The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Working a High-Hydration Sourdough

SulaBlue's picture
SulaBlue

Working a High-Hydration Sourdough

What I'm working with:


http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2007/07/08/my-new-favorite-sourdough/


I just did the first fold. I don't have a long enough container, with a lid, that I can turn this out into so I'm keeping it in the mixing bowl (Which, like a dork, I forgot to oil - it's always something, isn't it?!) Anyway, I just gave it 2-3 good folds at the 50 minute mark and have to do the next fold in 100 minutes. I'm assuming that the dough is going to stiffen up some as it goes. It's very, very wet right now. Not sticky per se, but it's a bit like playing with that 'goo' stuff that we got out of the vending machines as kids.


This has all been hand mixed, no KA or other electric mixer. I assure you, you DEFINITELY know when things are 'just mixed' when mixing nearly 4 pounds of dough by hand. Holy moley, I'm going to need a sling :) Anyway, as I said, I just did the first fold. I grabbed as much as I could and gave it a slow tug vertically until it looked like it was about to tear (in one case it did, oops) and then folded it over, turned the bowl one-quarter turn and repeated. I made 2 1/2 turns of the bowl. It's practically running through my hands like the aforementioned 'goo.'


What should I look for when I do the next set of folds? What texture am I looking for to know that it's 'done' and ready for shaping, or if I need to give it a few more folds? I haven't worked with such a wet, stretchy dough before! I'm going to divide out half and immediately refrigerate to use for pizza dough. The rest I'm going to -attempt- to shape into two batards on my pastry cloth.


Any tips would be greatly appreciated. (Videos that show a good close-up of the proper texture of a completed folded dough would be a blessing)

SulaBlue's picture
SulaBlue

Dough never firmed up, but passes windowpane test.


After the last fold, it was still pourable, but unable to form into a ball - or anything else. I added flour and continued kneading until I could at least pass the windowpane test. I suspect part of the failure was in the initial mixing - hand mixing rather than using a mixer and thus my 4-minutes wasn't enough to establish enough of a 'partial gluten structure'?


I ended up grabbing handfulls and just letting it ooze onto my pastry cloth (LIBERALLY floured). It's oozing everywhere and is being held in partial check only by the folds - but now it's trying to creep out the ends! I may end up with a decent ciabatta though, I guess? We'll see in a few hours!


 


Edit: D'oh. I think I see the error:


Ferment at room temperature (72F – 76F) for 2.5 hours, with folds at 50 and 100 minutes.


I did a fold at 50 mins, then waited another 100 minutes and did folds right at the end. I'm assuming if I'd done the fold at 50, then waited another 50 and then turned it out 30 mins later that I would have had a different result? Then again.... I honestly didn't notice much difference structurally between the first fold and the second?

Maverick's picture
Maverick

Check your math a little on your edit. There are 150 minutes in 2.5 hours. So it should be first fold at 50 minutes, second fold 50 minutes later, remove from bowl 50 minutes later (I intentionally did not say 'turn out of the bowl' because 'turn' is a term for the folding you are doing). This can make a big difference. In terms of the hand mixing, between the autolyse and the folds I can't imagine that being your issue. Rye can make a sourdough a little wet, but your dough seems pretty wet.


I think you may have measured wrong. You call this a high hydration dough, but it is only 65% from my calculations. How did it feel when you first mixed it?

SulaBlue's picture
SulaBlue

Well... honestly, it was this very, very wet, silky mass that just slid through my fingers. Thicker than cake or pancake batter, but definitely much more wet than any bread dough I've ever seen. Honestly, while I regret having to use the comparison on a food board, it had the consistency of that 'snot' goo-toy that kids play with. It wasn't much thicker than my starter - which is equal parts flour and water. I MUST have messed this up somewhere, but honestly seem to very clearly remember reading all my measurements twice.


Feh, this reply was to Wild Yeast, below.

susanfnp's picture
susanfnp

Hi SulaBlue,


It sounds like your dough is overhydrated. Thy hydration on this dough is about 66% if I remember correctly. It should not be oozy! :) A little sticky, yes (initially), but it should definitely have body. When you fold the dough you should be able to fold once in each direction (say north-south and east-west) but if you try to fold a third time (north-south again) it should not want to fold easily.


Different flours wil accept different amounts of water. Maybe you will have to make ciabatta with this one ;) and next time start with maybe 85% of the amount of water called for, and add more if needed.


susanfnp


(Wild Yeast)

LindyD's picture
LindyD

I don't know if you wanted to mix by hand for the experience, SulaBlue, or because you don't have a mixer, but here's a good link to working with wet doughs from The Artisan


That said, the orginal Hamelman SD is 65 percent hydration and a wonderful dough to work with.


