The Fresh Loaf

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Sourdough can't be shaped

raceceres's picture
raceceres

Sourdough can't be shaped

HI, I have been trying to bake a sourdough but it never gets past the fermentation or shaping stages... any advice would be great. Anyway, I live in singapore which is both warm and humid.

Starter: 150g (not 75g as seen earlier, my mistake)(100%hydration) (50% rye, 50% unbleached flour) (2 weeks old)

Flour: 400g (85% bread flour, 15% whole meal)

Water: 280g

Salt: 8g

Starter was used 7hrs after feeding when it doubled, water and flour was mixed and autolysed for half an hour before adding strater. Dough was rested for an hour before adding salt. Bulk fermented for 3 hrs with folding done per half hour. But dough was very sticky and no way to do final shaping. Dough doesn't seem to have much gluten strands and sticks to bowl when folding. This is the second time I had the same issue. And there was not much proofing although there was oven spring. But crumb was very very dense and gummy...

Filomatic's picture
Filomatic

My guess is it is overproofed and that you have a very active starter, and perhaps a very warm environment.  What temp are you fermenting at?  I'd say no rest after adding levain, and add salt at the same time.  You haven't detailed how the dough felt during the folds.  Was there gluten development, i.e., was the dough tightening up into a shape?  When did it stop holding shape?  I would brace for a shorter bulk ferment.  How long did you give the final rise?  Consider a cold retard immediately after shaping.

IceDemeter's picture
IceDemeter

I'm not so sure that it is a "very" active starter that you are dealing with --- if it is taking 7 hours to double at your room temperature, then you either are working in quite cool conditions (heavy air conditioning?) or your starter actually doesn't have enough yeast in it yet to raise a loaf and needs more time and attention to get it fully functioning.  I shoot for having my starter / levain doubling in less than 4 hours at around 26.7 degrees C / 80 degrees F, before using it in a dough.

To have a better idea of where the issue lies, could you please let us know:

- What is your working / room temperature for raising the starter and for all stages of working on the dough?

- Does your starter pass the "float test" before you put it in to the dough?

- What method are you using to develop the gluten structure in the dough?  Are you using a mixer to knead it, doing it by hand using "traditional" kneading or "slap and fold" or what method?  Are you getting a full windowpane or at least partial windowpane (with the stretch-and-folds during fermentation bringing it to full windowpane)?

- What are you seeing the dough actually do during fermentation?  Is it increasing at all in volume, are there any visible bubbles, does it feel any more puffy when folding --- is there any sign at all of it actually fermenting?

- Are you going by the timing of a written recipe, or are you watching the dough and basing your timing on how it is reacting?

My suspicion is that your new starter may not be quite strong enough yet, or that you are working in warmer temps (30 or so degrees C) where your timing will need to be faster.  If your temps are that high, then I also would suggest that you need to be mixing in the salt right away when you mix the flour and water (and think about using cold water), and keep the rest period to 20 minutes once the starter goes in (since that is when fermentation starts).  Once it has rested, then use your preferred kneading method to get the gluten developed over the next 20-40 minutes, and plan on watching the dough, with the idea that it needs to increase in volume by at least 30-50% before you take it out to pre-shape it.  I would think that it would be no more than 3 to 3-1/2 hours from the time that the starter hits the dough until it is fully fermented and ready for the next step, including mixing / kneading / folding times.  I would also recommend that you pre-shape, bench rest for no more than 10 minutes or so, then do final shape and get it immediately in to the refrigerator.  It should finish proofing in the time that it takes to cool down to refrigerator temperature, so you would be able to score it and bake it directly from the fridge.

Hopefully you can give a bit more info so that more folks can help out!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

fermenting before it is baked?   

I also suspect either the starter and/or the time for fermentation is way too short.  (sourdoughs take longer than instant yeast doughs, much longer)  If the dough has sat for 12 hours and hasn't risen at 23°C, then spread it out, mist the surface with water and sprinkle on two level teaspoons of instant yeast.  Make it into a paste and then roll up and knead it into the dough.  If the dough is too stiff work in some more water by dipping your hands into a nearby bowl of water and don't knead with flour.  The dough will then behave like a normal instant yeast dough and it should be rising well.

Answering all these questions can seem overwhelming but the more we know, the easier it is to help out.  :) 

With a young starter, it should be allowed to rise to it's full potential after feeding.  Use at peak or just before as it is levelling out or a flat dimple seems to appear in the middle.  When used too early and the starter is not strong enough, the dough will take even longer than "normal sourdough" due to the low population in yeast.  If it peaks and falls hours before the next feeding, thick it up with more flour so that it is more like a paste or soft dough.  Again wait until it peaks, not just double, before using it to either inoculate flour & water  or maintain the starter.  

raceceres's picture
raceceres

Thank for all your help, really appreciate any advice i can get.

