The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

NOVICE SEEKING HELP

eddiej's picture
eddiej

NOVICE SEEKING HELP

I have made several loaves in the past two months by following the instructions (timing and recipes) in Ken Forkish’s excellent book FWYS.  I have used various yeast and hybrid doughs – I have not yet tried only levain.  I have had a few problems that I hope someone may be able to help me overcome.

I have varied feeding the (half-sized) levain to ensure a homogeneous blend: I add the 200g of water first, dilute the 50g of yesterday’s levain, then I add the 250g of pre-mixed flours and mix using a spoon.  I put the fed levain into a cupboard at a temperature of about 25C (summer in Australia).  It doubles in volume from about 500ml to 1 litre in 24 hours.  I’ve also used about 1% salt, rather than 2% for the dough.  From my reading, these changes should not make much difference.

•    The height of the loaf is always less than half its diameter.
•    My levain does not float when I want to use it at the specified time, so I wait until it does – which upsets the schedule but still I do not get enough rise.
•    The loaves look good but the crumb seems too moist.

Suggestions to get it right would be appreciated, thanks.

Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)
  • 50g starter
  • 200g water
  • 250g flour

This is 20% inoculation. It takes 24 hours at 25°C to mature?

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Abe, considering the stater is kept @ 100% hydration, isn’t the percentage of prefermented flour 10%?

If the 100% starter assumption is correct, the levain is mixed at a 1 to 10 ratio of starter flour to feed flour. It does seem likely that a 24 hour ferment @ 25C (77F) would probably over ferment and lose yeast while gainng acids.

I am a life long student of yours :) Did “grass hopper” get it right?

Danny

Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)

Yes and No.

Total flour is 275g. 25g of flour is prefermented so prefermented flour is 9%. Ring a bell Dan?

So 9% prefermented flour but 20% starter. I do believe it also wrong to only take the flour within the starter into account as the starter is now a pool of yeast and bacteria. And even if one does it's still a long time for 20% starter @ 25°C to mature.

EDIT: You edited your while I was witing. Agree with you fully!! I think it's being over done and losing some strength. I think we need to ask what it tastes like? We've had the method and look only.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

DARN! This ole dog, and new tricks...

My mantra. “What I lack in intelligence, I strive to make up for in tenacity” <LOL>

Your comment makes me think. Is 50g of 50% mature starter more potent than 50g of 100% mature starter?

Thanks always for the help.

Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)

Something to think about... At what point in a starter's maturation does the strength of the yeast get taken over by the bacteria?

I'm also thinking that perhaps, if it's not being over done, then perhaps there is an issue in the starter itself rather than than overdoing it to a point of yeast decline. Afterall after 24 hours it's just peaked.

I think we need Mini here.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Debra told me that the population of yeast is maximized in a starter when the starter just starts to recede. Shortly after this recession begins the bacteria (acids) population starts the process of populating at a greater rate in comparison to the yeast. The metabolic activity then favors the acids. The end result is that the lifting power (yeast) of the starter begins to decrease.

A starter can favor max yeast or favor max acids, but it can’t maximize both. In Dab’s method of refrigerating his NMNF starter for 6 weeks to build acids, his starter will not have the maximum population of yeast. Not a problem, the flavor is maxed but a longer ferment is needed. And, the longer ferment builds more flavor.

At least, this is what I believe I understood from Debra.

Danny

David R's picture
David R

... is far from the be-all/end-all. It might be good to invite Goldilocks to test your mixture - "Not too old, not too young, juuust right". 🙂


(I hope Goldilocks is still a recognizable reference in 2019.)

 

Fermentation is sometimes more complex than we give it credit for; if you view it as a single process, then "more time equals more fermentation" appears as if it would make sense, and waiting patiently for as long as possible would seem prudent. But if you think of it as a bit like a human colony living in a tiny confined space, and the many changes that can happen over many generations, it makes more sense. When is their society at its best? Obviously not the first day, and obviously not after enough time has passed that they have a war or a famine. Also, they brought six pet rabbits. 🙂

 

 

eddiej's picture
eddiej


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Thanks to all those who have commented on my two posts (I thought the first one had not worked).  I had attempted to use the levain about 6 hours after feeding it.  The current one in the fridge for a few days has doubled in size and tastes acidic, like the kefir I make each day, so to seems to be active enough.  I’ve lost my sense of smell so can only go by time, volume and feel.  I agree, Forkish’s levain does use too much flour.  Has anyone worked out a more economical alternative?

I think the main problem was the bulk fermentation was too long (temperature and less salt) because the proofing was done in the fridge overnight.  Is there any reliable way of estimating rise times for various ambient temperatures?  For example, reduce the time by x% for an increase in temperature from 20C to 25C.  I guess volume is the best guide.

Next time I’ll still use 1% salt (just for taste) and judge by volume rather than time (difficult to estimate using a large china bowl rather than a parallel-sided transparent container).

eddiej's picture
eddiej

Thanks to all those who have commented on my two posts (I thought the first one had not worked).  I had attempted to use the levain about 6 hours after feeding it.  The current one in the fridge for a few days has doubled in size and tastes acidic, like the kefir I make each day, so to seems to be active enough.  I’ve lost my sense of smell so can only go by time, volume and feel.  I agree, Forkish’s levain does use too much flour.  Has anyone worked out a more economical alternative?

I think the main problem was the bulk fermentation was too long (temperature and less salt) because the proofing was done in the fridge overnight.  Is there any reliable way of estimating rise times for various ambient temperatures?  For example, reduce the time by x% for an increase in temperature from 20C to 25C.  I guess volume is the best guide.

Next time I’ll still use 1% salt (just for taste) and judge by volume rather than time (difficult to estimate using a large china bowl rather than a parallel-sided transparent container).