The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Tartine bread baking attempts

winestem's picture
winestem

Tartine bread baking attempts

Help, help, help, help! I'm ready to throw in the tea-towel! I've got a wonderful smelling and behaving wild yeast culture going and I've followed the procedures in Chad Robertson's Tartine Bread to what I think is a perfect "T". The problem is that I'm getting almost no rise from the dough once it goes into the oven. I do the autolyse for 45 minutes, I get a magnificent smooth and silky fermentation, but in the end, I get dense, good-tasting, but too dense loaves! Any suggestions as to what I can try and/or am doing wrong?

richawatt's picture
richawatt

how long are you proofing it for?  When I make any dough using a sourdough starter, it takes 6 hours mix to bake, about five of that is just fermenting and proofing.

winestem's picture
winestem

The bulk fermentation went for 6 hours! The final rise of the dough in the baskets for 4 hours


 

winestem's picture
winestem

First, the pre-leaven just mixed:


pre-leaven mix


Next, the leavening the next morning. Looks great!


next morning


After autolyse, dough is silky, easy to handle, looks textbook perfect.


after autolyse and salt addition


Then beautiful rising at 100 in the oven at proof mode rising


After six hours of bulk fermentation, dough is light and airy! And I bring it onto the bench for the bench rest bench rest


Then let rise in basket for 4 hours


rise


 


And finally, great-tasting, but disappointing bread that didn't do any rising once it baked! :- (


pancakes!

polo's picture
polo

An amatuer's guess here, but I would say your loaves are over proofed by the look of them. How long in the oven at 100?


Polo

yy's picture
yy

Did you leave it in the oven at 100 degrees Fahrenheit for 6 hours, followed by 4 hours of room temperature proofing? That sounds like too much. How much had it expanded by the time you took it out of the oven after bulk fermentation (doubled/tripled)? Do you have photos of what it looked like after  bulk fermentation?  I'd suggest doing the whole procedure at room temperature instead of using the oven for bulk fermentation. Even at room temperature, 10 hours may be too long. 

winestem's picture
winestem

Thanks for the suggestions yy and polo! Can/Would overproofing be the cause of no rising in the oven? I could certainly try the bulk fermentation and loaf rise in my kitchen, whose temperature is probably about 70 F. I probably got about a 20% increase in the bulk fermentation. I've never gotten a doubling. Should I be able to expect that much? 

yy's picture
yy

2 Definitely don't expect a doubling - that would be way too much for this type of bread. I only said "doubling" to make it clear what I was asking. I understand the concept of overproofing to be similar to overinflating a balloon. When you blow up a balloon, its latex walls have enough structural integrity to support up to a certain volume of air. Beyond that, the material will be stretched beyond its capacity, and it will just pop. Similarly, when you overproof, gas in the dough builds up to the point where the gluten network formed in the dough no longer supports it. That's my layman's understanding of overproofing. 

polo's picture
polo

100 degrees for six hours would be too long. Try six hours at 70 to 72 degrees F. Yes, over proofing would certainly mean little or no oven spring. My first loaves were a bit under proofed and wanted to burst at the seams (so to speak).


Polo

winestem's picture
winestem

I'll give a try for the proofing in the kitchen without the oven 100 degree mode! Fingers are crossed! Many thanks for the suggestions. Do you think I may be using a wild yeast without enough "pep"? Or do you think it's my over-proofing that is the likely culprit?

RobynB's picture
RobynB

But only because I'm in the same boat and I'm pretty sure it's my issue too.  Not making Tartine bread, making other sourdough, but my loaves keep looking just like yours after a picture-perfect initial proof - tasty, but flat and dense.  I actually suspect my starter is *very* active and if I proof the recommended time, it's just too much.  I am going to try proofing for half the time and see if I get some oven spring.  Crossing fingers!

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

but I have made a lot of sourdoughs and pain au levains.  I agree with the others who have posited overproofing, particularly with the bulk ferment at 100F.


