The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Surface tension issues ( is it mixing, ferment, proof or shaping?)

Baron d'Apcher's picture
Baron d'Apcher

Surface tension issues ( is it mixing, ferment, proof or shaping?)

I am having persistent problems where I shape loaves, appear to have the proper surface tension but the loaves collapse in the bannetons and on the couche during the proofing, surface turns wet, loaves deflate and flatten during overnight retard in the fridge and when they bake, the ends flatten with minimal oven-spring and barely a bulge in the middle.  I am using Farmer Ground Flour and bulk ferment in a tote with a lightbulb to keep it at a balmy 78F.  Starter is active. Am I adding too much starter?  I'm flummoxed and frustrated.


White boule:

550g Hi-ex
550g AP
50g rye
860 water @90F (75% hydration)
20g barley malt syrup
200g starter
26g salt

8 am mix all except salt for 2 minutes in planetary mixer speed 1 with hook. 30 minute autolyse. Add salt and mix 4 minutes speed 2 ½ or until it comes away from the sides of the bowl. Dough temp is about 73F. Strech & fold every 30 minutes 3 times. Bulk ferment about 5 hours or until rises by ½ (might be too long?).

Pre-shape 6 x 375g loaves, wait 10 minutes, reshape and let proof about 1.5hrs at room temp in bannetons or until they proof about 30%. At this point it is about 4pm and I put in the walk-in for 16 hours. In the morning, the loaves are flat and don't appear to have proofed at all.  I bake in the morning straight from the walk-in the combi on heated stones. Pre-heat to 525F, score, combi steam @480F for 18 minutes, dry heat @460F for 20 minutes.

Whole Wheat
300g Hi-ex
300g AP
600g Whole wheat
50g Rye
880g water @90F
200g starter
20g barley malt syrup
26g salt

9 am mix all except salt for 2 minutes in planetary mixer speed 1. 30 minute autolyse. Add salt and mix 4 minutes speed 2 ½. Dough temp is about 73F. Strech & fold every 30 minutes 3 times. Bulk ferment about 5 hours or until rises by ½ (might be too long?).

Pre-shape 6 x 375g loaves, wait 10 minutes, reshape and let proof about 1.5hrs at room temp on couches or until they proof about 30%. At this point it is about 5pm and I put in the walk-in for 15 hours. Bake in the morning straight from the walk-in the combi on heated stones. Pre-heat to 525F, score, combi steam @480F for 18 minutes, dry heat @460F for 20 minutes.

The couche is often wet in the morning and the loaves look flattened. After baking they rise in the middle but the ends are flat and there is very little ovenspring. Taste fine, good crust and crumb but they are essentially the same size but somehow shorter. I suspect it is a shaping issue. Too tight or too loose. Very frustrating.

Any and all suggestions welcome.

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

Most of your method is similar to mine except for the part after dividing. I let my dough rest for an hour and then it goes directly into the fridge after shaping. No counter proofing at all. The next morning (no more than 10 hours later), they go into the dutch ovens directly from the fridge. They don't look like they have risen much if at all but I get great oven spring. 

Here is a going into the fridge picture:

Here is a just out of the fridge and going into the pot picture:

As you can see, there isn't a lot of difference but this is what I get:

I found that if I go more than 10 hours, even by only one hour, the oven spring suffers. And this seems to hold true even if I use different amounts of levain. Hope this helps.

AlisonKay's picture
AlisonKay

They are so helpful! They give me the confidence to keep making brave judgements of my loaves. I'm a 100% wholegrain baker and I know I have a tendency to over-proof. 

One question: Can I clarify that after bulk you divide, preshape and then rest for an hour, then shape and then straight in the fridge?

Thank you!

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

that is exactly what I do. They might test on the counter for a few minutes while I shape all 12 of the loaves and cover the bannetons with bowl covers, but as soon as that is all done, they go right into the fridge. 

I can also share my shaping method with you in case you aren’t getting the skin tight enough: 

Do a final shape by flouring the rounds and flipping the rounds over on a lightly floured counter. Gently stretch the dough out into a circle. Pull and fold the third of the dough closest to you over the middle. Pull the right side and fold over the middle and do the same to the left. Fold the top end to the center patting out any cavities. Finally stretch the two top corners and fold over each other in the middle. Roll the bottom of the dough away from you until the seam is underneath the dough. Cup your hands around the dough and pull towards you, doing this on all sides of the dough to round it off. Finally spin the dough to make as tight boule as you can. Do all of this without degassing the dough. 

 

AlisonKay's picture
AlisonKay

especially your last sentence! I know it is practise (with a little guidance) and I look forward to being an old lady with awesome shaping skills!! 

Heikjo's picture
Heikjo

How long do you bulk and how much does the dough increase in volume by the time of shaping?

Jsirons@argmax.com's picture
Jsirons@argmax.com

Sounds like over proofing - I think the last comment was right. Do you proof in bannettons overnight or couche? 

Need to preheat those for good push!

David R's picture
David R

... but, need to preheat what?

Baron d'Apcher's picture
Baron d'Apcher

I proof the boules (hi-ex/AP) in the bannetons and the whole wheat loaves on couche. 

When poking the loaves after 16hrs in the fridge, the indent bounces back slowly which leads me to assume they aren’t overproofed and after slashing I see expansion and the slashes open up. However, with the whole wheat the couche is very wet and the loaves have little oven-spring which makes me think overproofed. It’s baffling. 

Perhaps the bulk ferment (50%) is too much? After shaping the loaves look dry, but 1/2 hour later the surface appears wet.  

Oven and stones are preheated. 

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

the poke test doesn’t work on cold dough. 

