The Fresh Loaf

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Reverse Tutorial -- I make video...you teach

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

Reverse Tutorial -- I make video...you teach

Hi All,

I've been really struggling to figure out why things are going wrong. I've been suspecting my starter (again...I had this problem six months ago, which I resolved through more education/research.  Even though I'm now applying that same knowledge, the problem is back.) My starter rises and falls predictably and it is fed at peak twice daily. So, I've been thinking I'm getting my fermenting/proofing times wrong...it's really hard to say.

I've made a video of my most recent bread baking experience and the result. Please tell me where you think I'm going wrong.

Many thanks for your thoughts.

Please click the YouTube link. https://youtu.be/nPeFMWjOFh4

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

I've just looked through your video and thought I'd point out a few things first:

1: Did you do a levain build as Hamelman suggested? 20% starter : 125% water : 100% flour [12-14 hours I think]

(obviously because you used a lower hydration levain/starter it'll now be 20% starter : 100% water : 100% flour but still should be left for recommended time and temperature).

Or did you just take from your on going starter enough to use at a time you thought was right?

If you didn't then perhaps following the recipe right from the levain build might be a good idea just in-case you're misjudging the starter/levain.

2: Now I'm going by memory here but if I were you'd I'd double check the amount of whole rye you've used. Seems a bit off.

3: I don't think you've recalculated properly the water adjustment for the starter differences. Please also check. Seems like you have so this is fine.

4: the banneton looks way too big for the amount of dough.

 

I think following the Hamleman's advice for the levain build (but keeping it 100% hydration)

20% starter + 100% water + 100% flour

And following the Norwich Sourdough (based on Hamelman's Vermont but recalculated for 100% hydration starter and levain) would be the next best step.

http://www.wildyeastblog.com/my-new-favorite-sourdough/

for 360g levain then 33g starter + 165g water + 165g flour would be the ideal build and left for the recommended time.

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

I just woke up from a deep sleep because I realized I miscalculated the total levain.  I should have used more than double what I did. But I don't think that can account for the suspiciously low and perhaps non-existent bulk rise and no rise at all during proofing. What do you think?

In terms of the levain build...I did use my starter, which is at 100%, not 120% and also has some existing rye. I fed it as I always do, 1:2:2 and it peaked at about 12 hours, which is when I used it. The total rye in the formula is a mere 35 grams when you account for the levain and the additional rye.

I think the banneton looks small because of the very sad rise.  When I use commercial yeast with that amount of flour it fills it nicely.

What do you think?

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

the levain/starter is way off.

I'm not too worried that you didn't use enough rye. You could have used all AP for arguments sake but the flour was off too. So the flour was off and the starter was way off.

While I think your assumptions on the starter activity is correct it won't do any harm to follow the recipe as it is for now, even the levain build, just so you can check that off your list of things going wrong. It'll just be one thing we can cross off as an issue.

How big is the banneton and how big is the dough? To me it just looks under supported.

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

It is the middle of the night and I have a child who keeps waking up...so perhaps the brain is a little mushy. But the hydration is still 65% per the overall formula. 450 + 50 (flour in levain).  275+50 (water). And since I formerly studied engineering if I'm getting my simple math wrong on that one...boy is that embarrassing. Yes, the percent of pre-fermented flour is way off... Will take your advice. But it sounds like you agree that something must be going on with the leavening power in any case.

This essentially turned into something similar (not exactly the same) as a 3-2-1. Seems like it should have been enough of a bulk and proof for that.

I'll measure the bannatons tomorrow. Similar results from a much smaller batard bannaton I used previously.

Mental light is dimming...nothing more remotely intelligent will come out of my brain tonight. Better shut the mind off before I do more bad math.

Thank you! You're very generous with your help.

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

275g + 50g = 325g water

450g + 50g = 500g flour

325g / 500g = 0.65

0.65 x 100 = 65% hydration.

But that isn't the issue here. There's too much off. Starter % being the main one. Then there's other possible issue like is the starter/levain ready? etc.

1:2:3 recipe is indeed 71% hydration but the starter in a 1:2:3 recipe is 33%. In the Hamelman it's 56%. In yours it's 22%.

The best way forward is to follow the recipe or the Norwich Sourdough version and seen where that takes you.

Have a good night and hopefully this has been a step forward. Good job making the video.

P.s. not everything I have pointed out would make the difference with the issue with the rise or the real problem. Just like to do away with any issue in the recipe so the real problem stands out. I'm going from memory here and water was just a side thought.

