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advice on my experiments please.....

sadexpunk's picture
sadexpunk

advice on my experiments please.....

hi

new to bread/sourdough making and followed a mates recipe to get consistent loaves.  recipe is.....

500g strong white bread flour

250g water

10g salt

300g 50/50 starter

i believe thats a 60% hydration

mix them all up, knead for 10 mins, cover with shower cap for 2 hrs, shape into baton, plop into basket, leave in fridge overnight to lengthen the prove (and hence a better chance of catching the sweet spot to bake), straight onto a baking stone, slash with razor and bake for around 30 mins in a 240 oven with water in a tray underneath for steam.  as i say im getting consistent results, nothing special but happy enough.

been reading this forum and following links, watching youtube vids and decided to experiment with higher hydration for 'light airy crumb'.

firstly i thought id up the water by 30g (65% hyd) and try the 'slap and fold' method instead of kneading, due to the sticky dough.  i ended up with this....

not ideal, and im not experienced enough to know what went wrong.  so advice on that please?  underproved?  overproved?  something else?

anyway yesterday i thought id try and up the hydration again by another 20g, so 50g more than original (68%) and instead of slap and fold, try the 'rubaud method' of just gently manipulating the dough.....

http://www.breadwerx.com/how-to-mix-wet-dough/

i really didnt think id have much success as the dough would be much stickier and i have problems with dough sticking to my hand in the normal recipe, but i was pleased with how i actually got on with it.  i also decided to autolyse it, just flour and water for 45 mins then mix in the salt and starter.  no idea why but i read it can be better).  however, it seemed difficult to mix in after that much time and as i was using the 'rubaud' method over good old fashioned kneading, im not sure it was a 100% effective mix).  so the method was autolyse, 'rubaud method' for 10 mins, 4 final folds (north, south, east, west) and into a bowl.  had to go out for an hour or more then so did my next folds maybe 90 mins later, but as it says in the video "dont sweat it, take it eaaasy, itll be fiiiine" :-)

then maybe 4 more sets of folds at half hour intervals, still very wet but what did i expect? finally into the floured basket and into the fridge with the idea of overnight prove.

anyways, i kept checking the dough, and after an hour or two in the fridge i thought "hmmm it seems proved around the edges, maybe not quite there in the middle, but hey, its an experiment, lets try it."  as i always read on here, go by what you think the doughs like in itself, not the clock ;-)  this is how it looked in the basket, still a little soft in the middle but a finger prod around the edges seemed quite firm and left a 'half-dint'.

so.........pre-heated the oven to usual temp, plopped the dough out onto the stone and this time i didnt slash it.  rationale being ive seen some beautiful natural tears on here and i thought as its so wet anyway theres a strong chance of a pizza splat and a few slashes may cause it to spread even more.  let it just do its thing.

so.......finally it came out, no tear but a bit mis-shapen instead.  i forgot to take a pic of the finished loaf, but this is a slice....

looks better than the other day, but still a bit too 'holey' at the top, im just not sure about it.  also when it came out of the oven, it didnt really pass the 'hollow tap' test, the end seemed like it had a soft hole in it, and the bottom was still soft.  that would almost certainly be because of the middle of the dough not being ready before baking do you think?

so...........what do you think?  the holes at the top suggest overproving?  the soft bottom suggest underproving?

do you have any advice on improvements, either in timing, 'rubaud method', stretch and folds over 4 hrs say vs 2 hr 'leave alone' bulk fermentation of the original, in fact anything at all?

im going to try this making one again today, but this time im not going to autolyse (i may do in future if i do proper kneading or slap and fold), and even if i think its almost proved, still leave it in fridge overnight and see what difference that makes.  im sold on the higher hydration now, even if i dont really see any difference in crumb texture, the extra water MUST make a difference do you think?

thanks for sticking with me and reading to the end :-D

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

First one is under fermented. Either a sluggish starter or at the bulk ferment stage.

Second loaf looks very good to me. A big improvement. The bigger uneven holes are more down to shaping than anything else.

Big difference between the two heading in the right direction.

