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Sourdough bread will not rise

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pod3's picture
pod3

Sourdough bread will not rise

Can anyone help - my bread will not rise enough?
I regularly bake bread to a recipe originating from the island of Malta. It is a type of sourdough bread.

It tastes delicious but week by week my loaves are getting flatter, as after the 2nd rise the dough just will not rise to from a proper loaf shape. Soon i'll be eating bread the shape of a large thick pizza!
The Maltese bread recepe is published elsewhere on this board. After the dough is made (using some fresh yeast and a portion of sourdough from the previous day's loaf), and kneaded, the recipe says leave the bread to rise in a bowl in warm place for 2-5 hours. This it does OK.
Then when transferring the loaf to a baking tray (and the receipe says "at this stage do NOT knead or knock back") it collapses . I then leave it , again as per the recipe, for 45 mins to double in size (which it does, but sideways not upwards!) before baking.
So any ideas why on the 2nd rise it does not form into a proper loaf shape?
1. Is it the yeast? (Have tried fresh yeast, dried yeast and dried active yeast - all same result)
2. Is it the flour ?(have tried various varietes of strong white flour, from the cheapest Sainsbury's to the premium Allison and Hovis types and even Italian Tipo 00 flour)
3. Should i support the sides of the loaf on the 2nd rise?
4. Is it the temperature of the British winter (I am in UK) i.e. because the ambient kitchen temperature is lower at this time of year, the bread tends to rise less ( but i do put it in the airing cupboard to rise, temp around 25degC)
5. Is it the sourdough - should i start again with a fresh batch, as the one i am using is now around 4 months old i.e. every time i bake, for the last 4 months, i have kept a bit to make the next loaf. I have been freezing it for 3-4 days at a time when i do not bake.

Any suggestions gratefully accepted.

 

 

Thegreenbaker's picture
Thegreenbaker

hhmmm, it sounds to me like the gluten needs to be more developed and that the shaping needs to be a little better :S But, I havent seen photos nor do I make sourdough, so, I can only offer what I think sounds right.

I hope you find out what the problem is! Good Luck!

 

 

KipperCat's picture
KipperCat

Gluten development was my guess as well. Are you kneading as vigorously or folding as often as before? You can check your dough to see if the gluten is strong enough. Rather than type more, I'll just paste this from my notes:

 

Submitted by ivrib on November 1, 2007 - 9:08am.

How to Know if You’ve Kneaded Enough Under-kneading is also common for beginners. You really have to build to gluten strands in the dough to give it the strength required to rise and remain that way. test for knowing when you've kneaded enough:

windowpane test: take a small amount of dough and work it by streching and pressing lightly so it gradually thins out. if you can create a thin rather transparent sheet of dough that holds your dough is thoroughly kneaded.

poking test: after kneading work your dough into a ball by folding the sides of the dought under the dough from all directions. poke the dough. If it readily spring back it's kneaded enough.

collapsing test: after shaping into a ball as described above, press the dough from both sides, with both palms towards the center of the ball then let go. If the dough readily collapses from its flattened state it's ready.

 

pod3's picture
pod3

Thanks, more kneading might be the answer and I'll defenitely try the kneading tests Kippercat.

What about the state of the sourdough - does that contribute to the amount of rising?  Or is the lack of rising upwards more to do with the strength of the gluten?

Attached are some pics of my latest [flat] loaf.Pod 3's Sourdough BreadPod 3's Sourdough Bread

Pod3's Sourdough BreadPod3's Sourdough Bread

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Pod3, I agree with the above posts that you are getting an underdeveloped gluten structure. I may be that the flour you are using has undergone a change if you are not doing anything different handling wise. I don't know the recipe, is there oil in the formula? Your photo's certainly show a slider. I guess if it was me, I would try mixing with about 80% of the flour to develop the gluten and then rest for 10-20 minutes and add more flour until you get a workable dough that shows signs of development.

Sourdough softens up the dough due to the acid levels. Make sure you are using a culture that is active and and well fed. Start by giving your starter a boost by going on a 12 hour feeding schedule at a warm temperature. I would add a pinch of organic rye flour with each feeding until you get an active bubbling starter that doubles twice a day. A few degrees change in temperature (cooler) will really slow things down so you need to find a warm place to let your starter build and also to let your bread rise.  If you don't have a warm cabinet, try a cup of boiling water in the oven or microwave to raise the temps and humidity.

Could you post the ingredients in this bread?

Eric

pod3's picture
pod3

Taken From the DeliaSmith online forum with the following credit "My starting point for this recipe was Anne & Helen Caruana Galizia's book The Food & Cookery of Malta, but the recipe has evolved somewhat through experimentation. "

 

For the dough starter:
1/4 teaspoon (2 grams) of active dry yeast 
1/3 cup (80 ml) lukewarm water (body temperature, 37º C, or just cool enough to put your little finger in)
2/3 cup (100 grams) strong flour (unsifted)

  • Place in bowl
  • Mix by hand until a smooth dough (add more water if necessary)
  • Knead for a few minutes (may be  tricky due to the small quantity).
  • Cover and leave in a warm place (about 21-29º C) for at least 6 hours.  Overnight if cooler. 

 

For the Bread:
Half of your dough starter (the other half is refreshed at stored to use for the next bake)
1 teaspoon (7 grams) of active dry yeast (you use less, but leave the bread to rise longer)
1 cup (250 ml) lukewarm water

  • Mix in a bowl. 
  • Dissolve the dough starter by squeezing with your fingers. 

1-2 teaspoons salt
3-3.5 cups (400 grams) strong flour

  • Add to yeast mixture and mix. 
  • Add just enough flour to yeast mixture so it stops being a batter and holds together as a soft dough. The wetter it is the bigger the holes in the final bread, but don't make it too wet or the loaf will collapse.  .
  • Cover and rest the dough for 10 minutes.  
  • Knead the dough in the bowl until it is smooth and silk (about 10 min).
  • Turn into an oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise in a warm place (21-29º C) 2-5 hours. 
  • Turn the dough over in the bowl every hour during that time.
  • DO NOT KNEAD OR KNOCK BACK –we want the air bubbles intact.
  • At this point you can store the dough in the fridge until you are ready to bake (8-24 hours).  The cold will practically stop the fermentation.  Place the dough in a banneton (cloth lined wicker basket), cover with another cloth, and put into the fridge.  The basket provides support for the soft dough.  When you are ready to bake, the cold will have made the dough easier to handle and also retarding the fermentation gives a better crust.  If you want interesting patterns on your bread then, use a banneton with no cloth cover; the shape of the canes will imprint on the dough.  If you are going to dust with flour, then dust the bottom of the banneton as well as the top of the dough, and put dough into the banneton top first. 
  • When ready to bake transfer to a floured work top. 
  • Lightly slash the top of the dough.

[Optional] Sesame seeds or additional flour for dusting

  • [Optional Step] Dip dough in a pile of sesame seeds or sprinkle flour over the top of dough.
  • Gently transfer to an oiled or floured baking tray
  • Leave to rise in a warm place until doubled from its original size (about 45 min). 
  • Bake at 230º C (or as high as it will go) for 30-40 min; check after 25 min to turn the loaf around.
  • Remove from oven and leave to cool uncovered on a wire rack. 

 

Taken From the DeliaSmith online forum with the following credit "My starting point for this recipe was Anne & Helen Caruana Galizia's book The Food & Cookery of Malta, but the recipe has evolved somewhat through experimentation. "

 

 

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

"Then when transferring the loaf to a baking tray (and the receipe says "at this stage do NOT knead or knock back") it collapses."

Q: Is this the first proof or rise? Because collapsing is not really a problem if this is the first rise, the dough is then shaped into a loaf and allowed to rise a second time. If this is a second rise, sounds overproofed to me and should be reshaped with a little flour and allowed to rise a third time. Collapsing is a sign of overproofing or letting the dough rise too long. Try shortening the rising time so it doesn't collapse. Also the recipe askes that the dough be  turned or better yet, folded every hour during the 2 -5 hour rising time, this strengthens the glutien in the dough and is highly recommended for such soft doughs. Folding is good but when that step is done, the dough still needs to be shaped.

"I then leave it , again as per the recipe, for 45 mins to double in size (which it does, but sideways not upwards!) before baking." So any ideas why on the 2nd rise it does not form into a proper loaf shape?"