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

No need for me to get too caught up in the math until I attempt it again...but my book shows an overall hydration for this recipe at 65%.

I will check back in with you when I take another crack at it and share my amounts. I may be missing a nuance.

For example, when the levain is ready, I no longer consider how much seed culture is in it. Once it's ready, to me, it's just a flour/water ratio to account for in the overall formula. Is that wrong? I see lots of recipes that just call for x grams of levain at y hydration.  So, that's why I'm thinking it doesn't really matter.

(Assuming of course one has accurately determined when it is "ready" which I suppose is the question in this case...and assuming one actually gets the math right on how much levain to use.)

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

but it looks like the bulk rise needed way more time as did the proofing. I know you were trying to stick to a recipe but you have to watch the dough and not the clock. My dough, since it has gotten colder here (outside not in the house), is also taking forever to bulk ferment. For example, 5 hours is my usual time, but yesterday, the Kamut porridge loaves took 5 and 3/4 hours and the cranberry currant wild rice took almost 7 hours before I felt that the bulk fermentation was developed enough to move on to dividing and shaping. I cut back my prefemented flour from 13% to 11% so that might account for some of the extra time as well. And if you used only half of what you were supposed to use, then your timing would definitely be off. 

 I also wonder about your folds. I would have done way more folds until the dough was able to stay in a mound. Your pictures show no appreciable structure and certainly no bubbles under the surface or at the edges the end If your bulk. 

You could have shoved the banneton in the fridge for the night and in the morning, reshaped the dough, let it rise and then baked. That might have rescued that particular loaf. 

Those are the thoughts I had when I watched your video. I am sure that others with way more expertise than I will pipe in. 

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

Of course, I agree and I know the old adage.  The trouble is that when I had previously followed my gut on that the loves were coming out flat too. And in fact, they never got anywhere even waiting much longer. So, I found my gut to be useless.  Even in the video I go way longer than prescribed due to what looks to me like it isn't ready (of course my math is useless too, so it would indeed take longer.) Actually, I'm trying to troubleshoot my fermentation times in the video. I was testing the hypothesis that I was going too long, actually.

In the previous attempt (not shown) I made a 1,000 of flour loaf (slightly different recipe) and divided it into two.  The first half I baked according to my feeling of the dough (I remember the fermentation looking better than this but the proofing never really getting anywhere).  The second half of the dough, I let continue to proof longer, longer, longer... I let it proof about 10 more hours.  It never budged.

You're right.  There was no structure.  But I don't think that was due to lack of gluten development...do you?  I think it was due to the fact that there was no air in the dough. You can't have structure without some air... But I'm here for your thoughts, so I'm really just mentioning that to see if you agree.

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

So, to me you are an expert!

clazar123's picture
clazar123

You mention a 1:2:2 feed and your starter peaks at 12 hours. I think that might be the issue. Your starter may need to be more active. If the starter is very active, it should peak in a lot shorter time frame-prob. no more than 3-5 hours if it is in a warm (80F) environment.

Try feeding and keeping in a warm environment for 3 feeds and see if the activity improves. It should start smelling very yeasty  and should peak much faster. A few degrees temp can make a big difference in your starter activity and in your bulk fermentation.

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

Yeah...that would definitely account for something.

You know, I was thinking about this.

If a dough were a starter feeding...in this case...I was feeding it 1:3.25:5 1:2.75:4.5 plus some salt...given my starter peaking times, it would take quite a while indeed.  Certainly longer than 12 hours to peak.  But then I was thinking...well...I don't really want dough to peak cause that would be overproofed plus the properties of the dough are different than a 100% hydration starter...but I wonder if there is some principle somewhere that could act as a guideline regarding starter peaking times and how they might relate to potential fermentation times.  There are probably too many variables.

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

to my question about the proofer. I've got one coming, and so too the perfect environment for executing your instructions above.

jimbtv's picture
jimbtv

BB, great job on the video.

At what temperature are you doing your fermentation? 68 F would be considered low and I generally do fermentations at around 74 F. If the fermentation is taking a long time the gluten may be breaking down by the time you get it to the oven.

I'd push the fermentation temps up and see if you can get it to the oven sooner. Also, I agree that the banneton is too big. 

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

Indeed.  Since Hamelman proofs at 70, I didn't think it was too off.  What is off, as has already been mention, is my levain %.

I've got a Brod & Taylor proofer coming.  When it comes, I will try again so I can truly eliminate the temperature variable.

