The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Yet another beginner proofing question

craigborden's picture
craigborden

Yet another beginner proofing question

So I'm new to the sourdough game but I am already an addict

I live in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada not that thats relevant to this issue... although it may be.

I've only made four loaves so far each with their own issues, but I seem to have one constant... my loaves are flatter than I think they should be.

I make my levain in the morning.

  • 40g starter (it is about a month old now and pretty strong)
  • 40g bread flour
  • 40g WW flour
  • 80g water

I let the levain go for 5 hours and it is doubled... you can see my starter in the background

Levain

 with an hour to go on the levain I make my dough and let it autolyse for an hour.

My dough mix is

  • 748g Bread flour
  • 160g WW flour
  • 691g water
  • 18g Sea salt
  • 184g levain

I add the salt and levain after the hour...

Then I do turns every half hour for 2 hours and let it bulk for 2 more hours

After that I tip it out on my table and split it in two and let it rest for about 30 min

next I shape it and put it in the dusted bannetons and put them straight in the fridge in bags

I leave them there for about 15 hours 

I preheat the oven to 500F for an hour 

I drop the heat to 475F add put the dough on my stone and cover with a SS bowl - cook for 15 min

remove bowl and reduce heat to 450F and bake for another 20 min

I know some will say my loaves are not nearly dark enough but my family don't like real dark loaves.

anyway here is what I ended up with today

So the issues that I see are

  1. crust is very soft
  2. no much rise at all
  3. no ear
  4. not much blistering

Anyway sorry for writing a small novel there... I tried to give you all the info I had to help me out

I am not sure about the temperature in the fridge or the room where everything rises. I got my thermometers today from Amazon (it takes a while up here) so I can figure that out in the next few days.

I have another batch in the works right now so I will see what tomorrow will hold.

Don't get me wrong it is so good and it will be all eaten and my kids love it but I know it is not "right"

David R's picture
David R

I protest! It IS right! You are making basically very good bread that needs a couple of changes to "take it to the next level". There's far too much basically bad bread eaten everywhere all the time. Your good-but-could-still-be-improved bread is already ten times better than what millions of people end up eating.

craigborden's picture
craigborden

It is delicious and in fact half of the loaf is now gone.

I am going to try a longer proof this time and see what I can change 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

why not use all of it?   :)

How long does the levain take to peak?  Using it at peak?

A different score may get you a higher loaf.  

craigborden's picture
craigborden

I did use it all in fact... I wrote down what was in my book, from the original recipe but in thinking back I use the whole levain.

I am using it at peak or close to peak. It has more than doubled in size.

I'll try a different score tomorrow

hreik's picture
hreik

then the % hydration is even higher than the 78% i calculated.  See my comment below.

hester

missnene's picture
missnene

i am a sourdough newbie, too.  I was taught to do a second shaping.  Pre-shape once then bench rest covered for 30 minutes; Repeat the Pre-shape and bench rest;  then Shape the dough to create more surface tension and place topside down into a floured banneton; proof in the refrigerator until doubled and passes the poke test then invert into a Dutch oven to bake.  My bake instructions say to bake covered at 500 degrees Fahrenheit then remove the lid and reduce temperature to 450.  I do not know the temperature in Celsius.  I also preheat my oven and my Dutch oven together then wait an adiitinal 30 minutes after the oven has reached temperature to make sure their are no cold spots.  Dacor recommends this long preheating of their ovens.  I used to not wait.  Now, I do wait (sometimes 40 minutes) but my baking is more uniform.  Also, I had to have my ovens recalibrated.  One was off 25 degrees and the other 10 degrees.  Now, my baking meets most of the recipe oven times.  Hope this helps but take it with a grain of salt, I am new to baking bread.  

craigborden's picture
craigborden

Thanks,

I will try baking longer at 500 and then turn it down to 450 when I uncover it... we will see the difference tomorrow

David R's picture
David R

I guess actually getting the oven checked and adjusted is a bit more elegant than posting a sticky note with "Subtract 50". 🙂

I see reports all over of ovens sold poorly calibrated - even really expensive ones. My apartment's oven is small and old and was probably the cheapest available at the time, so I expect little from it, but you'd think the "high-end" manufacturers might get their act together.

Also note a little typo: The "pike test" doesn't require you to whack the dough with a frozen fish - it should be the "poke test". 🙂

craigborden's picture
craigborden

I will have to do my oven trial and error for sure.

One of the issues with living in remote areas is these services are not available

I really don't want to buy a thermocouple to see the actual temperature of my oven either... I will have to just figure it out and MacGyver it

David R's picture
David R

Totally fine. Getting to know your oven - its quirks, where the hot or cold spots are, and so on - helps your bread far more than a service appointment. (Unless the oven was seriously defective.) Pretty much every oven is a little "off" in some way or another.

missnene's picture
missnene

i corrected my typo.  Thank you.  For me, it was worth a service call.  I had been fighting my ovens for a decade.  More valuable than the recalibration was the instruction to wait 30 minutes after the oven pre-heated before baking.  The serviceman explained Dacor, Wolf, Thermador, etc, all recommend this.  I had no idea and could have saved myself a lot of frustration had I known.  

