The Fresh Loaf

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100% WW Cooperative Baking with Texasbakerdad

franbaker's picture
franbaker

100% WW Cooperative Baking with Texasbakerdad

Same recipe, different results! Well, at least it tastes much better than it looks -- even the texture! When I first sliced it open, I thought it was going to be really dense and gummy. Thank goodness it doesn't taste that way. And it was even my fussy eater who remarked, spontaneously, that the texture didn't taste at all the way it looked like it would. But I didn't get anywhere near the lovely results that texasbakerdad did. And, while we won't have any difficulty eating this, my goal is to bake lighter, airier loaves than this one.

I just lost a whole post trying to edit things to get all my photos in the right spot in relation to the text, so I'm going to write it all out first and put the photos of the details at the end. I'm hoping that someone can help me figure out where I went wrong (I do have some ideas, but don't know if they're correct).

We started with this recipe, from PiPs: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/33735/home-bread-fighting-gravity

The main changes I made to it are as follows: I cut the recipe in half; I retarded in the fridge for 15 hours rather than 12; my proof was unavoidably at about 10F warmer; and I decided to try texasbakerdad's suggestion of baking in a cold DO/clay baker, when I realized that my banneton would not hold all the dough once it started to rise -- I figured that would make our experiment more comparable, anyway.

So, for half a recipe:

"Final starter" (levain): 46g starter + 93g freshly milled 100% organic Hard Spring White Wheat (used throughout) + 60g water.

AL: 950g white WW + 804g water

Final dough: 174g final starter + AL, French fold for 5 minutes, then

add 22g salt and 50g water, mix and French fold for 10 minutes.

All ingredients were used at room temp.

Day before: refreshed my rye starter with a mixture of leftover white whole wheats (Hard Spring Winter Wheat and White Sonora) and a tiny bit of spelt, twice, refrigerated fairly young.

Day of: starter out of fridge at 6am, at

11am someone still sleeping in in the living room, preventing milling of wheat, so refreshed starter again, with Red Fife.

3pm -- mixed "final starter" (levain). ambient temp 80.6.

5pm -- started AL, ambient temp 82.6F

6pm -- mixed final starter and AL. Dough very wet, shaggy, and loose, very challenging to do slap&folds because it kept wanting to come apart, I hoped the salt would tighten it up.

Mixed in the salt and the 50g of water that had been held back. By

6:22pm -- started on the next round of slap&folds. The more I worked with the dough, the shaggier and looser it got until it just completely came apart. I let it rest 10 minutes; when I started again, it was more cohesive, but after just a couple of minutes got loose, shaggy, eventually coming apart again. I repeated the 10-minute rest, and this time the dough stayed cohesive longer, but was pretty loose by the 50th slap&fold and was coming apart by the 80th. At this point it was more than 30 minutes since I'd mixed in the salt, so I decided I should stop. I didn't think I was harming the dough, because it became more cohesive after each round of kneading and resting, but I don't really know.

7:10pm -- in tub for bulk proof.

8:10pm -- stretch & fold -- the dough felt both more cohesive, and a little airier, although it didn't look different than it had an hour before.

8:11pm -- into 37F fridge.

Day 2:

11:00am -- out of the fridge; it had risen a little, some bubbles present, felt lighter and airier, came out of its tub easily and in a cohesive mass

Preshaping was a dream with chilled dough

11:08am -- 30-minute bench rest, with the dough holding its shape throughout

11:38am -- Shaping: I had difficulty flipping such a large mass of dough smoothly, so my shaping came out a little uneven, but it was so much easier to work with the still-chilled dough than with warm dough, I would a convert to retarding the bulk for that reason alone; the other (surprising to me) reason is that the dough tasted much sweeter after spending the night in the fridge than it did before it went in

11:43am -- into a piece of parchment paper on a cold clay baker to proof. Ambient temp 82.6F, 10F warmer than recommended in recipe, which proofed for 1.5 hours. My dough would continue to proof in the preheating oven, so at

12:13pm -- when I can see that it's already looking proofy, I think, score, spritz, and

12:19pm -- it's in the oven, turned on to 500F so that it will eventually reach 480F

1:03pm -- finally at 480F; I notice a crusty smell, check under the cover and the crust is formed and brown, so I remove it

1:17pm -- the crust is very dark brown, I turn the heat down to 425F

1:56pm -- internal temp 210.6F, I take it out to cool, seriously disappointed with the lack of oven spring and bloom when compared to texasbakerdad's gorgeous photos.

9pm -- I slice it open, and panic because it looks gummy. Thank goodness it doesn't have a gummy mouth feel when eating!

The main differences between what I did and what texasbakerdad did:

I used freshly milled flour. We both used white whole wheat.

It looks like he used all 199g of the levain, I used the 174g specified by the recipe.

He mixed by machine, I mixed by hand; he omitted the kneading, I valiantly tried to make it work, though the dough was behaving very strangely, getting looser instead of more cohesive with kneading, and tighter rather than more relaxed with resting.

My bulk ferment was one hour at room temp, fifteen in the fridge; his was 1.5 at room temp, 1 in the fridge, 2 at room temp.

He divided his dough in half and baked two loaves, I baked one large loaf.

He proofed for 4 hours before putting into the oven, I proofed for 30 minutes.

He soaked his Romertopf lid; my baker came with instructions not to soak, so I didn't, but did spritz the dough.

He doesn't mention how long it took his oven to get to 480F per recipe, or if he went all the way to the 550F he set it for. My oven took almost 45 minutes to get to 480F.