Captain Foulweather's picture
Captain Foulweather

You will find the proofer a boon to your fermentation of both levain and bread. I have far greater consistency since I purchased mine last spring, and find the low power consumption is such that it can be used when we're cruising and away from outside electrical power connections. 

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

I know it's not designed for this, but I also want to put a pot of water in there and attempt to use it for sous vide. I don't see any reason why that wouldn't work do you?

Captain Foulweather's picture
Captain Foulweather

I don't think that you would have that much heat with the proofer. The low setting temperature is 70°F and I am not sure what the upper temperature would be; I just looked on mine, and it looks like it would go to 100+, a temp fine for fermented goods but probably not for cooking. The heating element is in the floor of the device and I think it would take careful monitoring.

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

So, since a nice medium rare steak should be 130-135...I'm hopeful.

Check out this awesome video from my latest favorite YouTube content creator. He's Alton Brown meets MacGyver. He does a sous vide machine with just a cooler.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5h_y3svpNiw

 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Duplicate post

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Amazon has a great deal right now on the Sous Vide unit that I bought last year. Originally $149, now $99.

https://www.amazon.com/Anova-Culinary-Precision-Bluetooth-Circulator/dp/B00UKPBXM4/ref=sr_1_4?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1513123660&sr=1-4&keywords=anova+sous+vide

I’ve used mine with great success. It is very accurate and has given me no problems. 

I also have the Brod and Taylor proofer. Another great tool. Never a problem. I’ve owned one for years. 

Put a bug in Santa’s ear. 

Dan

Filomatic's picture
Filomatic

Thanks for sharing this.  I hope a lot of new bakers watch this video.

Note, Hamelman proofs at 70 for levain, but 76 for most bulk and final fermentation.  There are a few exceptions, especially or all in the rye section.

The end result shows the bread was clearly underproofed:  tight crumb in places, explosive holes elsewhere.  Your starter is active, so no mistake there.  It's just that for the circumstances, you didn't give it adequate time to ferment.  The bulk temperature and levain percentage were too low for the time allotted.  There's every reason to think that with more time you would have had very good results.

I had these problems, too, and so do most newer bakers.  Without a bit more experience, it's hard to accept how long it takes in varying room temps, which are often 60-70 here in the Bay area, too low for warm bulk and warm final rise given how very temperature sensitive the beasties are.  As you get more experience, you'll recognize the key factors, and how to manipulate them to suit your needs.  Your Brod & Taylor is going to help a lot.

My first attempt at Vermont SD shows near the end of your photo montage.  I just looked at those loaves and their crumb, and low and behold, they are underproofed, and several folks here told me so.  I had been baking about a year when I made it the first time.  I recently made them again with a year and a half more of experience, and they are much better now.

First attempt: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/45148/feedback-please-first-hamelman-vermont-sourdough

Recent attempt:

Happy baking!

Phil

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

Yeah...people think California...yeee hah...but I'm freezing as we speak.  (Okay, this is a Californian whining but I went to school in Ohio...so I have some credibility.)

Look how gorgeous your second attempt crumb is!

I don't know if you saw in my other posts, but I actually made a very similar recipe before this one where I fermented for A LOT longer and I had the exact same result (although it was not as lopsided). In this attempt, I was swinging the pendulum in the other direction.

I have made this recipe successfully before. So, part of me still suspects my starter. But that was a pretty stupid error regarding the percentage of levain and so I have to correct that so we can make a valid assessment and eliminate everything else.

I guess that is the big question since I'm hearing everything from perfectly active to under-active. Got to get back on the horse.

Filomatic's picture
Filomatic

No, I didn't see your last attempt, but you have some really pretty loaves in your "Recent Blog Entries."  Your starter looks active to me.  You know my method--I don't sweat the starter.  It languishes in the fridge, and then I re-start it with 2-4 feedings before baking.  Bob told me I could (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/44777/fred-dead-practical-starter-abuse), and I've never looked back.  Well, I looked back until I learned that it worked a lot better with mini-feedings.  These are Brod & Taylored at 70, or maybe 72, since my 1910 home is colder than it is outside.  Your starter is getting the royal treatment by comparison, except in the temperature department.  My point is that I'm reluctant to believe there's anything wrong with your starter, except that it might prefer it to be warmer at times.  Maybe I'm wrong and I'll learn something valuable I didn't know.

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

You're right. The recipe shows 70F for levain.  No information for bulk fermenting and then 76F for proofing.

Given the gap in temperature information, he probably does bulk at 76F.  70F does seem pretty chilly compared to most other recipes.