From the photos, it appears that the initial dough is very high hydration.  It still looks very wet at the end of the bulk rise, on the bench, and in the banneton.  Given the time and temperature of the two ferments, it is also possible that the dough is experiencing gluten breakdown from either enzymatic action or from acid attack.  Either of those frequently cause the dough to have a wet surface and a very sticky consistency, as well as a pancaked final shape.  Shorter, cooler fermentations (particularly the bulk ferment) should reduce the possiblity of that happening again.


The other consideration, and this is where my ignorance of the Tartine bread comes in, is whether or not there are any stretch and folds done during the bulk fermentation to help build dough strength.  The dough on the bench and in the banneton appears to be loose and unstructured.  Stretch and folds during the intial fermentation, plus better development of the gluten sheath across the surface of the shaped loaf, may also improve your outcome.  If you are already doing those steps, my apologies for belaboring the point.


Paul

winestem's picture
winestem

Great questions, PMcCool. Indeed, in lieu of working the dough, the Tartine book espouses periodic pulls after 20 or 30 minutes in order to work the dough a little and develop the strands of gluten. 


I'm going to try a shorter--and cooler (room temp!)--bulk fermentation and bread rise in the basket.

Johan van Niekerk's picture
Johan van Niekerk

Thanks :) I think you have just answered my question too! I have been increasing and increasing both my bulk fermentation time and temperatures because I was getting shapeless sticky dough. Now I'm going to try the other direction.


My last attempt the dough ended almost as glue!

longhorn's picture
longhorn

Using the Tartine recipe I overproof in three hours bulk fermentation and three hours proofing at 80 degrees. Leave it at room temp and you will be much closer.


Jay

winestem's picture
winestem

Are you saying that you only do bulk fermentation for 3 hours, and then the loaves proof at 80 for three more hours? Or are you saying that even in that 3 hours too much time has passed? Thanks!

longhorn's picture
longhorn

With my sourdough which is reliably slower than average I am using a 3 hour bulk fermentation counting the S&Fs to forming and about 2 1/2 hours after final forming (which is 1/2 hour after initial forming). So basically yes, but all of my times are at around 73 to 75 degrees F and not 80 so....This is why I am confident your dough was way overproofed. If you bulk ferment for 3 hours and have final proof of 2 1/2 to 3 hours at nominally 73 degrees F I am confident you will have a lot more oven spring and get loaves much closer to "right". That said you will still need to adjust but the proofing times in Tartine don't make sense for he suggests they are at 80 degrees but he talks about fog and ... I think his temps are colder than he admits.


As an aside you will go less wrong by underproofing than by overproofing IMO. So when striving to fine tune proofing I think it is wise to make jumps big enough you are confident you overdid it so you can interpolate back to what you think will be "right". It is a problem when you are badly overproofed in one experiemnet and less overproofed in another. You have a hard time estimating what the right time should be. Much better to be too far and thus have data on both sides of the "right answer".


Good Luck!


Jay

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

have you baked? Have you used your starter to make a very simple formula from this sight ? I suggest that you back up and start with a VERY simple 3 or 4 step formula that has been made by many folks on this forum. When you are really used to the whole procedure of handling and proofing and baking sourdough then it is time to advance to more complicated formulas with multiple steps.


If you have already had months/years of practice then by all means continue with the Tartine but if you have not then stop now and save the flour and begin with baby steps as we all have, c

winestem's picture
winestem

I didn't have time yesterday to do the full-on Tartine bread, so I tried the No-Knead bread recipe with my wild yeast sourdough as the leavening. 300 g of water, 400 grams of flour, about 25 grams of my starter, 8 g of salt and that was it. covered it with a towel at 7:30 in the morning and went to work. When I got home I shaped it into a loaf and let it rise for only 1 hour in the oven at 100 degrees. Then into the dutch oven with my fingers crossed. And the result was:


it worked


 


i'm trying it again today to see if lightning will strike twice. 

yy's picture
yy

that loaf looks like it's standing pretty tall and proud:-). I don't think you need to do any of the proofing at 100, unless you're in a rush and the dough is very underproofed. Search "poke test" on the forums - it's a simple way to roughly gauge whether your dough is underproofed, well-proofed, or overproofed. 

