The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Liquid Dough Desperation

Pinheiro's picture
Pinheiro

Liquid Dough Desperation

Hi everyone!

First of all, thaks for all your incredible content. It's great to have such a huge and reliable source, even if I live in another country (in my case, Brazil).

I've been playing with levain for past a year now, but I've always baked pretty normal loafs that look like regular yeast bread. 

Just recently I decided to try higher hydration recipes, looking for great crumb and crust like the ones I see online, but my dough always ends up so liquid I literally have to double up on flour, wich allows me to work on the dough, but results in a ok bread.

So, my question is: is it normal and should just keep going? Because it looks nowhere close to anything I've ever seen on any videos or blogs. It's really impossible to work with. I can't fold, I can't stretch, I can't work with it in any way, although it's only 65% hydrated.

Today, during bulking, I did 6 sets of folds (30min between each) and set it aside for 2 hours. It doubled in size, but had no structure at all, so all the air just scaped when I put it in the counter.

Here goes the recipe I use and I'll link a video I made to show you how wet the dough was after bulking:

- 270g AP flour;

- 175g water;

- 52g starter (100% hydration, 50% WW, 50% AP);

- 5g salt.

I'm getting really desperate here. Don't know what else to do. I've been working on this for more than 2 months and I'm starting to think I just can't figure it out.

Massa líquida (Liquid Dough)










Lechem's picture
Lechem

Can you post a link to the brand please? 

Pinheiro's picture
Pinheiro

It's a local brand, called Dona Benta. It has 10% protein. Pretty much like every national flour here.

http://www.donabenta.com.br/produtos/farinhas/farinha-de-trigo-dona-benta-tipo-1-1kg+48

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Protein is too low. Can you get hold of anything stronger? If not, how about Vital Wheat Gluten to increase the protein? 

My goodness... Google translate has done a good job:

Recommended for use 
Ideal for the preparation of cakes, pies, pancakes, omelettes and others.

kendalm's picture
kendalm

T55 grown and milled in france, I would have to go to 80% or higher to get something this gloopy.  I just posted a shaped scoring photo of 72% loaves same flour (9.4%) holding shape easily.  There must ve skmething else going on here - that looks insanely liquidied.  What the heck must the label say ? 

Lechem's picture
Lechem

I'm not all too familiar with the numbering system Kendalm, but a quick search for T55 flour tells me it's around 12% protein (the equivalent to American AP flour). Which brand do you buy?

kendalm's picture
kendalm

Now looking closer at this thread and the site (translated) it is indeed cake flour.  Not really knowing the fine details one thing that comes to mind is an old post (maybe by dabrownman) regarding protein not all being equal - perhaps cake flour protein is different - but just checked the francine label indeed 9.4% :\

Lechem's picture
Lechem

https://www.wafflepantry.com/French-Wheat-Flour-T55

Perhaps a different kind of wheat? We need an expert on board.  

If indeed this isn't the issue then definitely something else is going wrong. Wrong measurements? 

Pinheiro's picture
Pinheiro

I use that to build my starter (50% that and 50% the white one). So you think I should use only that? As it is whole wheat, wouldn't it result in a dry loaf?

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Just until we figure out exactly what is going wrong. It'll only be dry if the hydration is too low. Start off at 70% hydration and slowly add water till it feels right. Better a tad dry then soup.  

Pinheiro's picture
Pinheiro

Ok, i'll do that. 

Also, do you think it would help if I knead the dough before the bulking fase? Like developing some gluten before it starts to rise?

giancaem's picture
giancaem

Hey Pinheiro, I had a similar problem when I started my bread journey. Here in Panama the local flour quality is awfully bad (not to mention they are ALL bleached).  I recall trying to make a few 70% hydration recipes with the regular all purpose flour, and ended up with soupy messes just like the one in your video. Once I switched brands (I went for the imported American flours) everything started to work the way it was supposed to. My suggestion would be to go and experiment with other brands available at you grocery store.

Giancarlo

Pinheiro's picture
Pinheiro

Hey Giancarlo,

Yes, all oir flours are bleached as well. Unfortunatly, imported flours are a very rare treat, but I'll dig some more.

Thanls for the support.

pul's picture
pul

http://cademinhafarinha.com/

They describe some tests with local commercial flours

 

 

pul's picture
pul

http://www.nitaalimentos.com.br/produtos/linha-domestica/farinhas-de-trigo/farinha-nita.html

I have used this brand to make bread in Brazil with a good reasult

 

 

Pinheiro's picture
Pinheiro

@pul I've been getting some help there too, mostly from a fellow TFLer. He thinks the problem is with my starter and has offered to send me some of his own. 

He manages to make some pretty good loafs with Dona Benta white flour, so that's where I get my confusion from.

Here in Fortaleza we have pretty much Finna and Dona Benta at the supermarket, but I'll see what I can find.

Have you ever worked with Anaconda or Renata?

Also, do you think I'd get a better result if I did some slap and fold prior to bulking?

pul's picture
pul

I only tried the brand I mentioned before. The hydration was typically higher in the range of 75%.

I have checked the Brazilian blog and the results using local flours are pretty good. So we can isolate the flour as the root cause of your problems. Providing your measures check, the only variables left are the quality of the starter and water. The temperature in Fortaleza is also high, so that will cause the dough to feel more slack than normal.

a_pummarola's picture
a_pummarola

This is an 80% dough, hand-kneaded and made with the same Dona Benta Tipo 1 white flour. 2% salt, 10% starter and about 8 hours of fermentation at 20C.