 

sadexpunk's picture
sadexpunk

first one could well be a sluggish starter then, what i didnt mention was that i used two different starters (one at home, one at work) and the first one doesnt rise much after feeding.  looks like it maybe needs a bit of attention.

as for the bulk fermentation stage, how do i know when its adequately fermented.  yes with proving we can use the prod test, but what do i look for with fermentation.  as i mentioned, my regular loaves are just 2 hrs bf, its a time thing rather than look or feel, as i dont know what to look or feel for at that stage before shaping.

and you mention the shaping aspect in the second loaf...... any advice on how to shape a wet dough better? :-)  regular loaves are dryer doughs and after bf i tip onto floured surface, stretch out to maybe twice the length of the basket, fold into thirds then press the front down and stretch and keep folding over (im sure you know what i mean) until its baton shaped, crease at the top then plop into basket.

with this wet dough, i wouldnt be able to stretch it out, itd stick to the table, so i more or less did as the rubaud video which results in a round shape, then i sort of just rolled it into baton shape.  it was guesswork, i just didnt know how better to get it into that shape.

do you have any advice on either of these issues?

thanks for your time.

sadexpunk's picture
sadexpunk

well as i mentioned, i repeated the recipe, the only difference this time was no autolyse, and it stayed in the fridge overnight.  oh and i slashed it as well.

felt the same in the bowl, i even had limited success with trying to stretch it to shape into a baton, but still stuck to my hands a bit too much so it was a bit messy.

i was dismayed to see that when it went in the oven, it started flattening, but by the end it had risen more than it looked like it would have done.  id still call it a fail tho :-/  i dont know why it spread, either the slashes, or overproving?  or both?  holes are too big also, but it does taste LOVELY tho, nice and soft :-)

id appreciate advice on what went wrong again please, my suspicions above, or fermentation again? 

thanks

 

sadexpunk's picture
sadexpunk

after reading the 'trevor j wilson' thread above, and the answers alluding to the importance of fermentation, could i ask again for advice on my above questions please, namely asking for advice on recognising the signs of adequate fermentation, and shaping too?

thank you

 

sadexpunk's picture
sadexpunk

just a bump on this for advice please?  another failure yesterday so could really do with understanding the bulk fermentation signs please.

sadexpunk's picture
sadexpunk

hmmmm........not much love for my questions then :-/

anyways, maybe you could advise me on my latest?  ive done the last two loaves as 10% wholemeal with success, and today a 20% wholewheat rye.  i used the autolyse/rubaud/stretch and fold method and got sooooo much rise, the loaf was touching the top of the oven, which i was really pleased about for a loaf with 20% WW.

however, im not convinced about the crumb.  underproved?  overproved?  under-fermented?  over-fermented?  i had 5 x S&F sessions over around 2.5 hrs, then shaped into batard and into my basket.  it only took around an hour before my finger prod suggested to me i ought to bake it.  not a lot of time proving, but its been quite hot last few days in the UK.

as before, any advice gratefully received......

 

HKbreadwinner's picture
HKbreadwinner

The oven spring is quite nice.  You almost have a nice, clean "ear" there.  Good job on that.  However, your crumb looks underproofed at the bulk fermentation stage.  Signs of underproof are when you have spotty big holes with dense structures surrounding it.  I think you can do more work on the bulk ferment.  Great job overall considering you just started doing this!

sadexpunk's picture
sadexpunk

so how would i improve the bf stage?  just rest it longer?  and what signs are there that its ready to shape?  just a percentage rise maybe?  thanks for the explanation of what to look for in an underproved bf, but obviously id only be able to see those signs retrospectively, so i could do with some help on getting the bf right.

thanks

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

The only thing I can think of is that 2.5 hours for bulk ferment seems a bit short.  How much has the dough increased in volume? 30% or 50% or 100%

I am guessing it needs just a bit longer. Do your stretch and folds then leave it to ferment a bit. let me know how much it increased and see if we can figure out what is happening.

Leslie

WatertownNewbie's picture
WatertownNewbie

You ask a lot of questions, and while that is good, it sometimes causes people to read only and not tackle such a large set of questions. I will pick a couple of things, and a discussion might begin too.

Your first loaf seemed to have too little working of the dough.  Ten minutes of kneading and into a basket for a couple of hours is not likely to result in much gluten development.  Good that you explored and came across slap-and-folds, stretch-and-folds, and the Rubaud method.  Sounds like your next loaf had better gluten structure.

You ask about the underbaked bottom of your bread.  My first guess is that has to do with the placement of your baking stone or Dutch oven (or other thing that you are using to support your dough).  Too far away from the primary heat source in your oven (typically the floor of the oven) can mean that not enough heat reached the bottom of your loaf.

Keep asking questions.  Occasionally people will be away from their computers, and replies often appear in bunches with slow periods in between.

