The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Tartine Bread: gluten development

christoph's picture

Tartine Bread: gluten development

Good day, all. 

Like many others before me, I am making my first attempts at Tartine's country loaf. My current hurdle: proper gluten development and out of it building adequate surface tension.  I feel that I am following the directions correctly, but when the time comes for the initial shaping before the bench rest, the dough is very sticky (not tacky) and glossy with hydration. My sense is that the gluten has not developed properly. 

As things stand, I have a healthy and predictible starter that's over 30 days old. Here are the other particulars of my process: 

  • Flour: Central Milling's Artisan Bakers Craft and Medium Whole Wheat Flour (also, with similar results, CM's Type 85 flour)
  • Mix leaven and allow to rise to 20% original volume at approximately 68 degrees; test and pass float test
  • Mix ingredients according to recipe quantities and temps
  • Autolyse for 40 minutes at roughly 75 degrees
  • Add salt and water, mix until incorporated
  • Transfer dough to plastic container for a bulk fermentation of 3 to 4 hours at about 78 degrees
  • During bulk fermentation dough is folded 2-3 times every 30 minutes during the first 2 hours, making sure that entire dough mass is processed with the turns
  • During the remaining time it takes to increase in volume by 20%, the dough is not turned

Now, I understand that this is process that will take plenty of time and repitition to achieve optimum results. Here are a couple questions I have by comparing what I see and feel from what I see thorughout the photographs in the Tartine book: 

  • WIth so little interaction with the dough (by way of the series of turns), can one expect so well developed gluten and the resulting surface tension as seen on pages 57 and 59?
  • What might be the reason, or reasons, that my dough is appears glossy, is so sticky, and lacking the smoothness and shapability that comes with well developed gluten? 
  • Is it possible that I need to mix longer during the mixing stage after adding the salt and water? 

I realize there are many factors at play and so the possibilites numerous for my current results, but any insights are greatly appreciated. All seems well to up until the bulk fermentation. 

Many thanks in advance. 

Cheers and happy holidays!


imaloafer's picture

And what has happened when you bake it off? Shaping, surface tension is key to a great loaf. We make 12-14 loaves at home each week and the first few times, the loaves were a bit flat. My wife has such soft hands on the dough, and has really mastered the final shaping technique. Autolyse (We do 30 minutes) gets the flour hydrated, allowing for gluten to activate, and combined with proper folding, all 4 sides, each 30 minutes for 2 hours, your gluten should not be an issue. I also use Central Milling flours, same types as you state with great success. If you're not happy with the height or look of your loaves I would guess it's shaping technique, banneton selection, etc.