He 

He waited 6 hours before slicing, I waited 7.

So, is my loaf underproofed? Or overproofed, as usual?

The levain in this recipe is at 18%. That seems like a lot, especially in my kitchen, where nearly everything overproofs?

Why did the dough behave the way it did during kneading? What, if anything, should I have done differently at that point?

Should I have subtracted my extra kneading time from the initial 1-hour bulk ferment at room temp?

Could I have taken it out of the oven at some point early in the preheat and scored it, instead of before putting it in the cold oven? Would that have made any difference?

Any other thoughts?

Final starter:

Bulk into fridge:

 

 

The next morning:

Before preshaping:

Preshaped:

Beginning proof:

Crumb shot:

For some reason the crumb shots landed above the shot of the dough, scored after a half hour of proofing, but I've already spent hours trying to get this post up, so I'm going to leave it as is.

Hopefully all these photos will help someone figure out where I went wrong.

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

Your crust is brown! Do you have any idea why it finally came out brown?

Ok,first, a few clarifying comments, I think my blog post was a bit too verbose and unclear...

  • I used freshly milled flour too. The flour in my starter was a few days old, but the bulk of the flour in the recipe was milled the same day I mixed the dough.
  • I did not use my mechanical mixer. I was planning too, but, my dough had such great gluten development after the 1 hour autolyse, that I decided the mechanical mixer was a bad idea and unnecessary.
  • My oven reached 550 dF at the 30 minute mark.

Gut feeling observations:

  • I was totally surprised by your description of the dough after the autolyse and mixing with the leaven. My dough was awesome at that point. Yours seems to be the exact opposite. Where my dough was strong, yours was weak. Weird! There is not much that could be different between us during that part of the process. We both used freshly milled hard white wheat. We both used 950 g wheat and 800 g of water. Some differences I can think of, but, I can't imagine how any of them would cause such a stark difference in dough strength:
    • Different water temperature (I didn't measure mine, but, it has been warmer lately, maybe 80 dF)
    • Different flour temperature (I let my flour cool completely to room temperature, 78 dF)
    • Different flour coarseness (Nutrimill mills to a coarseness slightly more coarse than store bought flour)
    • Different ambient temperature (78 dF)
    • Different humidity in house (44% relative humidity)
    • Different humidity absorption of the flour
    • Different water PH (Thanks Mini!)
    • We probably mixed the water and flour for autolyse in a different fashion.
    • I would really love to know what caused our two vastly different experiences! I think there is a lot to be learned from this!
  • I am so happy you took a photo of your bulk before and after. It looks like your bulk over proofed! I can see dough high up on the side of the 'after' picture, which would indicate to me that your bulk had risen, then collapsed. What do you think?
  • 1.5 hour final proof seems too short for the following reasons:
    • I used slightly more leaven than you and my final proof still took 4 hours.
    • You made one loaf, which would have taken a lot longer to warm up after the bulk fridge ferment, thus, considerably increasing your proof time.
    • My dough was already at room temp when I shaped it, yours was still cold. This would have more than offset your 6 degree higher room temp.
    • Having said all of that, if you did overproof the dough during the bulk ferment in the fridge, you might have final proofed the dough the best you could given the situation.

"So, is my loaf underproofed? Or overproofed, as usual?"

I think you overproofed the bulk ferment, I am about 99% sure of that, unless you shook up your bulk ferment bucket before taking the 'after' photo. The dough stuck high up on the side is pretty strong proof that the dough rose that high and then collapsed.

"The levain in this recipe is at 18%. That seems like a lot, especially in my kitchen, where nearly everything overproofs?"

I am not an experienced leaven person, but here is my thought: The recipe says his final feed of his leaven is 3 hours prior to mixing the dough. That isn't very much time for the leaven to develop. And, his final feed is a 3:1 ratio with a hydration of 65%. That sounds like a very young starter. So, I would *not* think of it as a full strength 18%, but a really young 18%, which probably acts more like a full strength 9% leaven. Had the recipe called for the leaven to be added 8 hours after mixing it, than, I think it would have been a fast rising dough. The dough was not fast rising for me and I didn't do very much retarding.

"Why did the dough behave the way it did during kneading? What, if anything, should I have done differently at that point?"

I have no idea, but I really want to figure that out. I feel like understanding what happened, would be very beneficial to both of us. Why? because there has been more than a few times for me when the dough has been strong or weak during mixing even though the recipe changed very little. There is some variable at play here, that I do not understand.

"Should I have subtracted my extra kneading time from the initial 1-hour bulk ferment at room temp?"

Maybe. I think your bigger problem is that you had a large mass of dough, that probably took a long time to cool down in the fridge. During your prolonged cooldown period, I bet the dough fermented quite a bit. I think if you are going to do a really long retard with a large amount of dough, you probably want to prechill the water and or flour, that way the dough is already cold before it goes into the fridge. And, maybe put the dough on the bottom shelf at the back of the fridge, or, wrap the container in a chilled wet towel. If I were you, the next time I do a long bulk ferment, I would wake up every 2 hours and mark the container were the dough is so I could get a feel for how long it takes the dough to rise to a peak... that whole process would help me sleep better at night and help me understand how much warmer/colder I need to get the dough in order to make the retard take the amount of time I want it to take.

"Could I have taken it out of the oven at some point early in the preheat and scored it, instead of before putting it in the cold oven? Would that have made any difference?"

