The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

First time making bread need some help

jeff6666p's picture
jeff6666p

First time making bread need some help

I just made my first loaf of bread and it came out very doughy and dense.    

 

My starter is a week old feed it every 24 hours with 120g flour and 110g water.   I used 10g salt , 500g of flour , 225g of starter and 250g of water and then mixed it kneaded for 12 min.  I let it sit for 2 hours then shaped it into the loft but it kept flating out so I rolled it up every half hour I did that for 4 hours. I then went to bake it for 30min at 450f after that I let it sit out for 6 hours before cutting it open to find it wasn't fluffy but dense like a bagel and doughy.      What did I do wrong?

 

The temp that it was sitting out at was 74f and humidity was 44%

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Let me see...

 

500g flour (100%)

250g water (50%)

10g salt (2%)

225g starter (45%) [75g water + 150g flour]

 

Hydration = 50%

 

Something wrong with this recipe. The hydration is very low indeed! and yet it kept flattening out. But i also see you bulk fermented for 2 hours and then final proofed it for 4 hours! With 45% starter which has a high percentage of prefermented flour at 50% hydration then i suspect over-fermenting. On top of that it was very warm where you are. 

May i suggest you follow this recipe? https://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/sourdough-pain-naturel/

Your starter may need to mature more but try your hand at the recipe I've given you and see what happens. #

EDIT: Oops! I misread your comment and thought your starter build said "220g flour and 110g water". My bad! Your recipe hydration is fine. It's just the starter we need to concentrate on.

jeff6666p's picture
jeff6666p

I'll try your recipe when I make another loaf. What hydration % do you recommend?

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

First, you must have an awful lot of starter, feeding it 230 grams a day. No need for all that. Second, how is it behaving after a week? Does it double within, say, six to eight hours after you feed it? Is it light, fluffy and full of bubbles and air pockets? Does it float when you put a spoonful of it in water? If not, then it's probably not ready to rise bread.

Try taking about 10 grams of it and adding 20 grams of water and 20 grams of flour. After 12 hours, if it hasn't doubled (or a least grown considerably), give it a good stir and let it sit for another 12 hours. If it has grown after that time, feed it 100 grams of water and 100 grams of flour. If it then doubles and looks as described above, use it to make bread. Add 100 grams of it to 200 grams of water and stir to dissolve, then stir in about 350 grams of flour. Add 6-7 grams of salt and go for it. Or follow the recipe that Lechem recommends.

If the starter does not double, or take on the characteristics that I described, then it's not ready to rise bread. Give it another week or so, but take a smaller amount to build on or you'll be overwhelmed with starter!

jeff6666p's picture
jeff6666p

I have about 450g of starter.  I don't know if the starter is rising but there's alot of little bubbles and the starter is like wet dough after 12 hours.  I tried putting some of it in water and it floats for a sec then sinks down.

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

It sounds like you have activity from the lactic acid bacteria (one of the important components of a good sourdough), but not yet sufficient yeast colonization. It needs to very obviously rise and be light and airy (at least, a relatively wet sourdough will) in order to make the bread rise.

Try making a bread with around 65% overall hydration (so, include the flour and water in the starter when you calculate the percentage of total water to total flour), and add around 1/4 tsp of active or instant dry yeast to the dough. Work the dough until it's strong and stretchy then let it bulk ferment until the dough is approximately doubled and is light and puffy. Then shape it and let it rise again until it springs back slowly and partially when you poke a floured finger into it. Then score it and bake it. If it turns out to be more like bread than your first loaf, then it's probably the yeast (or lack of) that is the problem with your dough and your starter.

jeff6666p's picture
jeff6666p

https://goo.gl/photos/rKZC6WzNmHG6FCqW8  Here's a pic of my starter

Lechem's picture
Lechem

I misread your original post to read your starter was 50% hydration (like mine). Your starter is close to 100% which would have put your original dough at a far better hydration. 

However i think your starter is not ready! I agree with lazy loafer. It needs more time. Atleast another week. You've also keep and build far too much. What i would do is take about 80g off and place into a clean small glass jar. Jar should have enough room in it for your starter to triple so it won't overflow. Then give your starter a few teaspoons of wholegrain flour and stir into a thicker paste. Leave in a warm place. From here on feed when it shows activity but wait if all is quiet. 

I think you jumped the gun. 

drogon's picture
drogon

Personally I'd use a commercial yeast and make a traditional yeasted loaf. Forget sourdough/natural levians until you've made a few "normal" loaves. You can go flour to baked bread in 3 hours and it'll still be good bread. It may not have the complexity and depth of flavours and textures of sourdough, but it's still good bread and you get used to the feel and handling of dough before moving onto more complex stuff.

However do keep the starter going - feed it, let it bubble for an hour or 4 and put it in the fridge until you're ready to use it.

But don't stop making bread - just make life easy for yourself and reduce the number of things that can go wrong.

