The Fresh Loaf

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Sourdough Dough Turned to Soup!

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edroid's picture
edroid

Sourdough Dough Turned to Soup!

I have a question regarding the hydration of a sourdough leavened bread. 

I have been using the "Country Blonde" recipe for my initial forays in to artisan breads. The book lays out a recipe for a 78% hydration dough as follows: White AP flour: 90%, whole wheat: 5%, Rye flour: 5%, Water: 78%, Salt: 2.2%, Sourdough 80% Levain: 21.6%. (Hydration calculation takes in to account water from levain). 

When I make the dough as specified, I get good gluten development from stretch and folds, but after the specified 12 hour bulk fermentation, the dough has degraded and turned a bit thicker than soup. Extremely slack and unmanageable. Not useable. (The bulk was done at 70° and never "tripled" as specified by Forkish.) 

I cut the hydration down to 73%, and still had a wet dough after bulk fermentation, but it baked up a tasty, though very flat, loaf. 

My guess is that my sourdough starter is affecting the gluten development from enzyme activity and the acidic level of the starter, as expected. 

My question is whether my starter is different than so many others used in so many recipes calling for high hydration? My starter pH is right in line, smells great, seems to add plenty of leavening and great taste, yet it seems to "melt" the dough more than others. 

I know I can just keep cutting back on hydration, say try 68% to try and get a loaf that is not so flat, and also reduce fermentation time, but why am I getting such different results from the countless recipes out there? 

emkay's picture
emkay

Forkish's overnight country blonde has a tendency to turn into soup if your room temperature is too warm during the 12 hour bulk fermentation. It's happened to me too. [see soupy mess below....]

Most people seem to avoid the soup by decreasing the amount of levain, doing the bulk fermentation for only as long as the dough needs it (usually less than 12 hours), or bulk retarding the dough after a little bit of bulk fermentation at room temp.

HTH,

Mary

 

 

edroid's picture
edroid

Thanks for the quick reply! 

I guess as long as I am not the only one dealing with this, then it makes me feel a bit better. I will try retarding overnight. 

I thought I was dealing with some flesh eating bacteria in my starter! 

TokyoTiger's picture
TokyoTiger

Try using a higher protein flour like a 13-14% flour and not AP flour. Good luck and keep on baking.

Jim

PetraR's picture
PetraR

I would also suggest to use a high protein flour like a strong bread flour with 13-14 % like TokyoTiger already said.

Here in the Uk the AP flour * Plain flour * has no more than 9.5 % protein, I just use it for a few things like Pancakes or some batters.

amberartisan's picture
amberartisan

Okay, First off, Ken Forkish's book times are nonsense. A good solution would be to bulk 3-4 hours at room, then retard it. Or just go 5 hours and not retard. I do agree with his levain percentages, though.

 

The problem is, over a long bulk fermentation, the high acid and enzyme activity, called proteolysis (activated by the acid),  tends to break down the gluten. Also you will end up with quite sour bread.

edroid's picture
edroid

Amberartisan, thanks for your comments.

From my limited experience with the Forkish recipes, I have to agree that his times are nonsense. My bulks and proofs have been one quarter as long as his times, though only about 2° warmer! 

I will try your recommended times. Any tricks to tell when a bulk ferment is sufficient?

(Peter Reinhart says, “Proper fermentation of the grain is the major skill of the bread baker’s craft.” Excerpt From: “Crust and Crumb".)

Ideally, I would love to be able to fine tune the sour taste by changing the levain percentage, bulk time and temperature, and maybe the rye % in the levain. Hopefully that will come with experience. 

edroid's picture
edroid

I've been using King Arthur AP flour which is 11.7% protein. 

Should be more than sufficient, no? 

I have been getting great dough development during the stretch and folds. 

emkay's picture
emkay

11.7% is sufficient. My flour is 10.5% (Central Milling Artisan Bakers Craft) and it works for my breads including the overnight country. 

For doughs like the overnight country b and Tartine types I will look for how the dough sits in the container during the progression of the bulk at room temp. My dough would be "ready" when the surface is somewhat domed and not flat. I also use a clear container so I can look to see if there are bubbles along the sides of the container. The dough should be fairly "aerated" for lack of a better description. And then I judge the amount the dough has risen. For wet doughs (75% or higher hydration) a 30% rise is fine with me as long as the other 2 conditions are met.  Of course there are some other things to look for as well such as the way the dough feels in your hands, how it stretches, etc and other factors to consider, but I think you get the idea. 

edroid's picture
edroid

Yes, I have made this bread often enough that I know the stage of development that you describe. 

What really, really screwed me up was Forkish's description of "doubling and tripling" at the end of bulk. Huh? I was lucky to see 30%. . . 

That and his extremely long ferment and proof times. . . 

Anyway, my breads have tasted fantastic, but have suffered a bit from over proofing due to trying to ferment and proof the times indicated in his book. 

emkay's picture
emkay

The 'double and triple' is confusing. If you do a search on TFL you will find many others that have had the soup/glop/blob and how they overcame it. Good luck and happy baking!

mixinator's picture
mixinator

Sourdough 80% Levain: 21.6%

Are these liquid or firm starters/levains? That sounds awfully high.

You might be able to get by with an 8-hour proof.

Bread flour will have more protein than AP.

edroid's picture
edroid

The hydration of the levain is 80%, as recommended by Forkish. 

Bakers % of the levain in the overall recipe is 21.6%. 

I took all of this in to account to come up with the 78% overall hydration of the dough. 

I think I will retard the bulk fermentation next time. 

mixinator's picture
mixinator

I shoot for 60% dough hydration. However, I don't know if hydration is the cause of your proteolysis. I was going to suggest using less levain, maybe cut it by half?