Okay...second bomb dropped.

Thanks.

Filomatic's picture
Filomatic

Since the other recipes bulk and final proof at 76 if not cold final proofing (again, except for some of the the ryes), I knew he meant to say bulk at 76.

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

lovely bake :)

Leslie

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

Another way to go about this is to eliminate my starter as the variable. If anybody in the southern part of Napa/Sonoma/Solano County has a starter they wouldn't mind lending me...I could try it that way, too.

TomK's picture
TomK

I’m in San Rafael (home) & Point Richmond  for work. I‘d be happy to share my starter with you, it’s quite active. I’ll need a day to build some for you, let me know. 

Tom

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

It's a bit far but maybe if I get desperate enough! I'm asking my neighbors first.  (Did you mean to display your number publicly? These comments are visible across the web, even to people who do not have accounts.)

I'm copying the number.  I will get in touch if I strike out with my neighbors.  Thanks again for your generosity.

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

is sulking!  I would try doing starter builds and try to get it to peak in 6 hours.    it is frustrating Isn't it, but as others above say try and find a warm spot and get your starter really active in a shorter time before you try again.  

I also think the bulk ferment didn't go long enough. did you buy Trevor J Wilson's book? lots of info in there

Leslie

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

Although I need to re-read it. There's so much in there one pass isn't enough. He says to bulk to 30-50% increase in volume. So, that's what I was trying to go by (rather than what I had gone by before. Before I went by feel and I had always gone longer, but with a similar result. So, I was thinking maybe I was going too long.)  It's actually pretty tough to determine 30-50%. I could try that trick of putting a ball of dough in a smaller container.

I'm making a list for the next attempt!

Thank you!

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

I am now aiming for about 50% increase, but trying also to go with the look of the dough. Previously I had left BF until doubled so it is a big change for me too. and yes I too need to reread Crumb Mastery so the info sticks! ! 

look forward to your next try

Leslie

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

doubled but after reading most of Trevor‘s book, I am doing folds right through the fermentation.  I wait till I see bubbles on the edge of the dough and take a look at the shape of the bubbles in the dough through the walls of the translucent container. I am looking for irregular sized bubbles and a billowy feel to the dough.

Mini oven suggests slicing the dough open to check and then slapping the cut edges together to either continue with the fermentation or divide and shape if it is ready. I recently followed her advice and it was bang on!

The rise can be anywhere from 25% to 75%. I don’t expect the dough to double anymore. I am more concerned with building strength through the overlapping folds and the feel of the dough. 

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

Yes...she made that suggestion to me as well. I followed that advice with a previous loaf (it was easy since I was dividing it.)  I had bulked for 7 hours in that case, it was slightly more pillowy but not what I was hoping for and the bubbles...well...not really there. There are many variables for that last one, so too hard to diagnose now. I will try Vermont again and lock down some of the clear mistakes from this attempt.

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

- building strength.  I too now do the folds all the way thru and my last bake was barely ok - really really extensible and even as I did the final shape it wasn't holding, so lots more to learn there even though with other bakes I have got it right!  

Trevor's book has given us all lots to think about on soooo many levels.  lol today I am playing safe and making Teresa Greenway's potato water sd which NEVER fails me.

Leslie

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

10g starter + 25g water + 50g flour (40g bread flour, 10g whole rye). 

Knead into a dough ball. This might take a little effort but it'll work. 

Place in a small jar and keep warm. 

Give it 12-14 hours and see if it rises. 

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

it hasn't budged. Will report back in my a.m.

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

the slower it'll ferment. Will be interested to know if it's risen well after 12-14 hours.

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

I followed your amounts exactly. It hasn't budged in 18 hours. Kept it in an oven with a pot of warm water.  Started at 82F/28C and declined from there.

Meanwhile at 100% hydration feeding 1:4:4 it is at about 2.5x after 9 hours and still growing.

Hamelman's levain recipe has already receded (which probably means nothing since it's so wet). 

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

What are you using for water? I know that I killed a starter trying to revive it with tap water that was chlorinated. It went fine once I used filtered water. Could it be that your municipality has changed the way they treat their water?

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Might be worth using boiled water which has cooled to see if this is the cause of the problem. 

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

I use filtered water from the fridge...I pop it in the microwave for a few seconds in order to get it to the correct temperature.

There is no taste of chlorine in the filtered water although unfiltered is chlorinated here.