Q: Did you shape it into a loaf?   It looks like the dough was left to rise for the second time from a deflated blob.  (this by the way works only in Hollywood monster movies)

Sure is unique bubble structure in your loaf. Kind of interesting.  I think you're missing a step there somewhere.   The recipe above also recommends a banneton for the second rise. Good luck with the next loaf and hope to hear from you soon.

 

Mini O
pod3's picture
pod3

Thanks Mini O for your comments.

 

The 'collapse' takes place after the  first rise . I take your point that during this first rise the recipe says you should turn very hour, and also your suggestion that before the final rise I should shape it into a loaf.

 What's confusing is how to observe the recripe instruction "do'nt knead or knock back" duing that rise. How can one fold the bread or shape it into a loaf then?

 

Next try tomorrow... 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

just means to be gentle.  No dropping, punching, throwing, taking out frustrations etc. 

Just tip the bowl letting the dough flow slowly out onto the work surface or reach in with both hands and pick up the dough as best you can.  That's all.   it is possible to fold the dough without mashing it,  it can be done in the bowl by lifting one side up and just folding it over onto the other side, then the opposite side. Then left over and right over, flip and let rest for another hour.  Quite simple actually, or carefully remove from bowl (top side down) and fold on the table and place gently back into the bowl.    

To shape, keep track of the top of the dough.  Stretch the top of the dough by folding it under until a good surface tension is achieved.  or by rolling it up, top side out.  There are lots of good videos here on the site,  some still "hot off the press." 

Mini O

pod3's picture
pod3

Thanks Mini Oven, that's very helpful especially re what don't knead or knock back means. I will bear all that in mind when baking tonight!

Found a good video re shaping on the site re too - thanks for that tip too.

Rosalie's picture
Rosalie

Since it's a progressive problem, I'd guess it has to do with the refreshing and storing of the starter.  What is your routine for this, Pod3?  How much flour and water? when? store in refrigerator? warm up? refresh before using again?

Rosalie

pod3's picture
pod3

I use a starter  of

1/4 teaspoon (2 grams) of active dry yeast 
1/3 cup (80 ml) lukewarm water (body temperature, 37º C, or just cool enough to put your little finger in)
2/3 cup (100 grams) strong flour (unsifted)

The original starter I'm working from was made some 4 months ago.

Every Friday I divide the starter from last week in two and refresh half of the starter with 100g flour and 60ml warm water and leave overnight again, then back into storage (see below) for next week.

The other half I use to make my loaf. I leave it at room temperature for a hour or so, then add 100ml warm water and dissolve it, then add my yeast and warm water mix (150ml). Finally I add flour gradually and mix to a dough.

Between Fridays the starter is frozen. I thaw it out again the following Friday.

 

Any ideas? 

 

 

Rosalie's picture
Rosalie

The freezer may be the problem.  It's certainly not necessary to keep it in the freezer - the refrigerator is fine.  It can be hard for the little beasties to recover from being frozen.

I'm no expert but I see nothing else wrong with your routine.

Rosalie

pod3's picture
pod3

The frezer could be the problem . The 'beasties' slowly being killed off by the cold would explain the gradual deterioration in bread quality I've seen over the past months.

The refreshed starter I have for tomorrow  will not have been in the freezer, as i made it today. let's see if it makes a difference.

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

From looking at your photo of the bread I would have to say that it is way overproofed. The top of the loaf has many surface bubbles. A normal loaf would not show any bubbles on the surface. The surface should look smooth with the only bubbles showing where it is slashed. It could also be that you are not shaping properly to get good surface tension. Does the top of your loaf look smooth and firm after shaping? 

Your starter is not going to be a factor in how well your bread rises because the recipe contains yeast. You will get your rise from the yeast and the sourdough will just enhance the flavor.

If you have not been stretching and folding the dough during the fermentation period, that could also be a factor in your problems. The stretching strengthens the gluten and realigns the gluten strands--both of which are very important to how well the loaf rises.

pod3's picture
pod3

Thanks sourdolady, the more I read on this forum the more I learn. I have not been shaping at all, just removing the dough from the bowl it had its first rise in, placing it on a baking tray and proofing it.

