The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Dough Ripping Problem when Stretching

Phantasie's picture

Dough Ripping Problem when Stretching

I made a mix of 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, 1/2 cup whole wheat and 1/2 cup rye flour dough last night. I wouldnt know the exact hydration since the used a cup of sourdough starter rather than yeast. However the dough was sticky, and felt normal when kneading.

I let it rise overnight - it doubled, perhaps a bit more, nicely.

This morning I wanted to try folding it, like I've seen in in several of the videos in the Lesson section. However, when I did this, the dough didnt spread out nicely, but instead ripped apart in places.

What might I be doing wrong here? In the videos it looked like the dough pulled nicely apart.



AllenCohn's picture

Even if one uses starter, it's still easy to calculate the hydration of the total dough.

For example, if one keeps one's starter at 50% hydration (as I do), then for every 3 ounces of starter, 2 of those are flour and 1 of those is water.

So, if you mix

13 oz flour
9 oz water
3 oz. starter

then you have a total of

15 oz flour
10 oz. water

for a total hydration of 67% (rounded).

San Francisco

Phantasie's picture

Thanks, thats a good point. However the problem is im not to strict with my starter - I just throw in some flour and a bit of water each day, and dont measure. I need to be more strict with it, I know :)

LindyD's picture

Did you add salt before you started kneading it?

Phantasie's picture

Yes, I did - would that have killed the yeast? Ive read before to add after kneading, I forgot this time.

LindyD's picture

No, adding salt isn't going to kill the yeast - it just slows it down.  I was just curious because dough without salt feels and handles much differently than after the salt is added.

 You have 3.5 cups of flour, plus one cup of your starter, right?  How much water did you add?

Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

- You tried stretching after first rise

- It felt normal to you while kneading before that first rise

Typically, stretching and folding is done during the first rise (or bulk fermentation), and eliminates or greatly reduces any necessary kneading. If you kneaded the dough and let it rise, you had already developed the gluten to a great extent. Once you degass the dough and start trying large stretches, you're going to be met with a lot of resistance and the dough will probably feel 'bucky' (wants to snap back quickly). Of course this is going to tear if you force the issue.

So let's ask the real questions here... why did you feel a stretch was needed after kneading and allowing to rise? Did the dough not feel right? Is this a part of the recipe instructions?

If I'm going to do both kneading and stretching, the stretching comes first. After all stretches are done and it still doesn't feel 'just right' or I get a weak windowpane test, I might knead it a little bit. For a vast majority of my recipes, I do not knead or fold after bulk fermentation. Your dough should have been good going into that part, and should be shaped after that first rise.

- Keith

Nancy Baggett's picture
Nancy Baggett

I have found that using that much starter, especially if it is well developed and very sour, tenderizes yeast dough to the point that it rips if not handled gently. Almost certainly it's the acid--that's why buttermilk, sour cream, etc. are called for in chemically leavened breads like baking powder biscuits. The acid breaks down the gluten and yields a softer, more tender product. I suggest cutting back the starter to no more than 2/3 cup for the quantity of flour you mention.

tjkoko's picture

Once I delayed the addition of salt unitl the first French Fold, I discovered that the dough's texture and handling were much different than when salt is added initially.   The delay allows for an easier stretch, faster rise and larger holes.