The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Is it Gummy Dough or me?

hazimtug's picture

Is it Gummy Dough or me?

Based on some feedback here as well, I refreshed my lively white starter only once after having used it last weekend and set out to make a country-walnut sourdough bread. I refreshed the starter on Thursday night and used it to make the preferment on Friday night. I am following C&C basic sourdough recipe, which I have successfully used before several times. For the preferment, i.e., firm starter, I used half whole wheat, half bread flour. It more than doubled in size following a 5 hour rest at room temperature per the formula. I then let it sit in the fridge for 12 hours or so. Took it out today to make the dough. For the dough, I used a cup of rye flour and 5 cups of the same bread flour. Added salt, a tbsp vital wheat gluten, and some malt. After adding 2 cups of water, set out to knead. Nothing out of the ordinary so far, except the firm starter smelled kind of stronger than usual- I maybe mistaken but it smelled more rancid, alcoholy than the usual. I didn't worry. For the first 5 - 6 minutes of kneading, all was good. Then, I expected to see the dough getting smoother, nicely pulling together as I normally see. Instead, it started getting sticky and kind of gummy. I can tell that there was something wrong because it didn't have the feel of a nicely developing dough. As I stretched it, it tore apart... weird. First time, it's happening to me. I didn't incorporate the walnuts at the end and now the dough is sitting covered. Not sure if I will bake it... In the picture, you can see the starter, the firm starter (before and after fermentation) and the resulting dough (pictures taken 7 - 15 minutes into kneading).

What can be the problem? I know that rye can get gummy with overmixing, but I used rye before in this formula, maybe not this much, and didn't encounter any problems. Could there be something wrong with the preferment, maybe overfermented or too much alcohol or acidic conditions breaking down the gluten molecules?

SulaBlue's picture

Fairly similar to what I've had with my rye doughs - but I've been using a MUCH higher percentage of rye than that - close to 50%. Rye, especially, does have a much stronger scent as well, but it shouldn't smell rancid. I seem to remember that both whole wheat and especially rye also have more wild yeast on them, and thus would also make for a stronger fermentation smell?

hazimtug's picture

Considering the comments so far and thinking back to this one other time where I used rye in Hamelman's Rustic Bread recipe, I think my problem is overkneading. When I made Hamelman's recipe twice. The first time, I kneaded just as usual, 10 minutes or so. For some reason, I didn't pay that much attention to it. The resulting bread was tasty but had kind of a sticky crumb. The second time I made the same bread, I used a higher hydration and I only mixed for 5 - 6 minutes and then folded. The result was much better, but still missing the mark. I think I need to educate myself some more as to how to incorporate rye into my recipes.

Rather than making loaves with this dough, I think I will make "bread pizzas," keeping it thin and hoping that toppings will make up for the mishap...

LindyD's picture

I wonder if the vital wheat gluten is part of the issue.  One cup of rye to five cups of bread flour is a low ratio of rye and I'm not sure you even needed to add the vital wheat gluten.

A dough containing 50 percent or more rye must be kneaded very gently and for short periods.  Hamelman has a great discussion of that at pages 43-49 and 188-193 of "Bread."

hazimtug's picture

Probably I didn't need the gluten, but just in case I added it (I am not sure if my white flour is strong enough, especially when combined with whole grains). I have used the vital wheat gluten for this formula before and it didn't creat this effect. Maybe when combined with rye and the excessive kneading... Thanks for the reference.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

"It more than doubled in size following a 5 hour rest at room temperature per the formula."

May be time to get a different container to raise and measure doubling.   A bowl can trick the eye.  Sounds to me like 5 hours was too long (whole grains speed lings up) before it went into the fridge as by the comment:

"Nothing out of the ordinary so far, except the firm starter smelled kind of stronger than usual."

One cup of rye.  I would put it the the pre-ferment instead of the whole wheat.  There it can sour and the resulting stretch would help out more.  Then it would be added to the dough after the wheats have been mixed and autolyzed.

Rye soaks up a lot of water, is it possible the dough needed more moisture?


boule's picture

The same thing happened to me this weekend. My dough was gummy and the bread flat. I suspect my sourdough was not ripe enough and a bit of overmixing on my part messed things up. I could also see it in the way the dough broke up as shown on your pictures. Did you bake it? I'd like to hear what the result was.