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Help - same dough diferent results

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Delicio8's picture
Delicio8

Help - same dough diferent results

Hello,

I've been lurking on this site for quite awhile and this is my first post. First I want to say thank you to all the passionate bread makers out there, you are very inspiring and I might add...intimidating! Anyway, on to my problem.  I recently made a sourdough from a wild starter.  The recipe is the basic country bread from the Tartine book.  I had two rounds of dough about the same size, one I let final rise about 2 1/2 hours and the other went into the refrigerator for a retarded rise :) for about 14 hours.  The first one came out beautifully!  a lovely crust with deep cuts. Look...

The other loaf has a nice flavor but the crust is not even in the same league.  The cuts did not fully expand or crack and I'm not sure what I did wrong.  I baked both in a cast iron dutch oven at 20 mins covered, temperature started at 500 and I turned it down to 450 after the bread was placed in the dutch oven, then another 20 mins uncovered. 

2nd loaf 14 hour final rise.

Does anyone have any ideas why the difference?  Thanks for you help.

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

It would be nice to have higher resolution photos as it is hard to tell much from 225 x 70 pixel images.  What was the refrigerator temperature? I suspect it may have been too cold.

 

Delicio8's picture
Delicio8

I guess I thought all refrigerators were about the same!  What is the desired temp?  I will post larger pictures, I wasn't sure what the size requirement was.  Another thing I've noticed is that the 1st loaf (2 1/2 hour rise) is larger and has an airier crumb.  The 2nd is denser but not a brick.  I've retarded doughs in the same refrigerator and temp I suppose, without this problem.  I can't even call it a problem because if I hadn't had the first loaf as a comparison I might have been happy with this first sourdough from my starter.  I'm actually delighted and just want to learn what cause the change.  Here are the larger pics and I am off to check the refrigerator temperature.

1st loaf

2nd loaf

Quite a different result.  Could it have overproofed? 

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Can it be that the second loaf dried out in the refrigerator? If you don't cover it really well, dough develops a dry skin in the fridge. The ideal temperature for cold retarding is around 40 F.

Karin

Delicio8's picture
Delicio8

That is entirely possible as I only used a linen towel and no plastic wrap. Other times I have wrapped the entire thing in plastic wrap.  Is there a time limit for retarding?  I was thinking that 14 hours may have been too long.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I don't think 14 hours is too long to retard a loaf at 40 degrees F. If the surface of the loaf dried out enough to inhibit expansion during proofing, that may be the biggest factor. However, the retarded loaf still should have bloomed if it wasn't over-proofed.

How long did you proof the retarded loaf before putting it in the fridge, and did you let it warm up before baking? This doesn't make a lot of difference for a small loaf, but, if you were baking a 1 kg loaf, it needs time to warm up, otherwise you risk the center being underbaked. A photo of the crumb in the center of the loaf might help identify the problem.

BTW, 40 degrees F is a typical refrigerator temperature, but it is not the "ideal" temperature for cold retarding. Every baking book aimed at professionals I've read and the instructions given at the San Francisco Baking Institute specify 50 degrees F for cold retardation. At 40 degrees, yeast growth, fermentation and even acid production has ceased. It is useful in scheduling, but is not ideal for flavor development.

David

Delicio8's picture
Delicio8

I followed the directions as exactly from the Tartine book as possible. Remember this is my first attempt at a wild yeast sourdough and I didn't want to try to improvise anything.  I have a terrible habit of improvising, more on those disasters for another time! 

After mixing the leaven, flour and water I let autolyse for about 40 mins. Added salt and then left to bulk rise for 4 hours.  Then cut the dough into two pieces, pre-shape and bench rest for 30 mins.  Then the 1st loaf got a 2 1/2 hour final rise and the other one got popped into the refrigerator, wrapped in a towel which was placed in a plastic bowl.   In the morning I took it out of the fridge where it warmed up for maybe 10 mins?

Inside the 2nd loaf.

  

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

The technical literature (Ganzel) shows that sourdough yeast and LAB continue to replicate down to 4°C, so 40°F is not a problem.  However lower temperatures do slow the growth rates down substantially. I generally figure 2 hrs to cool down, but bake directly from the retarder.

Hamelman suggests retarding at 50°F for up to 8 hrs or 42°F for up to 18 hrs for his Vermont sourdough and his variations using 10% whole wheat and 15% whole grain flour.

 

Delicio8's picture
Delicio8

I'm not really clear what you mean 2 hrs to cool down?  And bake directly from the retarder means pop it right in the oven?  That's about what I did but the top didn't burst like the other one and the crust is shiny and...just different.  I know I will have to do it again...and again.... but....I'm pretty sure I will eventually go offer my services to some local artisan baker just to see how it's done. By offer my services I mean beg and plead and offer to work for free!

hanseata's picture
hanseata

10 minutes for a loaf to de-chill will not be long enough, if it's not a very small one. Wrapping the dough in a towel and refrigerating it in a bowl without lid (I assume) will definitely dry it more than if you place the whole thing in a plastic bag.