I like that idea. I have no idea if it would be better or worse, but, what if it makes scoring super easy? My gut feel is that any heating of the dough causes gas expansion, and if you wait for some heating to occur before scoring, you might be sacrificing some of the beautiful ear development.

I enjoyed our first cooperative bake! Very informative!

FYI, my brother saw the photos of my recent loaves, and I was talking to him on the phone yesterday and he said, "you're not bringing one of those burnt loaves over to my house are you! I guess I could use it as a doorstop" I responded, "It would make a perfectly fine paper weight too!" He likes giving me a hard time, I am going to make him eat a piece of sliced door stop tomorrow (toasted and buttered).

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

Sorry for all the typos in my comment. I rushed my writing because it was late at night and I was tired. I went through and fixed most of them.

franbaker's picture
franbaker

This bake was at 480F, my the bakes with pale crust were at 450F; however, I also used a different wheat, Hard White Spring Wheat rather than Red Fife; but I suspect that the baking temp is what made the difference.

In terms of overproofing/underproofing, I think the photo of the dough in the tub coming out of the fridge is misleading. I think what you're seeing is a lot of condensation, plus the expansion of tiny bits of dough that stuck to the wall of the tub as I was putting the dough into it (since it didn't go in in a cohesive ball of dough after the weird kneading outcome). The dough definitely did not feel like dough that had risen and then collapsed. See Joze's comment below, I think he hit the nail on the head.

I would also still love to know why my dough behaved so oddly during kneading, or whether it's just not significant. It sure was strange. I find that the AL always feels like a nice ball of dough initially, but that changes with the mixing in of the levain and more water, getting looser and even shaggy for a brief time. Often it gets overly tight and elastic during the first few minutes after the salt is added. But then it relaxes and loosens again with time, and then eventually becomes more cohesive again. I've never had it get shaggier and come apart as kneading progresses before.

I guess the levain is a young one, but it's the same as what I've used before, since I'm aiming for bread that's not noticeably sour. However, since I believe that Joze is correct that my dough was underproofed, I would not cut back on the amount.

I think that the Nutrimill and the Mockmill (set to its finest grind) ground our flours to a similar degree of fineness.

My flour and water were both at room temp (82F) when I mixed the AL. I forgot to note the relative humidity, but it has been humid here this week, I would estimate is was at least in the mid-50s.

I didn't really like putting the dough into a cold clay baker, although if I'd gotten the results you did I'd probably feel differently about it! The first problem was that the dough was going to continue to rise during some part of the 45 minutes that it takes my oven to get up to 480F, so I had to score it and load it in the oven *before* it was fully proofed. Or at least that's what I thought. This probably contributed to the fact that the loaf ended up underproofed. The second problem is that I felt like I had no idea how long it would take the loaf to bake, because of all that time in the oven while the temp is rising to baking temp. I kept checking the internal temp of the bread because I had no idea what to expect. I will repeat this bake (once we've eaten up this 2-kg loaf) taking all the feedback that I get into account, but I think I'll get a larger banneton and bake in a preheated baker, as the recipe specifies and as I usually do. 

Your brother does like to give you a hard time -- your loaves look gorgeous! Although I think that people who don't bake bread themselves don't have as finely developed senses when it comes to tasting bread. I don't think that my own bread palate has developed much sophistication yet, in fact, especially since I'm partly baking for someone who doesn't like a sour flavor or large holes in his bread.

Happy baking!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

How do they compare?

franbaker's picture
franbaker

I sometimes wish I had a pH meter, but not sure it would be useful enough to justify getting one. But the pH of my (filtered) water comes in at 7, leaning slightly toward 6, using pH strips.

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

I think I have some PH strips somewhere. I have softened well water. If I can find my PH strips, I'll post my PH.

joc1954's picture
joc1954

Looking the crumb shots and the scored loaf it looks very much underproofed to me. When you scored the dough you should cut the alveoli and that should be visible at least at some part of the score. So the scoring and crumb cut just go perfectly together. To me the dough looks not very vivid and alive. Another sign for underproofed loaf is the denser bottom part of the crumb while the upper part is slightly more open. As you loaded the loaf into cold roemertopf it is quite normal that the upper part of the loaf had more time for rising as the bottom part was in contact with the vessel and heated faster and thus had less time for intensive fermentation.

At the end of bulk fermentation in the fridge the doesn't exhibit practical no bubbles on the sidewalls what would be a good sign that the dough is well aerated. I think it was not overproofed during the bulk but quite opposite. Chilled dough doesn't collapse so quickly and I would expect that if it would collapse it would collapse in the middle while there will still be a lot of bubbles visible on the walls. So with underdeveloped dough you went into final proofing and the final result is just a consequence of not enough developed dough during the bulk phase and undeproofed dough in the final proofing.

I would suggest that you never watch the clock but just the dough. If that would be the case you would not end up with such result.

Happy baking!

Joze

franbaker's picture
franbaker

I think the photo texasbakerdad was referring to was misleading in this regard. The dough did not feel at all like dough that had risen and then collapsed. This was my first time retarding during bulk, working with cold dough, and loading into a cold oven that I knew would take 45 minutes to get up to baking temp. Too many new variables, and not thinking things through enough, when I've developed almost a fear of overproofing, since I've done that so often! I'm still very new to judging fermentation. But, next time I will for sure recognize this as underfermented. It seems that what I should have done is to let bulk proceed further at room temp, before shaping and proofing. That's too bad, because I really loved working with the cold dough, it was so much easier to shape, lol.

