The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough problems

nobby's picture
nobby

Sourdough problems

I'm trying to master sourdough and I keep having the same issue of large air pockets at the top of the loaf. I thought it might have been underproofed but a longer proofing time hasn't helped, also because I use a stiff starter I wonder if I hadn't distributed it evenly during the mixing but a longer, more thorough mix hasn't helped either. Any ideas?

Recipe
200g 50% hydration starter
395g strong white bread flour
325g water
10g salt

Method

Mix starter and flour, breaking the stiff starter into smaller pieces with fingers
Add water and mix, knead (slap and fold) for 5 minutes
Add salt and continue kneading for 5 minutes
Rest for 1 hour
Fold/shape
Rest for 1 hour
Fold/shape
Place in proving basket overnight 10-12 hours
Bake

 

I had some trouble removing this one from the banneton, could it be as simple as I damaged the internal structure?

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

In the fridge?

nobby's picture
nobby

No, just on the worktop. I have been guilty in the past of grossly underproofing but this was doming out of the top of the banneton after only 10 hours and easily more than doubled in size. My doughs always seem to proof a lot quicker than the recipe calls for.

 

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

That's a very high percentage starter with a long final proofing. More than doubling in size in the banneton is definitely too much.

How about you shape the dough into the banneton, leave out at room temperature for about an hour and then refrigerate for 8-12 hours?

There are a few factors I'd take into consideration about how long to leave out before refrigerating. How much starter? How warm is it where you live? How far the bulk ferment was taken... etc.

Where did you get this recipe?

nobby's picture
nobby

Thank you, Lechem. I hadn't considered overproofing. I will give your suggestion of a short proof and overnight retardation a try and report back.

The recipe is from the book "Crust" by Richard Bertinet. He suggests the final proof should be 16-18 hours at 17C so I was quite alarmed to see how much it had risen after only 10.

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

I don't know how he gets such a long final proof unless you aren't getting the correct temperature. Just a few degrees higher and it'll be thrown off course. So here are a few more ideas...

1. Begin the dough in the morning then watch the final proof and not the clock. When the dough is just under doubled it is ready. 

2. If timing isn't right then better to put the dough into the fridge after the bulk ferment but before shaping. When ready pull the dough out of the fridge, shape and final proof but again - watch the dough and not the clock. 

3. What we discussed earlier - doing the final proof in the fridge. 

4. Find a way for a more controlled environment which will be difficult to do if you don't have a proofer. 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

7 hours from initial mix here in AZ.  12 hours of final proof  like Abe points out is a very very long time.  Even with less temperature it shouldn't take 12 hours of final proof.  Watch the dough, and not the clock, for 85 to 90% proof and no more.  If you have a hard time knowing when it it is proofed in the basket, like we all do, next time make a bit more dough than usual and put it in a straight sided container just like you do the shaped loaf in the basket.  When the container is 90% risen so it s basket. It is a trick that will teach you what 90% looks like in your basket.  I was having the same problem years ago and this can solve it for you.  It still has to taste great!

Happy baking 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

the bottom of the loaf appears rather light.  Is it possible to get more heat directly under the loaf for the next bake?  

The ratio of starter to flour in the recipe is almost one to two (1:2) and a stiff starter too, so I would expect a fast rise unless the dough temp was very low to start out.  Does Bertinet indicate any dough temps while mixing and those first rests?

Tips: Don't let the dough "double" in the banneton.  Flip out carefully before that point.  If "double" is 100%, then try 85% risen.  It sometimes helps to take a photo before it starts rising so you get a better idea how it's coming along.   Do make notes on the recipe, date. time and particulars noting it was fast rising.  

I find firm starters are powerful little yeasty starters.  It takes a few feedings and patience to convert to the lower hydration but when they do,they are worth it.  You did a good job with your starter. :)

If you find the next repeat of this loaf puffing up unevenly before shaping,  de-gas thoroughly.  That should get all the gas bubbles about the same size before the proof where they all grow bigger.

kendalm's picture
kendalm

It seems often times the crumb can tell you quite a bit about how the oven heat is entering the loaf - in this case from the top left - like mini oven says the bottom looks under cooked - in this case it seems pretty likely an uneven distribution of energy - maybe the surface (stone?) Has not reached its peak temperature yet. Other cases where loaves have large cavities might be due to degassing but this one looks like a heating thang !

Gill63's picture
Gill63

I mainly use Richard Bertinet’s recipe and 50% hydration starter we made when I did his course back in March. It took a while after I was home to be happy with the result. Not sure how much of that was due to starter maturing and getting stronger and how much was my dough handling. On the course we left our dough rising in the bannetons, and they were put in the fridge at some point before baking the next morning. So, it was about an 18 hour rise, but mainly in the fridge.

At home,  I find I get a better result with doing a 30-45 min autolyse first (as we did on the course), adding an extra 1, or 2- depending on feel of the dough- set of stretch and folds so have extended the bulk ferment, and complete my final rise in the fridge overnight. How long at room temperature depends on what that is, but I wait to see some rise before going into the fridge. Timing wise, I usually start weighing things between 1 and 2.30 for a bake at about 7.30 the following morning. I do 2 loaves at a time, and did try with one in the fridge and one left out overnight when the weather turned cold, and the loaf left out before baking was visibly overproofed, so I’ve continued to marshal fridge space on baking days.

nobby's picture
nobby

Thank you everyone for all the suggestions. I have just baked another loaf this time using an extra piece of dough to gauge the volume. The dough was oven ready after only ~6 hours from the first mixing so I can see now I was over proofed before. I still have the issue of the floating crust but it isn't as bad with correct proofing.

Gill63 - thank you for the insight from the Bertinet course, it's very helpful. My next approach was going to be a longer bulk fermentation with possibly more SFs so it's interesting to hear you take this approach also with this recipe.



As you can see I'm still struggling to get enough heat into the base despite this time heating my stone (a terracotta plant pot base) for 2 hours at 250C. I might need to invest in a proper stone next.

nobby's picture
nobby

I've finally had some success with my latest loaf using a longer bulk ferment, an extra s&f and more steam. I'm not sure which is responsible for curing my floating crust issue, and it remains to be seen if I can recreate it, but for now I am very happy. 

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

What a great looking loaf.

Nice feeling isn't it!

So how did you get around the bulk ferment with the original issue being too long for the bulk ferment?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

in the oven, what is the oven setting (upper, lower, fan) and are the heating coils hidden by any chance?