being within the prime yeast temperature range.  This maintains the more acidic environment that yeast thrive in.

By feeding so often, you are creating an environment where faster growing / breeding strains of yeast will out-perform slower growing strains that are present in your starter.  If you feed every 12 hours, then slow growing strains are encouraged, since their faster cousins die off before they get more food --- feeding more often has the opposite effect, where the quicker ones out-feed / out-breed / outlive their slower cousins.

You should see your starter responding much more quickly after Feed 3 or 4, and if so, then feel free to discard back down to about 11g of starter and repeat Feeds 2 and 3.  By now, your starter should be doubling in less than 2 hours, and peaking in 3 to 4.  That is where your dough responses should be more in line with what is predicted in various recipes.

Now - since you're still going to want some bread baked this weekend, while you are building up your starter you could do a try using your existing flour and either do a hybrid or a straight commercial yeast bake.  I'd be tempted to do one of your usual levain builds for 5% pre-fermented flour, and also do a poolish for another 15% pre-fermented flour, and see how that works out for you. 

What do you think?

Oh - and no worries about late responses!  I'm busy, too (as you can tell) so it's all good!

Paneski's picture
Paneski

Great I'm gonna try this right now! By the way I've never heard of TLC, what's that and how often should I do it? I suppose it's some kind of Turbo Levain Charging? :D

When it peaks it doubles, I think I've never seen it triple in size. I don't have a microwave so I can heat up 500ml of water (like 50°C) and cover the starter and the 500ml with a big bowl (probably putting it in the oven wouldn't help much).

If I start right now maybe I can actually boost the starter just in time for the weekend bake, I'm so excited now, I really hope it's the starter! I'll keep you updated and, as always, thanks a million for the tips and the detailed explanation!

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Tender Loving Care

Paneski's picture
Paneski

haha it makes sense :D

Lechem's picture
Lechem

I think we all need TLC often :)

IceDemeter's picture
IceDemeter

for starters, dough, and especially bakers!

Glad you popped in to this thread, Abe, and hope that you will correct anything that I've gotten terribly wrong!  I'm going by what I've learned from you and Mini Oven and Debra Wink --- which has all worked wonderfully well for me :-)

All the best! Laurie

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Cant look through and take in all this info overload at this stage. You've followed it through from the start and from what I see you've got it covered. I concur that the starter should be looked at. I also want to add another aspect to starter building and when to use. That's the smell. Often overlooked but I find it a good indicator when to use. It should smell good! Perhaps paneski has used the starter too early. Something to delve into more. Otherwise his methods look fine and dandy to me. 

IceDemeter's picture
IceDemeter

In one of the posts above, Paneski told me:

"You see I've never thought that it could be the levain.

So let me see, I made this sourdough on March this year. I make bread on Saturdays so on Thursdays I take the jar out of the fridge with the sourdough. In total there's around 100gr of sourdough in the jar. I take 1 full tsp and I mix it with around 40g of flour and around 40g of water, I do it by the eye but by the consistency of the levain it is 100% or a bit less hydrated. I feed it every 12h and I feed it the final time around 6-8h before the bake, it's usually at the peak after 6h at 23°C.

The flour I use for the feeding is either semolina flour or lately farro since I have a lot of it or some other white flour (which I have because I was trying to make Chad's Bourdon bread :)) 

I'm usually making 750g of bread in total, in 1 or 2 loafs because that's how much I can eat in a week. I'm experimenting with 10 - 20% of levain incuation and adjusting fermenting time accordingly.

What do you think about the routine and the sourdough itself?"

From the 12-hour feeding schedule while peaking in 6 hours, and being stored in the fridge, I just have a feeling that the faster yeast strains haven't been supported enough.  As you say, all of the bread-making techniques sound dead on, so the starter is the only thing I can think of as being an issue...  The re-building schedule is what I used a few months ago, and I've been getting much, much better results since doing that (so I'm hoping that it translates to Paneski's starter, too)!

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Might not be so bad as long as ones method and timing is in tandem. So perhaps while his method is good on paper some getting to know how to go by feel and adjusting the timing is also needed. 

He's taking a tsp of starter from a jar that has about 100g and bakes once a week. His TLC for that bake sounds ok but what happens to the rest of the starter in the fridge? It must be many weeks sitting there. If he keeps less starter, builds it up with each bake and returns the recently refreshed leftover starter to the fridge for a week then this might be a better schedule. 

