The Fresh Loaf

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New Sourdough attempt gone wrong

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ErikVegas's picture

New Sourdough attempt gone wrong

I have been making excelent sourdough from my own starter for about 5 months now.  I have been using the recipe from KAF which you can find here  I have been omiting the sour salt as it is optional and my starter is mature enough that it does not need any help to get the proper ammount of sour.  Now for this weekend's experiment I wanted to make a double batch so I could give away a few loaves.  I also wanted to integrate some whole wheat flour into the mix for a more rustic flavor.  What I did was double the KAF recipe and substitute 2 cups of Bob's Red Mill whole wheat flour for 2 cups of the KAF All Purpose.  I ended up with 8 cups KAF 2 cups BRM Whole Wheat.  From the first mixing the bread felt very dry.  I added an additional 1/2 cup of water and the dough came together.  I let it rest for 1/2 hour before kneeding. I kneeded for about 10 minutes and the bread, while soft, was extreamly stiff.  I decided to put the dough in my proofing bucket and let it retard over night in the refrigerator.  I hoped this would allow the water to completly hydrate the dough and give it some elasticity.  I did get about a 50% rise out fo the dough overnight and it filled my bucket the next day after sitting on the counter for about 4 hours.  When I turned it out of the bucket the dough had absolutly no streach to it.  It was dry and tore rather than streaching and was impossible to shape.  I ended up just tossing the batch and baking my tried a true sourdough that afternoon instead.  The question Is how much water should I have added to compensate for the addition of the whole wheat flour.  I would like to try this recipe again but spectacular failures like this one can get expensive.





Ford's picture

This sounds as though the retardation period allowed the acid of the sourdough hydrolyze the gluten during the retardation period.  Acids and enzymes promote this break down of the gluten structure.  Sour dough does not need the retardation period to develop flavor.

The additional water is a natural consequence of adding the whole wheat flour.  The bran in the whole wheat requires more water to give the same consistancy of dough that you desire experience with white bread.

If yoiu want to use whole wheat flour, I suggest that you add the whole wheat to the liquid and allow it to stand for about an hour (or longer) without the other ingredients. (Soaker)  This will give the bran time to absorbe the water and become softened.  You could even let this stand in the refrigerater overnight.

I hope this helps,


ErikVegas's picture

Ford thanks for the reply...As usual you gave a very good answer for what probably happened.  I will try doing a single batch with the inclusion of the whole wheat this weekend.  In your experience how much additionl water should I add to compensate for the inclusion of the whole wheat flour?  I am going to take your advice and treat the whole wheat like a soaker and hydrate it in the water for an hour before adding it to the dry flour.  Again, thanks for the tip and any info you can give on additional water would be appreciated.



hanseata's picture

I often use some whole grain flour instead of all white.

You have to increase water by 14 g for every 56.5 g whole grain flour you substitute for white flour (Peter Reinhart's advice).

I soak my whole grain flours or mixes for 12 - 24 hrs. Whatever the recipe says, always go by how the dough feels like, it's less harmful if it is a bit too sticky than too dry.

ananda's picture

Hi Erik,

If you substitute white flour with wholemeal, the rheological properties in the dough will change faster.   This is because the higher vitamin and mineral content has a bearing on speeding up the enzymatic reactions which take place breaking down the gluten network.

Additionally you doubled your recipe.   This means the heat generation in the centre of the dough will be much greater relative to the heat lost from the outside of the dough; a natural result of fermentation.

Quicker fermentation and faster rheology have resulted in the less tolerant dough you describe.

Best wishes