Do you have any thoughts about why my dough behaved so strangely during kneading? Or is that just not significant?

joc1954's picture
joc1954

Bulk fermentation in fridge is a tricky one. For instance if I mix the dough and include starter and then rest for 30 minutes (fermentolyse not true autolyse), add salt and develop the gluten by scoop & stretch (rhubaud method) and then retard in the fridge at 10 dC (pretty warm for fridge) I get 30% rise after about 32 hours. So it is a long time required. What I do is the opposite way: when I see the signs of the dough ant the dough has risen for about 20%, I put it in the fridge and let it ferment further while cooling down what is also slowing the fermentation. Then I judge if the dough is well developed I just shape it chilled and then I decide if I will do final proofing at room temperature or will let it proof in the fridge.

Overproofing is not nice, but not a big problem. You have just to reshape the loaf and let it proof again and this time it will be much quicker. It is much better to bake slightly underproofed loaf than slightly or well overproofed. 

I don't see a problem if you "overproof" the dough during the bulk ferment as you will definitely pre-shape it and do final shaping. Final overproofing is a problem because the gluten network is not able to support any more the proofed shape (volume) of the loaf, hence it collapses. 

Much bigger problem is overfermenting the dough when the dough actually turns into starter. Then you have to add some flour, water and salt, develop the gluten again and do short bulk, shaping and final proofing. Why short? Because your dough was actually starter so you work with more starter than main dough. A good sign of overfermented dough is when the gluten starts to brake. When you shape the dough the surface just tears. Overfermented dough, when baked, is pale as there are not enough residual sugars for proper crust caramelisation. There is no oven spring or sometimes even negative spring.

Happy baking franbaker!

Joze 

franbaker's picture
franbaker

I like very much the idea of letting the dough rise about 20% before putting the dough in the fridge. My fridge runs pretty cold -- about 37F/3C in the spot where I put the dough, which is probably about the warmest spot, but it gets down to 32F/0C in the coldest spot next to the freezer, since things that are kept there sometimes freeze, but I don't want to turn up the thermostat because of sporadic power outages during our hot summer. So maybe I should even let it rise 25% before putting it in the fridge?

I have tried the rubaud method for mixing/kneading dough, because it was recommended in a recipe I tried, using this video: http://www.breadwerx.com/how-to-mix-wet-dough/ as a reference, but found it difficult to do effectively. The person in the video is obviously a strong, athletic young guy with large-ish hands; I'm a sick, weak old lady with multiple musculoskeletal problems and smallish hands. It's easier for me to start with a couple of minutes of "grandmother" kneading, like everyone did back in the 60s and 70s, and then switch to French kneading/slap & folds, which I usually think are a lot of fun, but which this dough responded to in a peculiar way.

On the topic of overfermentation, one loaf of pan bread I baked before I became a FreshLoafian turned out like baked starter. That one was not pleasant eating. I think I used starter that was too mature and went by the clock, not really knowing how to judge the dough. But I wasn't writing down everything I did at that point, so I'm not completely sure what I did wrong. But never again. Yuck! I'm surprised we ate most of it.

Other than that loaf, I don't think I've overfermented to near that degree. But in the past many of my loaves have been diagnosed as overproofed, and fermentation seems to move along very fast in my kitchen usually, judging by what my starters do as well as previous loaves made with commercial yeast as well as those made with starter.

It seems to be taking me a long time to learn how to judge how fermentation is progressing. I think being able to bake only once or twice a week is part of the problem. When I do stretch-and-folds during bulk, I have a hard time judging how much the dough is rising, since it also changes shape.

joc1954's picture
joc1954

If you have so cold fridge - below/around 3 dC you should extend all the times for very big factor. The yeast activity almost stops at 4 dC so you can't expect that the yeast will grow much at this temperature. I would need to search around to find the temperature tables but for sure this is too low. Most of retarded bulk fermentation or final proofing is done between 6-8 dC. I am somewhere there having from 6-10 dC in my fridhe (bottom is 6, top shelf is at 10 dC).

The 20% rise is just an idea, you can do anything between 10-50%, but with such coldness in your fridge you will just stop the fermentation and chill the dough. So I would suggest to wait until 50% rise and hen retard it and monitor how the activity is slowing down. I think that extended bulk at so low temperature is almost impossible.

Sorry, I had no clue about your physical shape and nay kind of kneading is just fine as long as you develop the gluten. By using strong flours only autolyse and stretch and folds should be enough. I am working withe weaker flours so I need to work a bit on gluten development.

I see the end of bulk fermentation as the most important milestone in preparation of the dough. Here are two videos which I took about a year ago and are taken about 30 minutes apart. Sorry for my English as I am not native speaker but I hope it is understandable.

After 30 minutes this video was taken and see the differences.

  So in short here are the conditions that should be fulfilled that you can move to dividing and pre-shaping/shaping.

1.) The dough has risen at least 20-20% (max 50%).

2.) Tho dough is airy, you can feel how it is full of bubbles.

3.) The traces of previous folds are seen for at least few minutes, usually you still see them after 30 minutes, what is not the case with wet dough.

4.) The dough is doming, so it is lower at the walls of the vessel. Doming is a consequence of rising.

5.) the dough is billowy.

6.) Dough doesn't stick so much to the walls of the vessel and could be easily separated.

7.) Some bubbles form usually on top of the surface or at the walls (not always). If you have transparent container a lot of bubbles could be spotted on the walls.

So when you see this, just go to next phase and your dough will never be overproofed or overfermented. Don't watch the dough, watch the signs of the dough.

