The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Newbie--Tartine dough and sticking

tundrah's picture

Newbie--Tartine dough and sticking

Hello. I have recently started my journey into "sourdough-dom" via the Tartine Country Bread recipe. Overall its going far better than I anticipated. I've got a rockin' starter going and have muddled my way through three baking attempts. Fortunately, I seem to be getting slightly more adept each time, and it has yet to be less than pretty darn tasty.

However, here is my consistent "sticking point"--literally and figuratively! After my bulk fermentation and in preparation for the final proof, I get out my bowl(s) and cotton tea towel(s). I have tried varying amounts of flour in an effort to NOT get the dough to stick to the towels on the final transfer into the DO. 2 out of the 3 times I'd say I used a moderate amount of flour, and both times were a disaster getting the dough out of the bowl and into the DO. At least I learned that I get a better rise from a cold DO so at this point I'm not burning myself trying to extract the dough from the fibers of the tea towel. I've ruined the "skin" of all three batches from varying towel-meets-dough issues.

The second time I baked, I erred on the side of a LOT of flour, and it helped, but I didnt like having my finished loaves covered and drowning in cooked flour. Blech.

So, what am I doing wrong? I am wondering if my dough is too "wet" when I am putting it into the proofing basket/bowl? I'm not so good at shaping yet either, maybe the inadequate surface tension has something to do with it? If I spring for a real Brotform will it make much difference?

Thanks in advance for any help or advice!

gmabaking's picture

doesn't tend to stick so much. With the summer heat, I have taken to mixing Tartine Country Bread early in the morning and putting it into the refrigerator (right after dividing and shaping)for its final proof. The time in the refrigerator is partly based on the dough passing the indentation test and partly on my own time schedule for getting it out of there. This way the dough is leaving its basket while still chilled. No warm up time, just into the oven with them. I don't usually preheat the oven, just  put the dough into a cold DO, leave covered about 15 minutes after oven preheat is done, then around 20 minutes more or until crust is dark brown.

I am glad that I bought the brotform, at least enough so that I soon bought another one. My linen lined banneton doesn't get used very often. The instructions are for using rice and wheat flour on your towel or basket, one time I didn't have any mixed up so I used all rice flour and it worked so well I've continued to do that. If you aren't using rice flour at all, that could be the issue.

Good luck, hope this helps,


dabrownman's picture

Use rice flour...nothing sticks to it,  You don't have to use a lot either.  Barbra's tip of cold hleps too but rice flour is the ticket to never having anything stick to your forms or cloth again,

tundrah's picture

The recipe version I have (from Martha Stewart) I believe does not mention rice flour, tho I could have missed it. I have been using straight up AP so maybe that is the biggest problem. I will try the rice flour along with the final proof in the fridge. I also have been having some issues with getting a good score, and I think the fridge should help that as well. I will let you know how it goes, thanks again!

tundrah's picture

If that's as easy a fix as it sounds, that's a homerun! ;)

Nickisafoodie's picture

In addition to the comments above (rice flour alone or 50/50 mix) I have had great success using formal woven dinner napkins that are made of 100% synthetic micro fiber rather than cotton or linen. They can be purchased at Walmart for a few dollars each, approx. 15" square.

The weave is very fine and it tends to wick away moisture leaving the dough surface a touch drier - which combined with the dusting works well in releasing the dough.  While you still need to dust, all things being equal I find it is definitely superior to linen (which is flax) or cotton.  I also use a hard plastic colander rather than a basket; the two work well together as I usually do an overnight fermentation in the refrigerator with each basket inside a large plastic bag. 

bredtobake's picture

I agree with some of the previous comments, so I thought I'd chime in just for more "statistics" on what people are doing out there. I've been making the tartine sourdough on and off for at least a year, almost every week. I usually proof and bench one loaf, and cut the other one up for pizza dough that I freeze. I have found a few things to be quite useful:

1) Bannetons - I have two round ones that are coated with rice flour. I've rarely had problems with them sticking when I transfer them to ...

2) A peel - I find that a good stainless steel peel (I bought mine from King Arthurs) works wonders. 

3) Speaking of King Arthurs - flour quality really does matter! I used to live in Ontario, and bought my flour from a local mill. It was great, but not amazing. Their "hard flour" was actually somewhere between all-purpose and bread flour. I moved to New Hampshire, 5 minutes from Norwich, VT (home of King Arthur). I had arrived in bread baker's heaven! After getting the KA bread flour, I immediately noticed a difference in my bread, especially the oven spring.

4) This is following comment number 2, many may have noticed that if you use a peel, it might be difficult to slide the bread into the combo cooker lid (Chad's suggested method in Tartine Bread). By chance, a relative washed my combo cooker lid with water and let it air dry -- an honest mistake, no hard feelings -- so with it rusted out, I switched to a pizza-stone, combo cooker pot combo. I actually prefer this. Getting a good amount of semolina flower on the top of the dough while in the banneton (the eventual bottom of the loaf), I flip the boule onto the peal, score it with a lame and then slide it onto the pizza stone. Then, I put the lid over the bread, close the oven and reduce the temp, et voila, perfect sourdough loaf in 30-40 min!!

Hopefully these tips help. Like I said, I have a lot of experience with this recipe, although not a tremendous amount of experience with others.