"Was there gluten development, i.e., was the dough tightening up into a shape?  When did it stop holding shape?  I would brace for a shorter bulk ferment.  How long did you give the final rise?"

There was hardly any gluten development from what I see. It never held its shape. There was hardly any bulk so I wasn't too sure how long to bulk fermented the dough. I placed in the fridge for a final rise of 8 hours.

"- What is your working / room temperature for raising the starter and for all stages of working on the dough?"

Usually around 26-30 degrees C for all stages.

"Does your starter pass the "float test" before you put it in to the dough?"

I suspect my starter is not active enough too. But it passes the float test.

"What method are you using to develop the gluten structure in the dough?  Are you using a mixer to knead it, doing it by hand using "traditional" kneading or "slap and fold" or what method?  Are you getting a full windowpane or at least partial windowpane (with the stretch-and-folds during fermentation bringing it to full windowpane)?"

I use a hand folding method similar to this 

https://www.theperfectloaf.com/beginners-sourdough-bread/

I hardly see any windowpane. Actually no idea what that is.

"What are you seeing the dough actually do during fermentation?  Is it increasing at all in volume, are there any visible bubbles, does it feel any more puffy when folding --- is there any sign at all of it actually fermenting?"

There dough seems to puff alittle but I do not see any bubbles. There is hardly any fermentation whether it's the bulk fermentation or final proof. Hardly any increase in volume.

"Are you going by the timing of a written recipe, or are you watching the dough and basing your timing on how it is reacting?"

I am using this recipe but the results are far from it

http://www.mydailysourdoughbread.com/step-step-beginners-guide-perfect-sourdough-bread/

 

If my starter is not active enough, what should I do to make it more active? Will feeding it thrice a day help? I am currently feeding it twice a day. One has a sweet yeasty smell to it and another has a strong vinegary tone at the beginning of feeding which eventually becomes sweet too.

Both these starters are half rye flour and half unbleached flour. Only difference is I started one with pineapple juice and another with water. The peak seems to be around 6 hours before it falls.

I am pretty lost now. Is it possible to test out recipes using half the amount as we find it wasteful to throw away any sourdough that fails.. looking forward to more advice! Anyway is there anyway to add more images, cant seem to do that. Thanks

 

 

raceceres's picture
raceceres

Please see starter picture above. That is 7 hrs after feeding. Can't seem to add pictures in the comment so I changed the one at the top.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

between the recipe starter amount and the amount you used in your dough.  The recipe calls for twice the amount of starter.  The recipe written above is for only 75g of starter.  Double the amount of starter and try again.  That would be the only change for now.  That will certainly speed up the initial fermentation and that would lead to more fermentation in the refrigerator.  

Just above "Dough" under the starter picture of the recipe link  I read:

In the evening, mix 75 g of white wheat flour (bread flour) with 75 g of water and 1 tablespoon of your mother sourdough starter.

That would give at least 150g of starter for the 400g bread recipe.  :)

raceceres's picture
raceceres

I did have 150g of starter, I typed in wrongly.. sorry about that.

IceDemeter's picture
IceDemeter

from a top picture, but it doesn't look to me like there is enough activity.  What does it look like from the side?  Are there lots of visible bubbles?  Is there a line on the glass from where it peaked, and then it has started falling?

To add a pic to a comment, I use the "tree" symbol (just to the left of the " HTML in the comment tool bar), hit the "browse" button to the right of the space to enter URL, and then work thru the steps to store a picture on the server here and insert it in to the text.  For instance, my just re-built starter about 2 hours after feed looked like this:

I also use a see-through container for bulk ferment, so that I can see what is going on "beneath the surface".  This was a mix I did a while back, with the bottom line being where the dough started, and the top was where it was at when I put it in to the refrigerator to finish bulking overnight.  You can see how active the dough was by all of the bubbles on the side, as well as the growth:

 I hope that Mini Oven comes back to talk you through building your starter up (she is fantastically successful, and has experience with dealing with similar climates to yours).  As she mentioned, thickening it up would be a good start (maybe taking it down to 75 or 80% hydration, or even lower) and paying attention to the timing and peak growth, beyond just doubling would also help you.

As for not wanting to waste any more - Mini's first suggestion of adding in some commercial yeast if you aren't getting fermentation from your starter should rescue any dough for a decent loaf of bread.  You could also try a recipe using just commercial yeast --- just to give you a better feel for what the dough should be looking and feeling like during the various stages of fermentation and proofing.  The timing will be quite different, but it makes it easier to "watch the dough" when you have an idea of what you are supposed to be watching for!

Once you get the starter more fired up, I would also suggest that you add more kneading of some kind to start the gluten development when you mix the starter in.  Extended time for autolyse and bulk ferment allow time to develop the gluten when dealing with cooler temps, but the faster fermentation from warmer temps can mean that the gluten won't develop properly with just time and stretch-and-fold. 

