The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sticky Flaccid Sourdough

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Julian's picture
Julian

Sticky Flaccid Sourdough

Recently I successfully baked a sourdough farmbread recipe with a friend for guidance.    After this success, he gave me a cup of chef and the recipe.     Since then, I have tried, unsuccessfully, to bake the bread.     After making the levain the night before, I made the bread dough the next morning, but kneading it resulted in a sticky mess - the recipe calls for 5 minutes of kneading at the outset and I have kneaded for up to 10 minutes and still couldn't get the sticky consistency to evolve into a nice dough ball.  But I persevered - saving a cup of chef for the next time and divided the dough into two equal parts.   The first proof was 4 hours and it rose fairly well - I let it rest,  folded it several times, letting it rest each time -  trying to get the flaccidity to congeal better, without much success.    Then I put each half into a floured basket for the final proof - again it rose moderatly, but when I rolled the dough out onto the cornmeal dusted stone, it was still pretty flaccid.    I baked them according to instructions but they came out quite flat and undone in the centers.    This has happened twice in the last 2 weeks.     I have been told that too much kneading is counterproductive.    Help!   Julian

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

Bread dough varies from day to day, so you could add a little extra flour and see what happens.

Julian's picture
Julian

Thanks for the reply - maybe I'm too cautious believing in the axiom "cooking is an art, baking is a science" -  I'll take your advice and experiment with a little extra flour if this happens again.

lindaz's picture
lindaz

I don't know  your recipe but I have had that happen with the moderate rise.  Now I know that my starter wasn't active enough.  The last time that happened, I kneaded in 1/2 tsp of instant yeast and let the dough rise again and bake.  The bread turned out great albeit not what I was aiming for but I didn't want to waste my time and ingredients.  I have a potent starter now, so I don't have that problem any more.

Don't give up.  Baking bread is lots of fun.  I love to experiment.

LZ

Julian's picture
Julian

I appreciate your comments - I was tempted to experiment by adding a little yeast but tried to adhere to the purist sourdough approach - I gotta relax more - also need to get a new starter going.   Thanks.

holds99's picture
holds99

FWIW.  From my experience I would suggest that you purchase a good baking book; Peter Reinhart, Jeffrey Hamelman, Daniel Leader, Rose Levy Beranbaum, Maggie Glezer, etc.  For my money Jeffrey Hamelman's book Bread - A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes as well as Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice are both excellent books (my preference is Hamelman).  If you can get a copy of Hamelman's book: Bread, read the first 86 pages...then re-read them.  When you have a problem (dough: doesn't rise, rises too fast, too dry, too wet, over proof, under proof, etc. refer to the eleven steps and try to determine what went wrong and at which step it went wrong. Refer to them each time you have a problem, Finally, scale (weigh) your ingredients...accurate ratios (flour, water, salt, yeast, etc. are all important to achieve success and owning a scale is key to acheiving accurate ratios.  Paraphrasing Proth5, it all comes down to how well you execute each of the steps that determines how good your end result will turn out...it's the sum of of the parts (parts being the 11 steps), so to speak.

Having spent most of my career in the computer software business I view baking as a systematic process, much the same as a software system.  Having said that, for me baking is a systematic process consisting of 11 major steps, each step consisting of sub-routines.  Once you have a good understanding of the 11 steps and the various techniques involved in these 11 steps you'll be able to fully understand the "big picture".  My suggestion is to choose a recipe and stick with it until you have success and "own" the process for that recipe.  Then move on to the nexr recipe/formula and keep expanding your repertoire, inceasing your learning as you go.  Don't fall into the trap of "experimenting" by modifying a proven recipe or formula until you have been successful at making that recipe/formula as written and, last but not least, follow your recipe/formula to the letter until you have mastered it.

Stay with TFL and post your successes and pose questions when you have problems.  As you will quickly find out, this is a wonerful site with great people willing to help.  Good luck with your baking adventures and keep us posted.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

Julian's picture
Julian

Thank you Howard for your sound advice.    I do have good reference material and also believe in the axiom 'cooking is an art, baking is a science'  - I use a scale, etc.   I will explore the '11 step' approach that you speak of - I agree in 'sticking with it' and with my determination refreshed, the bread I seek will happen.    

holds99's picture
holds99

Just persevere and keep up the positive attitude and it will happen, at least that's what works for me.  Best of luck in your endeavors and please keep us posted as to your progress.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL