The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Overproofed..?

loafsniffer's picture
loafsniffer

Overproofed..?

After a long hiatus (promotional exams ugh) I am back on the baking wagon! Tried out Breadwerx's Champlain sourdough and a new method - an overnight autolyse. Stuck closely to to formula (70%) except I dropped the levain to 28g instead of 50g. I think my flour is less thirsty too so the dough felt very slack and sticky and looked nothing like the cohesive lump in the video even after about 3 x 5min of mixing. (I partly blame my tiny hands.) Rested for 45min, stretch and fold 3 times at intervals of 45min before rushing off for class. 3 hours later, gave it another 2 stretch and folds before pre-shaping. Total bulk ferment time: 6h at 85F. Dough felt quite weak but didnt pancake after the preshape. it had nearly doubled in size so I pushed on. Bench rest: 1h. Totally screwed up the shaping haha it was my first time handling such a slack dough... tried to do the roll-and-cinch method. Again, I blame my tiny hands. Wrangled it into the banneton. Final proof: 3h (shoved it into the fridge somewhere in the middle). Really pushed the proof (passed the poke test though). When I tipped it out I thought it was a goner. Scored, terribly, because it was so sticky and I'm still crap at it. The oven spring was amazing though. And this is probably the most open and evenly distributed crumb I've ever gotten. Not so good for sandwiches but I think it was be delicious for dipping in olive oil and balsamic?

So TLDR: Is this overfermented and/or overproofed? Was the gluten not developed enough (that could explain the sticky/slackness)? Still searching for the perfect crumb (I aspire towards Breadwerx's or Theperfectloaf's beautifully irregular and open yet still mostly even crumb) haha any tips for making shaping easier? I'm usually really scared to be rough with the dough in case I degas it but then I always fail to generate surface tension...

pmccool's picture
pmccool

The crust appears to have browned evenly where it isn't covered in flour, rather than being pale with darker blotches.  There's no compressed zone along the bottom crust where bubbles collapsed, forming a dense layer.  Bubble sizes are random and randomly distributed.

The only thing I see, and it is probably an artifact of handling or shaping,is a 1 inch / 2.5 cm band along the bottom of the loaf where the crumb texture is different than the upper portion of the loaf.  It doesn't appear to indicate overproofing.

If it was getting close, then you got it into the oven it just in time.  The bread looks lovely.  And yes, that open texture might might lead to dripping condiments.

Paul

loafsniffer's picture
loafsniffer

thank you! do you have tips on shaping? what's a good and easy method for a beginner? the dough kept sticking to my hands even after a dusting of flour...

Trevor J Wilson's picture
Trevor J Wilson

This crumb looks beautiful to me -- open, lacy, and fairly even. It's a crumb style I've personally been finding myself favoring more and more these days. I would be very happy with this crumb. But yeah, it does appear as though the loaf overproofed a bit (to my eyes anyway). The denser bottom portion, along with the slightly "limp" impression overall, is what my own crumb often looks like when I over proof it a tad. Just a tad. This is not the crumb of a seriously overproofed loaf. 

Also, it does give the appearance of crumb from a wetter dough than my own typical 70% hydration, so you may be correct that your flour is less thirsty. Still, this is a fine loaf -- nothing I'd be ashamed of (in fact, I've happily posted to my Instagram gallery quite a few crumb shots that look almost identical to this). All in all, I'd say you've done well. 

Cheers!

Trevor

loafsniffer's picture
loafsniffer

I was wondering if the denser portion at the bottom was because the gluten wasn't strong enough to hold up so it collapsed... Do you think 5 sets of stretch and folds is enough? How do you tell when the gluten is well developed? The dough felt weak to me from start to finish (I've done 70% hydration doughs before like the Vermont sourdough and it was much easier to work with than this)

Trevor J Wilson's picture
Trevor J Wilson

This loaf looks to me like a well-developed and well-fermented loaf. Gluten development is often the first "go-to" concern when loaves don't turn out as well as hoped for. But for long-rising breads (such as most sourdough) it's rarely a problem. Time develops the gluten for you -- even without any folds. Folds can help develop gluten (especially with shorter-proofing breads), but they're more important for developing dough structure (especially with wetter doughs). 