I'm also thinking that you might want to drop the hydration of the overall dough a bit, too, since you may be using a lower protein / lower gluten flour that won't absorb as much water as the writer of the recipe.  Around 65% overall hydration is often a good place to start, and you can always add a bit more water during kneading if the dough feels too dry. 

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

so that I can track this thread :-)

raceceres's picture
raceceres

Sorry, still learning how to upload image properly. I just fed my starter at 0900hrs and it haseems doubled by 1220hrs. I decided to try feeding it more often, the last time fed it was 8 hrs ago.

Does the starter look active? When I use a spoon to stir it, I can see the holes but it comes back together quite quickly.

raceceres's picture
raceceres

This is the dough that proofed last night, that is after 10 and half hours in the fridge. You can see that when I pressed on it, the dough does not come back up at all. And there is lotsa of condensation in the zip lock bag used to contain the dough.

IceDemeter's picture
IceDemeter

the starter actually looks great!  It's lively, and bubbly, and doubling in 3-1/2 hours from a feed --- all sounds really good for raising a loaf.

If you follow Mini's suggestion to watch for the "peak", and use it just at or shortly after the peak, then I think we can take "starter" off the list of possible issues.

The next possible issues are the long rest without salt after the starter is added (I don't think this is a good plan with your temps), and the lack of gluten development (I like the kneading technique used by Trevor J Wilson here: http://www.breadwerx.com/how-to-get-open-crumb-from-stiff-dough-video/  I also really enjoy that recipe, but would hesitate to try that overnight flour / water / salt soak with your temps and would likely just leave it in the fridge all night and let it warm up for only a couple of hours in the morning).  You might want to try getting the salt in at the same time as the starter, kneading it until you can feel the gluten tightening up, letting it rest, kneading it again, and then start the stretch-and-folds in your fermenting container.  Keep a close eye on it, though, since I suspect that a lively starter and some work on developing gluten will have some growth pretty quickly.

Keep some instant yeast handy in case you need to do a rescue, but I think that the faster doubling on the starter means that it is more up to the task this time.

Good luck - and keep us posted on how you do!

Edit:  I just saw the pics you posted while I was typing - and that finger-poke that didn't come up, along with what looks like a flabby and soft texture says "over-proofed" to me.  Your starter may have been fine all along, but the fermenting much faster than the recipe accounted for due to the temps, and it's also possible that it took too long to get cooled down in the fridge.  If you have time tomorrow, maybe try a one-day bake, where you watch for a 30-50% volume increase during ferment, then shape it and get it in to the banneton, and then keep testing it with a poke until it's ready for the oven.  With a room temp around 28 C or so and using the 15% pre-fermented flour (75g out of 475 total), I'd suspect that you'll have about 3 hours from the starter hitting until it is fully fermented, and then at most another 1-1/2 before it'll be ready for baking...

raceceres's picture
raceceres

Hi IceDemeter,

The issue is the dough hardly rises at all during the ferment. After 3 hours including folding of the dough, I hardly see any volume increase 

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Perhaps I just missed it, but I can't find a description of your starter refreshment cycle. How much do you keep?  How much of what do you feed it?  When? At what temperature? How long does it sit out before you refrigerate it?  Or do you leave it out continuously.  In Singapore I would expect it to be fed at something like 5:10:15 (starter: water: flour) then sit out on the counter for no more than 8 to 10 hours (until it peaks and begins to recede) after which it would be refrigerated for the remainder of a 24 hr day (16 to 14 hours).

I am concerned that your mother starter is weak, with the possibility that it is the source of the problems described here.

raceceres's picture
raceceres

Great to tick off items from the list. So should I use the starter once it doubles or wait for it to peaked since it might take 5 to 6 hrs to peak. And one more question, if the dough is sticky, should I keep folding it until it doesn't stick? Am worried that it gets stickier with all the kneading and folding.

raceceres's picture
raceceres

"How much do you keep?  How much of what do you feed it?  When? At what temperature? How long does it sit out before you refrigerate it?  Or do you leave it out continuously. "

Usually I keep 40g of the mother starter, adding 40g of mixed rye and unbleached flour with 40g of water. Usually 12 hours apart of feeding. Trying to do a 8 hours feeding for the weekend. But I dun think I can keep up with thrice feeding on weekdays. I leave it out continously as I am not sure if my starter is strong enough to be kept in the fridge. Temperature will be around 26-30 degrees C though it can go 33-35 degrees C in the afternoon but the starters are usually kept in a cooler spot.

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Your feeding ratio is 1:1:1 or (40:40:40).  This will, over time knock down your LAB population because once the pH falls below 3.8, the LAB stops replicating.  And unless you feed with at least 1:2:2, you don't get the pH high enough to allow the LAB to grow back to their starting population density before they stop replicating.  If you have the instrumentation you can do that experiment - just PM me and I will walk you through it.

