The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough bread dough tearing problem

Silianac's picture
Silianac

Sourdough bread dough tearing problem

Hello fellow bakers,

I’ve been baking for a couple of years and generally don’t have too much time to experiment with different flour combinations, so I follow the Tartine recope with good and consistent results. I am on a quest to find the reason behind my dough tearing when I shape before final cold proof. It starts tearing halfway through bulk. I have been reading up on similar issues here and it seems that one reason could be that my starter is too sour (I keep it in the fridge until the day I bake). What are your thoughts? i would love to figure this out and not have to be afraid to handle my dough anymore. Thank you!

 

phaz's picture
phaz

I've had the same issue when my starter is kept in the cold for too long. Yeast populations go down and lacto goes up, so things get too acidic. You can take it out of the fridge a couple 3 days before needed and feed it a few times to get yeast back to normal numbers. Question - have you noticed the bread getting more and more sour? That would be a sign of overly acidic starter, as is the tearing.

Silianac's picture
Silianac

That’s what I’m going to do, thank you so much for suggesting this. I have done frequent feedings before but only for a day or so and it has not changed my final results. Hopefully feeding over a longer period of time will have a positive impact on my starter. Question – if this method works how should I bake in the future?

Thanks again and I will report back in a few days.

phaz's picture
phaz

Oops I forgot. When things get too acidic, it may take a week of regular feeding at room temp to get things back to normal. May be worth it to start with just a little starter and feed regularly (keep it warm) till it's back in shape. It'll come back with a little tlc.

phaz's picture
phaz

Well, what I've been doing is building a preferment to get the level of sour I like, then finishing off the dough with a little commercial yeast. This fits my schedule, and still gets me the tang I like. In summer, my starter lives in the fridge, but I only bake about every 4 or 5 days and have limited time. So I do the preferment before I go to bed the night before, and early evening the next day, I finish it up. Winter it's cool in my place, like low 60s -lower at night - so I keep the starter out of the fridge. That's low enough to limit yeast growth, and the added yeast helps make sure I get a good rise at the low temp, and still fits my time constrained schedule. I find the flavor, or tang, comes mostly from the preferment, and adjust its timing for how sour I want it. More time = more sour, less time = less sour. Although not a true sourdough, it makes a bread I really like, and can be adjusted to fit most any schedule.

You can also keep a small amount of starter at higher temps, and build it up to the amounts needed over several days. The warner temp will keep things in balance and if done with the right feeding ratio, you only need to feed it every few days. A little more work, but not much really, and your starter will be thanking you for it by making some nice bread. 

There's always options, knowing how things work just gives us more of them. Like they say, ya gotta know the system to be able to work it to our advantage.

Silianac's picture
Silianac

What amount of starter would you start with if you want to build it over a week or just keep it in room temperature? I have been discarding all but 40 g of starter and feeding it and it triples in volume in several hours. It does that regardless of a warm or cool kitchen so I guess it’s a pretty strong starter to start with. Also since it triples in volume and then start becoming acidic after only seven more hours how should I control it rise overnight? Just strange how I read of this problem very rarely

phaz's picture
phaz

How much do you need for the loaf? Sorry, but I'm not familiar with that recipe, I actually never use a recipe. I go by feel and experience.

Silianac's picture
Silianac

I need a table spoon for two 2lb loaves:) 

phaz's picture
phaz

I made another oops by not asking how often you make bread. Sorry bout that, I thought I saw once a week, but it must have been another thread I was looking at.

And I just had another thought. There's a possibility the starter may not be getting enough food. That much growth in that short a period of time sounds like a very active starter, and the more active it is, the more food it will need. A slight lack of food for an extended period will also make for an acidic starter. Try this, after it rises to max height and starts to fall, stir it well and see if it rises again. Let us know what happens (I love a good problem!).

Silianac's picture
Silianac

I bake on the weekend, a couple of days in a row, then I usually take a break for 4 days. the starter usually rises after discarding (I sometimes collect it in a jar for later use with other leftover starter) but not very much...

phaz's picture
phaz

Can you give as much detail as possible on starter maintenance? How much is it fed, how long to reach maximum height and start to fall, his often is it fed, is it just taken straight from fridge (still cold) and just added to the dough? Don't mean to be a pain, but the more detailed the info, the better we all can try to figure this one out - and we will figure it out. Lots of very knowledgeable breadheads here!