The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

FWSY help needed - Pain de Campagne

RedEng's picture
RedEng

FWSY help needed - Pain de Campagne

Hi everyone,

I need help! I'm working on learning to make artisan bread, and I've been at it for a few months. I recently started going through Forkish's book and the first few recipes went great. I started my levain and have been maintaining it regularly (and I discovered today that there's a lot of derision on this site about it, but bear with me, I'm learning, and I had to start somewhere). My levain seems quite healthy, and I've made a few loaves with it, I just seem to have a problem with the Pain de Campagne. I follow his instructions for weights, folding, etc. and I can definitely feel the dough building strength with each folding over the first couple of hours. (Oh, and it's usually within 1 degree of the target temp after mixing, so I think I'm doing ok there.) Then, when it reaches 2.5x its original size, I go to shape it - and it's an almost unshape-able blob of dough. Seriously, I don't mind working with a wet dough, but when it's sticking to everything and there's no way you can even pick it up, it's a bit tough to shape. I made the whole wheat version and it was beautiful to work with. I tried the overnight blond and got a runny mess. I don't know what to do. I'm focusing one at a time though, so with the Pain de Campagne, I'm debating - should I reduce the amount of commercial yeast used? Should I shorten the bulk rise time? Should I do more folds? Should I be using the levain earlier than the 6-8 hours after feeding? Other people seem to have no problem with this recipe, so I'm really puzzled about what's going wrong... 

As an aside, I wish he gave more detail on what to look for to know when the starter is ready to be used (such as when it's at x% of its peak volume or something), because maybe mine is at a different point.

I'm so frustrated. I want a bread with a nice firm, toothy crumb WITHOUT that awful, strong sourdough tang, and the first time I made this dough and wrangled it into a shape, it was great (air pockets were huge though...). I'm just so frustrated that I'm getting almost goop. Any advice would be great!

(And please, be nice, don't tell me I'm an idiot for trying or something; I need help, not a bashed ego - I'm doing quite well at that on my own.)

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

FWSY doughs are often difficult to handle, if you follow the directions.

My suggestions, until you build up your confidence in handling doughs this gloppy: 

1. Make sure your flours are appropriate. Your white flour should be in the 11-12% protein range.

2. You don't need to let the dough expand by 2.5X. I've done it and lived to tell the tale, but honestly, I generally let it got to about 2X or a bit less.

3. Flour your board and your hands generously. Use your bench knife as your second hand. Work really fast. Don't let the dough stay in contact with your skin for very long each time. (A second is "long.")

4. You can decrease the hydration, if you want. You will get a less gloppy dough, but it will make a less aerated loaf.

As far as the yeast goes, my advice is to just lose it. Unless your kitchen is really very cool, you don't need it (assuming you levain is sufficiently vigorous). 

Forkish's Pain de Compagne is one of my favorite breads. I do increase the whole grain flours to 20% at least and leave out the yeast.

Hope this helps.

Happy baking!

David

RedEng's picture
RedEng

Thank-you for the encouragement and advice! I'm going to only make one change at a time, so I can identify the effects of each tweak. I think I'll start with reducing the bulk rise to 2x and see how that goes.

A follow-up question though - how does a higher protein proportion affect the results? My flour is 4g protein for 30g flour, so 13.3%. I have been hunting and haven't yet found 11-12% protein flour; I live in Canada so ordering it from KAF or something is prohibitively expensive.

pmccool's picture
pmccool

was directed more at establishing a minimum level, rather than a maximum level.  Your Canadian flour at +13% protein will work quite nicely. 

Protein content is an indicator of gluten content.  Except for the rare outlier, such as durum wheat that produces high protein amounts with weaker gluten, gluten quantity and strength tends to increase as protein amounts increase.  Higher protein flours also tend to absorb more water than lower protein flours, on a weight basis.  Doughs made with higher protein flours tend to be more elastic/less extensible; more tolerant of mixing, kneading, acid levels, and extended fermentations than doughs made with lower protein flour.

Hope this helps.

RedEng's picture
RedEng

Thank-you! I've searched online several times trying to find information about the effects of a higher protein level and haven't found anything. Everything I found dealt with lower levels, but didn't include anything on the other side of things. I'm glad to hear that higher still works alright and that isn't another factor causing me challenges, because it would be a difficult one to remedy.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

with which I agree,

Higher protein/gluten flour will absorb more water than lower protein flour. You are fine with your Canadian flour. It would make your dough subjectively less wet than my 11.7% protein AP flour.