Mini advocates a 5:10:15 refresh and I have found that to be a reliable place to go.  It just takes a little while longer to get back to your original LAB and yeast counts. But you do get back. So for you to yield 120g of storage starter (you don't need that much since you can blow it up by 20:1 overnight when you need more) you can mix 20:40:60 and be there.  Let it sit out until after it peaks and throw it in the refrigerator for the rest of your 24 hr day.

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

I hate general rules because everything winds up being a special case, but I have found over the years that letting the starter grow to sugar depletion (when it has fallen back and sat for a couple of hours without being stirred and is beginning to look flat) is actually when it has returned to the maximum yeast and LAB numerical density.  At that point it doesn't look lively but has maximum growth potential.  When it is foamy, the yeast population is generally quite low (because it is still near the beginning of exponential growth phase). Two hours after it peaks you have had approximately one more population doubling - and it happened while it was falling back on itself.

So I feed a new batch of mother starter in the morning from what I made yesterday, then set the leftovers on the counter until after dinner and use that to start my levain.  Again, this is my practice which may not fit your schedule or local climate. In the evening I use about 26g of the leftover starter to make about 480g of levain (26 + 226 + 226) which I will use to make bread tomorrow.  The levain sits on the counter overnight and is ready in the morning (8 to 15 hrs after being mixed).  It is very forgiving in that the population of yeast and LAB doesn't vary by 20% over that range of growth times just because it depletes the nutrients and then everything just hangs around without dying off.  Very forgiving!!!  So that is like a 1:20 expansion overnight.  If you want less, make less.  If it is hot, cut down on how much starter you seed it with. You are better off with it being a little over-mature than under-mature. You want high numerical population density, not high levels of activity when you mix.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

to maintaining one requires a different methodology.  Stop with the equal amounts and switch to less initial starter and more flour especially with a rye wheat mix.  Sounds like a lopsided starter with too much bacteria and stunted yeast growth.  Sorry, but sounds like it's underfed.   Just in case.... before we get started,  take off some of this just photographed starter with the bubbles and place it into a jar with a loose lid and tuck it into the back of the refrigerator.  Back up starter, date, type of flour.  You can shove a heaping spoonful of rye flour on top of it and just forget about it for a week.

Take 10g of your current starter and feed 20g water and 30g of the flour mixture (half rye, half AP)  mark the level and cover.  When it peaks, repeat and put the discards into another jar and chill the discard.  Take notes and notice the peaking getting shorter and feeds getting closer together  with each feeding.  You will be adding to the discard jar as you strengthen the starter.  The discards can be thrown into yeasted breads.  When the starter is peaking at 8 hours give it more flour...  10g starter culture   30g water and 45g flour mix.    or more water and flour to get the peaking in about 8 hours,  wait a few hours to get with approximate 12 hour feedings.  When it is rising well and predictable keep at it a few days to "set" the starter.   

When the discard  jar has about 150g discard starter, use the same basic bread recipe and chuck in right away 2 tsp of instant yeast and make a nice loaf.  It will rise right away and you can knock out the gas and make a nice shaping for a final proof.  

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

So Doc.Dough thinks the bacteria count is low and I think it is high....  Hmmmmm.   

Why not try both ideas and feeding and see what happens.  One  half the time in the refrigerator the other one out on the counter.  Keep your notes separate for each improving starter.

You can still throw the discards into a yeasted bread so there isn't any waste.  :)

raceceres's picture
raceceres

Hi Mini, could you please further explain how I can get the routine to be become a 12 hour feeding routine once the 8 hours peaking has happened twice. 

Thanks for all the great guidance from everyone. Gives me courage to continue.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and happily doing so with the larger feeds,  Then wait until about 2 to 4 hours  for the 12 hour mark to feed it.  That will increase the bacteria to protect the culture between feeds and get the pH down (but not low enough to kill off desired bacteria.)  It is good to have a certain amount of bacteria and acid in the starter between uses and when building it for more starter.

raceceres's picture
raceceres

I have to observe when it's the new peak before feeding regardless of the timing, carry on with the 1:2:3 ratio until it peaks after 8 hours. Thereafter, feed with larger portion and drag the next feeding till 12 hours later.

I am trying out with two new ratios. One is 1:2:3 (10:20:30) and another is 1:2:2 (10:20:20).

But the first ratio seems pretty dry. It looks like the starter when I experimented with all rye flour but it eventually I threw it out as there wasn't any activity and seem to be moulding. Crossing my fingers that this one will strengthen.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

"...carry on with the 1:2:3 until it peaks before 8 hours."

What usually happens (like with the bread dough) is that fermentation takes a while as the yeast catch up.  It may take 12 hours to peak or even longer. 

The starter should be a paste or dough, not any dryer than a normal bread dough so add a spoon of water if you need to. By the way,  the rye in the starter will make it very sticky.

raceceres's picture
raceceres

As per your instructions, I kept a small scoop of starter with a heaping spoon of rye in the fridge. If I need to use it, how should I refresh it and most importantly, how do I maintain it if I have no use for it yet after a week.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

likely get replaced in a week with a more vigorous starter sample. It is only a temporary back up.  

raceceres's picture
raceceres

I included some updates on the new routine below away from this comment but I do have some questions.

raceceres's picture
raceceres

Hi Mini, could you please further explain how I can get the routine to be become a 12 hour feeding routine once the 8 hours peaking has happened twice. 

Thanks for all the great guidance from everyone. Gives me courage to continue.

raceceres's picture
raceceres

Hi Mini, could you please further explain how I can get the routine to be become a 12 hour feeding routine once the 8 hours peaking has happened twice. 

Thanks for all the great guidance from everyone. Gives me courage to continue.

raceceres's picture
raceceres

Though I share how the proofing bread went. I didn't add any yeast, decided to bake it straight after approximately 13hrs of proofing in the fridge. Baked at 230 degrees C for 1 hour (covered) and 30 minutes at 190 degrees C (uncovered). The crumb turned out better than the last loaf but it was still gummy or slightly sticky. Some questions:

1. Why is it still gummy when I have increased baking time almost twice compared to the latest time? Could it be because I left it on the oven to cool down?

2. If there is no gluten development, why are there holes? From the oven spring?

3. Sourdough smells like maple syrup or should I say like a slightly strong glue which makes me feel giddy. Is it the rye?

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

I don't think I have ever seen the very large shaggy holes in the center of a loaf while at the periphery the holes are miniscule.  It is like there was a lot of secondary fermentation and gas cell consolidation during proofing but only out in the middle.  I expect that the cell size distribution was fairly uniform after being shaped.  One possibility that comes to mind is that the outside cooled down quickly while the center continued to ferment for quite some time as the temperature dropped. Or it might be over proofed and not quite to the point of exhibiting the infamous "flying crust" phenomenon.

When I begin to develop a new formulation, I try to start from one that I know is good and over which I have good control. I then make one change at a time (and sometimes I am forced to go back and do it in little steps to diagnose why I am having problems).  It takes time and occasionally lots of iteration, but I am always in a position of knowing what changed.  If I go stupid (which has happened) and make a bunch of changes all at once, it will be edible but probably not what I was aiming for, and I have no quantitative basis for making adjustments.  If I am lucky I can guess the sign of the partial derivatives while their relative magnitudes remains a mystery.

As for the gummy texture, I suspect that it is starch that has not yet crystallized. Others who bake with rye more extensively than I do will have a better sense of what causes this. I know that when I bake a high rye dough, it can take 24 hrs after it has cooled down before it is firm enough to cut well.  And then it wants to be thin sliced with a serrated blade.

raceceres's picture
raceceres

It seems like both starters with the new ratios have peaked. But in just 5 hours although I just switched to the new routine yesterday. Am assuming it has peaked if it's not growing, lotsa of bubbles, doubled and smells really fruity. The first picture shows the 1:2:3 ratio and the second one 1:2:2 ratio. Should I be feeding it once it peaks or should I continue to observe till the 12hr mark?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

when it peaks and don't wait too long.  Go ahead and increase the amount of flour,  I would go 10g starter  100g water and 100g flour  on the 1,2,3    (and stop with the 1,2,2)   there isn't much difference except the one has more flour food.   

Looks like it's getting there fast.    Try the 1,10,10 ratio and use at peak or just after.  Wait a few hours for the bacteria to catch up in the left overs.  You should have a little left over and so you can take that and make it your mother starter.  

Feed it for how you want to keep it.  

  • For the counter, you will want to keep it lower and thicker than 100% hydration to slow it down between feeds.  You will also want to feed a large portion of flour.    You can also follow Doc Dough's suggestion to let it stand out after peaking and then tuck into the refrigerator to prevent over fermenting.  Just remember not to put all of it into your recipe, save some to feed.
  • For the refrigerator double the existing volume with water and add enough flour mix to make a sticky paste.  Let it rise about 1/3 showing signs of life and then put it into the refrigerator.  You can remove 10g anytime after a 3 days and build a levain with it.  If you need it sooner, remove 10g or more, let it finish fermenting and then build the levain.  Very flexible stuff.

 

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

From personal experience, I find that replicating the starter first (before making levain or bread) keeps me from forgetting to hold some back from the mix. But I only maintain about 30g of starter (each, of two types) so there is little planning other than determining how much of the leftovers will be incorporated into the batch of levain.

raceceres's picture
raceceres

Hi all, I recently tried to bake another sourdough loaf, there is definitely an improvement but I have no idea what I did right or wrong. Of course, as a beginner, I have more questions.