I will use bottled next time just on the very off chance it's a problem.  But I use the same water for starter maintenance and the dough...so strange that it would only be a problem for raising my bread but not my 100% hydration starter.

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

To go forward. 

No harm in keeping this off shoot starter experiment going. If it's no problem that is. 

Once every 24 hours follow this feed with this dough ball. 

Take off 20g from the soft inside (discard the outer crust) and feed it 25g water + 50g flour (40g bread flour + 10g whole rye). As if you're making a starter from scratch. For the feed use boiled water which has cooled. 

Keep this as your side experiment. 

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

It still meets the sides of the container in the same place but it is slightly rounded now.

The left is my usual starter, fed 1:4:4 this time instead of 1:2:2. This is after about 15 hours.  The right is your formula. It has been 26 hours for that one.

Edit: previous was the wrong picture from an earlier time.  Here is the right one.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Now (not Not, spelling checkers! ugh!)   repeat the 1:4:4 at peak and same temp, compare times.  (forget the 1:10:10 for now)   :)

alfanso's picture
alfanso

Very nice video with a lot of quality explanation.

Based on what I read as a 726g loaf, assuming the levain was already included in the F&W:

There is way too much salt in your mix.  Salt should be 8.6g instead of 11g.  Mr. Hamelman does a 2 stage build, with enough levain left over for his next build.  Total flour pre-fermented should be 15%, and as you stated, you underestimated the amount of rye and incorrectly used a different hydration levain.

You may be missing the mark on surface tension when doing the final shaping of the boule. That tension will help determine the "spreadability" of the boule as the crust sets.  I'd also recommend pinching the bottom of the boule  tighter after loading it into the banneton.  Don't be shy - the dough won't mind it one bit.  Being at the lower end of the hydration scale, the dough is not as wet and likely to form a good bond.  It is a somewhat "dry" dough and more likely to spread and separate at this seam while proofing.  And once proofed, you really don't want to be playing around with the dough anymore.  I believe that more attention should be paid here.

You don't mention whether you look for a windowpane or not, and that may be helpful while getting your Vermont SD bearings down.  I'll leave the bulk ferment and proofing details to others here, as I have a somewhat unorthodox method of doing this stuff.  But I agree that both the banneton and the combo cooker surface is too large for your boule.

As with many and maybe most others, you are doing the S&Fs in the fermenting vessel, and indeed that is what many formulae and videos call for.  Not faulting them nary a bit,  but allow me to introduce you to the way that I do it.  I get a lot of mileage out of this and believe that it is a more efficient method at stretching the gluten strands and interleaving the dough than if done in the vessel.  Now this is for a 75% hydration extensible dough, but you should be able to get a similar stretch out of your 65% hydration dough.  I'll do this regardless of whether the dough is 65% or 80% hydration, as the dough doesn't seem to complain.  just make sure that you wet the counter with a coating of water before landing the dough onto the work surface.  Maybe it will work for you, maybe not.  You may wish to try it to see if the glove fits. 

The fun thing about baking bread is that there are always second chances!

alan

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

Thank heaven for that.

I don't normally bulk ferment in those types of containers...I find it's much harder to get the dough out. But I used it because it was easier to see the rise and illustrate any change.

I love your stretching video and I've actually seen it before...(you're famous.)

I mixed the gluten to medium development. It was fairly elastic.

I think the shaping was okay and I handled it minimally after that. I see what you're saying about pinching it shut.  You know, I actually tried to do that (you can kinda see it on the left) but it was not holding together. Would you recommend trying to glue it with a little water or is that inadvisable?

The other thing to note is that there was pretty much never any spring back on the dough...despite plenty of gluten. The only spring back it had was right after shaping, probably a function of the surface tension. I'm surmising that it didn't have any air in it...so there really wasn't much to spring back.

I hope my next video will help eliminate some of the minor concerns.

I think the theories at this point are that it's a problem with the starter activity or temperature vs a death by a thousand cuts situation. Hopefully more data to come.

Thanks Alan!

alfanso's picture
alfanso

As far as the levain build, and I do follow Mr. Hamelman's 2 stage build, for a 125% hydration levain my notes (all in italics are my personal notes) say: 

This levain is slow moving.  2nd build will take less time than first.
Levain with bread flour will bubble and froth but barely move.
Levain with rye flour will alveolate and double in size.

(I've swapped out the white flour in the levain entirely and now go with a rye levain, which give the flavor a little more "oomph" for my palate.  That is why the second entry is there.)

Another note:  Bread flour version will be a little rubbery.  AP flour version will be more extensible and smooth. 