 

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

Aha! There lies your problem. If you have a dough that is too wet to shape in the normal way then you need to stretch and fold to develop the gluten and get some surface tension after you remove it from the bowl. Give it a try and see if you get better results. It is usually beneficial to do at least a couple of stretch and folds about 45 minutes to an hour apart during the first rise and then do one more just before the final shaping/proofing.

pod3's picture
pod3

SUCCESS!

Thanks to you ALL I have a loaf I am proud of this morning.

I put this down to three things I did differently

1. More agrressive Kneading

2. Being gentle with the dough but not afraid to fold it and strectch it when removing from the bowl after 1st rise

3. Shaping the dough before final proofing , that really make a big difference- thanks to the videos on this site and Sourdolady's comments.

I also refreshed the starter and avoided freezing it but guess this affects taste rather than rising.

 

So here we are - what a difference from last week eh!?

Pod3's 'risen' sourdough breadPod3's 'risen' sourdough bread

 

Pos3's risen breadPos3's risen bread

 

So thanks again for all your commenst and suggestions. Now off to finish my bread! It's delicious with olive oil and some fresh tomatoes.

 

victortoronto's picture
victortoronto

Thanks for the information - folding and shaping also made a huge difference for me (videos were great).

MGalea1981's picture
MGalea1981

Hi all sorry to be asking what is probably a silly question but in this recipe, when in the bread making stage it says to use half the starter and "refresh" the other half......just want to know how i go about refreshing the other half of the starter and anything else i might need to know  like how long it will keep for

cheers

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

There are no silly questions.  That's how to get to know the world.  

The recipe referred to uses a sourdough yeast culture (starter) to raise the bread.  It is normal to reduce the size of the culture for a recipe and feed the remaining culture flour and water (refresh) on a regular basis.  It is home grown yeast.  There are many ways to maintain a sourdough yeast culture and so the specifics of feeding are left up to the individual who would not think twice about the directions unless they do not have one of these "starter" cultures or not yet encountered one.  So, my guess is that you are asking how to grow one of these cultures?  And how to maintain it?  All that information can be found in the site search machine inside topics & discussions.  Just type a simple Q : how to make a starter    or    wink pineapple solution #2   or  wink pineapple solution #1  for  technical information and recipe for getting a culture growing.  The two pineapple posts on Debra Wink's blog should be required first reading for understanding yeast cultures.   Look up starter maintain or feeding a starter for more info.  Starters can vary greatly in how much water and type of flour is used to feed them and TFL has many ways to go about making starters.  My advice is pick one method and follow it through, patiently for several weeks.  Switching between different methods only tends to get confusing for the beginner culture maker.  

Mini

MGalea1981's picture
MGalea1981

thanks MO very useful info

but something else thats abit puzzling to me in this recipe  about the dough starter

it says to make you use: 

1/4 teaspoon (2 grams) of active dry yeast 

1/3 cup (80 ml) lukewarm water (body temperature, 37º C, or just cool enough to put your little finger in)

2/3 cup (100 grams) strong flour (unsifted)

then to refresh you use

100g flour and 60ml warm 

what i dont understand is if im halving the starter then adding 100g flour im always going to be putting more flour in the starter than whats used in the bread making so surely eventually ill end up with both a massive bowl of starter and one hell of a huge loaf

thanks in advance if you can help me get my head around this 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

That's what I get for not reading back far enough.  My bad.  Sorry.

I should add meanwhile, that there are more ways to make a starter.  This is also a way, using commercial instant yeast.  I see where you're going with the starter growing if less than 160g is removed.  I think the confusion is that pod3 handles the starter different from what one would expect (or forgot to divide) having a different idea of how to keep the starter fed.  From a glance, the recipe looks sort of like a collision of two starter techniques.  

If I were to remove 91g or half of the starter, then I would replace it with a 91g of flour and water at 80% hydration or 50g flour and 40g water.   Does that compute better?

Mini

MGalea1981's picture
MGalea1981

yeah thank MO that would make more sense to just replace the amount you took out of the starter to keep a constant and near equal quantity every time

i guess sometimes "using your loaf" is more vital than worrying to much about the recipe

thanks again