Levain: 10g starter, 20g water, 30g bread flour

Dough: 200g bread flour, 70g levain, 120g water, 2g salt

Method: Bread flour mixed with water, left to autolyze half an hour. Added levain which made the dough really sticky, tried to knead/fold but still remained sticky, left for half an hour. Added salt and folded for 5 mins. Dough was much firmer then. Bulk fermented for 3 hours, dough was folded twice in the first hour. All this was done at rpom temp of 29 degrees C. Shaped and left to proof in fridge for around 6 hrs, not much volume when dough was removed from fridge. Dough was left at room temperature for 1 hour half before baking. Baked at 230 degrees C for 15 mins then 170 degrees C for 40 mins.

As you can see, I have greatly reduced hydration to prevent dough from being too sticky, baked at cooler temp for longer time to prevent the bread from gummy.

Is there a way I can brown the crust more? There are still white spots in the baked bread as of it's not totally cooked though I checked bread temp at 96 degrees C. The crumb near the big holes seems wet?The bread is alittle tough when I toast in the next day, anyway to soften that?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

First clue:  "Shaped and left to proof in fridge for around 6 hrs, not much volume when dough was removed from fridge."

What does this tell you?  How did the dough feel before it was retarded?  

Next time before shaping, cut the dough with a sharp knife or scraper and look at the dough directly for cell structure.  There should be tiny bubbles everywhere with no dense spots or areas.  If the dough seems dense, slap it back together and let it ferment another half hour,  cut and observe the structure.  Repeat until... The dough should have an even amount of gas trapped throughout the dough when it is shaped.  It looks to me like the dough after retardation needed to be gently degassed and shaped again to pop large bubbles and give the rest of the dough a chance to trap gas.  This would correct the early shaping.  Then let the second shaping rise until it is ready to bake.

2nd clue: "Dough was left at room temperature for 1 hour half before baking."   

No mention of rise or how proof was tested... this is just the dough warming up to room temp.  Did it rise much?  How did the dough feel when you laid the palms of your floured or wet hands on it?  Uneven or lumpy? Firm?  Mushy? Tight? Hard? 

Wow, that's a big drop in temp.  "15 mins then 170 degrees C for 40 mins."  

I think I wouldn't go lower than 180°C  but kept it at 200°C.  Internal temp of 96°C should have baked through with that temp.  How soon did you cut it?  Was it still warm?  The crust colour looks right for a lean white bread.  In fact, the loaf looks Beautiful!   For the size of the loaf and the long bake, I would expect the crust to be thick.  Was it?  

Standard is to Increase colour by increasing oven temp.  It that doesn't work then adding a 1/4 tsp of malt or a tsp. sugar to the dough would help.  Or could wait for the crust to start browning before turning down the temp. Or brushing or patting oil on the surface before scoring.  

Tough crust and crumb the next day...  Try using more AP flour in the recipe.  Try substituting half or make the dough with all AP and compare.   Bread flour makes for a tough crumb.  But that could change with a longer proof.  Bread flour is for looong fermentations where AP flour strength would break down.  When substituting AP the hydration of the dough should be lower so hold back on that last 40g of water and add in tiny amounts as needed.

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

The outside looks great, and the inside is fixable, so you are moving in the right direction.

It is not clear how you managed to get 70g of levain by mixing 10 + 20 + 30, but I will do the calculation based on your stated 70g.  You didn't say how long you fermented the levain, but at 29°C, I suspect 8 hrs should be the minimum and 16 hrs would not be excessive.

As described, the dough hydration is about 61%, which is actually quite stiff so the stickiness is entirely a result of not including the levain when you wet the flour before the autolyse.  The purpose of the autolyse is to get the flour wet, and it doesn't really matter whether you have the levain in or out (except for a little bit of timing difference).  So next time I would suggest putting everything except the salt into the bowl and get the flour completely wet.  I have a suspicion that you didn't get the flour completely mixed with the liquids, then you did only 5 minutes of folding which probably should have been 12 to 15 minutes after which your arms should have been quite tired and the dough should have passed a window pane test.  Did it?

About 15% of the flour was prefermented (35 in the levain out of 235 total) so 3 hrs of bulk fermentation is a little long at 29°C.  At this point, the question becomes - did the dough double in volume during the 3 hrs of bulk fermentation?  If not, then your levain was not ready - for reasons we don't yet know.  If the dough volume doubled, then shaping would have been appropriate.  But if it doubled in bulk fermentation, it should have expanded at least by 50% during 6 hrs in the refrigerator.  Since it sounds like it didn't puff up much, I am going to guess that it didn't double during bulk fermentation. So I would expect it to be a pretty dense loaf.