Lastly, you have come to the right place to improve your baking and participate in a great community of friends of bread.

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Just looking at the pictures and reading your method, I'd suggest working on a couple of things:

  1. You really need a strong starter that doubles or triples reliably within, say, 4 to 8 hours. If the starter doesn't do that, it's not going to ferment a mass of bread dough very well either
  2. Don't fuss too much about hydration at this point; stick with what you are comfortable shaping as that is quite important
  3. You will probably need a longer bulk ferment. Do your Rubaud or other gluten development, then stretch and fold over the next 2 or 3 hours, then let it sit for another couple of hours (maybe 5 hours total). This timing will vary, but the dough should visibly increase in size and be light and bubbly. If you put it in a clear, straight sided container (or even a glass bowl) you should be able to see a lot of fairly evenly-sized bubbles in the dough. The time variance will come with differences in your room temperature and humidity as well as the strength of your starter (hence my comment that if the starter takes 12 hours to double, then your bulk ferment will take a long time too)
  4. Once the bulk ferment is 'done' (as described above), then pre-shape and shape the loaf, and put it in the fridge. Or bake it within a couple of hours of shaping, if you don't want to retard the dough.

Hope this helps, and keep on baking!

sadexpunk's picture
sadexpunk

thanks for the replies, much appreciated.  ill go over a few of your pointers..........

firstly, you say 2.5hrs seems short?  that surprises me as i was taught that the default method of baking sourdough (if there is one) is mix it all up, knead for 10 mins, leave to bf for 2 hrs, shape and basket, prove for either a few hrs more,or refridgerate.  the variations come from experimenting with different grains and hydration, which is what ive been doing.  its interesting that the figures youre all giving me seem longer than ive been doing, id be scared of over-proving.

here are pics of yesterdays dough.  first 2 are just after mixing (rubaud) ready for bf.  second two are after 3 hrs bf with 3 or 4 sets of stretch and fold.  id guess at 100% rise and very sloppy and bubbly.  surely it shouldnt want any more rise than that?

that resulted in a soggy dough emptied onto flour surface which was difficult to shape, a bit too sticky and 'loose'.  if i pulled the ends to try and stretch, the middle stuck to the worktop.  however, this was used for pizza dough, so i havent got a finished loaf to show you, its just showing you how my doughs been looking for the last couple of loaves.

i use a metal plate mid-way in the oven, or a ceramic stone depending where i am.

just to answer your points too LL, my starter doubles within 4 hrs id say.  i have 2 and this is the best one so im considering binning the other and splitting this one instead.

you mention doing S+F for maybe 3 hrs and then leaving for 5?  as i mention above, thats my dough after 3 or so hours S+F.  surely it would be a disaster to leave it another 5??

and im a little confused with the 'pre-shape' and 'shape'.  after bf, i just shape and into basket.  when would i pre-shape it and why?  say i want to end up with a barard, after bf i usually do the 'stretch out and fold into 3, then roll it up method'.  how should i pre-shape that?

again, apologies if there are too many questions, im just keen to improve :-)

thank you

WatertownNewbie's picture
WatertownNewbie

The first two photos indicate good gluten development, and certainly the second two show a lot of gassy dough (large and small bubbles).  Looking back at your first post and the recipe, I notice 300 g of starter.  That is a lot.  Many recipes use much less of the starter, and I am wondering whether cutting back on that might resolve several of the other issues that you have experienced.  (Others please chime in here.)

sadexpunk's picture
sadexpunk

thats not a bad shout really, altho i assume that the only real result of using less starter will be to lengthen the bf and prove processes, am i right?  that in turn tho would probably give a bigger margin for error, much like putting it in the fridge?

what amount would you suggest, 150g maybe?

and you mention the second two pics show gassy dough.  is that a bad thing?  wont that lead to an open crumb?  and wouldnt i just get to that same gassy dough anyway but itd just take longer with less starter?

thanks for your advice.

