The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Dough begins to break down!

chromite's picture
chromite

Dough begins to break down!

Ok, I've been making bread several months and have not encountered this until I've become overly ambitious. I have a problem that started folding some dough that I stashed in the fridge for several hours, now with dough I'm kneading on the first go. It seems to begin to break down?! It goes from being elastic and having surface tension, to being a very slack, non elastic, stringy, taffy-like substance. What have I done?!

varda's picture
varda

I'm wondering if you could spell out in more detail exactly what happened in a case where your dough broke down.   I think the usual case is overproofing but that doesn't sound like what you are describing.  -Varda

OldWoodenSpoon's picture
OldWoodenSpoon

The possible explanations vary depending on what you are doing.  Is it sourdough or commercial yeast?  If sourdough, describe your starter, feeding regimen, hydration and flour mix.  What is the dough formula?  Describe the process, including variations you may have tried.  Yes, it sounds like a lot of questions, but the more details you provide the better the quality and accuracy of the advice you will receive.  With little or no detail you will get mostly questions.


OldWoodenSpoon

chromite's picture
chromite

Ok, I haven't started my journal yet. I know, I know. Anyway it very well could have been overproofing, I was on a baking binge, trying to get nine loaves of French bread over the weekend. The ones that broke down all came from a commercial yeast culture that I began a couple weeks ago. I had been storing the culture in the fridge and feeding once a couple of days until I needed to develop all of the starters for the loaves, at which time I began splitting and feeding daily. I was out for two days, so I refrigerated the starters then Friday night pulled them out and gave them all a snack of 1 cup each of flour and water. I was primarily using a mix of whole wheat and white, both organic and local.  The next day I began mixing dough batches, approximately 2 cups volumetrically of starter to 2 cups flour, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 to 1 1/2 cups water based on how much whole wheat I was using. I added the water until I got a thick batter consistency, more gloppy than sticky. Then I kneaded the dough using a "french method."


Proofing began simple enough, but each batch rose differently, I assume due to variances in the yeast count of the starters, which all seemed viable and created hooch.  A few batches I had to amend with a little dry yeast, which I have been successful with before, and it seemed to work again.  I only baked about two loaves that night, and had about three extra batches in the fridge overnight to proof.  The rest of the batches I made Sunday and finished the initial knead before noon. The ones from the night before I pulled out and let begin to finish their rise.  Maybe I missed a batch and let it sit too long, as the one that broke down was one of the last I did. I do know that I am going to slow my happy self down and stick to one to two rustic loaves and two sandwich loaves every other week.

varda's picture
varda

It seems like if you are seeing hooch in your starter it needs to fed before it can be used to bake.   As I understand it an untended starter that is very hungry will create hooch, and it is revivable by some consistent feeding over a period of a couple of days perhaps, but shouldn't be used in that state for baking.   I suspect that you had trouble with starving starter devouring your dough and so "breaking it down".   I don't put yeast in starter but I would think that would speed up the metabolism of the starter and could get it to that very hungry state sooner rather than later.    Anyhow, it sounds like if you slow down and bake a bit less and tend to your starter a bit more, you won't have this particular problem.   I didn't say you wouldn't have problems mind you.   Look forward to hearing more about your baking!  -Varda