The Fresh Loaf

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Still working on the Breadtopia No Knead recipe

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christinepi's picture
christinepi

Still working on the Breadtopia No Knead recipe

The original recipe asks for:

143g whole wheat

300g white wheat

1.5tsps salt

and either 1/4 yeast OR 1/4 cup sourdough starter (which in my case amounts to 66g--for some reason the original recipe just adds that flour/water on to the rest of the dough, which then amounts to 476g flour and 376g water-143+300+33 flour, and 343+33 water)

 

The yeast version turned out ok, even if it still was pretty firm. Then I moved on to the s/d version. That didn't go so well. It was considerably denser. I played around with different bulk fermentation times and final proof times, as well as percentage of starter to dough. Nothing really changed. Most recently I messed everything up by adding 182g of starter to the dough while subtracting 91g water/91g flour from the original recipe (443-91=352, and 343-91=252); I think in part it got messed up because I changed the feeding ratio of the starter too abruptly and it took forever to peak (10 hours). The result was super wet dough (and I didn't even use the full 252, but a fair amount less which I can't remember because it was obvious I would end up with soup) and a dense loaf of bread.

So yesterday I made another attempt. This time I used 100g starter and factored in the 66g, as if they were actually part of the recipe, in addition to the 443g flour and 343g water. So I used: 476-50=426 for flour--143g whole wheat and 283g white--, and 376-50=326 for water. I started with under 300g of water to add to the flour just to not make the same mistake twice and end up with soup, and worked my way up to 304g water, which amounts to 75% hydration, if I have this correctly. It was a shaggy lump, and quite manageable. I let that sit overnight for 16 hours, and did one s+f, as instructed, let that sit for 15 minutes and final proofed it for 1.5 hours. It was much better than the last loaf, less dense and not gummy. But for the life of me I don't get how I'll ever get a loaf with holes and light crumb out of this. Unless Eric is cheating on the Breadtopia website, his loaf always looks great, a far cry from mine! 

One thing to add: maybe I'm not picking the right time to consider the starter "peaked". I carefully watch my starters, being a newbie, and still make marks on loaf making day on the container to make sure the starter isn't rising any longer, after it has had a dome for a while and tripled in size. That seems to me to amount to a peak. Am I wrong on this? 

The dough is never what I would call bubbly in the morning, although it certainly looks doubled. Yeah, there might be a few teensy bubbles here and there, but nothing major. And during the final proof there never any bubbles, either, although, when I do the poke test, the dough springs back ca half way pretty quickly, so I don't think I'm over proofing.

Another factor in this is that once I've made the dough, at ca 6pm, the room is still fairly warm (ca 70F). Once I go to bed, over the course of the night, from ca 9pm onwards, the temp drops, until it reaches 63F in the morning at 7am. This varies, depending on how warm the previous day was and how cold the night is. I turn on the heat then and the room gets up to 66 or so until I do the s+f. After that, for the final proof, I stick it in the micro wave with the door slightly ajar, and the temp is at ca 69 for 1.5 hours. I have a B+T warming box, but that, too, fluctuates a lot with the room temperature. Would it be better to have consistent, say 69F, throughout the night?

AAAAArgggh.

 

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

Well, I just thought of something. I don't remember noticing it in your other post. The white flour called for in the recipe, what exactly is that? Is it AP or Bread flour or something else? I'm asking because the difference in gluten between AP and Bread flour can mean the difference between a light and springy loaf versus a lump of coal mostly because of the high hydration of the recipe. The AP flour has a hard time holding its head up when weighted down with so much water. Whole wheat is even worse, because it has fiber in it which will cut the gluten strands and thereby weaken the whole thing even more. The whole wheat also causes the dough to ferment faster, and also the enzyme activity in the whole wheat causes the structure to break down faster. From the way you described your poke test, it seems to me that you're not overproving it. If you're using AP, switch to Bread flour or add some VWG. If you're already using Bread flour, maybe the hydration is still a little too high for this particular loaf using sourdough.

christinepi's picture
christinepi

... but would adding VWG help anyway, and if so, how much? A tablespoon?

