The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough Help!

BreadBeginner19's picture

Sourdough Help!

I am fairly new to sourdough baking, but have been following Vanessa Kimbell's recipes (of the Sourdough School UK). I found myself feeling confident with her 70% hydration loaves, so upped the hydration to her 83% recipe. The two batches of loaves I've made with the higher hydration have been terrible.

The first looked great from the outside, but when I cut into it there was a huge air pocket, and the dense bread below it was inedible. 

The second I think was under-baked anyway, but still had a big air pocket under the surface of the crust, and the rise was uneven (see image). 

For context, I'm doing a warm bulk fermentation for 3 hours (with stretch and folds), followed by a 16(ish) hour overnight ferment in the fridge before I bake.

Have I just bitten off more than I can chew (no pun intended(!)) with a higher hydration bread, or am I doing something wrong in the process? 

Any help would be hugely appreciated!!

DanAyo's picture

A 13% hydration increase is a quantum leap! 2 or 3 percentage would be more manageable.

Try to post images, they are a great help. You know, “a picture is worth a thousand words...”


wally's picture

You were expecting, what? And what’s wrong with a 70% hydration dough? More often translates to less in terms of outcomes. You can get a beautiful open crumb with a 66-68% hydration dough. If its properly handled & shaped. I think you’ll get better results if you spend more time on the latter and less on upping your hydration.

Benito's picture

I think your loaves show signs of under fermentation.  The large holes up top and dense tight crumb under neath from what I understand as a newish sourdough baker are signs of under fermentation.  I recently baked a loaf that had the same signs.  I needed to allow bulk fermentation to go longer.

jey13's picture

I recognize that problem! It’s under proofed. Higher hydration requires more folds and more time fermenting. Like six folds and 4-5 hours. Also, check out this Trevor Wilson video which shows his unique method of stirring wet dough after autolyse. I’ve been told it really helps get the gluten formation going—and you need lots of that in high hydration loaves.