And referencing the difference between AP vs. Bread Flour:  One significant difference I noticed during French Folds was that this dough was more extensible and less"rubbery". And that continued on through the Letter Folds and into final shaping as well.  And strangely, although both runs are 65% overall hydration, this batch seemed wetter, by a fair margin.

You mentioned "I mixed the gluten to medium development. It was fairly elastic."  If you switch over to AP flour rather than "bread flour" you should see the following differences.  The flour will not absorb quite as much of the water so the mix will be "wetter". The dough will also be more extensible rather than elastic.  That should help at all stages of the process.

"Would you recommend trying to glue it with a little water or is that inadvisable?"  If the seam is resistant to sealing, then perhaps wet your hands to add some to the surface when you pinch it closed.  It won't alter the hydration content of the dough.  However, as mentioned above the switch from Bread to AP should compensate well all by itself...

Therefore, if you do use the AP and it is wetter, then your seam should be easier to seal both when you establish the surface tension as well as when you drop it into the banneton.  Give it a squeeze at the seam to ensure that it does seal as well as possible.  

Here are the Weekend Bakery aces shaping a boule.  Although you can't see it clearly from the camera angle, what the baker is doing is placing the extended pinky fingers on the surface of the bench and using that to create the surface tension.  The remainder of the cupped fingers provide the vehicle that guides the dough across that surface.  The dough here appears to be of a significantly higher hydration than the Vermont SD, and you'll notice that when their boule lands in the banneton, the seal is already well closed.

As far as being famous, that and $2.75 will get me a ride on the NYC subway (although I have the Sr. Discount ID card so I ride for 1/2 price!)

N.B.  When I first started leafing through my brand new Hamelman Bread book, a little more than a year ago, I stated (in my mind) innocently enough that it would have been helpful for Mr. Hamelman to include some details on what a levain should look like at different stages, as well as a few other things that I would have liked to have included.  I had barely cracked the cover when I posted.  And I caught some minor hell from several of his defenders!  Oh well.

alan

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

let the starter just sit and ferment.  Your intuition should be working on the mother starter, let it ride out fermentation to peak and give it a larger feed to chew on at over 75°F (under 80°F)   Something like 1 weight starter  to 10 flour with about 8 parts water.  Let it peak, discard & repeat.  Use the discards in a hybrid recipe with com. yeast.  After the second big feeding and peak, give the bacteria a few extra hours to build up before the next feeding.  Since your starter is still relatively young, it should respond well.  You just have watch it and respond to it.  Each large feeding should be speeding up by about 2 hours if done in warmer temps.

Once satisfied with 8 hour peak repetitions, drop back to smaller feedings with more water at lower temps.  Wetter starters ferment faster than thicker firmer ones.  Especially worth noting with cooler winter temps.  

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

You are an endless font of knowledge and information.  How did you get so learned?  I'm literally asking...it's not a rhetorical question.

Would that type of ratio not dilute the acidity to the point of inviting unwanted microbes? Do you think I could manage that with a mere 10g of starter? The waste is almost prohibitive (we follow a pretty strict diet and I don't know what I would do with all the sourdough muffins and pancakes), but I am so intrigued by the 2 hour acceleration as a measurement of improvement. Nobody's ever given me such a clear bread crumb to follow.

I think I will wait until the proofer comes. If I'm going to commit the flour to this process, I'd best get those temperatures spot on.

Very interesting.  I think while I wait, I will give it a larger feeding (though not quite that large) just to see what happens.

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

on different comments that I feel the need to break it down.  Forget what I did (the distillation is that I kept hydration at 65%, but shorted the levain by 69 grams.)

Here's what I should have done and what I will do next time (with the 125% hydration...cause it's just easier that way.) Please let me know if anybody sees any errors.

 

Overall (expressed as a percentage of total flour)
 PercentOriginal (g)Downsized (g)
BF90%9000450
Rye10%100050
Water65%6500325
Salt1.9%1909.5
Total Yield167%16690834.5
    
Final Dough   
 PercentOriginal (g)Downsized (g)
BF (added)75%7500                        375
BF (levain)15%1500                          75
Rye10%1000                          50
Water (added)46%4620                        231
Water (levain)19%1880                          94
Salt1.9%190                          10
    
    
    
Levain amount to be added = 75+94 = 169g @ 125% hydration (15 g seed)
The amount of fermented flour expressed over the total flour is 1500/10000=15%
DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

I’ve  been following this. I’m interested to learn the culprit. To me your starter looks healthy and even though the percentages were off here and there, could it possibly be bad flour. It seems remote but the complete failure to rise leads me to the improbable.  