winestem's picture
winestem

It worked! Once more, the Jim Lahey recipe with my wild yeast starter produced this:


utah

winestem's picture
winestem

I did this:


 


first


 


and this second


 


and the insides look like this inside

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

And yes, you were over-proofing the Tartine dough. It's pretty impossible to call it back once it's gone too far, so try proofing at room temp (even cool room temp) for the same amount of time you were doing in the warm rise. You'll get a better result. Also, I am a very experienced baker of slack doughs, and it took me awhile to be comfortable with Robertson's directions for shaping and handling the dough. I finally got it, but it took some practice. Don't give up, you're on the right track!


Patricia

pollyanne's picture
pollyanne


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I am very excited to show my bake from this morning, following Chad Robertson's instructions in Tartine.  I was so frustrated by my previous attempts, and the instructions in a lot of posts to "judge by the dough".  If you haven't experienced it yourself, it's very hard to judge by the dough....except yesterday's bulk fermentation really felt good toward the end, and the pre-shaping, bench rest, and final shaping felt absolutely heavenly.  I would say that the bulk fermentation being "ready" is pretty subtle...except when you're working with the dough on the bench, you can really tell.


Also the flavor was quite wonderful and mild. (The first time I made this recipe it was pretty sour - I think under or over proofing - it went on forever, but still didn't feel ready.)


I had wanted to do the bulk fermentation overnight, but as I wouldn't be able to S & F then, I left the leaven overnight to become mature enough to be starter instead, mixed it up for leaven in the morning, which took about 4 hours at warm room temp (about 75F - took it out to the studio and put it behind my computer).  Then around lunchtime mixed, rested, added salt and water, and began bulk fermentation, which went on for about 5 1/2 hours at between 70 and 75F.  Can't keep any particular place warm enough consistently to be the 78 - 82F that would enable bulk fermentation to complete in 3-4 hours.  Then after aforementioned pre-shaping, bench rest, and final shaping, in they went to the refrigerator overnight.  


My remaining issue is still a slightly gummy texture to the crumb - my theory is that I did not bake it out strong enough, to use Chad's term, so perhaps it did not dry out enough inside.  My loaves are not quite as dark as the ones I see in this thread, nor as dark as the ones in the book.  One more possible cause I just thought of - during overnight in the refrigerator I enclosed the bowls in a plastic bag, which Chad Robertson does not do - just couldn't imagine that it's okay to just leave them in there uncovered...am I wrong?


Would love to hear thoughts on either of these theories, or others.  Thanks for the encouraging words I read all over this site.



 

Bluespyder41's picture
Bluespyder41

An instant read thermometer will help you figure out if your loaf is done. I got mine at Kroger for $10. The internal temp for the country Loaf should run ~210 F as I think Mr. Robertson calls it out. With the rustic look of the loaf, if someone can find the hole you made when checking the temperature, then give them a prize.


Test the temperature by inserting the thermometer so the tip is in ~the middle of the loaf. Middle as in center top to bottom and side to side. If you're not sure if it's the middle "enough", just slide the thermometer in a bit further to see if the temp drops. If it goes up, then pull it up a twitch. Just check until the temp settles. On an instant read, if the temp leaps and then starts going up by 0.1F at a time and you're still 10 deg F out, pull out the thermometer and set the timer for another 5 minutes. Close up the oven and let it go until the time is up. Check again. You'll develop a feel for your oven and the type of loaf you're baking to know how long you'll need to further bake.


I usually insert the thermometer in the areas where I slashed - it's bumpier and hides the hole better. You can angle in towards where you need to test.


That will help ensure that the dough is thoroughly baked out. And you don't have to guess by "looking" at the dough or guessing by how hollow it sounds. I've made my share of hockey pucks (my college roomates used them as weapons) and doughy interior, blackened, crusted bread blobs to have decided that the thermometer rocks my world. A difference of 10F in the loaves makes a big difference.


