The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

hydration, dough consistency

  • Pin It
codruta's picture
codruta

hydration, dough consistency

Hi everybody. I hope someone can help me understand what is "Correct the hydration as necesary. The dough should have a medium consistency". I've made hamelman's "pain au levain with mixed sourdough starters", but the dough did not feel wet enough. I added 25ml water (for a total dough of 1400g), and I think I should have added even more. Maybe the flour I used absorb more water than hamelman's flour, or maybe I was on the right side, but I did not knew it. Can anyone show me some picture with a wet dough, a medium wet dough, and a dry one? This is how my dough looked (1)after mixing, (2)before the first fold, and (3)(4) some pictures of the crumb next day:

thank you, codruta

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Codruta, From the Profile of the Crumb, i would discern that you either:

a) hydrated the dough more than called for in the recipe or

b) One of your starters (Stiff Rye/White starter) or both were not in their optimum condition when used, leading to a final dough with more bacteria than yeast, and ultimately proteolytic breakdown of your dough  - which explains the lower profile.

Here is a Photo taken from Teresa's Book "Discovering Sourdough III, Page 18: Hydrations of 50% through 100%, all White Sourdough.

codruta's picture
codruta

hi Khalid, and thanx. Here are the pictures of the two levain, right before mixing the ingredients. Can you tell if they were or were not in the best condition? The moment I started mixing the ingredients I've asked myself if the stiff starter was a little bit overripe, and if the liquid one is ready yet. The levains stood 10 hours (during night, at a 24-25C) before using them.

codruta

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

leading to a final dough with more bacteria than yeast, and ultimately proteolytic breakdown of your dough  - which explains the lower profile.

 Khalid,

Not sure if this is appropriate to jump in here with this question but can you explain this with a bit more detail?

Just how does one tell if the leaven has more bacteria than yeast in it?

Janet

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Your Levains look fine to me.. Although i cannot judge the liquid levain by a photo. A Ripe Liquid levain should smell slightly acidic, and be frothy at the top.

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi codruta,

I would concur with your own hunch: the stiff levain is indeed over ripe.

I agree with Khalid that it is not that easy to guage the activity level in your liquid levain.

Best wishes

Andy

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Janet, A typical active sourdough culture has always more bacteria than wild yeasts by a ratio of about 100-1000 to 1. However, if you do not elaborate your starter during its optimal stage, you will end up with a culture that has less lively, or even dead wild yeasts, which occurs as a result of the acidic conditions you have created by not feeding the culture when its wildyeasts are in their prime time (Ripe). When you cross the prime time of a recently fed sourdough culture, you are tipping the scale towards bacterial growth, which results in increased acidic conditions that will halt the activity of the wildyeasts, and trigger protease enzymes which attacks gluten, and results in a sticky slack dough.

As to your question, your nose and tongue are your friends here. Don't entirely rely on visible cues, they may be deceiving. A starter culture with excellent yeast activity should smell slightly acidic, and more alcohol-ish. The taste should similarily indicate a subtle acidity, so much like a yoghurt but with alcohol undertones.

Khalid

codruta's picture
codruta

Very interesting informations, Khalid, thanx for your explanations. I always smell my starter, but I've never thought to taste it.

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

I thank you to Khalid for the excellent explanation.  I always sniff as well as look at what's happening with my leavens when I am building for a bake and had know that more frequent feedings favor yeast development due to lag times.  I generally keep my leaven at about 60%HL when not in use - feeding 2x a day.  

When I get ready to bake with it I increase the HL to 100%  (feed = 1:1:1) in order to increase the yeast activity which results from a shorter rise time - the yeast go through the food more quickly.  Once I have a strong yeast population going I lower the HL to about 75% to match the HL of the dough I am working with.  By lowering the HL activity slows down and I get a milder sour and, if the rise is happening faster than I like I use the refrigerator to slow it down.  (I try to time my last build for the end of the day so that the final build takes all night to ripen and then is ready for me to use in the morning when it has almost peaked.....I prefer to use leaven that hasn't reached it's peak - sort of a 'younger' leaven.....It is one of the ways that I use to slow the fermenting in my final dough.)

You have now introduced me to yet another aspect of leaven development that I can now use to help me get the results I want by understanding more of what is taking place with these infinitesimally small critters I am actively raising on my kitchen counter. ;^) .  

As always, just when I think I am getting the hang of this something pops up and throws me for a loop.....I now call them my 'learning loops'  :-D

Again, thanks for your great explanation!

Take Care,

Janet