The starter looks strong, but the dough never showed signs of life. 

You are obviously thorough, so bad water (I’ve never seen or heard of that) or water too hot is out of the question. 

Maybe alfanso‘s comment about the salt? Maybe  the dough rec’d more salt than you thought. 

I believe the interest by so many is because your plight is so well documented and things don’t add up. 

Please let us know how the next bake goes.  

Dan

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

Yes, I do feel like it doesn't add up.  I did screw up the levain amount -- I really wish I hadn't because it confuses the whole situation. But even given that and the 68F ambient temp, the whole thing still looks  completely lifeless...

It's funny you should say that because I'm actually wondering about the flour. Specifically, I wonder about the flour as food and what microbes are living in it. Is it possible that my very loose starter, which provides almost no elastic resistance, is being blown up not by yeast but by the LAB?  LAB do "exhale" so-to-speak but it's not generally strong enough to raise bread.  Maybe it is strong enough to raise a loose starter.

I'm further suspicious because the breads...although not risen...do have a sour tang...taste like the LAB have done their job just fine.

I wasn't going to mention this yet because it's pure speculation and really a waste of people's time until I perform another test where I

a) I get the recipe right

b) I bulk at higher temperatures (my proofer arrived today)

c) I cut the dough in half and let second half rise even longer...just to see where it goes...if there is life inside after all

That's my plan. Glad to have you on the mystery-solving team!

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

The Brod and Taylor will amaze you. It’s cold in my house, probably the upper 50’s. But with my proofer set @ 76 my starter is good to go in 4 hrs.  It is also large enough to put a large dough bucket in for bulk fermenting and/or proofing. 

Check out how fast your starter will rise @ 92. Makes starter more sour. 

I hope you can find a definitive answer to your problem. ”inquiring minds want to know”

 

Dan

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

So, I mentioned to Lechem that I woke up from sleep with the sudden realization that I got the levain amount wrong.  Here's what happened.

Chad Robertson came to me in a dream (or maybe it was that state of half-sleep when your subconscious mind tries to unwind and process all the information of the day).  Chad was going over his country loaf recipe.  In the dream he's using 100g of levain for 500g of flour (just like I erroneously did for Vermont Sourdough) but his bulk/proof times are so much longer than Hamelman's. Red flag.  Something was off. That's when I realized that I had messed it up and shot out of bed reviewed the VS recipe again. I'm not making this up.  This is exactly what happened.

Sure enough I misread the line.  I took the 20% line for the starter in the levain and transposed that as if it were the levain percent in the dough.

I'm suddenly feeling the urge to write a different version of A Christmas Carol.  Chad Robertson is the ghost of Christmas past (because I started with his bread a year ago...not because he is out of date), Jeffrey Hamelman is the ghost of Christmas present, and Trevor Wilson is the ghost of Christmas future. Each come to me in the night and teach me lessons about bread making...

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

about starter sniffing.  You gotta be careful Girl!

Mini

jimbtv's picture
jimbtv

Let me know when you are visited by a naked Indian, escorting you to an audience with Jim Morrison.

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

I'm hanging up the oven mitts and buying bread at Safeway.

Filomatic's picture
Filomatic

In the end, you've just done an experiment--how to slow the rate of fermentation.  It's good to play around with these factors and see how your dough reacts.  There are a lot of ways to make good bread.  One person on one of the FB pages I follow uses 1% levain in her breads, and her bread looks incredible.  It takes forever, which is deliberate.

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

I'm skeptical that temperature is the only issue. But seeing is believing and I'm trying again right now in a proofer with another loaf as an ambient control.

The reason I'm sooooo skeptical that temp is the only problem (I'm not saying it's not a problem, but I fear it's one of many), is that the loaf prior to the one in the video I made is as below.

Very similar recipe with the exact same levain. The only difference is the hydration on this one was 70%.

With this loaf, I was testing that I needed longer times. So, here, I did 7 hours bulk at room temp (68F), and 14 hours retard in the fridge with 2 hours to warm up (I don't think the last part is usually necessary but as it did not rise at all in the fridge, I did it that way.)

Even if it weren't long enough, it still showed near completely lifelessness after the bulk. Anyway, no need to speculate on this one now. Let's see what the latest experiment reveals.