One other suggestion though, as a rule, the higher the protein, the more work you need to do to develop the gluten. Forkish's stretching and folding the dough without taking it out of the tub works, but stretching and folding on the bench works better, in my experience. My routine with Forkish's levain breads, after the salt and levain have been mixed in, is to do one or two S&F's in the tub at 30 minute intervals. Then, after a 50 minute rest, do a S&F on a well-floured bench and repeat after another 50 minutes. Then I let the dough ferment for another hour until almost doubled. (But watch the dough, not the clock.). Then I divide, shape and retard in the fridge overnight.

David

WatertownNewbie's picture
WatertownNewbie

"My routine with Forkish's levain breads ...."

David, are these rough time frames in a typical kitchen temperature (which I will offer 75 F as an example)?  Certainly much less than any of Forkish's double-digit bulk fermentations, and I too have suffered the evils of over-fermentation (and a resultant slurry).

Ted

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

All timeframes are "rough" with sourdough baking. The times I gave are about right for Summer in my kitchen, with my ingredients. My kitchen is 75-78 dF in Summer. It's about 10 dF cooler in Winter, and the times for fermentation are longer.

My impression is that Forkish tested his formulas in his home kitchen at around 65-68 dF. Thus, many find their dough moving a lot faster than FWSY leads one to expect.

On the other hand, early in my working with this book, I left a batch of dough that was supposed to take 12 hours to ferment on the counter while I went out to a concert. I was gone around 4 hours. When I got home, the dough had more than quadrupled in volume. I considered junking it, but decided to divide and shape it and cold retard the loaves over night to bake the next day. Well, as you can imagine, it was awful to handle, but I managed to kind of shape boules and dump them into very heavily flours bannetons. In brief, the bread ended up more sour than usual and very holey. Surprisingly, the crust colored well. There was reasonable oven spring. The bread was quite edible.

David

RedEng's picture
RedEng

Thank-you for your advice on timing - this is a great guideline and I'll try it out on tomorrow's attempt. Today's schedule got a little messed up so I'm hoping today's still works out ok,..we'll see when I bake the loaves off in the morning....

It's great to hear that you aim for 2x. I tried that today and the shaping was easier. I'm going to try that again tomorrow as well and see if it continues to work well.

IceDemeter's picture
IceDemeter

and protein content, most Canadian flour is quite high protein except for some of the specialty flours.  You need to watch out especially for La Milanaise flour, which is milled from soft white wheat with lower protein levels, to emulate native French flours.  Their flour is supposed to be fantastic for traditional French style breads (such as baguettes) but won't be able to handle as much hydration as other Canadian wheat varieties.

If you are using the usual supermarket AP or Bread flours, then it is most often Robin Hood or Rogers (depending on where you are in Canada).  If you are using Robin Hood, then you need to be aware of their addition of amylase and ascorbic acid and often barley malt - all of which are dough conditioners which can make your dough respond more quickly than predicted by a recipe based on flour without these adders.  There is a Rogers with no additives, and a few other local ones, but I haven't seen a Robin Hood without them.  (Note:  all supermarket flours will have the government dictated added vitamins / minerals, but these shouldn't impact dough performance).  You might want to take a closer look at the ingredients list on your flour to see what you are dealing with, so that you can adapt the recipe accordingly.

RedEng's picture
RedEng

Thank-you! I had no idea that additives in RH flour could affect my dough so much! I was using Roger's whole wheat (just ran out....) and RH white. I just opened a new 20kg bag of the RH flour though, so I have to keep using it for now. I'm in Saskatchewan and we do have a local company; I'll have to see if I can track down some of theirs and give it a try. I'll try the Roger's AP as well. I'm guessing that La Milanaise is out of my budget, so that will be an easy one to avoid :)

Thank-you for your insights on this!

RedEng's picture
RedEng

IceDemeter, you just may be a genius!  Since my whole wheat loaves (made with Roger's flour, simply because it was on sale...) were beautiful to work with, your comments on additives got me wondering, especially after nothing else I tried seemed to make a difference in the gooey-ness of my pain de campagne dough. So, I bought a small bag of Roger's unbleached, no additives flour and used it to feed my levain this morning and make the dough this afternoon. I just shaped it and it was a night-and-day difference! It held it's shape after being turned out of the proofing bucket, and was easy to handle. It was an unbelievable difference! (Sorry, I'm a little excited...)

We'll see how it is after I bake the bread in the morning, and I'll redo the experiment tomorrow, but so far, it looks like you solved my problem! This may explain why several of the other breads I've made have always seemed stickier and harder to handle than they're supposed to as well. The downside is that the flour is a fair bit more expensive (twice the price....) which makes a difference since I'm unemployed right now, but at least I don't feel defeated anymore! Thank-you!!

IceDemeter's picture
IceDemeter

about the book and specific formulae, I just want to remind you that not getting the same results as the author did does NOT mean that you are doing anything wrong!