For final proofing at room temperature the finger poke test is the most reliable, It is always better to bake slightly underproofed loaf than overproofed loaf.

I newer act according to the time elapsed (exception are S&F at 30 minutes intervals) but always check the status of the dough and act accordingly.

I hope this will help you to learn reading signs of the dough.

Happy baking franbaker!

Joze

joc1954's picture
joc1954

In my previous comment I pointed out how important is reading the signs of the dough. When you act just according to the signs of the dough you don't care about the temperature, humidity, percentage of the inoculation and so on. It is so simple - watch the dough and when it is ready, go on. People over-complicate with many details which are really not important at all or sometimes hardly reproducible.Every dough behaves the same way. Sometimes it is harder to sport the signs because the dough is so wet, but with a bit of practice you can see them.

Happy baking franbaker!

Joze

franbaker's picture
franbaker

and your English is excellent, please do not apologize for it!

I like your phrase, "watching the signs of the dough". I will try to stay focussed on that. I think that during most of my prior bakes, with all the bulk fermentation done at room temp, I've tended to overferment a little bit -- not enough to make the dough tear because the gluten has broken down, I haven't had that happen -- but just enough so that the proof moves ridiculously fast, with my doughs made of !00% fresh ground whole wheat and ambient temps here in the low 80sF ( ~ 27-28C), and the dough ends up overproofing before I can get it into the oven.

It sounds like I need to change the thermostat in my fridge if I want to do bulk retardation in there. I did some searching, and it seems that if I can get it to ~ 4-4.5C (39-40F), that will work for bread dough as well as keeping the food cold, as long as the power doesn't go out for any length of time. A little higher temp would be better for the dough, but not for the rest of the food. At least by American standards, although of course our standards are a bit germophobic here. I think Europeans may be a bit less fanatic about refrigeration than we are here. At least based on my experiences back in the 1970s. But here I am in the States now, and my son is used to the food being really cold. 4-4.5C will see more LAB than yeast activity, but at least the yeast will still be multiplying during the time it takes for the dough to chill. So I should probably let the rise somewhere between 40%-50% before retarding, if I can get my fridge to 4.5C (the regulating dial is in the freezer compartment only, and just says "warmer" and "colder", so I'll have to experiment a bit). There were aspects of retarding the dough that I really liked, I would like to be able to try it again. Although maybe I should do a couple of more bakes all at room temp first, until I really learn to judge when to end the bulk. I do think that's the point at which I'm having the most trouble.

I did notice that the dough tasted very sweet after the cold bulk retard. That surprised me, because I expected it to be at least a little bit sour. I think that should have clued me in that fermentation had basically stopped in the fridge, and that I needed to let it rise for a while at room temp.

The flours I've been working with are all 100% whole wheat freshly milled. I've been using varieties of wheat that are usually high in gluten and good for bread baking (Canadian Red Fife, Hard White Spring Wheat). Would you consider those to be strong flours that won't need much kneading beyond autolyze and stretch-and-fold? The loaf I made that came out best was a pan loaf with the Hard White Spring Wheat and whole spelt, and it didn't even have an AL, just mix the ingredients well, and then three sets of stretch-and-folds during bulk. Dabrownman uses 300 slap-and-folds for loaves very similar to most of the ones I've been making, and his loaves look beautiful, so I've been trying to do the same for my artisan-style loaves. But what works for one person doesn't always work for another, and this flour responded very peculiarly to being kneaded. I really couldn't tell if kneading was helping the dough or not. It would fall apart and tear with kneading, but then recover its cohesiveness with resting. Over and over again, but taking longer to fall apart each time, so I thought the kneading was helping it. And I actually don't think it harmed it, I think my main trouble was in judging fermentation. But. maybe I should see if I can get a windowpane right after mixing, and then proceed accordingly, trying another windowpane every once in a while? How good of a windowpane should I expect with 100% WW? In the one video I could find of the windowpane test with whole wheat dough, she called the test successful even though there were tears in the dough. It didn't look ready to me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EG2sLhszEA

I also think the poke test was misleading for this bake because the dough was still somewhat chilled. Does that make sense? Would the dough being chilled alter the way the dough would spring back, or not?

Trying to learn as much as I can from the mistakes I made with this one. I think some of this loaf is destined for bread pudding. It tastes OK, but you can't eat very much of it at once, since it's dense.

I really, really, really appreciate the detailed answers you've given me so far. Thank you and happy baking :-)  Someday, once I've learned more, I'll try a bake like your beautiful 50/50 ciabatta style YW loaf!

Fran

joc1954's picture
joc1954

I think you have to run several tests for cold final proofing and see how much the dough rises. Put the dough on top most shelf in the fridge where the temperature is the highest. There is usually about 4 dC difference between the top most shelf and where the boxes come at the bottom. 

Baking without retardation for the beginning is a great idea in order to have the whole process under control and also get experience how much the loaf should rise during the final proofing. Baking with same amount of flour would be very beneficial so you will get idea about how should look the proofed loaf. When you will retard and use the same amount of flour and of course the same type of flour (same recipe) than this experience will help you to know how much dough rose and if this is enough or you should continue proofing at room temperature before baking.

The finger poke test is reliable with dough at room temperature while it is not reliable with the chilled dough. Therefore having an idea how much it should rise is very beneficial.

Don't know those flours so I can't give you an advice. I think other TFL members will help you regarding that. I would suggest to open a new forum question for that.