Your bake cycle looks a little long for such a small loaf, but it should have been cooked all the way through and your 96°C measurement would indicate that it was (assuming that your thermometer is accurate).

The crust looks great.  The color is great, your got pretty good oven spring, and there was enough steam to create some blisters.  All good.

The center of the loaf looks like the dough was not fully developed (needed more mixing/folding before bulk fermentation).  The crust thickness looks OK, though if you are not satisfied with it you might take the cover off sooner and leave the oven temperature at 200°C instead of reducing it to 170°C.  It is possible that the oven pre-heat time was inadequate to bring your pot up to temperature before you started baking.  Even for a well powered oven an hour is minimum and 2 hrs not excessive for preheating a cast iron pot/lid.  Without an IR thermometer to check the surface temp before you load, it is hard to really know.  And of course it is possible that the oven thermostat is not accurate so an independent measurement with a good oven thermometer  would give you confidence that you are where you want to be.

After you get the basic process under control, there are things you can do to get the crumb texture to be what you want, but for now, adding all purpose flour to reduce the protein content introduces a variable that you are not yet equipped to deal with.  So maybe slice it a little thinner when you toast it.

Ready for another try?

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Doc. Dough?   

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

I made note of low salt but forgot to include it in my comment.

Generally 2% though some people go low intentionally.  1% is about as low as I ever see in a published formula.

Probably not a significant contributor to the outcome.  If anything it should have increased fermentation rate.

Mini - your thoughts?

 

raceceres's picture
raceceres

"How did the dough feel before it was retarded?"

Dough volume increase by around 40% before it was retarded. Not sticky and easy to shape. Skin was forming I think.

"Did it rise much?  How did the dough feel when you laid the palms of your floured or wet hands on it?  Uneven or lumpy? Firm?  Mushy? Tight? Hard?"

It didn't rise much, probably 10%. That's why I was surprised by the oven spring. Dough surface was wet, condensation after taking it out of the fridge. I floured the surface. It was firm when I did the finger proof test. Dough came back up pretty slowly but there was still a very slight finger dent after it came back up. Was worried that I would over proofed the dough, so baked it after 1 hour half.

"How soon did you cut it?  Was it still warm?"

I left it to cool for a night before cutting it the next morning.

"For the size of the loaf and the long bake, I would expect the crust to be thick.  Was it?"

There crust wasn't really thick compared to the last few that I baked. But of course, thinner would have been better. 

 "It is not clear how you managed to get 70g of levain by mixing 10 + 20 + 30, but I will do the calculation based on your stated 70g.  You didn't say how long you fermented the levain, but at 29°C"

Typo, that's 10+30+30. It was fermented for around 9 hours. I used a rye+unbleached flour starter to build the levain.

"the dough should have passed a window pane test. Did it?"

Nope, didn't do it, when should it be done? What if it's too firm with the low hydration dough.

Does dense dough means it shouldn't have big holes? If bake time is too long, there shouldn't be white spots or dry floury spots near the crust as if it's under baked, alittle confused on that. 

The dough is not fully developed but 3hrs bulk fermentation is too long for 29 degrees C. So the levain is the issue? It's not strong enough?

For the salt, the last two loaves was too sally with no rise at all, I ended having to throw them away. It was the same loaf with 4g of salt instead.

Yes, I am ready for the next loaf with more improvements :)

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

The 40% increase in dough volume before retarding sounds good.  The dough was a firm one and probably needed to proof longer before baking.  I still would have liked to have seen at least 30% additional increase before baking.

Finger proof test don't work well on chilled dough.  Too cold. 

So the salt swung from too much to too little, how was the taste?  perhaps 1%   or 2.4g might be the goldilocks %.  I agree that the low salt would have sped up fermentation.  

Dry floury spots is a sign that flour lumps got in there either by not mixing the dough well enough or by too much bench flour during folding and/or shaping.  Steam can cook the flour but it will remain powdery or as white clumps if all the flour wasn't hydrated.  A firm dough needs longer to ferment as it is stiffer than a dough with more water in it.  It stretches slower.  

Dense dough.... look at the dough between the bubbles... that's the place to look for dense.  If it is full of pinhole bubbles before the proof, they will get bigger during the proof.  If there is only large bubbles and the dough around them is dense, then the bulk rising is not done yet.  

I just cut open a whole wheat dough.  It was a pre-mix (forgive me but I'm ill and need some bread and it makes lovely Swiss RuchBrot loaves) with everything in it.  It's too salty for me so I added more flour to dilute it.  This means I lengthened all the times in the recipe.  I was about to shape wondering, what's up inside?   So instead of guessing decided to take my own advice.  I cut the dough open and discovered a dense dough with a few large bubbles in it making it feel spongy.  Ha!  I let it sit another 45 min and then it was looking much better.  I could see the cut had sliced thru gluten matrix,  with an assortment of small bubbles from tiny to pea size so I shaped it.  Hopefully I  will be ready to turn on the oven soon if I don't type too long.  :)   

raceceres's picture
raceceres

Another round of baking, crumb seems better but there are still large holes in the middle, not enough folding during bulk fermentation?