The author is writing about what works in their specific environment (temperature, air pressure, elevation, humidity, etc), using their specific flours, their specific water (different minerals can have different effects), and their specific skill-set.  All of us have to tweak things slightly (as outlined above by dmsnyder), and quite often the tweaks will be slightly different from bake to bake.

Seriously - the fact that you've gotten some great results from other recipes definitely shows that you are not an idiot, and that you're developing some good skills!  All you need now is a bit of confidence and some good notes to start making some changes to better suit your individual kitchen and flavour preferences.

I would suggest that you keep in mind that the longer a dough ferments, the more acid is produced (and more "tang" will be in the final flavour).  Using more starter / levain in a dough means that it ferments faster, and so will give less sour in the final flavour, and keeping some commercial yeast in there will also allow for a faster rise.  Following dmsnyder's advice about not letting it rise to 2-1/2 times the volume, but going 1-1/2 to 2 times instead, will also lessen the amount of time that the dough is fermenting.

Seriously - have faith in yourself, and remember that the bake is all about joyfully creating something more delicious to your taste than you could buy elsewhere, so tweak whatever you need to in order to get there!  Just make one change at a time, and keep good notes, and in short order you'll have the bread that you want.

Have fun!

RedEng's picture
RedEng

I really appreciate your encouragement. I'll work on the confidence bit :) Thankfully I generally have more successes than failures these days (and resultantly, some very well fed neighbours!)

Thank-you for the information on the effect of fermentation time on tang; I figured the age of the starter was a factor, but wasn't thinking about the bulk rise and proofing times as substantial contributing factors. I'm going to pay attention to how they all interplay. I'm definitely going to be trying shorter times because I'm really not a fan of that tang.

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

I routinely reduce the water and still get a great bread (that I am happy about).   dmsynder is long time TFL member and very knowledgeable! so his advice is invaluable.  my suggestion would be to reduce hydration from 78% to 75% and see how it goes and as they say, watch the dough not the clock.

Stick with it, tweaking a little here or there and you will make the bread you love.  IceDemeters comments re fermentation are spot on and great pointers to a less sour bread.

Most of all happy baking and have fun

Leslie

 

RedEng's picture
RedEng

Thank-you for being so encouraging and I'll definitely try the lower hydration level; I think I'll make that my second experiment (after reducing the bulk rise). 

Thanks again for the encouragement, it really helps :)

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

"Other people seem to have no problem with this recipe, so I'm really puzzled about what's going wrong... "

Actually, with a little searching on this site you'll find that there are many, many people who have had (or continue to have) trouble making FWSY breads successfully. They are very challenging and kudos to you for working your way through several of them already.

Because I bake for other people, I usually make largish (4 to 12) batches of any one kind of bread, so I don't want anything that is a challenge to handle. I have reduced the hydration of some doughs to be in the 72% to 75% range and still get very nice bread, so you might try that to start at least.

I probably use a bit more flour than the professionals in those 'shaping' videos on Youtube (have you watched any of those? If not, you can watch Ken Forkish shape his dough in this video (actually you can watch all the FWSY videos if you're interested)). It is an art for sure, but if you learn to use the 'skin' of the dough blob (the taut, smooth surface that was probably up in the fermenting vessel) as the top surface of your dough balls, then sort of tuck the rest of the dough under that with your bench scraper it's a bit easier. As David said, don't hold the dough in your hand any more than you have to, and touch gently and briefly.

I've found that sometimes the dough actually gets easier to handle with a long bulk ferment. It gets puffier and less sticky (but I'm sure there is a limit to that!). I wouldn't go higher than the 2.5X rise though (even though some of the recipes call for 3X!). Do you refrigerate the bulk ferment at all? It might be worth trying to see if you find cold dough easier to handle. If you do this, then probably don't add the extra dry yeast, just let the levain do the work only more slowly. That said, you might end up with a more sour bread so I guess that's not what you're aiming for. Maybe ditch the dry yeast and add a bit more fresh levain (bubbly and light, and floats in water, but not fermented to the sour stage).

Okay, now I'm rambling and probably getting confusing so I'll stop. Just be assured that you are not the first, nor will you be the last, to ask for help with FWSY breads! Keep trying, and keep on reaching out to the great folks on this community, who will seldom be mean. :)

RedEng's picture
RedEng

I had no idea that there were videos available, it honestly didn't even occur to me to look for any, thank-you for opening that world for me :) And yeah, I think I'll try shaping before I get to 3x volume and try reducing the hydration, because my dough is nothing like the dough he's working with in that video. It would be lovely and easy if it was! I try not to add too much "raw" dough though; maybe I'm being too miserly with it; I'll try using a bit more and see if that helps. 