Howard Wong's picture
Howard Wong

I have struggled with the timing of final proof with cold retard before, but solved it by using a fixed dough weight in a wood pulp basket and letting it proof to a certain level before retarding overnight. You can find out what is the optimal level of rise in the basket by trial and error.

Baron d'Apcher's picture
Baron d'Apcher

I baked again today. I’m still flummoxed and frustrated beyond reason. 

The whole wheat loaves are dry when I shape in the afternoon but wet in the morning after 16hrs in the fridge and the now wet couche has a slurry on it. The loaves are evenly shaped but cook like a pyramid. When I put in the oven they flatten like a biyali.  After baking they are flat on the edges and a small bulge in the middle. Terrible and embarrassing. 

The loaves are smaller after retarding. I realize that the dough will contract in the cold, but this defies how I would expect whole wheat to react unless I am mistaken. I believe whole wheat takes longer to proof than the hi-ex/AP mix. (Whole wheat loaves are 300g hi-ex, 300g AP, 500g whole wheat, 50g rye, 880g water, 200g starter, 20g barley malt syrup, 27g salt). 

Is this a consequence of mixing time (too short or too long (procedure is in the 1st post), too much bulk ferment, too short/long proof of improper shaping? 

I make a multi-grain which is very sticky after shaping but inexplicably bakes the best of the 3. Couche is dry in the morning and excellent oven spring for a 50% rye dough. 

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

Wholewheat proofs faster than AP flour from I have read on this site so try sticking to a shorter proof. My loaves are also usually wetter after proofing than when I put them in the bannetons so that is not unusual. 

What did you do differently this time? I can’t tell if you changed anything. 

By the way, how cold is that walk-in? I keep my fridge at 37-38 F. 

Baron d'Apcher's picture
Baron d'Apcher

I do everything the same which is why this is so frustrating. Walk-in is 38°F.  Same dough/water temp, same mixing time, same bulk ferment time/temp, same bench rest and retard. I tried to shape these loaves tighter. They are the same length as when they went in with a slight bulge in the middle, flat on the ends and wider which make me think overproof. Looks like a slipper. But how and why?

i’d add pics of the loaf and crumb but I can’t figure out how to do that on a mobile phone. (Photo opens but the image just flutters). 

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

and expecting different results isn’t going to work! Do me a favour, and shorten your proof in the fridge to 9 hours. Bake right out of the fridge! Then post a picture. 

As to posting pictures, try this: 

Uploading pictures 

 

1. Put the cursor where you want your picture to appear within a post and click. 

2. Go to the picture icon (square box with mountain) in the nav bar above the post box and click on that. 

3. A pop up will appear and click right on the camera icon with the magnifying glass on the very far right. Don’t click anywhere else like the space beside it. 

4. A new page will appear and click on the green Upload button at the top left. 

5. A pop up will appear and click on “choose file”. Navigate to the file you want to upload and click on it. 

6. You will be brought back to the pop up. Hit the green “upload” button IN the pop up window. 

7. Your picture will appear floating below. Click anywhere on the picture and you will be back to another pop up. 

8. Click okay on that pop up and your picture will finally be in your post. 

Be careful what you do after that cause your picture will still be highlighted and if you touch the space bar or some other letter, you will lose the picture. Safer to click somewhere else first to unhighlight the pict. 

 

Hope this helps. 

Baron d'Apcher's picture
Baron d'Apcher

The result vary -some days couche is wet, some days wetter, others dry despite the same process. Baking varies too despite baking straight from fridge, same time/temp. Starter is maintained the same. That’s what is so frustrating. 

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

I checked your profile to see where you were from and over the last few years, you have posted the same question with the same or similar method. From my quick look at the answering posts, everyone has told you that you are overproofing. 

Thanks for wasting my time! 

Baron d'Apcher's picture
Baron d'Apcher

I’ve changed the mixing time and proofing from my previous queries and have had some bakers (not on this site) suggest longer bulk and longer proof to improve the structure. Hence my confusion. 

David R's picture
David R

You're not confused at all.

You just haven't tried any of the suggestions. Take one suggestion literally. Do exactly as someone suggested, without changing anything else. Then post your results. It doesn't matter whose suggestion you try first - just don't try more than one at a time.

I suspect that you're trying to incorporate all the suggestions into your thought process. Instead, cancel your thoughts for now, and borrow someone else's thoughts, to see if they give a better result. Don't try to make sense of it - just do it. That's how suggestions work. 🙂

Baron d'Apcher's picture
Baron d'Apcher

I followed your suggestion of a longer bench rest with 30min and 60min tests.  60min worked much better but the loaves still shrink considerably from the ends.  The loaves are about 6" x 3" (380g)  when I score them but come out almost round. After talking with a baker who uses the same stone-ground whole grain flour (Farmer Ground Flour), he recommended increasing the starter up to 20% to help with the overnight retarding and mixing at a slightly lower speed after autolyse since milled bran and germ aren't too nice on gluten strands.  The variables that seems to account for fluctuations despite the same procedure is that the kitchen is warmer some days than others depending on what stoves/ovens are on (and flour, though I try to adjust with warmer water) and the starter is more active on Saturday than Thursday after Monday/Tuesday in the fridge without feeding.   I am trying to understand what happens during the process, why and the thresholds.

The loaves (whole wheat) taste very good but the final size varies a bit and I suspect it might now be a shaping issue.  Perhaps a gentler shaping like a batard rather than a "loaf". 

30 minute bench rest.  Reshape, 30 minute room temp proof, overnight retard.

60min bench rest, reshape and straight to fridge for retard.

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

wrong with those loaves! Well done!