The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

under or over proofed

  • Pin It
Orchiddoc71's picture
Orchiddoc71

under or over proofed

I have been baking bread for a few months and using my own starter for about a month.  I normally make an overnight pre-ferment - 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup starter and 10floz water (sorry, my scale is broken and I cannot get accurate gram weights).  I add this to 3 cups flour + 10floz water the next morning  (the dough is pretty moistm but workable). The first few times I did this, it worked out great: beautiful oven spring, big airy loaves with great crusts.  Then, 2 weeks ago, i did the exact same thing, baked the bread and they came out flat as could be and were still very wet in the middle.  I thought i had done something wrong so tried again the following week with the same result.  I have several lines of thought about this: a)  my starter had kind of died down and my rise was not sufficient (loaves underproofed).  b) my house is quite cold and the rise was not sufficient (loaves underproofed).  c) I am wrong about the rise and the formed loaves were overproofed.  I am attaching a picture.  Can someone please tell me if this is characteristic of underproofing or overproofing.  Thanks!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

How do you maintain the starter?    The more details the better.

When do you use it?    Do you stretch and fold the dough while it's rising?

Orchiddoc71's picture
Orchiddoc71

Hi, yes, i follow the stretch and fold technique. 

OK, lets see.  I maintain my starter in the fridge and feed it once a week when i make bread.  I typically make my overnight preferment with about 1/2 cup of starter.  I then take a 1/4 cup of the starter and add 1/2 cup wheat flour, 1/2 cup white flour (both Kin Arthur) and 1 cup water.  I mix it then let it sit out at room temp for about an hour.  It then goes back into the fridge until the following weekend.

For the dough:  I mix my ingredients with the preferment and let it rest for 10mins.  I then give it a brief knead (2-3 mins ) to make sure the pre-ferment is incorporated.  I let it rise for 2h with 2 stretch and folds during that time.  I then pre-shape and let rest for 10mins, followed by shaping it in to a batard followed by proofing.  

My house is not overly warm (68F) and I do not have a proofing basket or anything like that.  I place the shaped loaf onto a baking sheet, cover loosely with a linen cloth and let it proof.  I let it proof for about an hour and then pop it in the oven.  As I said, it was working great for a while and now, i can't seem to get anything to work.

Cheers!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

this:  "I typically make my overnight preferment with about 1/2 cup of starter."       I'm not sure what is happening here, please tell more.

It also sounds like your starter is loosing yeast power.  That might be solved by letting the freshly fed liquid starter stand much longer more before chilling.  I also think the dough could have used another folding to tighten the surface before final proof.  First the starter...

With 68°F room temp, you could easily keep your starter out of the fridge, feeding it after it shows lots of activity.  I think it could use a few days out to build yeast numbers.  How long does it take the 1/4 cup of starter to go thru one cup of flour?  Better yet, how about reducing this to 1/8 c starter to 1/2 cup of mixed flours and 1/2 cup of warm (bath temp) water.   Warm water will cool rather quickly but give your yeast a swift kick to get mooooving.  :) 

isand66's picture
isand66

I agree with Mini Oven about your starter.  You should leave it out overnight on the counter or for at least 5-6 hours until it has doubled in size and then put it in your refrigerator.  Buy a new scale as soon as you can as using the wrong amount of ingredients can make a huge difference.