And yes, I'm finding that you folks a lot kinder than I feared :) Posting online can feel rather risky, since the anonymity of it sometimes brings out some nastiness. I'm glad to see the community here is much more supportive!

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

One thing I've found is that the mixing process is sometimes not described very well, but it's quite important I think for developing the gluten in the dough (and making it into that nice springy smooth ball). Trevor Wilson has some awesome videos on his site (breadwerx.com) that you might find useful, and his pictures are amazing! Check out this one in particular on how to develop wet dough. Note the length of time he takes to mix and develop the dough before doing the stretch and fold phase. It takes a while!

RedEng's picture
RedEng

Now that's a very different method, and results in a very different consistency than I've been getting. Can't wait to try that! I like it better than Forkish's pinching method, because, quite frankly, my hands aren't that strong. And I was never sure about how evenly the yeast, salt and levain were incorporated; this looks more thorough. Thank-you!

Hi Im John's picture
Hi Im John

Knew about those videos! Or the other ones you posted about. I've been "on" the site for a while, but registered today and was searching for some things related to the 80% Biga (I own one bread book, so FWSY, my mother, and Nonna are my bread experience) and came across this. Thank you kind internet stranger for that. While the videos didn't change a ton of what I was apparently doing (albeit slower and probably wronger - it's a word I swear), it at least let me know I'm doing things right... ish. The second video you posted about the mixing wet doughs (later comment) was awesome. I won't steal this thread for my issues, but wanted to thank you for the info. 

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Glad you found those videos to be useful, and I'm sure you will find all kinds of useful stuff on this site as well. Very nice folks here.

If you want more good stuff from Trevor Wilson, by the way, you should download his book "Open Crumb Mastery" from Breadwerx.com. A lot of us are finding it to be so interesting and useful.

Gentle One's picture
Gentle One

You have accomplished a lot in a short period of time, and now you are tackling a challenging bread.  You will be fine, it will just take some time and practice.  There are some breads that will kick your tail for a while, but you will win.  Just keep tweaking one thing at a time, with notes on what you did and what result you got.  Have faith, and believe, in yourself.

RedEng's picture
RedEng

Yeah, I have to give myself a bit of a break, this is my first attempt with levain breads. I've done poolish and biga pre-ferments, but this is new territory for me so I'm still trying to get to the point where I can read the levain, etc. correctly.

Thanks for helping boost my ego :)

Toad.de.b's picture
Toad.de.b

Even though you've received more than enough great advice above to work around your gloppy dough issue, let me add this.  I just checked the date on my blog post of Forkish's Overnight Country Brown:  January 7.  Our kitchen was probably under 60˚F that day (and even colder overnight during the Forkish signature bulk fermentation marathon).  That was the key to getting away with his long bulks:  Do them cold.  Otherwise, you get glop.  It's all about balancing time and temperature.  If you can't do it cold, then do it shorter.

And there's never any need to ask people to be kind on TFL.  That's a special pleasure of Floyd's site.  Among internet forums, The Fresh Loaf is a rare and welcome refuge of consistent civility and mutual respect and support.

Happy Baking,

Tom

RedEng's picture
RedEng

I tried the overnight white one in the summer, and yeah, the whole thing went in the garbage. it was probably at least 25C (77F) in my house overnight (we had a really hot summer). I haven't attempted that one since, but now that the weather is much cooler, I'll try it again. And yes, I'm finding that this is definitely a much more supportive community than many online - you folks are all awesome!  I can't believe how many helpful and encouraging comments I've received; it kind of made my week :)

SeattleStarter's picture
SeattleStarter

Great thread! I'm also a beginner using FWSY. I've actually got a loaf of PdC in the oven now. Yesterday I even broke out the algebra and made a spreadsheet to get better control of hydration levels.

Based on this batch, I'm also going to experiment with leaving the dry yeast out and not letting it expand so much during fermentation.

These loafs didn't expand much in the fridge overnight, and not much spring in the oven (I just took the lid off). Does that indicate too long of a fermentation stage?

[And this is the question I was actually thinking of posting when I found this thread] I'm trying to do a Tartine style shaping, but my dough doesn't have as much stretch at the ones in the video, i.e. when they people in videos say that the dough should not resist the manipulation, mine resists. Could it just need a longer bench rest? Or might this also be related to over-fermentation?

Thanks for any advice!

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

I would expect that dough resistance would be related more to the bench rest and less to over-fermentation. The latter would probably result more in soup than it would in strong elastic dough!

Gluten tightens up as you work it and will relax if left to rest for ten minutes or so. Try a few experiments to see how long it takes your dough to relax between manipulations.