Hope I've understood his maintenance correctly. 

Lechem's picture
Lechem

But not alot about the starter. I think you should do a post just concentrating on your starter build. Ditto to everything what icedemeter has said. Good feedings and allowing to peak each time will build strength. At what stage do you use your starter? How active is it? Etc...

Paneski's picture
Paneski

https://photos.app.goo.gl/Q8Ba55NltOrRP1z53

All tucked up and fed :D

Well basically everything I can say about the starter is what IceDemeter already pasted in her last post, I've tried to be as detailed as possible. 

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Definitely getting TLC there. 

Icedemeter has you covered. I think joining in at this late stage I'll just be confusing things. You're getting good advice. The only thing I'll add is make sure you're using the starter at the optimal stage. I'm going to advise you to not only go by how much it has risen but it should have a nice aroma too. And lastly get to know when the bulk ferment is done properly by feel. The dough will undergo a subtle change, it'll be billowy and have apparent air bubbles just beneath the surface. Basically watch the dough and not the clock. Best advice for making bread. 

Paneski's picture
Paneski

just to answer the question about the maintenance:

I refresh the whole starter once a week so it doesn't sit in the fridge for weeks without being refreshed. I take out the starter and use 1 tsp for the levain and 1 tsp for the new mother starter. In the mother starter I add about 50g of flour + 50g of water, I then wait around 1h or so before putting it back in the fridge or put it inside without waiting if I don't have the time.

Thanks also for the help Lechem, I'm sure the TLC method will work and so far IceDemeter has been very detailed and has put a lot of TLC into this problem so I'm sure we're very close figuring out how to make my bread rise. I can't wait :D

Lechem's picture
Lechem

I'd allow it more time at room temperature before refrigerating again. I think this is the problem of your slow starter. It's never fully active, every week only a tsp of it is fed and then returned to the fridge. It's not going for so long between feeds that you need to worry. For the mother starter I'd make it 70% hydration and allow it to double before returning to the fridge. I think your maintenance has actually tipped your starter in favour of bacteria rather than yeast.

Not too long ago my starter slowed right down. I had the same problems due to similar maintenance. If you take one tsp and give it a good feed then return it to the fridge then the yeasts will be slow. You then take just one tsp of that and give it a good feed a week later then back into the fridge and so on. Your starter will suffer this way. I suggest you take a step back and don't feed your mother starter again till it is very active. Keep at room temperature. Then do this again, allow it to peak at room temperature. After a few times give it another feed at a lower hydration, allow to double and refrigerate. This should build the yeasts back up.

IceDemeter's picture
IceDemeter

this thread!  It never even occurred to me to ask whether the mother starter was being refreshed weekly (my twee little brain just assumed that it was only refreshed every few weeks / months since it was being stored in the fridge and only a tsp being taken out every week).  That'll larn me!

So - yup, starter definitely needs the TLC that it's getting now to get the yeast back up and level out the bacteria, and your recommendation for future maintenance are spot-on!

Thanks for taking the time to step in and teach both Paneski and me!

Lechem's picture
Lechem

One person tries and tries and can't do it. Then a weaker person just pops the lid off. It's not the person who managed to get the lid off who succeeded but rather the efforts of the first person who loosened it enough with all the hard work. 

You've taught me more than a thing or two about great sourdough bread. If not for you then I wouldn't be enjoying porridge bread which I've found myself unable to stop myself from baking. 

Thank you Laurie.

IceDemeter's picture
IceDemeter

Nice job, and I hope that a day or so of this will help. 

As Lechem mentioned, get to know the smell of each stage of your starter, too, since that will be of immense help to you in figuring out timing when baking.  I've used levains at pretty much every stage after a build (from half-way to peak, to right at peak, to many hours after peak when it is begging for food), and it will always work - but the timing becomes very different.  A really young levain can take seemingly forever to raise a loaf (which can cause issues with gluten breakdown if it takes too long), while one used just past peak can seem to ferment while you're mixing it in.  I find it worthwhile playing around with it to "see what happens" (since, after all, even the "disasters" are tasty!).