Basic bread:

500g flour, 320g water, 7g dried yeast, 7g salt. Mix that up, leave covered for half an hour, knead lightly (30-seconds to 1 minute) leave covered for 45 mins. to an hour, tip out, shape into one large loaf or 2 small ones, cover and let proof for 30 minutes to an hour max (watch it!) and into a hot oven - 250°C for 12 mins. then down to 210 for another 20-25.

Cheers,

-Gordon @moorbakes in Devon.

Arjon's picture
Arjon

Commercial yeast is consistent, which means you don't have to deal with the variability that comes with using a SD starter, which typically isn't equally ready to use at all times. This makes it much easier to learn how dough feels and behaves from the time it is mixed through to when it's ready to bake, and beyond to when it's over-proofed. 

SD loaves don't feel and behave exactly the same, but the learning curve is easier if you split the learning into two parts by using commercial yeast to start, thereby reducing how much you need to learn in one step. 

Personally, I tend to suggest starting out with a basic all-white no-knead loaf. If you're used to fluffy, store-bought bread, you might be surprised at how good it is. And even if you never go beyond just tossing in some add-ins and/or substituting part of the flour for rye and/or whole wheat, you can still make a huge variety of tasty breads. 

Colin2's picture
Colin2

I've only recently started sourdoughs after 40 years making commercial-yeast breads.  Granted I'm a slow learner, but I'd be completely lost without that background.

jeff6666p's picture
jeff6666p

I don't like white bread though.  I most buy potato or sourdough bread.

Arjon's picture
Arjon

at least not the mass-produced, store-bought kind. But unless you've tried well-made artisan-style white bread and thus know you don't like them either, you might be guilty of over-generalizing. 

Also, we're talking about learning to bake. Even if you never find or make a white loaf you like, that doesn't mean starting with a basic loaf isn't a viable way to begin the process that will get you to where you can bake the breads you want to. 

drogon's picture
drogon

from 500g of flour to 500g of flour - but make that 100g stoneground wholemeal and 400g white. you might need a touch more water.

This is when you get the chance to quickly get a feel for the dough for little outlay in your own time. Don't get all snobbish about it not being sourdough - just use it to practice dough handling, shaping and so on - and trust me - any home made bread will taste infinitely better than any mass produced store bought stuff.

And FWIW: I make and sell white sourdough. 100% organic white wheat flour, water & salt. It sells quite well too. The current image in my 'avatar' is white sourdough. Sourdough isn't a particular flavour or flour type, it's just a form of yeast with a few other bio bits along for the ride.

-Gordon

Colin2's picture
Colin2

Comercial-yeasted breads can have as much whole wheat flour as you want.  They can have potatoes.  

And even so, I would start my learning with a white flour, commercial-yeasted straight dough, and only add complications once I'd mastered that.  Ken Forkish's book, for example, starts you there,  then moves to a 75% whole wheat version, and only gradually works up to a full sourdough/levain.  There are just too many things to learn, especially around getting a feel for a dough in its various stages, which requires hands-on experience. 

 

Lechem's picture
Lechem

One would start with sourdough. No reason why someone has to use yeast first if they want and prefer a sourdough. It doesn't have to be complicated.

I say "good on ya!"

How's your starter coming along?

jeff6666p's picture
jeff6666p

I tried doing what you said and so far there's still alot of bubbles but it's not rising much if at all.    I'm trying to make a second loaf  I added 50g of more water this time.   waiting to see how it turns out.

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Just gives you a more watery starter. In a starter we are interested in the pre-fermented flour!

To really see what's going on a thicker starter will tell us more. I suggest you thicken it up to a thick stiff paste and keep it warm (around 78°F) and stir every 12 hours. Don't feed again till you see more activity.

EDIT: What's wrong with me. I misundertsoof your post again. You mean you're trying the recipe and added 50g extra water to the dough. The thing is I actually misread your original post and concluded your hydration was fine. I think better follow the recipe I attached.

jeff6666p's picture
jeff6666p

I ment I added extra water to the dough.       I'll try that with the starter and update.

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Then you might have jumped the gun again. But no worries. Just do the best you can and we'll troubleshoot later. The thing with starters is it takes time to cultivate and make it strong enough. Using it too early will produce poor results. After this bake concentrate for the next week on your starter. See how it progresses and then should all go well we can plan a weekend bake around the recipe I attached, which is a great first recipe.

Don't get discouraged. Prove everyone wrong here :)

Arjon's picture
Arjon

it does allow beginners to start off on an easier learning curve. 

Colin2's picture
Colin2

There's a very good reason.  A good instant yeast behaves consistently, and removes that variable.  You can focus on learning basics of dough mixing and handling, proofing times, getting the bake right etc.

Then you can start playing with hydration, learn to use different flours etc. And move on to pre-ferments, which prep you for the long durations and multiple stages of SD/levain.

SD cultures, which require manipulation of both bacteria and yeast at the same time, are finicky and hard to read, especially for beginners - that is amply evidenced by the steady stream of questions on this site.  You set people up for frustration if you start them there.

