The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Too much free form shape - Jello like dough?

dvirkk's picture

Too much free form shape - Jello like dough?

Hey, I'm new here so forgive me if this has been asked before... 

I'm paying with some whole grain bread - it's Peter's Reinhart's most basic Whole Grain bread with a Biga and a Soaker.
The flower contains about 11% protein.  I think it's about 75% fluids.

The bread rises and looks all nice, I shape it and let it rise. The first time - it rose and "blew up" - became a low (rather airy) beard. The second time, I let it rise in a basket, because I was afraid it wouldn't hold. After rising it felt as if it had so much air in it that it behaved a bit like soft airy jello. As I took it out and into the oven it just lost most of it's air and I got the same rather flat airy bread.

As far as I can understand there may be several reasons:
1) Over rising? It was a stable dough after I shaped it, but as it rose it was very soft. I let it rise in the oven with a hot cup of water inside. Could that be the problem?
2) Too low gluten? Should I knead it for a longer time?
3) Wrong shaping method?  I'm just going for an old fashion round loaf so...
4) Too much hydration? I am following the directions with a scale :) 

Would love to hear your input on this,
Thanks in advance, Dvir 

flournwater's picture

I think you're over-proofing, from what you describe as "I think it's about 75% fluids", a highly hydrated dough.  Because of the low protein content of 11% it probably doesn't have enough gluten to form and hold a structure as it bakes.  The formula I have for PR's Whole-Wheat bread calculates to about 65% hydration.  Are you working from his BBA or one of his other books?

dvirkk's picture

Firstly I'd like to thank you for your kind attention to such novice trouble.

If I wish to preserved the original formula (see bottom) as it is written in the book:

Would it help if I knead it for a longer time? (it calls for about 6-7 minutes only, and I am not using a machine)

Would it be a good idea to just shorten the rising time? In any case I loose a lot of the volume this way...


Thanks again, Dvir


BAKER’S FORMULA          %                        

Whole wheat flour          100
Salt          1.8
Instant yeast          1.5                        

Milk          39
Water          33
Honey          8.5
Unsalted butter or oil          3
Total          186.8


holds99's picture

Try giving your dough two or three stretch and folds at 20-30 minute intervals during bulk fermentation, prior to final proofing in the bannetons.  This will further develop the dough and align the gluten strands, firming up the dough.  Also, firm up your dough during shaping by rotating and tightly tucking the dough under, which will further firm up the dough before placing it into the bannetons.   75% your hydration sounds a bit high, but you can still get a nice loaf with open crumb by using the stretch and folds and tightly shaping the dough prior to placing it in the bannetons.