Looking forward to hearing how the starter is responding by tomorrow evening :-)

Cheers!  Laurie

Paneski's picture
Paneski

Here's a quick update after 5 hours of the 4th feeding:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/kzBuMpRLAut47FWi2

Things are looking pretty good I think :)

That being said I think I can take only 11g of the starter now and repeat steps 2 and 3 as you suggested. Can't wait for the weekend bake! :D

 

 

 

Lechem's picture
Lechem

I think it's all in your maintenance of the mother starter that caused any issues. If I were you I'd build extra starter for your bread recipe, take off what you need to bake with, feed what's left but at a lower hydration and allow it to double before returning to the fridge. That will now be your new mother starter. You will have built up enough yeast activity and from now on don't feed a tsp of starter and return it to the fridge straight away until the next week. If I were you each week I'd give the mother starter some TLC :) a couple of days before baking, build extra! use the excess in your recipe and return a fed and active starter back to the fridge.  

What does it smell like?

Paneski's picture
Paneski

Both taste and smell are mild and pleasant, I can't feel anything tangy (hope that's a good thing) :D

Yeah I'm definitely using some of this beauty as the base for the new mother sourdough. I've never left it to double before putting it in the fridge because that would mean, in my case, wait for 6 hours and wait for it to peak and then refrigerate it. This would basically mean that the yeast would eat most of the food before going to sleep which, in my opinion, wasn't a good idea since it would need to stay in the fridge for a week. With the current sourdough I can probably make it double in around 3-4 hours so I'll try to follow your advice from now on :)

TLC every week is kinda hard to do since I'm working, this time my wife covered me. Now that I think of it, maybe I can do it on the weekends since I'm usually home.

 

edit: I've used 11g of the sourdough from the photo and added 10g of water and 12g of flour, as Laurie suggested. Tomorrow morning I'm doing another feeding with some extra flour and then another one after 12h. The feeding after this one is basically the levain which I'm gonna use for the baking. I think that should do the trick for now

Lechem's picture
Lechem

And how it behaves and smells at each stage. Don't be afraid to be adventurous. Wait for it to peak then wait an extra hour. It should have a stronger aroma then. 

There is no one way to maintain and feed a starter and you must find what works for you. Another idea would be to build extra each week when making enough for your bake. Let's say you're left with 50g of 100% hydration of mature starter. You could also feed what's left with just flour. Thicken it up so it's lower hydration and return it to the fridge. I was only concerned that you fed a very small amount, 1 tsp of starter, with I huge feed and refrigerated straight away before the yeasts could multiply. Then from that you took another tsp from what would be a 'lazy' starter and did the same thing. If instead you build extra each time so what you feed and keep as a mother is a healthy well fed starter then this should encourage a more active healthier starter. So by all means find what works for you as this is all just guidance and not a strict rule. 

Lechem's picture
Lechem

By all means the doubling is not vital when feeding your starter for the fridge. What is vital is that it has had a feed or two where it's given time to mature and build up the yeast population which it never had before. This is the point of the exercise and what you're doing here. If this has been done before a bake then by all means feed the remainder and allow it to bubble up by half before refrigerating so it has enough food for the week. 

IceDemeter's picture
IceDemeter

I got busy for a few days, but it sure looks like your starter was even busier than me!  That photo is sure looking good for only a few extra duty feedings :-)  Are you finding that it is looking / smelling / acting differently than before?  How does the bubble structure look inside - are you getting the impression that it is "stronger" than before, or is it all about the same?

That's great that your wife was able to help out to get the starter working faster, and that it meant that you were right on time for a weekend bake.  I can't wait to hear what formula you chose, and how it turned out!

Oh - and since you likely ended up with a fair amount of "discard" after this activity, I have to suggest that you take it and dry it (here's a good write-up on it: https://blog.kingarthurflour.com/2015/05/01/putting-sourdough-starter-hold/ )  Once you've had a successful bake from it (I'm pretty confident that you will this weekend!), then it is a great time to dry some out and keep it as insurance for just in case...  

As Lechem said, there is no one right way to maintain a starter, so it really is a matter of trying different things to see what works best for you.  I'm a bit obsessed, so I have 3 NMNF starters (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/40918/no-muss-no-fuss-starter) that I am now using every second week or so (60g @ 65% hydration stored).  When I build the levain for that week's bake, I actually build double what I need and put the excess back in to the fridge to be used the following week (saves me a step that week).  If my NMNF is getting to the end, then I will usually do an extra day of feedings to get the yeast count as high and as strong as possible before thickening it up for storage again.