There are subtle differences between a dough that is weak from underdeveloped gluten compared to a dough that is weak from underdeveloped structure compare to a dough that is weak from over-hydration (which is always a relative thing anyway). If your flour doesn't absorb as much water as mine, for example, then the slackness that develops might simply be due to the dough being of a wetter consistency.

Additionally, if your flour isn't as thirsty as mine, and you give it the overnight rest, it will become even slacker still due to the enzymatic activity that takes place during the long soak. One of the primary benefits of the overnight rest is to turn a stiffer dough into a more extensible dough to help create a more open-irregular crumb. If your 70% hydration dough is inherently less stiff than mine (due to flour differences), this effect will be exaggerated -- possibly to the point of becoming counterproductive. 

The lacy nature of your crumb here reveals that the gluten was fully developed. So the likely culprit(s) to your query are either overproofing and/or an overly slack dough (possibly caused by a combination of less thirsty flour and/or the overnight rest). Lots of "and/or's" here.

Your loaf does not look flat in the slightest. So it is not severely overproofed (deflated) nor poorly shaped (i.e. there was enough tension/structure for the loaf to stand relatively tall). Volume looks good and the crumb is nice and open throughout, so definitely not underproofed. 

The only issue is the slightly limp appearance to the crumb and the denser bottom. These are signs of slight overproofing. Nothing too severe. The lacy crumb pattern you've achieved is something I typically only see with higher hydrations (usually at least 75% and above -- depending on flour, of course) so I'm inclined to agree with your assessment that you are working with a wetter dough (less thirsty flour) than I am. A wetter and slightly overproofed dough can also result in a lack of ear from the scoring, so we can add that to the evidence here (though there could be many other reasons for that as well). 

For comparison, here are a couple shots from my Instagram . . . 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BF7VESRBG36/?taken-by=trevorjaywilson

https://www.instagram.com/p/BZLuG6Wn4LL/?taken-by=trevorjaywilson

The first is a slightly overproofed 90% hydration loaf. You can see the similarity in crumb pattern -- open and lacy, yet somewhat limp. The second is a slightly overproofed 85% hydration loaf -- again, open but with that marginally denser bottom. 

So . . . 

All that is really just a very long way of saying that your gluten development was fine and your loaf looks good. The flaws you are seeing in your loaf are greater in your eyes than in the eyes of anyone else. They are just par for the course -- they can be corrected with practice and slight adjustments as you go. And even when you finally get everything nailed down just perfectly, you'll still screw it up from time to time. That's just the nature of the craft. 

Trevor

loafsniffer's picture
loafsniffer

thank you so much for all your help! could you suggest a relatively easy to handle batard shaping method for stickier doughs? I'll try the exact recipe again soon haha I've been meaning to try higher hydration breads for a while now anyway... I love your videos by the way!! Very helpful especially since there are little to no courses on sourdough where I'm from :)

IceDemeter's picture
IceDemeter

While it may very well be a tad bit over-proofed (and the more dense bit at the bottom is where it is just starting to collapse a bit), I think that you and your tiny hands might be having the same trouble that me and my tiny and arthritic hands have --- where the loaf is quite simply too big for us to handle without a lot of practice with a good bench scraper!

I personally find that the batard shape is easier for my hands to deal with, and have had a lot of success combining the wet hands / clean bench for the pre-shape, and mere whisps of bench flour for the final shape (as per Trevor's videos) with the batard shaping and tools from here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEG1BjWroT0 

I also tend to start with about 5% less hydration than a formula calls for since I find it easier to manually develop gluten with a lower hydration (65% is usually really nice), and then will gradually add more water until it feels "right" when I come back for the final bit of kneading.

Looking forward to seeing your next bake!

loafsniffer's picture
loafsniffer

I did use to hold back a small amount of water in the initial mix but I decided to just go all in for this bake HAHAHA challenge myself, you know? Thanks for the tips!