The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Searching for help

Rob Combley's picture
Rob Combley

Searching for help

Hi, I'm Rob from the UK and I desparately need your help, sob. I have a few years of experience of making sourdough bread.

In the last 6 weeks or so, I've been staying home because of Covid-19 and as a result I've been baking every day.

It has been great fun and gone well, working with wetter and wetter dough as my skills have improved but suddenly it has all gone wrong!

I'm using a process derived from one by JoyrideCoffee on youtube, I will outline below:

400g strong white, 100g wholemeal, 390g water: 3 hours autolyse

50g starter 100% hydration: 4 mins Rubaud knead,, 30mins rest

10g Salt, 4 mins Rubaud knead, 1 hour rest

Laminate, fold: 1 hour

1st coil fold: 1 hour

2nd coil fold: 1 hour

3rd coil fold: 2.5 hour

Shape, into a proving basket, in the fridge for 16 hours.

Bake: 15 mins in dutch oven max. heat, 25 mins no steam 210C

I was getting lovely bread but the last 3 times it has felt like it was falling to peices during the kneading and this is what I'm getting...It's all gone wrong

It is heart breacking everything something like this comes out of the oven and I've been trying to fix it.

The first failure was with an overnight autolyse so I've shortened that to 3 hours sharp.

For the next failure I switched back to the white flour I had been using before.

Now I'm trying dryed yeast - though my starter looks ok (I've started a new one just in case)

Does anyone have any ideas as to what is going wrong?


JeremyCherfas's picture

To me, it seems to have become noticeably warmer in the past week. You give timings for your stages. could it be that fermentation is progressing more quickly, so the loaf is overproofed? I'd also try adding the salt during the autolyse to slow things down.

Rob Combley's picture
Rob Combley

Thanks for your help Jeremy your idea about temperature was spot on. The bread with brewers yeast worked fine so it was an issue with the starter. To cut a long story short, I was trying to use the starter 4 hours after feeding when it was far too cold - when I get up my kitchen is around 15 degrees C and it gets up to about 19 or 20 by mid-day. I have improved things by using the starter when it's hungry and increaseing the time before adding salt (to give the yeast more time to multiply).

I've had one loaf since and it is very nice. It is still too flat and has an unappealing slash but I'm going to try to knead the next one more to improve this but any more suggestions would be appreciated.