Just for an interesting flavour building levain approach, you might want to read up on the Detmolder method (a quick summary is here: http://samartha.net/SD/procedures/DM3/DM3-Hamelman.html).  It is focused on rye sours, but the approach applies equally to any flour.

Looking forward to details and pics!

Cheers, Laurie

Paneski's picture
Paneski

Hi guys, well I didn't notice notice any reasonable change in smell and taste, I think the bubbles were bigger at the peak and that's probably due to the fact that it tripled this time, which usually doesn't happened :) I have to do the next TLC on the weekends so I can track better the doubling/tripling of the sourdough.

Now, regarding the bread itself, after this weekend's bake I've got 2 more - breadpancakes :D

So the recipe is this one: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/33735/home-bread-fighting-gravity

And what I did is this:

  1. Used 18% of sourdough at 80% hydration (10% prefermented flour), 6 hours after feeding it was at peak with a nice dome. 
  2. Used total of 800g flour @80% hydration
  3. Autolyse for 2h (640g water - 40g)
  4. 5 minutes french kneading with the starter, then added salt and the remain 40g of water with salt (2,3% salt) and did another 10 minutes of french kneading. The dough seemed elastic and smooth. 
  5. Bulk ferment for 1h at room temp, then stretch and fold and then I've divided the dough and put 1 half in the fridge and the other on the counter.

/The dough in the fridge was there for 10h  and then I preshaped it, bench rest 30mins, shape and left it to proof for 1h before baking

/The dough on the counter had a total of 4,5h of bulk rise with stretch and fold every 30 mins. Preshaped, 30 mins bench rest, shaped, and left to proof for around 3h (I've shorten the proof time because it went from 20°C bulk phase to 23°C during the proof phase and I have a constant fear of over-fermentation so I tend to reduce the time whenever possibile, which is of course wrong)

Here is the shaped refrigerated dough https://photos.app.goo.gl/tfP31FfuQzQWR5m63 and 

Here it is in the banneton https://photos.app.goo.gl/ohrTMSYXUH3ZqG3F2 , right before baking it relaxed a bit and I could tell that it's gonna be a flat bread again. 

Baked https://photos.app.goo.gl/mzHo8OR115P2aRJf2

 

The other loaf is identical to this one

 

All this being said, a  question and my conclusion to the problem:

Can I need the dough extra 5-15 minutes, so the total time is 20-30 minutes? Is it possible to knead to much?

 

In my opinion, the dough is not suitable for such a high hydration. The reason is that, as you can see in my very first post of the thread, the semolina whole wheat had a bit of oven spring and the other loaf didn't. Everything was the same for the 2 breads except the dough itself. Next time I'm trying with 65% hydration, but since it's whole wheat God knows how stiff it will be :D

 

@Laurie did you try The Detmolder Method also with some other flours or just with rye? The method sure looks interesting and I bet the taste of the bread is magnificent, definitely something I'll try. Thanks!

Good idea for drying sourdough, I have some already but it would be better to have it dried when it is this active. I'm out of town whole next week so as soon as I come back I'm gonna do another TLC and make another back-up.

I need to read about the NMNF in more detail when I have some time, since it really looks convenient.

 

Thanks again guys for showing interest in my problem and for the support, it really means a lot!

 

Cheers,

Nikola

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Can I persuade you to follow a very simple low hydration mostly bread flour recipe? 

Paneski's picture
Paneski

You mean with the white flour or whole wheat?

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Strong white unbleached bread flour. 

Paneski's picture
Paneski

Ok I'll try something with W 260-350 and a basic 65% hydration sourdough recipe and we'll see how it goes

IceDemeter's picture
IceDemeter

not to mention a few more colourful words and expressions :(

This is where time-lapse and smell-o-vision would be so useful.  The photo of the shaped dough looks about right, and it looks like it is holding its shape quite well for that high hydration, but I'm wondering if you saw any volume increase at all in the fermentation stage, or any signs of bubbles through the dough when pre-shaping and shaping?  Was there any noticeable volume growth during proofing, and was there a change in dough response to being poked?  Did you notice any particular range of time where it seemed to go from "lively, active, puffy dough" to "sad and deflating" --- or did it just never seem to get to the "lively, active, puffy" stage at all?

As for your questions:

It is very difficult to over-knead dough using hand-kneading techniques (including slap-and-fold), so go by the feel of the dough and not the clock or the recipe to determine when it is "done".  Take breaks to let the gluten relax whenever you see the gluten strands starting to tear (at least 10-15 minutes), and then come back and do only as much more as it takes to smooth it out.