I am pointing the finger at the starter because I had a similar thing happen to me with my first starter despite using stronger flours.

 

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Same flour? 

One wouldn't think. I retract my earlier comments. Something else is definitely off and it looks like the starter. 

I think we need to know that starters history. 

a_pummarola's picture
a_pummarola

Yup. It's a weak flour for sure, but that sort of breakdown must be caused by something else.

Pinheiro's picture
Pinheiro

I've been using this starter for over a year now, with pretty basic recipes, and always thought it worked just fine. It is fed once a week with 100% hidration.

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

then you might want to read up on thiol compounds.  Do a quick search on this site.

a_pummarola's picture
a_pummarola

Yeah, that's my guess, too. When I had the problem years ago, someone here pointed me to that. I tried the recommended feeding scheme to some success. But eventually I just switched to a known-good starter (Carl's Friends, then King Arthur a few years later) and the improvement was immediate.

Pinheiro's picture
Pinheiro

Yes, I've been reading those posts you sent me. I'll try dry yeast and see what happens. Anyway, thank you so much for your help.

pul's picture
pul

Let's assume it is the starter the problem as proposed by a_pummarola, so I would bake the same recipe measures using dry yeast first and try to isolate one variable at a time. See what happens to the results. How about the water quality in Fortaleza, I believe it has lots of chlorine and that might affect the process to some extent. Try using spring water in another experiment so you can control the inputs.

 

Pinheiro's picture
Pinheiro

Here we don't drink tap water. Instead, we buy those huge vessels with 20L of mineral water, and that's what i've been using.

Pinheiro's picture
Pinheiro

Thank you everyone for the amazing support, specially @a_pummarola, who has been helping me in two different fronts.

As ironic as it sounds, my work routine as a chef doesn't leave me much to do any tests at home, so I'll try all your suggestions over the weekend.

Thank you all for the amazing care and support. This community is truly amazing.

GustavoSM's picture
GustavoSM

I've had the same problem with high hydration. I also use Nita (Anaconda is a good flour, but I can't find in Santa Catarina). I started to buy flour from Casa de Saron (they sell 'bagatelle' french flour). You will find a few brazilian's sites who can send you flour by mail (casa de saron is one).

SourInBethany's picture
SourInBethany

One of the things interestingly absent is the question of starter strength and proofing times.  Can you tell us a little more about how you refresh your starter and how you determine if it is ready?  Water tests are unreliable.  

t would appear all the gluten has been eaten up by the sourdough levin due to over proofing.  Your proofing times seem to be a little long.  6 folds at 3 minutes each is 3 hours plus folding time.  Add in another 2 hours bench rest and you are at 5 hours.  Too long in my opinion.  4 hours max.  1.5x increase is ok as long as poke test is ok.

Your liquid dough problem has been discussed before under "Runny Dough".  You may want to check this out:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/29823/runny-dough

I agree with "Too Much Proofing"  You may also want to consider holding back some water too.  I do and will re-add via spray bottle, folding the added moisture in and resuming slap/fold/knead.  

 

SourInBethany's picture
SourInBethany

6 folds at 30 minutes each plus 2 hours...

Pinheiro's picture
Pinheiro

I use it when it has at least doubled in volume, is bubbly, foamy and frothy (sorry if I misused any of those).

I refresh it once a week, half white flour, half whole wheat, 100% hidration.

Do you think I should develop some gluten before bulking? Like folding or slaping, setting for bulking, than pre-shaping, proofing and baking?

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Do the same recipe with total flour, water and salt but use yeast instead of starter. If you don't experience the same issue then it's your starter. 

In the meantime time build a lower hydration starter (using your established one) which favours yeast instead of bacteria. 

10g starter + 25g water + 50g flour. Knead into a dough. When it peaks and begins to flatten on top then feed again. Keep this up for a day or two. Then when you're ready try using this new starter in a recipe. 

As well as favouring yeast a lower hydration starter is good for lower protein flour. 

Pinheiro's picture
Pinheiro

WOW! Thank you so much! I've always wondered why I sometimes saw some dry starters.

When I use this new starter in a recipe, how should I activate it? Same proportion or does it vary according to the recipe?

Also, at wich proportion should I use dry yeast?

Thanks for the great advice.

Lechem's picture
Lechem

It's behaving well and rising nicely then follow this recipe 

Pane cafone (Neapolitan peasant bread) - original Italian recipe










Follow it the best you can. You don't have to use durum flour, just use your bread flour. If you wish you can add some wholegrain into the main dough. The final rise, after shaping, is done in the fridge! It's not clear in the recipe so don't forget. 

So when you try your original recipe put the flour and water from the starter back into the main recipe. Then use 0.5-1% dried yeast for total flour. Make the dough, knead till full gluten formation, bulk ferment, shape and final proof. 

pul's picture
pul

@SourInBethany,

Fortaleza is bloody hot all year round, so without retarding, bulk fermentation and proofing would happen fast

Pinheiro's picture
Pinheiro

What schedule should I use to keep this low hydration starter? Keep using this water/flour ratio forever?

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Keep your starter maintenance. Or take some off to build the low hydration starter, feed it and refrigerate. Then concentrate on the new starter experiment. 

If all goes well you can think about a new starter maintenance.