WatertownNewbie's picture
WatertownNewbie

The amount of starter to use depends on the recipe.  Many of the ones that I make use perhaps 40 g of starter for a bake that involves 1000 g of flour.  (For example, loaves from Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish.)  The gas in your dough is indeed a good thing.  That is what occurs during bulk fermentation.  My observation was more directed at the fact that dough with that much gas needs to be divided and shaped.

sadexpunk's picture
sadexpunk

wow that seems a very small amount of starter!  sorry, correct me if im wrong but i thought the only reason to use less/more starter would be for timings rather than the recipe itself?  after all, its just extra flour and water thats already been fermenting so 50g would just take longer to 'get there' than 300g say.  and that extra length of time can lead to a stronger flavour im told.  im happy to be corrected on that tho and learn something new.

im also not sure what you mean by 'dough with that much gas needs to be divided and shaped'.  why divided?  its going to be one loaf.  ok yes in that case above it was for pizzas, and would indeed be divided, but its the same recipe i use for bread which obviously wouldnt be divided.  im maybe struggling a little with knowing what to do at this stage.  pre-shape?  shape?  id be grateful for more advice please.

HKbreadwinner's picture
HKbreadwinner

after seeing your bulk proof pictures, I feel like you may have overproofed it?  For sourdoughs, I ferment about 5 hours, even in this crazy Hong Kong heat and humidity, and try to achieve about a 30% rise.  The rest of the fermentation will happen overnight when retarding the final proof in the basket.  In your case, when you have so much gas accumulated, your entire dough will significantly deflate when you're pouring the dough out.  That's not good.

When I make yeasted breads that don't look for open and airy crumbs (think sandwich breads), then I do let it proof to double, then punch down to degas, before final proofing.  For what you're trying to achieve, there's no need to let it proof to double, or even increase by 75%.  I'd say max let it go to 50% rise. 

sadexpunk's picture
sadexpunk

thanks, that maybe answers my question that i posed to your last reply ^^^ about how to spot when its finished bf, just look for around a 50% rise then?  however, your answer here confuses me as you stated earlier that you thought id underproved my bf.  this post seems to say i overproved it :-)  im all confused :-)

thank you

sadexpunk's picture
sadexpunk

i think i mentioned earlier that i have 2 starters, one at home and one at work.  i work away for 4 days at a time so refridgerate each starter when i leave it, then feed it again a few days later when im back and ready to bake again.  strange things happened tho.

my work starter is far more lively than the home starter, so i though ok, ill bin the worst one and feed the good one, then split it into the two jars so ive now got two good starters.  i did this, then watched them over the next few hours.  the good starter still rose far more even tho its basically the same!! :D  any explanations as to how this can happen, and how to get the flat one as good as the better one?

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

I have watched your post and it is evident to me that you are very tenacious and committed. Those are the qualities of all successful bread bakers. Up until this point I have not replied because your questions are many and all jumbled together. I mean no disrespect, you have the dedication to make great SD. 

After reading through the entire post (my head is spinning :D ), I may have a suggestion to eliminate confusion and simplify the process.

Pick a new recipe. One that is straight forward, clearly laid out, and simple. Learn to crawl first, then walk, and finally get to where you want to be... run. Starting over will not make all of your previous work a loss. Your experiments have probably taught you more than you know. We learn more from our failures than we do from success. And believe me, I’ve learned a lot :)

I wished I had the perfect recipe for you. The 123 Sourdough is very popular, and for good reason. But I don’t know of a link for the bread that comes with clear instructions. I know it exist, I’m just not sure where it is located.

I am going to publish a new post requesting the perfect first recipe for an aspiring SD baker. Here is the link to that post.

Please let me know if you are open to this suggestion. If you are willing to systematically follow the help offered, proceed in an orderly fashion, and keep on keeping on, I believe that others including myself will work to get you over this hump. It is our hope that one day, you will frequent TFL sharing your hard earned knowledge with others that share your present frustrations. 

I hope this helps! Your commitment is inspiring...

Dan

sadexpunk's picture
sadexpunk

yes im open to that suggestion dan, it makes sense and ill keep a keen eye on your thread for a good recipe.

thank you for your time.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Sorry, it took a while, but I wanted to get input from other users. Here is the link to a recipe that was formulated to get you started successfully. http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/56678/123-sourdough-no-knead-do-nothing-bread

If you decide to try this bread and have any questions you can post to that link and we’ll get back to you. You will not need a mixture or any special tools. This particular bread does not need to be kneaded. The gluten will form on it’s own with time and during fermentation. Please try your best to follow the instructions as written. If you have a question ask it on that link. 

Once you become proficient with this bake, you will be able to move on with confidence to other bakes.

Dan

sadexpunk's picture
sadexpunk

thanks dan, ive read it, and will try to follow it.  ive asked a couple of questions, one on each of the threads promoting this recipe.  

thanks you