As for the hydration - I most often will keep hydration in the 65-70% range, with only occasional experiments higher than that.  For all that the "rule" is that whole grains "need" more water, I haven't really found that to be true with my flours in my kitchen.  I more often get a good rise, with good crumb, when I use a lower hydration.  The lower hydration lets me better develop the gluten network, lets me get a better feel for fermentation and proof (since the whole dough isn't so wet and slack), and lets me get a better shape with a tighter outer skin (which, in my opinion, is more important than higher hydration in getting a good final bake). 

I second Lechem's suggestion to try a simple, low-hydration, bake using all or mostly all-purpose or bread flour.  I would suggest either this one: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/44111/easy-sourdough-part-1 or this one: http://www.breadwerx.com/how-to-get-open-crumb-from-stiff-dough-video/   The results of that experiment will show you whether the issue is with your starter, your techniques, or your flour.  

It seems to me that your starter should be fine, your techniques sound like they are on point, which takes us to an issue with the flour.  When going whole wheat, I use primarily hard red wheat, or durum, or khorason (kamut), and only use soft white wheat as a small portion of overall flour (since it doesn't have the strong gluten to support a loaf).  Mine is all freshly milled.  What are you using?  If you are using all soft white wheat, then it is probable that you'll need to add some Vital Wheat Gluten to actually be able to support the structure of a loaf...

Finally - I've used a modified Detmolder using durum (I don't have the ability to control temps as closely as required, but followed it as closely as I could) for a mixed grain loaf, and using rye for my pumpernickel loaves.  The technique does work well for a really strong tang, especially when starting with a small amount of NMNF starter that has been hanging out in the fridge for a few weeks building up acid.  It's more attention to detail than I usually have the patience for, but is definitely worthwhile as an experiment!

Oh - and one more thing: all of the excess starter that you created with the TLC this week is still lively, active starter, so if you stored the "discards" in the fridge right away, then you could easily do a bake next weekend just pulling out the amount that you need for your total levain, giving it a stir, and letting it come up to room temperature before adding it to your dough.  It is definitely an option that could save you some time since you're going to be away all week.

So sorry that this weekend bake didn't work out, but glad that you're not giving up and will keep at this 'til you come out with some great bakes! 

Hope you have a great week!

Best, Laurie

IceDemeter's picture
IceDemeter

I don't remember if we talked about what container you are using for bulk fermentation.  One of the best tricks for really seeing what kind of volume increase you are getting, and for seeing the bubbles, is to tuck a bit of the dough firmly in to a clear shot-glass with volume markings on it (see the photo of Yippee's "little helper" in her blog here: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/53814/20170930-lls-sweet-potato-bun).  You put the "little helper" beside your dough, whether on the counter or in the fridge, and can watch for the volume to have increased by about 50% (which is really hard to see on the big blob of dough - especially when you are doing stretch-and-folds on it).  Even when using a clear, straight-sided container for bulk ferment, the "little helper" can be invaluable for learning what to watch for on the main bulk of the dough.

Paneski's picture
Paneski

There's no way I'll give up, I love baking so much that I'm sure the passion is gonna stick with me for the rest of my days (My father in law lives in a countryside and is actually making me a wood oven at their place so I can bake the bread when we stay there :D). By the way I've just found out about the yeast water so I can't wait to try that also. Next week I'm in Copenhagen so I'll be also visiting some bakeries there to see what bread they have, it should be a treat :)

I'm actually considering to film the whole process because I'm obviously doing something wrong or maybe it's really the flour. I'm using soft wheat flour but I don't have any indication regarding its strength. I know only than it has 10,4g of protein. I usually buy the flour online since I'm looking for quantities around 5kg of whole wheat stone ground flour. I've never taken into consideration that it might not be suitable for bread making :) Now I've already taken another type of whole wheat which is a "bread" type of flour and has 14g of protein. So, for the next bake, my plan is first to make a white bread (since I've never made one) and see if I encounter the same problems and second to use the remaining of the soft whole wheat flour and make a low hydration bread and see how it goes.