Just be careful when taking the temp. The cast iron radiates heat and the oven is pretty smoking hot at 450F. Take care not to burn yourself (ask me how I know.....). ;D


The thermometer is a great tool to have if you're cooking meat or poultry, too, as you can tell if your chicken is properly cooked through! Just be sure to wash the tip well (and rinse) so you won't get sick or transfer bacteria between products.


Your loaves look gorgeous, BTW. YUMMMMMMMMM......


Sparky

pollyanne's picture
pollyanne

Thanks very much, Sparky for your response.  I do have an instant read thermometer, which I purchased, finally, to help with both done-ness and sufficiency of kneading per Peter Reinhart's BBA, and it has made things so much easier.


But somehow I missed the temperature for done-ness in Chad Robertson's book, so I was trying to do it by feel and time.  Much better to know that it should be 210F.  Can't wait to try again!


Again, thanks for your reply, and the caution to be careful in the cast iron pan! My next purchase will be those really long oven mitts.


Polly


 


 

jfkriege's picture
jfkriege

 


I am really glad that I found this thread. I am having the exact same issues with overproofing the Tartine recipe. The hockey puck bread that you showed up top is identical to the loaf that I got last night. 


My question to the group then, is this: how do I tell when it has gone far enough in the bulk fermentation? Is it when the dough starts to be more cohesive and pull away from the bulk fermentation container? 


One of the other issues I had was the dough becoming very sticky and sticking to the proofing basket even through a layer of flour. Is this from the overproofing as well? 


Thanks


 

Johan van Niekerk's picture
Johan van Niekerk

Yup, that "pot of glue" effect is definately over proofing. I fixed my problems by going completely in the other direction and then slowly increased the amount of proofing. I used to aim for 5 hours of bulk fermentation, I cut down all the way to 2 and am now on 3.5.


My biggest problem was temperature, my room temperature is around 27 celsius and I was not being precise with the water temp. Once I started using water at EXACTLY 78 Fahrenheit the entire consistency changed. I also thought its good that the dough almost doubled in volume, that not good. You really want only abour 30% increase at most.


I would start with bulk fermentation of 2.5 hours and final rise of no more than 1.5 hours. This should be slightly underdeveloped but WAAYYYY better than over developed. Then increase every bakes time until you are totally satisfied with the end result.

Johan van Niekerk's picture
Johan van Niekerk

Just a list of mistakes I made (in case it helps)



  1. I was imprecise in quantities used. Use a scale and measure everything by weight! (I added only 1/4 of the needed salt. Once I weighed it I realized that 20gr of salt is a LOT)

  2. I was imprecise with temperature readings. The dough really is VERY sensitive to temperature

  3. I used too much leaven. I would take a 100gr flour add 100gr water and then add a LOT of starter. The starter ALSO have weight. So only use the 200gr you need, not the possibly 250-300gr of leaven you may end up with

  4. I missed the point on the strecth and fold bit during the turns. You want to tak a hand of dough, gently stretch it and then fold it over the top, and repeat for the next side, etc

jfkriege's picture
jfkriege

So far, I have been quite precise with measurements. Actually, that has been my downfall. I made sure all of my temperatures and times matched and turned out those hockey pucks. 


I appreciate the times. I will try 2.5 hours bulk followed by 1.5 hours final rise and see where that gets me. From there I can experiment and see what works well for me. I am excited to try again, now. I have to admit that I was feeling a little defeated there for a bit. 


Joshua

winestem's picture
winestem

i felt defeated, turned to this board, and amazing things have happened ever since! I just want to echo what people much more experienced than I am are telling you: don't overproof!


 


Have fun and good luck. Fortunately, even high quality flour isn't too expensive.

nikkiblum's picture
nikkiblum

My attempts are reminiscent of the nursery rhyme: "when they are good, they are very, very good, and when they are bad, they are horrid."


I have a hard time telling when the bulk fermentation is over. My kitchen is cooler, about 67-70 degrees, and this seems to take forever. 


Sometimes, I can't get the overnight refresh to pass the "float test." Is anyone else having this trouble?

Salilah's picture
Salilah

Interesting dough!  much wetter than I am used to - and in shaping, I can't get it to form a ball at all - oh well, I'll try short proof and bake and see what happens!