WatertownNewbie's picture
WatertownNewbie

You wrote "I add the salt and levain after the hour..."

What actually happens when you do this?  I assume there is some mixing.  By hand?  Stand mixer?  For how long?  It is possible that you could develop a little more gluten at the beginning.  I found that I was not working the dough enough (I mix by hand), and when I finally did begin doing that, my dough had the necessary gluten network to support more oven spring.  (By the way, there are some excellent videos on Trevor J. Wilson's website, which is breadwerx.)

You also wrote "Then I do turns every half hour for 2 hours and let it bulk for 2 more hours"

What is the temperature in your kitchen?  I live in Connecticut, and during this time of year I cannot expect a complete bulk fermentation in my kitchen in only four hours.  Are you watching the clock and not the dough?  You should look for signs of good fermentation.  Those will include expansion of the dough, visible bubbles along the sides and bottom of the container, perhaps even bubbles visible from the top view, a dough that feels poofy and pillow-like.  If you are relying on the clock to measure your bulk fermentation, stop doing so.  I also found that I was not letting the bulk fermentation go long enough during the winter months.

I agree with the above comments that you are on the right track and will likely find that you are not that far from the results that you are hoping for.  Keep asking questions.  Happy baking.

Ted

craigborden's picture
craigborden

Thanks for the feedback,

After the hour of autolyse I add the salt and levain to the dough. I mix by hand for a fe minutes until it has been incorporated. Never thought about using my stand mixer.... hmmmmm

As for temperature, I picked up my thermometer today and my temps are...

Kitchen 25C (77F) - 34% humidity

Proofing room 27C (80F) - 31% humidity - it stays this temp most of the time. One door and no windows

Fridge 7C (44F) - 32% humidity

Outside -23C (-10F) - 13% humidity

 

I wish I could bake more often... I want to try new things now... having to wait for sourdough is a blessing and a curse

David R's picture
David R

If that is the fridge where you keep your food, it's not safe. It needs to stay below 40 (and above freezing obviously).

craigborden's picture
craigborden

I stand corrected... I just got these thermometers today.

They have not settled in on a temp yet. The fridge is saying 6C now... I will give it a day and see what the actual temps are.

I think that is part of my problem... I want more data faster and with making two loaves a day my data points are very limited :)

David R's picture
David R

Every fridge's temperature fluctuates, and the system starts when the temperature gets near the top of the acceptable range. The fridge where you keep your food must stay below 40°F (below 4.5°C) at all times. (In other words, 40 is the top, not the average.) If you find that it's not staying below the limit, move the adjustment knob and wait a full day or more before checking temp again.

If the adjuster is set as cold as possible but the fridge is still hitting 41 sometimes, then it needs fixing.

hreik's picture
hreik

under proofed.  What does the dough look like after the bulk fermentation?  Has it risen a lot? A little? about what %age?   It's important to wait for the dough to do it's thing and not rush it.

Also, your hydration is pretty high.... like 78% I think.  What's it like to work with? Sticky? 

hester

p.s. that wasn't a small novel, not even a short story.  The more we know the more we can help.

craigborden's picture
craigborden

I got slack after my starter was ok... I recorded a time lapse of it twice. Great to watch.

When it was ready to bake with I think I just dove in. I am really watching it today, I just did my third set of folds and will photograph during it's bulk. Thats the only way I can know

As for sticky... yup very sticky I think the next loaves I make will be lower... I guess I found a recipe that looked good. I will try another one next.

Only time will tell what will happen next. I thought it may be under proofed tomorrow will be different

hreik's picture
hreik

which is strong, you can go to about 70% hydration.  Take a look at Trevor Wilson's Videos, here's a link to one making an open Crumb bread with only 65% hydration dough. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxfbiGto4R8

Also, after you dump the shaped loaves out onto your stone, do they collapse? And, Sorry to ask this, but since you are a newbie, you are preheating your stone also, correct?  I am assuming yes, just asking to be certain.

hester

craigborden's picture
craigborden

Thanks for the link... I'll check out the video

The loaves don't collapse, well I don't think so they are under a bowl :) but they don't look flatter when I take it off.

Yes I do heat the stone, it never leaves the oven to be honest. 

Also I take no offence, I am a noob to bread but I want to learn.

David R's picture
David R

With a stone, you probably need a lot of extra preheating. If you don't heat the stone up for a lot of extra time, it may actually be a disadvantage to have it.

doughooker's picture
doughooker

Try to get your proofing environment up above 85 - 88F. You could use an incandescent light bulb for this.