Regarding your questions, from what I can remember, poke test showed more or less the same results as before, the indentation sprang a little bit but still partially remained inside the dough. There was around 30% of volume increase during the fermentation phase. Unfortunately I only have the photos of the beginning of the bulk phase for the first bread and the proofing end for the second, refrigerated loaf. https://photos.app.goo.gl/JUpldq5XiHwC1Ebx2 Should the loaf be so shiny right before putting in the oven? It seems so wet and relaxed and this for me is a sign that it's gonna be a flat bread.

Wow so my sourdough has become a Superman sourdough now since it doesn't need to be refreshed before baking :D This is some great news :)

So, just to be sure I understood how the "little helper" works: I should take a bit of the dough and put it in some kind of "little helper" during the bulk phase and then continue to fold the remaining dough? And by looking at the "little helper" dough I should have a better understanding on how much the other dough has risen?

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Or at least part of the problem. You're using very weak flour. In fact that's more like cake flour. 13-14+ % protein is ideal. 11-12 is do-able. Anything less is just too weak.

Paneski's picture
Paneski

wow you're fast with the response :D I didn't know that 13-14g of protein is the optimal amount. This means I've finally found the flour I needed :) Do you think that lowering the hydration or using some other method can make the low protein type of flour usable for bread making?

Lechem's picture
Lechem

and I'm on a mission to get you making beautiful sourdoughs. Plus I get notifications. 

Even lowering the hydration won't produce good bread. The only way you can use it in bread baking now is to mix it 50:50 with strong bread flour to get AP flour (11-12 % protein) for a softer crumb which is what some people aim for. Or as a small percentage in what is otherwise is a stronger bread flour recipe. Other then that you can use it for pastries and cakes. Dusting your bench and/or banneton. You can also use it to feed your starter.

But I'm glad we have found the issue. And we now know your starter and technique are both fine. I'd still aim for the lower hydration white flour recipe for now. 

I might as well mention this now but should you wish to use it up in your bread and you're worried about the weaker gluten then as a rule a low hydration starter is better for weaker flours. 10.5% protein is still too weak but if you're using it as a significant percentage in a recipe you might wish to think about lowering the hydration of the starter or if you're using other flour that is on the weak side. 

Paneski's picture
Paneski

Haha you're the best man, respect for those words :D

Ok, then I'll use it with some manitoba flour which could help increase the overall protein. 

That being said, the next bake is surely gonna be a white bread as you suggested because it's something I should have done at the very beginning, but better late then never :) I'll keep you updated.

Thanks!

Nikola

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Onwards and upwards. Sourdough here we come. 

Yes, always best to start off simple. 

Here's to the next bake. 

- Abe

Paneski's picture
Paneski

Heh, how funny is life, I've just arrived to this chapter from Alan Scott's “The Bread Builders: Hearth Loaves and Masonry Ovens.”. I hope it can be useful to someone as it was to me:

 

"Genetically, all wheats fall into three groups according to the number of chromo- somes each cell carries. Einkorn wheats have two sets of seven chromosomes and are called diploid. Einkorn wheat is not widely grown, though it is historically important. Emmer wheats (the most common modern version is durum wheat) have four sets of seven chromosomes and are called tetraploid. The hexaploid wheats have six sets of seven chromosomes—common or bread wheat, spelt wheat, and club wheat are all representatives of this group. Of these genetically grouped wheats, it is common wheat that is of primary interest to the baker, and it represents more than 90 percent of American wheat production. The remainder is almost entirely durum wheat, grown for the manufacture of pasta and related products, and club wheat, grown in the Northwest and made into pastry and cake flour. Good bread can be made of durum wheat and its large-grain near-relative, Kamut, but it accounts for a tiny percentage of bread production.

These genetic distinctions are important to breeders, but the most important functional distinctions in wheat are not drawn along the genetic lines, but according to the way wheat is grown and the characteristics of the grain itself. For example, the distinction between winter and spring wheat is one of the most common distinctions a baker will draw, and it relates to how wheat is grown. Winter wheat is planted in the fall and stays in the field all winter. Its distribution is limited by climate, as it can be damaged by excessive freezing of the soil. In North America winter wheat is grown mostly on the Great Plains. Spring wheat is planted in the spring in harsher climates such as the Northern Plains and parts of Canada. The time of year wheat is planted does not absolutely define any of the characteristics of the grain, though—you need to know more than its planting time to know whether a batch of wheat will be good for bread.

