The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Reinhart's Basic Sourdough Bread, no stretch & fold?

Lolakey's picture
Lolakey

Reinhart's Basic Sourdough Bread, no stretch & fold?

Hello everyone.

I am in the process of making Peter Reinhart's Basic Sourdough Bread from BBA, with mixing and shaping scheduled for tomorrow. After mixing the dough, he states that it should ferment at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours before shaping. However, he does not say anything about the stretch & fold technique. At this stage I would normally perform 2-3 stretch & folds at 50-60 min intervals. Is there a particular reason for not doing it for this recipe? I would just assume it would be beneficial to do this to strengthen the dough? For the record, I've tried to make this bread once before with little success (bread ended up flat, I blame over-proofing or possibly a weak starter). I'm giving it another shot, and I'm really hoping for a better result this time!

Maverick's picture
Maverick

If I recall correctly (in BBA) the longer kneading develops the gluten fully so nothing else is required. That said, there is nothing wrong with adding in a couple stretch and folds if the bread isn't strong enough. Also, Reinhart's technique is ever evolving and I don't remember stretch and fold being a part of BBA (I will have to break out the book to make sure).

BaniJP's picture
BaniJP

It really depends on the dough. If you notice the dough becomes kinda runny and slack during bulk fermentation, I would do a stretch & fold or two. But if it plumps up nicely and holds its shape fairly well, you don't need to do it.

suave's picture
suave

It was written before using stretch and fold became the norm and expected of such books.

Lolakey's picture
Lolakey

Thank you, that makes a lot of sense! I will just feel the dough and go from there. I am substituting some AP flour with rye and whole wheat, so it might need a few stretch and folds.

I must say that I do find Reinhart's method a bit weird and confusing, with all the different builds and names (seed culture to "barm" to stiff starter and so on). I'm still not sure if I'm doing it right. I don't think I will proof the breads overnight in the fridge before baking this time, just a few hours at room temp, and see if I get more of a rise and oven spring. I made Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough last weekend which was much more straight forward with no overnight proofing, and I got a nice big loaf then!

I'm still fairly new to sourdoughs so I guess I will have to keep experimenting :) 

BaniJP's picture
BaniJP

Just be careful when handling doughs with whole wheat and/or rye in it, both have lower gluten/protein quality and the dough needs to be handle gently to not damage the more delicate gluten strands.

Lolakey's picture
Lolakey

Thanks for the reminder, I tried my best to be gentle when kneading it. I find it hard to find a balance between being too gentle/not kneading enough and tearing the gluten strands when it comes to WW dough. The dough didn't quite pass the windowpane test, but it still felt firm. Aaand I couldn't resist adding some seeds (soaked flax and roasted sunflower seeds), just to complicate things further, haha. We shall see. It's bulk fermenting now. 

Maverick's picture
Maverick

Hope these turn out well.

If I am making enough for 2 loaves, I will often bake one and retard the other one overnight. Also, when I make Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough I almost always shape it, put it in a basket, and the immediately in the refrigerator until the morning. I then bake straight from the refrigerator (as I do will most breads).

To help clarify things, Reinhart says in his Whole Grain Breads book:

"In previous books I also referred to this starter as a barm. I have since learned that the term barm is more properly used for starters made using mashes as the growth medium. For the sake of clarity and unity, we will refer to our perpetual starter as the mother starter."

Earlier he says:

". . . the wild yeast starter, which can go by any number of names, including levain, chef, mother, madre, barm, desum, or sour sponge"

Lolakey's picture
Lolakey

That's a good idea. I will bake 1 loaf today and retard the other one overnight, just to see if I get different results. I won't have time to bake the second one in the morning (probably more like late afternoon), so I hope it doesn't overproof. I don't really think so, as nothing ever rises in my fridge. All activity seems to just stop...

Thanks for clarifying the barm/starter confusion! Reinhart does suggest in the commentary that you can substitute equal amounts of "barm" for the "firm starter", mixing the "barm" directly into the final dough. I guess this eliminates one stage of the build, and is much more similar to other methods I've encountered so far: I think of my "mother starter" as the 100% hydration mix of flour & water I keep in the fridge. After feeding and activating it I measure out the amount called for in the recipe, and I guess this would be the "barm" according to Reinhart in BBA. I would mix it directly in the dough. This time I decided to first make the "firm starter" and retard overnight as per the recipe. What I find odd is that Reinhart suggests both methods, but doesn't explain the benefits of the additional stage. If it doesn't really matter what you do, the "firm starter" just seems to require an extra day out of my schedule. I don't know if this makes any sense. I'm still pretty new to this.

I make a lot of whole wheat/whole grain breads, mainly for the taste and health benefits. But as I ventured into sourdoughs I realised I needed to cut back on the WW flours until I got the basics right. Would you recommend the Whole Grain Breads book for sourdough baking? I have been wanting to purchase it for a while. 

Lolakey's picture
Lolakey

This is the first loaf after 3 1/2 hours bulk fermentation with one stretch & fold, followed by 2 1/2 hours final proofing at room temp. It did rise somewhat during this time, but not much oven spring. I don't know if the tight crumb is due to the seeds and course flour or what. I probably scored it too deep as it collapsed somewhat in the middle. Tastes great, but very dense... Can't say I'm super happy with it, but it's still a better result than the last time I used this recipe. Which says a lot, haha. 

I will bake the second loaf later today after what will be approx. 24 hours in the fridge (in addition to the 2 1/2 hours on the counter yesterday). 

I know I am doing something wrong with Reinhart's method, but I can't quite figure out what it is.