I was actually thinking of gradually reducing the whole wheat flour first to maybe 90g, then 45g, and see what that does. If the loaves turned out fluffier, then at least I'd know the problem doesn't lie anywhere else (hydration, starter, timing, temperature). I'd prefer the health benefits of the whole wheat, but it won't kill me to experiment. More data.

Anyway, if you could let me know your thoughts on whether or not to use VWG WITH bread flour, that would be great.

cerevisiae's picture
cerevisiae

Another option is to change the WW you're using. You could try white whole wheat, which I hear tends to get loftier results, or you could get a coarser/stone ground WW and sift out the bran for a high extraction flour. I've had good luck with Arrowhead Mills stone ground; it's coarse enough that my mesh strainer can actually catch some of the bran, so I got a 90% extraction on it.

Another option is to take a break from this recipe and try something else for a bit. Coming to this feeling more refreshed might help.

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

Adding VWG may help a little but if you're already using Bread flour, there has got to be another reason why the recipe isn't turning out right.

If your poke test tells you the proofing is right, then anything that has anything to do with rising and proofing, including temperature dropping overnight, should be okay.

christinepi's picture
christinepi

... the (mostly) lack of bubbliness after the bulk ferment and also after the final? Does that indicate a problem somewhere?

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

Your starter, which is kept at 100% hydration, should be visibly bubbly as it grows in its container. The dough, which is at a lower hydration, shouldn't have any noticeable bubbliness. The gluten strands hold the air in, causing the dough to rise. The air is kept in small quantities spread evenly throughout the dough. Your dough wouldn't rise at all without it.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

from your dough, it wants to be warmer or have more time to ferment.  It likes folding, your hands being warm and asks if it can sit closer to the hot water boiler.    :)

christinepi's picture
christinepi

but could you ask my dough how much warmer or how much longer it would like the bulk fermentation to be? I could also tell it little bed time stories so it won't get bored.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

between 72°F and 78°F for the best little yeasty beasty growth.  

I'm looking for any temp vs rise tables to give you some idea.  More under dough temperature.  There are wild yeasts that do well in cooler temps but how many days do you want to raise your dough?  Will have those bedtime tables soon...

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

I've watched the videos on the Breadtopia site that show how to make the NK bread. There was a short one and a longer one, but they both basically showed the same process. The longer one just had a bit more information. The dough he had looked like it was plenty firm to be worked as needed (which wasn't much). But, I didn't see a video for the sourdough version. I didn't get to stay on the site for very long. Sourdough makes a huge difference in the consistency of the dough. Compared to straight dough using just commercial yeast, sourdough is going to make your dough stickier, wetter and more slack. But if he does it and it works, it should work for others as well.

Some questions:

Did you follow his process closely in making your bread?

Are you baking in a La Cloche or a Dutch Oven?

Do you use a banetton or a proofing basket or a towel to raise your dough on?

Are you being really gentle with transferring the dough from the proofing place to the baking surface?

Does the dough collapse when you transfer it to the baking surface?

Are you watching the clock or watching the dough? The clock time given is a suggestion, and it actually says in the notes below the videos that your times may vary quite a bit. The dough is ready when it's ready!

christinepi's picture
christinepi

Did you follow his process closely in making your bread?

Yes, apart from the temperature. My room temp goes down over the course of the night, from 68 to 61. 

Are you baking in a La Cloche or a Dutch Oven?

Cast Iron. I guess that's considered a Dutch Oven.

Do you use a banetton or a proofing basket or a towel to raise your dough on?

Yes.

Are you being really gentle with transferring the dough from the proofing place to the baking surface?

As gentle as can be. I tilt the dough onto my hand and lower it into the piping hot cast iron pot until I can't lower anymore w/o burning my paws, and, no, the dough doesn't collapse. Slashing it is super easy.

Does the dough collapse when you transfer it to the baking surface?

Are you watching the clock or watching the dough? The clock time given is a suggestion, and it actually says in the notes below the videos that your times may vary quite a bit. The dough is ready when it's ready!

I initially followed the suggested times until I felt more comfortable following what the dough said. Oddly, during the bulk phase, it (to me) looks the same from when it's at ca 14 hours to 18 hours. The final, though, I go by the poke test, and looks of rise.

christinepi's picture
christinepi
Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I see no mention of the taste of the bread.  