How about hard wheat and soft wheat? Their differences result from genetics and the interaction of genetics and growing conditions. Hard wheat kernels show a feature that is not as well developed in soft wheat: a layer of protein around each microscopic starch granule that turns to gluten as dough is mixed. Hard wheat has a high protein content and flour made from it (strong flour) develops more gluten when kneaded and thus makes lighter bread. North American hard wheat is prized by the world’s bakers for the strong flours it produces.

Soft wheat, however, tends to have richer flavor, and it is best to use the softest wheat (weak flour) that will achieve your goals. For example, quick-rise, chemically leavened breads like soda bread don’t need (and are the worse for) highprotein wheat flour, while bread raised by “yeast” (commercial yeast and natural leavens) requires at least a moderate protein percentage. If you think that these distinctions might not have practical applications, think again. The protein content of the flour sold as “all-purpose” flour in different parts of the United States varies greatly, and you cannot make good yeasted bread with some of them, especially those milled for the Southern market, where most flour has historically been used for biscuits, pie crusts, and cobblers. You can get the flavor of soft wheat into bread, though, by cracking the kernels and adding them to a dough made from hard wheat flour.”

Since protein content varies from strain to strain, even within the hard wheat group, and because growing conditions have a large effect on protein content, millers and volume bakers test grain and flour constantly. The protein content of a strain of wheat may vary by more than 100 percent, depending on climate and soil conditions. Because climate and soil conditions in most of Western Europe do not permit growing the highest-protein common wheat, traditional baking techniques there do not require or benefit from the highest possible protein content.
There is one more great division in wheat nomenclature, the division into red wheat and white wheat. Red wheat has a bran pigment that makes it darker in color than white wheat, but this pigment gives the bran a slightly bitter flavor, similar to the tannins in tea. White wheat does not have this pigment, and this difference is genetic. There is no necessary and direct relationship between the presence or absence of the pigment and other characteristics of the wheat, such as protein content.

To define wheat one must state hard or soft, red or white, spring or winter, as in hard red spring wheat. The following generalizations are useful, but not always apt, since wheat quality is always dependent on soil and climate conditions:
• Hard wheat will make more gluten than soft wheat
• Spring wheat will make more gluten than winter wheat of the same variety
• Winter wheat is generally higher in minerals
• Red wheat will make more gluten than white wheat, with some notable exceptions."

 

Paneski's picture
Paneski

Ok, so yesterday (Saturday) I've came back home from a week long trip and had just enough time to do 2 6h refreshes and get ready for a quick bake. I already had some frozen bread that I left for this week so I made a 200g flour loaf just to test the new flour, and the results:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/mwBcTTfybOy5QraV2

SUCCESS! Well, kinda :) Finally, the loaf has risen, after months of baking and failing, the problem was in the low protein flour! 

My question now is, why do I have so many big bubbles on the top of the loaf and so few on the bottom? This is a 100% whole wheat, 80% hydration, 20% levain, 2%salt. French knead for 15 mins then bulk for around 4h with folds and another 4h of proof. It was around 20-21°C (68°F) in the kitchen so, during the most of the fermentation period, I've left the dough in the oven with a bowl of hot water which raised the temperature to around 25°C (77°F). When the water cooled down, the dough temperature fell to around 21°C. My guess is that the big bubbles on the top are due to the inconsistent fermentation temperature, but of course, that's just my guess. All in all I'm really really happy that I've got my first well-risen (mini) loaf!

Lechem's picture
Lechem

That's one problem out of the way. It was down to the flour.

I'm thinking the final proof was a tad too long and the shaping was a bit of an issue.

Our next project.

IceDemeter's picture
IceDemeter

How grand to check in and see that you are getting ever closer to the loaf you want!

Your "flying roof" ("baker's attic", "baker's bedroom", and lots of other names) with the big holes at the top is pretty commonly caused by exactly what Lechem said: slight over-proofing, and some shaping issues.

Well done on getting over the first hurdle --- and now on to the next!

Paneski's picture
Paneski

Thanks guys! :)

Haha great, I think baker's bedroom is my favorite :D

I have to agree, the shaping was a bit sloppy and yes probably it could benefit from some shorter proofing time, but the most important thing is that at least we've found out what was the main problem. Also I think the scoring could have been a bit deeper.

The next bread will be a white (my first white) loaf as you guys suggested. 

Thanks for all the patience and TLC you guys have dedicated to solve this challenge (I prefer using the word "challenge" rather than "problem" :) ). Until the next time, happy baking everyone!

 

Cheers,

Nikola