The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

yeast foccacia with life of its own

thegreatnicski's picture

yeast foccacia with life of its own

Just trying to make some foccacia.

It seems as much as I knead it, it wants more flour! gave up and didn't knead it long enough, but left it to rise when it was holding all the flour and before it got sticky again. Any idea why it'd be like that? And , can I give it another knead after the first rise, leave it to proof again and then punch and shape?
Yeast activated fine - used two sachets (14g) of dried where the recipe called for 30g of fresh.

The recipe was:

2 1/2 cups warm water with 30g fresh yeast

5 cups strong flour

1/2c oil

1 clove garlic

pinch of salt


I ended up using 1/4c coconut oil, as I forgot to put rest in! I plan to brush it on top.


thegreatnicski's picture

it's risen well, but very sticky.

thegreatnicski's picture

too much yeast. Lots of googled sites said to half the amount fresh:dried but just now I've found one that says third... maybe that'd have been better.

Have pushed on, adding more flour, and now it seems to be behaving, but I'm hoping it isn't too heavy. I added the extra 1/4 cup oil also. and some more garlic. Just coz I love garlic, :)

Seems to be rising again nicely, hoping it doesn't over proof with the extra rise. fingers crossed


pmccool's picture

And here's where weight measurements make things easier to understand.  The 2.5 cups of water (assuming you are using a typical U.S. measuring cup) would weigh 20 ounces.  The flour, depending on whether you scoop or fluff, will weigh somewhere between 20 and 25 ounces.  That gives you a hydration range somewhere between 80% (20/25) and 100% (20/20).  There's a bit more moisture in the fresh yeast but not enough to make a noticeable difference in texture at this hydration level.

The above hydrations translate to goopy at the lower end and almost a batter at the higher end.  No wonder you were feeling the need for more flour!  Yes, there are breads made with those hydration levels but they tend to be special cases, like ciabatta or focaccia.

One packet of yeast would have been sufficient.  Two packets just mean that it will rise more quickly.  And, since you have more than a sufficiency of yeast, adding another rise shouldn't hurt a thing.

Without knowing how you intend to shape and bake the bread, it's hard to predict the consistency of the finished loaves.  My guess is that the crumb will be very moist, which might require additional baking time to reach an internal temperature in the 190-195F range.  And, if you didn't give it adequate kneading, the texture may be a bit ragged and prone to crumble, rather than smooth and firm.  That is just a guess, though.

For techniques on handling really wet dough, search for terms like "stretch and fold" or "French fold".  There are a number of videos, including one by Richard Bertinet, that show how to perform these techniques, which let you turn a slack, sticky mess into a well-developed dough with good structure.

Enjoy your garlic bread!


Chuck's picture

I'm with Paul - the recipe's hydration is very high (depending on how you measured). (What makes it even worse is that although oil doesn't count toward hydration, my experience is it can make dough "feel" even more slack).

It's workable  ...if you're familiar with high hydration doughs and use appropriate techniques. But if you didn't intend such high hydration or aren't familiar with working really slack doughs, it will be problematic. (For example traditional "kneading" without a dough knife will be very difficult.)

Where did you get the recipe? Did you really intend this sort of experience?

It sounds like you made it work anyway and are on your way to enjoying eating the finished bread. But I'm somewhat dubious about whether this is the best way to learn about working with high hydration doughs. (Of course there's also the possibility the recipe was garbled due to a math error or a boo-boo in weight->volume conversion [not a good idea anyway] or a typo:-)


thegreatnicski's picture

crumb was v moist, and bread rose a little too much for my liking.

Have never worked with high hydration dough before, so I guess my journey continues...

I'll need to investigate the stretch and fold / french fold techniques - yay! 

I got the recipe from cook book.

Thanks for the information guys, great to have some expert opinion inside my kitchen!

flournwater's picture

I'm in the corner with Chuck and Paul.  Even for a focaccia, your hydration percentage is far too high.  I'd suggest getting the level of yeast down also.  My typical focaccia formula uses a hydration percentage of 71% with the yeast at about 1%.  Your hydration is nearer 80%, your yeast approximates about 4% and whatever a "pinch" of salt is should, IMO, be somewhere around 2 - 2.5%. 

Final note.  Get yourself a scale.  You can't make bread consistently well using the dip/level/pour method.