The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Saving a disintegrated loaf?

Caltrain's picture

Saving a disintegrated loaf?

I was preparing a whole wheat sourdough loaf earlier today, taking a friend's suggestion to put cracked wheat in the starter. This was going great and dandy, until I noticed a tiny rip while shaping it. Before I knew what to do next, the whole dough had fallen apart and had dissolved into a stringy, gelatenous mess. Not good!

Trying to fix it only dissolved the loaf even more. At this point, and being somewhat accustomed to the possibility of failure, I dumped placed the dough back into a container and did two more stretch and folds. It did recover the dough a bit, but clearly surface tension hadn't fully returned. In the end I just "shaped" it, proofed, and baked. I didn't bother letting it rise overnight. Why waste valuable refrigerator space over dying dough?

So this leads me to my question: What would help a loaf keep its strength up, aside from not screwing up, and, in the event the loaf does die on the table, what, in your experience, does the best job of saving the dough?

PaddyL's picture

How was it after baking?  It sounds as if the cracked wheat just cut into all the strands of gluten.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Then it might be better to par cook the cracked wheat first, to soften the cracked edges.

I'm wondering how long the cracked wheat sat in the starter and how much time had passed before the shaping rip up.   Temp?


Caltrain's picture

Aye. I'll be sure to try cooking the wheat next time. Thanks for the advice!

Anyways, to answer your question, it was about three days; I made a cracked wheat starter with a bit of starter, a bit of flour, and then equal parts water and cracked wheat and let it sit for 3 days. The first shaping went fine and it ripped up just as I was nudging it around to seal the seams on the second shaping.

Oh yeah, what might have contributed was the hydration; it was 94%, not including whatever extra water came from the cracked wheat. I've had pretty good success before with high hydration whole wheat loafs, but was worried that the high hydration could've caused the loaf to simply dissolve.

jannrn's picture

I have a recipe for Cracked Wheat that has you cook it for just a few minutes before and it usually come out wonderfully!! I tried a similar recipe that just had you soak the cracked wheat in boiled water for a few minutes and it fell apart I too would say you need to cook the cracked wheat first!! Good luck! Do post the pics when you can. I am guessing it looks like my second one looked too!!

Caltrain's picture

Hah, of course. Cracked things tend to have sharp corners. I should've known. :P

Thanks all for the suggestions. I'll definitely cook my cracked wheat next time... the loaf looked as you'd expect a deflated dough to look like; flat and wide. But the taste was quite something. I left the cracked wheat in the starter for a good 3 days and something about the starter gives the cracked wheat a soft, raisin-like flavor. The loaf is already gone, mostly in the form of croutons and a couple sandwiches. It was a small sampler loaf.

I think next time I'll make a very liquid starter with cracked wheat, then scoop out the wheat to parboil or steam. Hopefully the flavor will hold up, 'cause otherwise it'll be a real shame if it doesn't work!