The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Another "cowpat" :-(

Salilah's picture

Another "cowpat" :-(

Oops - another failure

I was trying to make Daisy's Wholemeal Lemon Sourdough (original successful recipe here)

Not sure what particularly went wrong - my assumption is that
a) I left the preferment too long
b) I used slightly unripe starter
c) I left the mixed dough too long for bulk ferment
d) the S&F method didn't work so well for wholewheat as for white
e) I didn't knead enough
f) the gods were not smiling :-)

I shaped the dough into small loaves - 20mins into proofing and oops - disintegrating dough!

There was no surface tension when shaping...

I decided to pop them in the oven anyway - 30mins at 220C

They smelled great - and tasted OK - but pretty awful rise (i.e. almost none) - it's "back to the bricks", and just when I thought I was doing well...

So - not one of my best examples!  Never mind - I'm still learning!



Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

:)  Could it be that tiny bran flakes cut your gluten structure?  

Salilah's picture

Mini - thanks!  I think you're right - I've got into the habit recently of leaving things longer than the recipe suggests, and I reckon this one went too far!  It was also fairly warm in the kitchen yesterday

Don't know about the bran flakes - I've only really gone up to 15% of wholewheat in my sourdoughs so far, and this one was fully wholewheat.  It was also the stoneground WW from Lode Mill (traditional watermill at National Trust Abbey) and could well have been less ground than other flours

I'll try it again, and watch more carefully, so I can get used to WW recipes


yy's picture

another possibility is that your starter has turned proteolytic. What hydration is it? Have you observed that it turns soupy several hours after refreshing?


Salilah's picture

Thanks yy for the suggestion

I think the starter is OK - I keep it at 100% in the fridge during the week (we stay in London in the week, so I have a daughter starter there!) and refresh before using.  If anything, my guess is that it was a bit hungry, as I hadn't fed it as much as usual and it looked a bit tired when coming out of the fridge

I will check this though - I'll feed today and do another bake of one of my more reliable recipes, just in case


ananda's picture

Hi Sali,

Mini has the correct answers with a and c.

I just wonder what temperature your dough was mixed and proved at?

Don't worry; just remember that spent dough always looks this way.   Slow down that fermentation!

Best wishes


Salilah's picture

Hey Andy!

The preferment was done for around 8 hours at around 22C then into the fridge for 12 hours; the bulk fermentation (looking at notes) was 7 hours at around 22-24C (oops).  I think I've not yet got to grips with timing if I'm using the S&F method rather than "proper" kneading - and also as I haven't done much WW yet, I wasn't sure how it should feel

I have produced some reasonable mainly white loaves in the time between the two cowpats - honest!  Though I'm still not really sorted with shaping, the Tartines and the Vermont with higher WW are still "running" a bit when I turn them out of the bannetton

thanks for suggestion!


rolls's picture

Hi, i've got a new baby starter almost three weeks old following recipe from the bourke st bakery. i notice i get that brown liquid a lot on top, especially if i neglect to feed it for a day. plus its winter here, so i usually have it in a plastic bowl with lid loosely on, and covered with a tea towel to keep it a bit warmer. i leave it in the oven when its not being used and up near the stove while im cooking for the warmth. at times i found it really lovely and bubbly but i just don't know enough bout sourdough to know if im going in the right direction. if anyone can shed a bit of light please? i haven't tried it in any breads yet :) thanks

Salilah's picture

Heya Rolls

Firstly, I'm not an expert! (been doing sourdoughs since mid-April)

However, if you are getting brown liquid (hooch) that suggests to me that you are not feeding your starter enough (either not enough volume or not often enough).  I'll get a tiny bit of hooch on mine after a week in the fridge, and know that it needs a couple of feeds before baking

What hydration is your starter (i.e. what weights of flour and water do you feed)?  How much do you feed compared to the old starter?  How often do you feed?