That can tell you a lot and so can tasting the dough at different stages.  I agree that adding gluten is not going to help much but raising the ash content may help buffer the acids during the whole process.  So stick to the bread flour, that is what it was designed for, slow rising sourdoughs.  

Maybe the yeast to bacteria balance is off in the starter.  Triple sounds good but is the rising starter still rising/ domed when you're using it?  With 70°F  I would wait until the surface started to dimple and be flat across and no longer rising.  Not falling either.  

How long does the starter take to reach that point where it is risen, levels out and rises no more?  

If you feed it with the same percentage as the no-knead dough (include salt) making a small dough sample, and watch it, marking the rise in a tall narrow glass, how does it behave thru a repeat of the process where you can watch it?  Perhaps it is more advanced in fermentation than we think it is?  

Could make several samples (or a small batch of dough, splitting it up) and treat each sample differently and avoid so much Trial with whole loaves and lots of dough.  

  • Let one rise warm at first and cool down (like what would happen with warm water dough mix.)  
  • Let another rise longer cool.  
  • Let another get folded more.  
  • Another retard alone in the fridge for a day,
  • another even longer.  
  • Another could have a shorter night rise, say at midnight going into the fridge.  To be shaped (more than just cutting off a piece) and allowed to rise before baking.
  • Repeat of the last step without a decent shaping and rise.
  • another option or two.

I would not consider stretch & folds kneading, and I know that the dough structure will need more s&f's just because it is a sourdough when comparing to a com. yeast raised dough.  Adding more of them to maintain the integrity of the dough would not be cheating and I don't think you will get good results without adding more.  It's the nature of the two types of dough.  Sourdoughs ferment and devour themselves faster.  

christinepi's picture
christinepi

I see no mention of the taste of the bread.  

Do you mean the dough or the bread? I've never tried the dough. The bread tastes quite good, kind of on the sour side (to me). And maybe a little too whole wheat-ish, which is why I want to try this same recipe with much less whole wheat to see.

 

Maybe the yeast to bacteria balance is off in the starter.  Triple sounds good but is the rising starter still rising/ domed when you're using it?  With 70°F  I would wait until the surface started to dimple and be flat across and no longer rising.  Not falling either.  

I use it when it starts to dimple and is flat across. That's when it seems to smell the most yeasty, too. Although I still wouldn't know whether the balance is ok, being a beginner.

How long does the starter take to reach that point where it is risen, levels out and rises no more?  

Somewhere around 9 hours, depending on temperature. 

If you feed it with the same percentage as the no-knead dough (include salt) making a small dough sample, and watch it, marking the rise in a tall narrow glass, how does it behave thru a repeat of the process where you can watch it?  Perhaps it is more advanced in fermentation than we think it is?  

 I've never done this, so I don't have an answer, but I will try that!

And I'll try some of your other suggestions. I definitely like doing science experiments.

I'll also try s+f's; the only thing that baffles me is how could the dough turn out alright on Breadtopia's website without s+f's? What's he got I don't have?? (experience, for one, but still...)

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

the crumb of the video was not very consistent and there seemed to be a density in a middle swirl.  OK for a start or a busy, no time to play bake but  i think as confidence builds in one's baking ability, some changes will be made for the better.  I would keep in mind that this no knead recipe if to first give the easiest recipe it can to a beginning sourdough baker.    

I think his kitchen was warmer than 70°F just from the way he was dressed in a short sleeve shirt and the light sweatshirts on the ladies.  

christinepi's picture
christinepi

but it still looks better than mine...

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Have you tried the 1.2.3 sourdough recipe yet?  I use that as a fall back, basic all the time holding back a little on the liquids as I need to.  

christinepi's picture
christinepi

Do you have a link for that, by any chance?

I just baked another brick, yay, this time with all white flour. Maybe it is my starter after all. I have no clue what the problem is. But I'm ready to try some other recipe (although, if the starter is the problem, this will keep haunting me, of course).

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

is the place to start.  :)  Throw your starter onto our virtual kitchen table and tell us all about it...  or did you want to start a new thread?  

When the starter is preforming well, most other problems clear up.  

christinepi's picture
christinepi

thanks!