Window pane test - I almost never do it. The gluten develops through time and stretches & folds. So if you do a bit of kneading that will help to get stronger dough. With time you will develop a feeling for the strength of the dough. Window pane test is one of the things for which I think are just over complicating. For sure the dough will get more strength through time and S&F so doing window pane test early has not a big sense. That is my opinion and for sure some people will not agree with that. For me the most important thing is the status of the dough at the end of bulk fermentation. Seeing all the signs means that it is ok and one can continue. With whole wheat flour window pane test is for sure different than with white flour only.

My suggestion would be that you bake using only one recipe and use same quantity of flour and use same flour. Repeat this until you will get good results and the result will be always good or even better. This way you are able to work on improvement for next bake. If you swap the recipes you will have harder work analyzing the bake as the conditions will vary so much. Do at least 3-5 bakes or more until you think you nailed it and then go to next recipe. You will see how much easier will be baking then.

By the way, I am grandfather as well with the oldest grandson being 18 years old, other three are younger and one of them is a cute granddaughter.

Happy baking Fran!

Joze 

franbaker's picture
franbaker

I'm going to go back to the recipe I tried three times before this bake, for an approximately 1kg loaf with hard red wheat, 2% salt, 10% levain, hydration starting at 80% and mixing in as much more water as it seems like the dough can handle (so far this has worked out to 85-88%). And not worry too much about windowpane by the end of kneading. Because I prefer the smaller loaf, the red wheat, and I've tried it three times already. Will go back to all fermentation at room temp until I understand it better. Why fermenting yogurt and sauerkraut are so much easier for me than bread dough, I don't know.

My fridge seems to be colder at the top, next to the freezer compartment. But I will check temps in several spots. I did try raising the temp a bit, giving it a day to even out before checking temps again.

Will probably still try the occasional pan loaf with other grains just for some variety. I need some of that.

I'm not a grandmother (yet). My 27-year-old son is semi-disabled and taking a long time to reach full adulthood. He's a good person, but I'll be less worried when he's fully independent. Your family sounds lovely :-) I'm not even all that old, just a little discouraged because of being sick for a long time and having had a bad health setback this winter. Learning to bake bread is a good goal for me to be working on right now as I climb back onto my feet :-)

Happy baking

Fran

joc1954's picture
joc1954

Excellent decision - stick to one recipe and bake until you are satisfied and then go forward.

I would suggest you to buy a thermometer and put it in the fridge on different places and measure the temperature. This is the only way which will tell the truth about where you have to put the dough and what is the actual temperature.

Enjoy your baking and master it. This hobby is really very good and helps a lot to change the mental state as well.

Happy baking Fran!

Joze

joc1954's picture
joc1954

If you don't have any medical or other reasons try baking with a mixture of 20-30% of whole wheat flour and the rest being strong bread flour. Bake with this combination until you get perfect (satisfactory) results. Baking with 100% whole wheat flour or over 30% is harder and I think you should have better conditions while you are practicing. At least I would do that.

Happy baking Fran!

Joze

franbaker's picture
franbaker

but I have trouble eating refined carbohydrates. If I eat any refined carbs before dinnertime, I feel extremely tired and sleepy shortly thereafter. Even with whole grains and fruits, I have to eat plenty of protein and/or fat along with them, or I'll feel wiped out. I was overweight for a number of years, and probably prediabetic or insulin-resistant during that time. So it seems like I still react pretty strongly to carbs. For some reason I can have pasta or a dessert with dinner without as big of a problem. But by then I'm planning to go to sleep soon anyway, so maybe it just doesn't seem to matter as much.

But if I try to cut out grains and other carbs completely I really miss them. I just really miss having good bread, pasta,, or potatoes once in a while. So my solution is to learn to bake really healthy whole grain sourdoughs. I know that I've taken on a particular challenge, but 100% whole grain is what I really want to eat the most. I do have some strong bread flour in the freezer for when I try some rye bread recipes, but I would like to get my staple daily whole grain bread perfected first, before I branch out too much into other kinds of breads.

Happy baking, Joze :-)

Fran

joc1954's picture
joc1954

Maybe you have tot try once to make bread with einkorn, emmer, spelt or kamut. These are all grains and have quite different properties than wheat. Actually in rye there are more carbohydrates than in wheat.

If you would like to perfect your WW bread then just go and do it. There is a small trick with whole grain breads and that is that the whole-grain flour ferments faster so the bulk fermentation phase can take almost 1/3 or 1/4 time less. Also for the final proofing with WW bread you proof up to 75-80% only. All other suggestions that you use the same recipe and procedure and flour are still valid. There are so many variables in play that you have to minimize them and just repeat the bake with changes that you think should be done.

Happy baking Fran!

Joze 

franbaker's picture
franbaker

I did make one pan loaf with 30% spelt/70% white whole wheat that turned out well. I've got about 900g each of emmer and einkorn berries waiting in my cupboard to be tried once I understand how good dough development and fermentation should look/feel/smell/taste :-)

I actually think that, with the ~ 1 kg loaves I was making with Red Fife, I maybe should have ended the bulk fermentation as early as one hour when my kitchen is at 27-28C. I just couldn't believe it could really go that fast. But looking back on it, I think maybe the signs were there. Because it was hard for me to tell while doing stretch and folds, but all the actual rising seemed to occur during the first hour. The dough did stay somewhat sticky, but maybe that's the nature of that particular whole wheat? But I have a new, more transparent tub that dough doesn't stick to as easily, so I will try it again and see what I think.

Happy baking Joze!