Leaven: 70g (10g starter, 25g water, 35g bread flour)

Dough: 120g water, 200g bread flour, 3g salt

Leaven was left to rise overnight for 9 hrs half after feeding, passed float test.

Leaven mixed with water and flour, left to rest for 40 mins, salt mixed into dough. Dough was kneaded for 10 mins. Bulk fermented for 3 hrs at 28°C, 3 foldings done between half hour interval. Dough was firm and volume increased about 50%. Folded and rested 20 mins before final shaping. Could see air bubbles on the dough. Left to proof for 4hrs at 28°C. Dough volume increased about 60%. Did finger poke test, dough came back up but dent was still visible. Baked at 230°C for 15 mins, 200°C for 25 mins, added 5 mins of 230°C for darker crust. 

Noticed that the sides of the crust soften after 1hr half of cooling. Is that because of high humility here? It's about 69%.

Does hydration % include leaven as well? I am no longer having any issue with sticky dough because of the low hydration %.

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

So yes, include the levain in calculating hydration.

I think the loaf looks pretty good. Nice oven spring, good browning and crust thickness. The holes in the middle of the loaf are most likely dough handling and shaping issues which you will fix with iteration. The volume expansion seems on the low side, but it is hard to judge that by looking and for a stiff loaf equally hard to measure precisely. At your temperature, both bulk fermentation time and proof time seem long for a 50% volume growth so I am suspicious that your starter activity may be low, but Mini Oven is a specialist in diagnosing and repairing that problem so I will leave it up to her to work it out with you.

The only other suggestion I have (other than to repeat and repeat) is to perhaps increase the fraction of the total flour that is fermented in the levain to something around 25%.  Once you get to a place where you are getting consistent results, you can start increasing the hydration by 1 or 2% each time and see if you like the result better.

raceceres's picture
raceceres

Which means to use more levain than flour?

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Levain: 90g (15g starter, 30g water, 45g flour) but you have to make a bit more because the bowl and your scraper always hang  on to some.

Dough: 90g levain + 110g water + 190g flour + 3g salt

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

How exactly are you doing your stretch & folds?   How far are you pulling out the dough to overlap onto the center of the dough?  Are you flipping the dough over first?

raceceres's picture
raceceres

I try to overlap as much as possible but dough is pretty firm after the first fold, I dun flip the dough over first.

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

With the increased kneading time and low hydration you are getting a sense of what the dough feels like as it firms up and becomes easy to handle. But as you note, it can be a little difficult to perform a stretch and fold with a very stiff dough.

It is time to increase the hydration a little and assure yourself that you can still get it to an easily worked and non-sticky state. Adding another 5g of water will get you ~2% higher hydration which should be noticeable but not bothersome. Give it a try and see what you think. If you like it, try another 5g of water. By the time you get to 67% hydration you will be at a place where S&F will be easier, the dough will still feel silky smooth, and the loaf volume will increase noticeably.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

the dough is too firm for stretch and folds.  Is the dough stiff when you shape for a final rise?

raceceres's picture
raceceres

I wouldn't say it was so stiff that I couldn't fold at all. I use the method in this link for kneading http://www.breadwerx.com/how-to-get-open-crumb-from-stiff-dough-video/ 

It helps for a dough with low hydration. My dough had been improving, take a look at the recent loaf

Until this morning when I tried a loaf with rye in the leaven, using the same methods and timings. The dough was doing good until after bulk fermentation when it became sticky and impossible to shape, just like the previous times. It seems the more I knead or fold it, the gluten strands are being destroyed... am puzzled where I went wrong.

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Your photo is of an excellent loaf of bread.  You should be proud of it and I suspect it was tasty. But it clearly has no rye in it.

You didn't say what percentage of the flour in your sticky dough was rye, but I suspect that therein lies the root of the stickiness. Mini is the maven of rye so listen to what she has to say. My experience is that doughs with substantial rye content are sticky and make for dense bread.  Just remember that rye flour contributes essentially no gluten to the dough so if you need gluten to achieve the desired texture you will have to use a high gluten bread flour in combination with the rye since the rye is diluting the gluten that is in the wheat flour.  25% rye flour and 75% high gluten (12% protein) flour reduces the effective protein level to around 9% which is somewhere between cake flour and all purpose flour.  Rye also brings enzymes to the party that you don't see with straight wheat flour.  Some of these may be proteases that chew up the gluten and make for sticky.  The fact that the phenomenon didn't show up until after bulk fermentation hints that it is a biological issue rather than a chemical one.