Whether you wound up shaping or pouring, am betting it is going to taste great!

rainwater's picture
rainwater

I'm looking at Hammelman's recipe for "Vermont Sourdough", and his formula shows a 65% hydration.....The recipe you used is in grams, and calls for a little more ingredients, but the recipe seems to be in proportion....hmmmmm.  I made Hammelman's "Pain au Levain" this weekend, and it came out really good...and the dough was nice to handle....I formed my loaf on a piece of paper with a paper towel over it (the dough was more firmish than 'ciabatta wet')....it oven springed in the oven to a nice roundish loaf.....


I'm going to try this Vermont Sourdough recipe next Tuesday or Wednesday...will let you know.....

rainwater's picture
rainwater

By the way....I mix everything by hand.....I barely mix in the bowl with a spoon, and turn it on the counter even before it's mixed halfway...just enough so the water doesn't run all over the place....then I use the French "slam, stretch, and fold" method until the dough is mixed minimally.  (I do this because my large group muscles are much more efficient than my small group muscles).  I put it back in the bowl, and stretch and fold on the counter every 50 minutes......The dough firms up quite nicely like this......

SulaBlue's picture
SulaBlue

RE: Hand Mixing - I don't own a mixer, so everything was mixed by hand.


RE: Measurements - I'm -fairly- certain I measured correctly. Most things got checked twice even.


I've had issues with doughs being too wet before, using this brand of AP flour, but never to this extent. Then again, I've never mixed this much in one go, either, so I can only imagine that the problem was compounded. Humidity here is reading 62% - I'm guessing that could have some impact on things?


Event he ciabatta wasn't going to be a done deal - again with the biscotti-like thickness. This stuff even ended up sticking to my floured pastry cloth and had to be peeled off, which ended up degassing what little rise I'd gotten after trying to thicken up the dough.


With a good amount of high-quality extra-virgin olive oil, Italian seasonings from Penzey's and some fresh-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, it's made a nice focaccia bread, however! Tomorrow night I'm going to cook up the ground turkey that I seasoned up with freshly toasted fennel seeds, red chili pepper flakes, cracked pepper and salt, then toss on some sauce with fresh basil and oregano from my plant outside, toss in some mozerella and roll it up into a calzone and see how that goes. You can't really 'shape' this dough so much as... extrude it. Might as well go with the flow.

SulaBlue's picture
SulaBlue

Minus the olives and other bits that keep flying out :)


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/8432/latest-video-back-home

Maverick's picture
Maverick

May I suggest you do a little experiment to get the feel of the dough? Take 100 grams of the flour and mix it with 65g of water (or 50g of flour and 33g of water). This is about what it should feel like. Let us know if it is anything like what you made. Really it should be sticky, but not liquidy.

SulaBlue's picture
SulaBlue

That makes -far- too much sense. You want me to be logical?


Seriously, though, I think I'll give it a go when I get more flour. I only have a cup or so left and I'm going to try and rescue the remaining bit of that dough (which has been refrigerated overnight now) and make a calzone with it today. I was originally planning on pizza, but I don't know how I'd manage to get it onto my stone (no peel).

rainwater's picture
rainwater

Okay....I made Hammelman's "Vermont Sour Dough" last night.  I used the recipe from his book....mix totally by hand, and the dough was not overly hydrated.  Maybe the article recipe is off a little.  I also put the maximum water the recipe calls for.....I always do this..I like my doughs hydrated as possible....


I've used two of Hammelman's recipes so far (just received the book), and find that the doughs don't rise very much, or very quickly.....His formulas call for such a small amount of levain.  ....but the oven spring brings the loaf to it's potential.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

I wonder if your starter was not at full strength when you built the levain.  I've had wonderful oven spring and crumb when my starter is strong and newly fully refreshed. 


I baked two of the Hamelman SD boules for Easter and miscalculated on my starter refreshment, so it wasn't at full strength when I made the levain.  I noticed a difference in the height of the boules, but they certainly weren't flat and the bread was wonderful.


What type of wheat flour did you use?   Did you retard the dough?  Do you know what your dough temperature was?  It's supposed to be 76F.   If it was colder after you finished mixing, that would account for the sluggish fermentation.


I use the full 18 hour retardation and have found (after baking around 100 loaves of this recipe) that the dough is just about fully fermented when I pull it out of the refrigerator the next day.


BTW, this is not a highly hydrated dough.  It's 65 percent hydration.


 

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Like the subject line I think it's all right.  Water doughs can be a terror to handle by firm dough types behaving much like slow motion water.  Slice it up into loaf portions, let it rise en couches and bake it.  You'll probably be surprised at the outcome.  Next time get a plastic bin box and keep the dough in it (spray it first with PAM).  Water dough is usually turned and folded at 45 minute intervals instead of 50.  It's really unruly and usually sticks to everything it comes in contact with but will bake up a great tasting loaf of bread.  Don't forget to use baking parchment on the stone.


+Wild-Yeast