Fran

joc1954's picture
joc1954

The bulk ferment with mostly WW will be done in about 2 -2.5 hours. Watch the dough and when it rises for about 20-30% just continue with dividing and shaping. The time mentions is just an idea so you must pay attention to the dough. I know it is hard to do at the beginning, but when you become used to that then it is so easy.

Happy baking Fran!

Joze

franbaker's picture
franbaker

with the 100%WW recipe I've been using, the levain is at 20% baker's percent, not 10% as I previously wrote. It's the prefermented flour that's at 10%. Would that cause the bulk to proceed significantly faster?

 

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

I have had 12 hour overnight bulk retards overproof on me. Hence, I wouldn't rule it out an overproofed bulk as a possibility. Regardless, I think watching the dough along the way as it retards to get a better feel for the process would be very educational.

I suggest we redo this loaf, except, this time I too due a long overnight bulk proof. And, we decide on some steps to take to ensure that we both have more similar ingredients and processes prior to the autolyse step.

franbaker's picture
franbaker

but my son and I need a few days to eat this 2-kg loaf first ;-)

see my pm to you for a couple of thoughts I had...

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

"I need a few days to eat this 2-kg loaf first ;-)"

Hahaha! Yes, when I saw that 2 kg of dough, I thought... dang, that is gonna be a big loaf.

franbaker's picture
franbaker

I had originally assumed that the recipe's author divided his dough into two loaves, but, looking back at the post, it looks like he baked four loaves. So our half-a-recipe was meant to form two loaves, not one. What do you think?

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/33735/home-bread-fighting-gravity

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

Fran, how did you mix the Autolyse?

I mixed my autolyse very gently, almost no folding, mostly just agitated the dough until almost all of the flour was wet. By the time of I was done, the dough was shaggy, but, felt a bit dry (like my flour was thristy).

franbaker's picture
franbaker

I put the flour in the bowl I'll use to mix the dough, pour in the water, and mix the two together using a Danish dough whisk just until I don't see any more dry bits of flour. This took maybe a minute, tops. Then I cover the bowl and let it sit. It was shaggy but not at all dry, my flour did not seem at all thirsty. (The ambient relative humidity was almost certainly higher here, too.)

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

Fran, do you have an air conditioner? I think my central A/C is what causes my in house air to be dryer. The outside is always humid. Maybe I could leave my dough outside to absorb some water before using it, and see if the autolyse is drastically different?

franbaker's picture
franbaker

where the air conditioners sit in holes cut into the walls, rather than window units. The AC units aren't quite as old as the building, but...  they're old, noisy, inefficient, and run the electric bill sky-high. So we use them as little as possible. They're really not effective enough to lower the humidity much anyway -- I'd have to run a dehumidifier for that. We also prefer to try to adjust to the ambient temp outdoors to at least some degree, so that we can be comfortable when we go outside, instead of feeling like we've been hit by a wall of hot air when we step out the door. Once the temp in the kitchen hits 85F, or we know it's going to because we'll be turning the oven on, we'll turn on the unit that air conditions the living/dining/kitchen area. The kitchen stays the warmest, in spite of the ceiling fan circulating air. I kept the levain and AL in the dining area, closer to the window, and the AC unit with the fan only running, so it was probably a degree or so cooler than the 82-83F in the kitchen. I do keep the unit in my bedroom set to 78F at night, otherwise I have serious trouble sleeping, but I hate the noise and turn it off whenever I can.

If you have a way to leave your flour outside to absorb humidity from the air before adding water for the autolyze, you certainly could try that. I wonder if any of the more experienced bakers here would know if it's likely to make a significant difference. Of course the only way to find out for sure is to try it...  if you have a screened-in porch, or mosquito netting, or something to keep the bugs off.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

but a bit more closed and gummy on the inside and I only baked it to 208 f too.  I think your crumb problem has something to do with the proofing in the cay baker instead of a basket and the turning iit out after proofing and starting with a cold oven and clay pot which Lucy's experiments seem to lead to an inferior or gummy crumb of some kind.     Just too hard to judge and too many variables to figure out all at once.

Should make great toast!  Happy baking Fran

franbaker's picture
franbaker

I think mine is *much* more closed on the inside. It just barely escapes being gummy, but it is quite dense, so it's hard to eat more than a thin slice at a time. A good-sized hunk of it is being baked into bread pudding with other leftover heels, a pint of blueberries, some dried cherries and some walnuts right now. Another 4-ounce slice is cut up and drying out to become bread crumbs for stuffed tomatoes and baby eggplants tomorrow. We should be able to eat the rest as delicious, if dense, toast. At least it *tastes* good, I guess I should give myself some credit. No more 2-kg loaves for me for a while, though, it's a challenge to eat one up when it doesn't turn out so well.

I did not like baking the loaf in the cold clay baker, in spite of the stellar results that texasbakerdad got with his loaves. The fact that the dough is going to continue to proof while the oven preheats makes it too difficult for me to judge when I should put it in the oven. I would have let it rise longer if not for that issue. So I'm with Lucy on this -- too hard to judge and too many variables to figure out at once.

Happy baking!

Fran :-)  still happy, in spite of a disappointing loaf

 

Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)

Turns out I've made close to a 100% whole-wheat sourdough this weekend. This one comes in at around 89% whole-wheat and 11% bread flour. The seeds you see are pumpkin. This one was retarded overnight in the fridge and it over proofed somewhat so sacrificed on height. But it's a lovely soft crumb and tasty. 

franbaker's picture
franbaker

Your bread looks delicious, even if a little height was sacrificed to slight overproofing. The crumb does look lovely and soft. Not sure if you can tell from my photos, but the spaces between the air pockets in mine are dense and so moist that it's almost gummy (doesn't quite stick to the knife, but even my son remarked that it looked undercooked, in spite of reaching > 210F).

