The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

A Salty Question

OldWoodenSpoon's picture
OldWoodenSpoon

A Salty Question

I did the final build on a batch of sourdough last night from my 100% hydration starter.  Component calculations were done with JMonkey's Excel spreadsheet (thank you!), and for reference here's my batch build:

100% Hydration Starter:  810g (used two expansions from initial 50g)

50/50 KAF AP & KAF Bread Flour:  987g

Water:  643g

Salt: 20g

I mixed it all briefly leaving aside the salt, and set it aside to autolyse (is that word a verb or a noun?) for 30 minutes before going on with kneading.  The dough was extremely wet and sticky even after nearly 20 minutes of "wet dough stretch and fold" (as best I could) modeled on Bertinet's wet dough video.  The dough just would not come together, and I decided it was time to put it down for fermentation.  I planned to give it several more stretch and folds as it fermented. 

Then I noticed I had left out the salt!  I put the dough back on the slab, stretched it out and sprinkled the salt over it, folded it up and started working again.  The dough came together within just a few strokes, and matured rapidly into a very nice ball of tackey but silkey smooth dough that was easy to form up.

This is not explained by anything I've read so far about the actions of salt in dough.  Did this have anything to do with the salt, or was it because of the few minutes of rest the dough got as I was washing my bowl for fermentation?

Thank you!

OldWoodenSpoon

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

Because I have active dry yeast instead of instant, I like to hydrate the yeast by adding the yeast to the liquid first, then a layer of dry ingredients and the salt last.  But since recipes are not always written in that order, I live in fear of forgetting the salt. 

My solution has been to take out the salt cellar when salt should be added according to the recipe and removing the lid, which goes where I store the salt cellar, across the room.  That way, as soon as I add the salt I cross the room and put the lid back on.  If the salt cellar is still sitting by my kneading board without a lid, it means I haven't added it yet.  So far that's worked well, but I'm prone to brain farts so one of these days I know I'll forget anyway!

Just a reminder that we're all human here.  Mistakes and bread happen every day. 

OldWoodenSpoon's picture
OldWoodenSpoon

I hated to do it, but that batch is history.  On to the next.

Andy, I take some comfort that I only had a couple of pounds of dough to toss.  That 500 pounder must have smarted.   Thanks for being willing to share it.

PMcCool, thanks too for the reinforcement.  I do understand, intellectually at least, about the patience required.  It's tougher to practice though. :)  This dough, however, had never moved since I shaped it.  The previous night I baked two very nice loaves off the same starter cycle, using the same timing, and they came out great. I remembered the salt that time, though.  The formula, temperatures and times were almost exactly the same.  If anything, the kitchen was a little warmer today than yesterday when I finished up the loaves.

Formed as rolls, these would equalize temperature and get to work more quickly than the loaves did, but nothing was happening.  I will wait next time this happens though, for the education it will provide.  This time I listened to those that advise "Don't give up.  Give it a chance, and bake it anyway".  It was appropriate since I was ready to dump it completely.  Instead I baked it, then I dumped it,

JanKnitz, thanks for the idea.  I will try to develop a signal like that for myself as well.  I thought keeping the pre-measured salt on the counter in plain view would be sufficient, but clearly I must come up with something more obvious.  Since I'm trying to modify years of habit, I will have to work harder.  Formerly, I always just threw everything into the Bosch mixer, stuck the hook in, and held it down on the counter for 10-15 minutes, then put it in pans, proofed and baked it.  I'm enjoying this new approach immensely (mostly!), but I have to develop a whole new rythm, with a much more sedate beat.  Thanks to all, and I'll keep at it.

OldWoodenSpoon

OldWoodenSpoon's picture
OldWoodenSpoon

Mr DiMuzio, how did you compute 75% as the approximate final hydration?  I ran my numbers back through JMonkey's spreadsheet as closely as I could, and also did the math by hand, and I get very close to 64%, which was my target according to my baking log.  If this dough was really more like 75% as you say, (and I do not doubt you) then I have missed something very important somewhere, and also managed to introduce an error into JMonkey's spreadsheet with the very minor modifications I made to suit my needs.  If you can lay out the math for me I'd greatly appreciate it.

Thank you too, for your comments.  I do all my mixing by hand, but in the case for which I started this thread I observed what you point out.  The difference being I thought it was the principle cause of my results.  As you point out though something else went wrong as well that I've overlooked.  If the delayed addition of the salt was all that was "wrong" I would have ended up with bread in the ancient tradition, rather than the modern, but bread nonetheless.

OldWoodenSpoon

leucadian's picture
leucadian

The extra flour from the starter also affects the amount of salt you need. You only had 1.4% salt, not 2.0% as you might have intended.

OldWoodenSpoon's picture
OldWoodenSpoon

Yes, I see that now, and I think that problem is coming from the same place my hydration miscalculation is coming from.  I'll find out tonight when I have time to go through it all with pencil and paper, and then proof the spreadsheet to give me the right answers.  Thanks for the tip.

OldWoodenSpoon

OldWoodenSpoon's picture
OldWoodenSpoon

I am already hand calculating (pencil, paper, calculator) my hydration percentage and validating my baker's percentages before I start any mixing, or even gathering, of my ingredients.  You are correct that it is simple and easy to do, and it will be educational as well.  Thanks for the advice, and the encouragement.

As for the spreadsheet; well, I'm only that wedded to my wife! :)

OldWoodenSpoon