The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough - how to tell if proofing stage is done? Increase in size?

Song17's picture
Song17

Sourdough - how to tell if proofing stage is done? Increase in size?

I am having no luck figuring out how to tell when proofing is done after each fold and stretch phase. Is it when the dough is double in size? I am using King Arthur tangy sourdough using stiff stater Recipe. 

Comments

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

I'm assuming you mean when the bulk ferment is done as you're also talking about the stretch and folds. Instead of going by how much the dough has risen a more accurate way, but it does need practice to learn, is to go by feel. The dough, you'll notice, will undergo a subtle change in the way it looks and feels. It'll be billowy, there will be apparent air bubbles just beneath the surface, when performing a stretch and fold you'll notice it feels different and you won't be able to stretch it as much before the dough resists. Whenever you stretch and fold you don't wish to go beyond the resistance and tear it as that compromises the gluten. Going by feel comes with practice.

P.s. you should allow the dough to relax enough between each stretch and fold. Proofing is the term for allowing the dough to rise to optimum height after shaping. The bulk ferment is done prior to the final proof and is the stage where the flavour is developed and when the stretch and folds may be utilised. 

Song17's picture
Song17

Thanks for the advice on the stretch and fold. I will pay closer attention the next time I try again. The recipe I am using recommends bulk ferment at 76F but my house is at 71F. So how much longer should I allow the dough to relax between stretch and fold? I have tried several methods to create a proofing box but could not maintain a constant temperature.

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

One should watch the dough and not the clock but the recipe will be a good guide. I'll say check it at the recommended time and if you think it needs longer then add on an extra 10 minutes. 

yozzause's picture
yozzause

I sometimes use my car as a proofing chamber when the house is cold as it can get quite warm inside if the sun is out on a winters day here in Australia. I use a reptile warming mat around my brewing keg with an old jacket wrapped around to keep it in contact with the container  to keep the contents at the optimum for brew fermentation. A plastic storage container with a (cheap on ebay) reptile pad should work well as a proover.

Song17's picture
Song17

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/artisan-sourdough-bread-made-with-a-stiff-starter-recipe

Here is the recipe I have been using. Thanks again for the latest advice.

Song17's picture
Song17

Thanks,  yozzause for sharing your ideas on how to keep dough warm in a cool house. I did try putting the bowl of dough on a heating pad and cover the whole thing with a autumn jacket. But it got too hot and may have contributed to my failed loaf.

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Yes to much heat is no good, 28C is what you really need, some of the pads do have a controller. Funny thing has just happened I placed a fruit dough in the back of the station wagon in the sun as the weather has turned cold and windy here and guess what my wife has gone out with it in the back, it should be ready about now so I hope she isn't too long I have phoned her, she is at the doctors with one of the grand daughters and will call by here before taking her home.    

yozzause's picture
yozzause

fortunately the mobile proover returned with the grand daughter nursing the bowl of dough on her lap, it was full proof so was quickly processed its since been baked. One of the smaller loaves was test eaten, one went home with the grand kids and one left for us I will photograph it and post a little later I have another grand daughter coming tomorrow that loves grand dads bread  so she will be pleased!

 

Song17's picture
Song17

Thanks for sharing your dough proofing story. It is so endearing. Nothing beats sharing home-made bread with family.

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

All in all a very nice recipe. Timings seem to be in range unless your starter or temperature is really different. Of course always go by the dough and not the clock but it's a good guideline. I've tried recipes which are really off but this seems to be ok. 

I'd make one change though. When first forming the dough don't add the salt. After the first 30 minutes rest, add the salt and give it a few folds and some kneading to incorporate it. You can get a bit of an autolyse in this way even if in strictest terms it's not a true autolyse as that would be minus the starter too. But in this case because the starter is low hydration you'll find it easier to break up in the water rather than adding it later. So break up the starter in the water as much as possible, add the flours and form the dough but do not knead just yet. After 30 minutes sprinkle the salt over the dough and knead for 5 minutes to get the gluten formation on the way. 

Here you you can see the dough at the end of the bulk fermentation. You can follow this with the folds pretty much as it is although still watch the dough. You can see, hopefully, the bubbles just at the surface around the edges. The photo doesn't show it too well but the dough will have visible signs such as these apoarent bubbles. It'll be aerated and billowy. 

This dough does suit a long final proof in the fridge. Try and get the recommended time. You won't be sorry. Flour your banneton well and try to use some rice flour. My biggest issue was sticking and I almost had a disaster. Here is the crumb and it's delicious. Not overly tangy but it tastes like a nice flavoursome biga bread with an after tang. 

 

Song17's picture
Song17

LeChem, I won’t be able to thank you enough for what you did to help me! Holy cow! Nevertheless, many thanks for the the time and effort you took to teach me how to make my first loaf of sourdough. I will definitely give it a go as per your instructions, perhaps in the next 2 weeks. 

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

...and thank you. It takes time and patience to get used to sourdough but it does pay. I look forward to seeing your loaf.