Pumpkin seeds sound delicious. As soon as I get to where I can turn out a well-risen loaf pretty reliably, I want to start adding some seeds and sprouts to my doughs.

Curious about what made you decide to use 89%WW and 11% bread flour. Does that small an amount of bread flour help the dough to rise better?

Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)

Thank you. Everything went well but I shouldn't be known better as this recipe used a high amount of starter and it's very warm so even with refrigeration everything speeded up and by the time it went into the fridge an overnight proof was too much. But still a tasty bread is a success. 

I did this recipe as there is a bread I like from a local bakery by the name of "Gail's". Their Dark French Sourdough is very nice and this was supposed to be the recipe from their website. I don't think it is the same bread but it's still very nice and enjoyable. Here is the recipe. Not sure if the bread flour makes much difference. 

It's late here and I'm going to delve more deeply into your recipe and process but what jumps out at me straight away is that it seems to have formed a crust too quickly not allowing for full expansion, resulting in less rise and a gummy crumb. 

It looks very good and I'm sure it's tasty. What I would do is toast it. Plus the cut end of the loaf will dry it out and it should improve. 

franbaker's picture
franbaker

with salt at 3%, and levain at 31%. Very cool to be able to try to duplicate a recipe for a bread that you know you like :-)

And, yes, this big loaf I baked does make tasty, if dense, toast :-)  And I think it's going to be great in some bread pudding ;-)

I'm used to adding about 10% levain, and this recipe I just had difficulty with was at 18%  --  maybe I was expecting it to ferment faster than it did because of using more levain than usual. I'm now thinking that it was probably underfermented due to very cold fridge temp and my own lack of recognizing and compensating for that and confusion about when to put in the oven when starting with a cold DO/clay baker.

Texasbakerdad baked the same recipe as I did and got two gorgeous loaves: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/56975/100-ww-cooperative-baking-franbaker  It seems like the main differences in our processes involved: 1) fermentation -- his bulk was about 5 hours at room temp with one hour in the middle in the fridge + 4 hours proofing, and, whereas mine was 1 hour at room temp, 15 hours in the fridge, 30-minute bench rest, half hour proof plus whatever went on in the preheating oven (it took 45 minutes to reach 480F), with a big problem being that my fridge is probably too cold at 37F for any fermentation to happen; 2) he omitted the 10 minutes of French folding when it looked to him like the dough didn't need it, and mine behaved very strangely during kneading; 3) he used 199g levain whereas I used 174g; and 4) he split the dough and baked two loaves, one in a Romertopf and one in a DO (I used an oval Breadtopia clay baker). Otherwise our processes were pretty similar. We both used freshly milled Hard White Spring Wheat, although I don't think the wheat berries came from the same source. And of course our starters are different. I refreshed my rye starter with whole wheat flour before using (my usual procedure).

Another difference I see in the recipe that you used is that the dough is brought back up to room temp before pre-shaping and proofing. I have to admit that one of my favorite things about the bulk retard was being able to shape the dough while it was chilled. It was so much easier to work with! (Wet doughs (85-90% hydration) made with 100% freshly milled WW flour seem to be pretty wet and a lot more extensible than elastic, and sometimes pretty sticky -- at least they have been for me so far.)

I don't want to try repeating the baking in the cold clay baker. It just made it too hard for me to judge when it should go in the oven. Next time I wont' make *that* change to this recipe!

Thank you for your thoughts, Abe, and happy baking :-)

Fran

Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)

Original recipe had no autolyse as such (although she did mix flour, water and starter first till medium gluten formation and then added the salt, so somewhat of an autolyse) but I did one hour. 

I well reduced the salt. It did seema tad high so I adjusted it to 2% of total flour.

While she continued the final proof at room temperature after retarding the dough in the fridge I baked it straight away. It had already over proofed. Some starters work quickly and others can get a longer fermentation out of them. I've seen recipes where my starter would turn the dough to mush if left that long. 

Just had a look carefully through your recipe and while it is whole wheat it is white whole wheat which won't need as much water. And even so it is very high hydration for a hard red whole wheat at 90% hydration. 90% is not impossible but it does make it more challenging. But I do believe using white whole wheat made it more difficult and perhaps too high hydration. You said that after the initial mixing of levain and AL it felt too shaggy but then when adding the salt you still went and added 50g more water. I think you should have held back if it didn't feel right.

franbaker's picture
franbaker

I'm having one of those <duh, stupid!> moments here! :-)

I think you are right. When I was working with Red Fife, I would start at 80% hydration and add as much water as I could work with. Over three bakes ended up at 85-88% total hydration. So if white whole wheat needs even less water, 90% hydration was probably complete overkill. Especially since a 2% difference in hydration at this level seems to make more difference than you think it would. 

Especially going <duh, stupid!> since I did think about it for a second before adding that held-back 50g of water, then plunged ahead as we were going for light & airy and everyone seems to think that more hydration gets you there, and we were trying to follow the same recipe...  if I had tried to shape this dough while it was room temp instead of while it was chilled, I might have noticed too much hydration. In future I will always, always, always do what the dough seems to want, not what the recipe says!

Thanks much, Abe :-)

Fran