The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Noobie in harsh conditions - help?

momoha's picture
momoha

Noobie in harsh conditions - help?

Hello everyone,

So... I am a TOTAL noob in bread baking, and to top it off, I live in India, which is really not a baker-friendly place. I only have access to chapati flour (chakki atta) which is a stone ground wheat flour, low in gluten (around 9%), AND, I have to bake in an OTG oven. But, after many years living here eating only bad sandwich bread, I thought, let’s give it a try.

I made my starter last week, everything was going well, then I baked my first loaf, and... catastrophe! It’s a brick :-( From all I’ve read, I believe I overproofed it. The dough was very sticky and loose, with tons of bubbles that were bursting everywhere, and I couldn’t shape it at all, it was almost like a big lump. But, I’d love to have your professional thoughts on it though, so I can adapt for my next loaf. 

Here’s the recipe I used:
425g chakki atta
50g wheat gluten
330g water
90g starter
9g fine sea salt

I used a clay pot covered with an aluminium foil. Baked at 230C (450F) 30 min covered, then 30 min uncovered.

Thanks!!

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

I am not a professional, but.....

Try 20 gr wheat gluten instead of 50.   (Make sure dry wheat gluten and dry flour is thoroughly mixed prior to adding water.)  (Adding wheat gluten is a poor way of increasing protein. It just does not work the same as good bread flour.  And chapati flour, used by itself will never make good bread.  Can you not get some good Sharbati flour?) 

And try reducing hydration to 68-70%.  

When calculating hydration, remember to count wheat gluten as part of the flour, and also include the flour and water in the starter.

In your above formula, hydration is (330+45)/(425+50+45) = 72.1%

Good luck, amigo.

momoha's picture
momoha

Oooh, I didn't know about sharbati flour, but I see I can get it on Amazon! Should I still add gluten in it or is it fine by itself?

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Two good web pages:  

https://www.kannammacooks.com/why-my-atta-flour-doesnt-work-in-bread-loaves/

Her recipe: https://www.kannammacooks.com/100-whole-wheat-atta-sandwich-bread-recipe/

uses oil, honey, and only a little "vital wheat gluten" (gluten flour).

momoha's picture
momoha

Yes, I already read those pages when I was trying to understand why all the bakeries here produce a super dense crumbly bread that I deeply execrate... ^_^'

That's how I got the idea to try making bread with added gluten! But then I made a calculation of the gluten percentage in bread flour vs chakki atta and try to reached the same level,So guess it was a mistake. Now I'll try sharbati atta with just a little gluten then, let's see how it goes :-)

I saw a whole wheat bread flour on Amazon with brilliant reviews, but they sell it for around 500Rs per kg! That's insane! I'd rather eat a crumbly bread than ruin myself...

clew's picture
clew

Wild guess - are you somewhere much warmer than England and Germany and New England? It would be easy to overproof in every rising if you’re learning from recipes written in cooler places. Next time, finger-test  your dough way earlier than you think is necessary and believe it when it gets soft.

That doesn’t look terrible for a beginner loaf, at all. There’s just a lot of living things to wrangle. 

momoha's picture
momoha

Thanks for your reply, it is encouraging :-) Indeed, in the summer the home is around 30C to 35C... I got fooled because during the bulk proof I was waiting for large bubbles to appear, but then I realised that somehow with my flour this doesn't seem to happen. Next time I'll look more at if it has doubled I think. With my conditions I don't think I can really refer to any recipe and might be better to get the feel to it. Temperature changes drastically throughout the year also, so that doesn't help... We go from 16-17C in the home in the winter to up to 37C in the summer, and from crazy dry to crazy humid. So I'll need to constantly adapt...

What is the finger test? It is for the proof in the basket phase isn't?  What are the tricks to know when the bulk proof is done?

Thanks!!

clew's picture
clew

I learned to test a proof, every stage, by poking the dough about 1cm deep with a damp finger. If it fills the hole in again more than a little, it has more rise in it. If the dough around the hole sags a little too, it is a little over-risen. I have notes in all my recipes about letting one go a little long for flavor, or keeping a lot of the last rise for oven-spring, or check such a one early if I put in raisins. 

This works for wet doughs but is messier than with dry ones. 

30C is about what I set my oven to, to have a warm place for the rising! 

momoha's picture
momoha

Ah, such a journey! Very intimidating, but so exciting. I’ll start poking my dough and see what it has to tell me then :-) 

clew's picture
clew

just remembered this - someone who bases rising time on what people are wearing in the house that day: 

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/63554/bulk-dress-code

 

Probably you are also dealing with flour chosen for something else, but getting the risings right will help.