The Fresh Loaf

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Help: Dough metldown

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ezm's picture
ezm

Help: Dough metldown

Hi,


I could really use some help making sense of something that just happened.  So I was attempting to experiment with one of PR's whole grain recipes.  It was his miche recipe.  I modified the recipe I though keeping the proportions the same in order to use slightly different amounts.  I was using his soaker/biga method.  The details of the experimentation may not be so important as the fact that i ended up with a very pancake battery biga and very wet soaker.  I thought I would correct for this by adding more flour when I combined the two, but what ended up happening was that as I added more flour the dough became and more sticky to the point that it became impossible to knead.  I tried to put it backin the bowl and mix it with my hands for a while and then to knead it agian, but it was just as sticky.  Then I trieed for probably 10 mintues or so to use the folding method where you slap the dough down onto the work surface and then fold i tover itself.  This also failed.  The dought remained totally sticky and at the point I was making such a mess that I just gave up.  I'm now letting the dough rise inthe bowl again and give it a fold and then let it rise again and see if I can knead it at that point.  My theory is that the dough was stick because there was less and less gluten development as I added more flour (that I in effect dilluted the gluten).  Could that be right?  Does anyone have 1) any advice about how I can save this loaf at this point and 2) what sort of things are going on here?  Why couldn't I make the dough less sticky by adding more flour so that I could knead it effectively.  As I continued to handle the dough it seemed to loose rather than gain structure...  Please help. 


 


Thanks, EZm

kranieri's picture
kranieri

what kind of flours, what proportions, what type of bread were you aiming for? how long has it fermented, what stage is it in (just before bulk fermentation?)

ezm's picture
ezm

Ok...so I see more details are definitely needed.  I'm using an organic whole wheat flour.  I had the following proportions:


 


Biga:


1/2 cup whole wheat starter; 1 cup water: 1 1/2 cup sifted whole wheat.


Soaker:
1 cup sifted whole wheat + 1/2 cup white bread flour; 1 tsp salt; 3/4 cup water.


 


These had been in the fridge overnight and I took them out about 11:00 am.  I waited an hour (it's hot in NY now), and then mixed them, adding at first 1/4 cup flour, 1 tsp salt, and 2 tsp instant yeast.  I mixed that together by hand in a bowl for a while, and then tried to start kneading.  The dought though was very sticky so I was adding a lot of flour at first a tbsp at a time, until I had added like four, and then added more and more just by hand.  I added quite a bit as I became more desperate for it to become less sticky, producing however the opposite affect as I described above. 


I was trying to go for a whole wheat loaf that was perhaps a bit lighter and got a rise.  I was going to shape it as a Boule.

kranieri's picture
kranieri

yea that's a bit strange. i wish i was familiar with that recipe so i could be of more help, it might have something to do with the hydration of your starter? it might also help to do it by weight instead of volume.


and as far as a whole wheat boule with rise, that is something i do know a bit about. the best way is to use a strong whole wheat flour sometimes called high protein or hard winter whole wheat. ive been able (fingers crossed to keep the good results) to get a well risen 100% whole wheat. 


as for the current loaf, if it was me id just add enough to have it feel how i normally like it then let it be an experiment. the fold method is especially good for the higher hydration doughs anyway. it'll probably taste fine.

ezm's picture
ezm

Yes very strange indeed.  I let it rise ina bowl twice and folding it onto itself in between rises and then attempted to knead again; but just as before rather than it becoming more resistant as I kneaded it soon just started to stick to the surface and my hands and broke apart.  So I put it back in the bowl, let it rise once more, dumped it out, shaped it and let it do a final rise.  I'm gonna just bake it as you suggested. 


I should say I've been trying PR's basic whole grain heart bread recipe (on p.153 of his whole grain book) and have had a verison of this same problem, butnever this severe.  Usually, i was able to knead it for several minutes before it started to stick to everything, and even then the sticking wasn't so extreme. 


It's sort of beyond me to understand what is going on here.  Would be nice to shed some light on everything because it sort of goes against my sense of what should happen in these processes.  I've never been so unable to knead something.  Perhaps the problem is that my initial soaker and biga were just way too wet that it was simply impossible to compensate by adding fresh flour late in the process, that is after the pre-fermentation...

flournwater's picture
flournwater

I think your initial problem surfaced when you decided to modify the recipe, especially if you didn't weight your ingredients.  IMO the recipe is, as bread recipes go, somewhat difficult because it requires first that you develop a seed culture, then a barm, a firm starter (using sifted flour) and then the final dough.  There are enough steps in this recipe to expose it to a high level of error potential just following it as it is written, and modifiying it (especially using dip/level/pour measurements) simply increases the potential for disaster.