The fact that there was a time before commercial yeast was available is irrelevant.  There was a time before the internet was available.  There was a time before books were available or literacy was widespread.  One could go on, no?  We're suggesting an optimal learning sequence in 2017, not 1617.

drogon's picture
drogon

One would start with sourdough. No reason why someone has to use yeast first if they want and prefer a sourdough. It doesn't have to be complicated.

Not strictly true. At least not in the UK. Here in the UK, before commercial yeast, bakers who produced sour bread would go out of business very quickly indeed - at least 100+ years ago and for several centurys before that.

Commercial yeast really only became a reality in the late 1800's so before that you'd find that bakers and brewers were often close together. Brewers had more or less mastered the art of starting and keeping a barm going for their brews and bakers would buy a bucket of barm and make up their own wort to keep it in. From what I've read, they could keep a good barm going for some time - weeks maybe before spoilage (sour) set in - then back to the brewers for another bucket 'o barm ...

The process was what we now call sponge and dough - mix some barm with flour & water to "set the sponge". Let this mature for some hours, then use this to ferment more flour and water to make the dough for the breads. Almost exactly how I make my breads today although rather than barm, I use natural yeasts. (with some lacto-bactos along because I can't keep them away)

Even when the faster acting commercial yeasts came in (initially from Germany from what I gather), bakers would still use the sponge & dough method to extend the yeast as it was expensive.

The word "sourdough" is an Americanism - initially used to refer to the "old sourdoughs" or prospectors, etc. in the "go west" era... They may well have carried a lump of fermented dough with them to make their bread with. I'm probably in a minority, but I wish there was a better British word for it. A lot of my customers get put-off with the word "sour" when my bread is barely sour at all...

Meanwhile, over on the continent pain au levain naturel was more like a modern sourdough, use to make rustic French breads but there really wasn't an emphasis on sour at all - "old dough" was and still is a technique for improving flavour though - take some fermented dough from this batch and add it to the next batch, but not as the sole source of a levain though. Germany and Eastern Europe/Russia used a lot of rye flours - and making a rye bread from scratch without yeast only takes 3 days anyway, so a natural "sour" and process was developed for that.

I imagine that the spelt breads of ancient Italy were more like French breads as spelt ferments very quickly.

Big glossy bubbly bread? Try 1982 when the Italians developed Ciabatta. Make bread like that in the UK and (even today, at some competitions!) it will be thrown away as a "shaping failure"...

-Gordon

 

Lechem's picture
Lechem

but thought against delving too much into bread history in order to make a point. If he wanted to do barm bread you'd say what about yeast. The resulting comments would be the same.

The original poster has done a second very successful attempt at sourdough and it's still on the young side. He's picking this up very quickly and is getting the results he wants.

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Of a pic of your starter?

IceDemeter's picture
IceDemeter

your preferences, and your own learning style...

While the step-by-step process of starting with commercial yeast / white flour / simple methodology and gradually working your way over to different flours, different hydration, different yeast source, etc is definitely the best course of learning for SOME people, it certainly is not the best course for all.

For folks like me, it is the least effective course possible.  I would consider it to be time wasted on learning to make an end-product that I personally don't like much, have no desire to make, no intention of ever consuming, and would find no enjoyment in the chore at all.  It would take an enjoyable hobby and make it in to a frustrating and annoying chore.

Quite simply, if it were presented to me that the only course of learning to eventually make the bread that I enjoy was to start with making types of bread that I don't enjoy, then I would lose any interest whatsoever in the project.  For me, I want to make something that I like more than what is available from our local professionals (since they are baking for popular taste, not MY taste), and I can more easily and cheaply purchase from them instead of wasting my own time making something that I don't like.  I want to spend the time enjoying learning about the tools and environment that I need to use to create the end result that I want, without any consideration given to rules, or standards, or by-the-book guidelines.  Learning to use tools that I have no intention of continuing to use doesn't make sense to me.

On the other hand, learning to create MY starter, learning how it responds to MY flours and MY environment and MY timing and MY gradually increasing skills, and learning how to manipulate the variables of flour / hydration / timing / etc to produce bread created to suit MY personal taste and texture preferences --- well, THAT, to me, is a far more practical and enjoyable use of my time.  

Fortunately, it IS 2017, and it is widely recognized that individuals have greatly differing needs and preferences in methods of learning, and there are wonderfully friendly and helpful folks on this website who are offering their best advice based on their own personal needs and experiences.  It is great that there are those who can offer help with going "by the book" and starting with commercial yeast / white flour techniques --- and equally great that there are those who can offer advice for those of us who prefer a more direct approach to where we want to be.   

So, jeff6666p, make sure that you know yourself and your best learning style, and go with the advice that best suits that!  Your starter may need some more feeding / aging, and your timing of using the starter in your levain might need to be tweaked, or your dough-handling skills might need some work --- but use the approach that makes the most sense to you, and that will give you the most enjoyment.

Happy baking!