Filomatic's picture
Filomatic

That bread also looks like a classic underproofed loaf, as I'm sure you realize.  I haven't completely ruled out another explanation.  It's just that, assuming your starter is not wildly underfed when you use it to build your levain (Trevor addresses this in the e-book), it looks quite viable.  And barring the possibility that you are killing off your starter, levain, and final dough with excessively chlorinated water, which is unlikely given your past success, and knowing what we know about proofing times and the wee beasties' sensitivity to temperature, I'm operating under the assumption that it's temperature.  After all, Bob took putrid starter left unfed in the fridge for nearly a year, gave it one feeding, made levain with it, and produced beautiful loaves with it.  Starter is super resilient.

I agree with your idea to do a simultaneous bake using one dough in the proofer and one dough at current room temp., making sure you're using a Brita or something to filter the water.

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

I really hope I'm just woefully underestimating the time it takes to raise this bread at these temperatures. However, the bread (the loaf you see not the video loaf) was VERY sour. No spring.  Of course, maybe it didn't have spring because it didn't have air.

This time. I have the right measurements, nailed the FDT, proofing at 76F. I'm now 2/3 through his recommended bulk time. It's looking dismal. But it's not over...not yet. Stay tuned...

Filomatic's picture
Filomatic

Most of Hamelman's SD breads also call for a pinch of commercial yeast, but he says you can omit, but add as much as 50% to the time.  I've found it to be accurate.  Others know much more about this than I do, but if your bread is very sour, you might have an imbalance between the yeast and bacterial makeup of your starter that is impeding rise.  Just a thought.

Recently I had an inexplicably sluggish dough.  I went to play tennis with my daughter and her friend for an hour just to see what would happen if it fermented an hour or two longer than suggested.  When I returned it had finally expanded noticeably.

Someone on the "Sourdough bakers" FB page said today that he doesn't use filtered water anymore, just tap water, for various reasons.  It doesn't hurt to test every assumption from time to time.

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

It's been four hours and they haven't budged (much like the stiff starter Abe told me to try from my existing starter.) The warm one and the ambient one don't really look all that different.

I need to go live my life now...whatever happens happens when I come back.

Filomatic's picture
Filomatic

Don't make me come out there!  You have gremlins.  I can't see how the starter could be that active and not be strong enough to build a viable dough.  What's a levain but a larger amount of starter, and what's a final dough but a large, stiff levain!  We will solve this somehow.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Why not raise the temp? 

I have noticed that for the longest time the BF shows no rise, and then suddenly things kick in and progresses speedily. 

Crank it up...

Dan

Trevor J Wilson's picture
Trevor J Wilson

I just wrote a long and detailed response covering all the grounds, but when I submitted it the comment disappeared into the ether. Bummer. But lesson learned -- always copy comments to the clipboard before posting. 

Anyway . . . 

To (very) briefly sum up my previous post, your starter and dough are suffering from insufficient fermentation activity -- most likely due to the cold temps. Your Brod & Taylor should help solve this problem when it arrives. 

Oh, and I enjoyed your video -- you are a very entertaining narrator. 

Cheers!

Trevor

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

Thanks for taking the time to write it. Too bad it disappeared.

Come to think of it...6 months ago when I was more successfully baking, the ambient temperatures were probably about 74 degrees.

Next time I will do a control.  I'll double the recipe and let one loaf go longer.  In fact, I already did this before I made the video in a different trial and the second loaf never rose either...but as it's possible I changed other variables, another test is in order.

Thanks!

 

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

It's been...what...a month? Looking through these TFL forums there are already countless references to your book -- an instant classic, an immediate standard.  Congrats.

Go for it (assuming the economics serve you). There are lots of published books out there that serve a smaller audience niche than artisan bread baking. I want it on my shelf between Tartine and Hamelman.

Great job.

AndyPanda's picture
AndyPanda

Filtered tap water (unless you have a RO filter) will still have chlorine or chloramine. If it's only chlorine, you can just let the filtered water sit for 12-24 to off-gas the chlorine --- but many cities are using chloramine which doesn't off-gas. But I hear you can set the water in sunlight and the UV will cause the chloramine to come out of suspension and off-gas.

As an experiment you might try some bottled water and see if it peaks more quickly.

However your starter looked plenty active and bubbly - and I assume you use the same water in your starter. So ... hmmmm

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

Second attempt documented on a new thread.  I thought that would be best to separate new theories based on new data from past theories.

Here's the link to the thread and video.  http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/54571/reverse-tutorial-lesson-2

Thanks to anybody and everybody who still has the patience for this.  You're too kind.