Unless I'm way off base on the theory of gluten development, adding more flour isn't going to dilute your gluten.  Gluten is most commonly developed through kneading so my guess is it didn't receive the amount of kneading it should have when you began adding more flour. Kneading stretches the proteins and cross-links the protein molecules  -  that's what you see when you do the window pane test.


It's difficult to say whether or not you can "save" what you've created.  You might find yourself kneading for a very long time if you try to make it happen all at once.  I might leave it alone, put it in the refrigerator and allow it to autolyze while monitoring its development for a day or two, then go back to it and see if it offers more promise.

tuskansager's picture
tuskansager

Hi,


I'm new to this blogging thing but not new to bread and all the disasters that await bakers....


The dough can go sticky and not recover if it is over-kneaded.  This doe sn't seem to be your situation.  If it has insufficient flour...again, doesn't seem to be the problem.  The debate about weighing vs measuring- I don't get too worried about either.  I reckon if I'm measuring and it seems a little dry/wet I can adjust with water/flour. That is half the fun of being an artist.  Like artists we are supposed to get a feel for our materials so that we can mix the same outcome each time.  Without experimenting we can't get there.  So, I think the problem lies with the flour. I agree that the flour should be high protein. I run a small bakery and last shipment of wholemeal flour I received was Vienna fine rather than Canadian strong. My outcomes were as you describe. The dough was wet no matter what I did, it did not hold it's shape, was dense, and failed to rise as a result. I use PR adjusted recipes often. So have some experience with his methods. As I received a whole pallet of Vienna fine I've had to make adjustments. In the end, I use Canadian strong for the poolish, biga, or ferment, and a mix of strong and vienna for the recipe. As for what to do with what you already have? I'd throw it away and start over. Harsh but it is so disappointing to spend so much time and have something dense and disappointing. Hope this helps, ShrewsburyBakehouse

tuskansager's picture
tuskansager

Try using the dough you have as a ferment.  Just make sure that you use strong wholewheat for the main recipe.  Ferment will keep in the fridge for a few days so you could make a fresh loaf every day to use it up.  Hope that helps, ShrewBake

ezm's picture
ezm

Ok so this seems to be plausible that the problem is the flour, especially since this is a problem that I've been having more generally.  This stickiness has been a problem more generally and I've been having trouble getting oven spring out of all the whole grain loaves I've been trying to make from the PR book.  But what exactly is high protein or winter wheat?  Where does one get it?  And why is it that high protein is important?  Are these proteins the basis of the gluten? 


 


BTW, I finally just dumped the dough out, shaped it and proofed it, and then baked it.  It turned out not unlike my other attmepts to make whole grain breads.  Edible, but I have a feeling that they could be better...have more structure...rise more...etc.


 


 


 


 

tuskansager's picture
tuskansager

I'm not a flour expert but have learned from experience of making several loaves of wholegrain and wholemeal a day that the way the flour is milled matters (for example the more fine Vienna wholemeal seems not to soak up as much liquid.  The Canadian hard wheat stoneground soaks it up.)  I suspect that the milling determines hydration.  I noticed it straight away with the soaker.  Rather than a coarse mix the one made with fine milled flour was sludgey and next day there was considerable liquid on top.  The stonemill soaker is coarser and very little water sits on top.


With respect to the protein, I've found the lower protein flours doen't hold up to the long ferment/acidic conditons of sourdough.  Again, no expert but think it has something to do with the enzymes that make sourdough lower GI and more digestible also breaking down the flour and perhaps therefore glutten.  An interesting note which leads me to think it's mainly the milling process is the fact that the Vienna fine is 12.9%---still a relatively high protein. 


I suspect your sticky dough problem has been a combination of both.


I get the stoneground Canadian winter wheat 14% protein from a health food shop here in England.  Not good for food miles, I know.  Anything with above 13% and not fine milled should do the trick.  Don't get discouraged w/ wholegrains.  My first several attempts could've been used to play field hockey.  I kept experimenting with different flours til I found one that worked.

kranieri's picture
kranieri

i agree, flour makes a huge difference. the hard winter wheat is in my opinion one of the key elements to a well risen whole wheat loaf. and yea. i nearly broke out my teeth on my first attempts. it was horrible!