The information about the cold retarding temperature is interesting. My fridge registers about 40 F, and I calculate 2 hours for de-chilling - and sometimes more rising, before I either shape the dough, or put an already shaped loaf into the oven. I never have any problems with my breads rising, whether whole grain or white, the yeast are obviously alive and kicking.

My guess would be that your loaf developed a skin due to drying in the refrigerator (happened to me, too) and didn't have enough time to come to room temperature before you put it in the oven. If the bread is still very cold, it takes much longer to heat up in the oven, and by that time, with a harder skin to begin with, it might have become dense instead of getting an oven spring.

Karin

Delicio8's picture
Delicio8

Thanks. I will try the plastic and letting it sit a room temperature for longer next time around.  I'm trying to figure out where I can fudge the time since the wild yeast method takes so much longer and work it in my schedule.  I work a 9-5, M-F and so I feel like I'm either getting it into the oven at night (which is ok except that I get soooo tempted to cut into it and eat some right away) or leaving certain aspects to my husband....which has caused burns and disasters in the past!  Anyone have a good schedule already set?  I guess I'll have to search around the site to find one.  Thanks everyone and I will try to post when I re-attempt it with the results.

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Cold retarding can be a bit tricky as there a great many factors involved. 

The degree to which the dough is developed/fermented when you first put it in the refrigerator.  The temperature of the dough as it enters the refrigerator.  The strength and vitality of the starter used in the dough.  The temperature of the refrigerator and, as mentioned, how well covered the loaf is while cold proofing.  The best way to guage all of this is your ability to judge when the loaf is fully proofed and ready for the oven.  This takes into account all of the aforementioned factors and asks the simple question; Is the loaf ready for the oven or not?

Wrapping or covering the proofing loaves is essential as they will dry out in the refrigerator if not well covered with plastic.  A dough that has spent 4-18 hours in the refrigerator is going to be different than the dough that went straight through the final proof and into the oven.  It would be unwise to think that you can mix one dough that will perform perfectly under both scenarios.  One scenario will work better than the other.

I regularly cold retard a sourdough that is a combination of freshly milled whole grain rye, wheat, and spelt flours along with a white-ish flour that has had the bran removed.  The dough is mixed knowing that it will spend 8-10 hours in a 40° F environment during which time the shaped loaves in linen lined baskets will develop mostly or fully.  During this time the surface of the loaf will dry a little bit and firm up in such a way as to assist the loaf in maintaining its shape as it leaves the basket headed for the oven.  When the loaves leave the refrigerator, they are checked to see if they are fully proofed and then left at room temperature for as long as necessary to complete the proofing.  If they are fully proofed leaving the refrigerator, they go directly to the oven with little or no time at ambient temperature.  The key to all of this is again, knowing when the proofing loaves are ready for the oven.  That will come with experience as you pay close to attention to all aspects of your loaves as they enter the oven and again as they leave the oven.  If anything at all is not right, make note of it and figure out why.  Do this again and again and again and again.....then you will know how to listen to the dough as it tells you that it is or is not ready for the oven.

Cold retarding sourdough loaves involves a lot and is quite a challenge for a novice baker.  You can do it but it will take great attention to detail and dedication on your part as there are so many factors involved.  Factors much greater in number than those few mentioned here.  There is the entire mixing/kneading process that come before the cold retarding and then the baking process after the retarding.  Each of those processes containing a great many elements of their own.

Stick with a recipe you like and master that recipe before bouncing around too much.  Then you will teach yourself a great deal about baking bread and you will possess knowledge that can be carried to each subsequent recipe and baking.

Jeff

Delicio8's picture
Delicio8

I knew it wouldn't be easy. I just wanted more than the instant yeast etc experience.  Which can be great, and I've made some good bread that way but it seemed almost fool proof.  The whole wild yeast thing intrigued me from the start.  I know what you mean by experience because just in raising the starter I was full of doubts and questions.  Is it working? Has anything happened? Then when I saw the first actual rise and the bubbles and the life all those questions quieted down a bit!  I really appreciate your advice. You are right, I will have to learn the language as it were, of the dough itself, which only come through practice and doing.  Everyone is so generous with their knowledge on this site, it's great.

Thanks,

Matina

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

@Jeff - Right on man! Discipline and process control. Good record keeping. The sensitivity of an artist, the persistence of a craftsman. You have said it all. If only the casual baker understood how much effort it takes to get there.

 

Delicio8's picture
Delicio8

I don't know if the casual baker understand the level of obsession that can take over your life!  I daydream of leaving work early to go work on bread!