The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

A beginner "watching the dough"

tiny_hamburglar's picture
tiny_hamburglar

A beginner "watching the dough"

I'm trying to build my intuition about dough. (I call this using "the force".)

Yesterday, I decided to go by sight/touch to decide when the dough was ready to shape, and when it was ready to bake.

I did not succeed. But I will try again.

I have two regrets listed below, and I wonder if the more seasoned bakers on this forum agree.

My recipe:
76% hydration
10% prefermented flour

400g flour (~50g of it was whole wheat, the rest was bread flour)
293g water
7g salt
90g levain (Fed 1:1:1 from the fridge, was active and floating)

My method:
1) Autolysed flour and water only for about 30 minutes
2) Mixed in levain and salt with pinchy fingers and a bit of vigorous slap and fold
3) Did a series of 4 stretch and folds and let it hang out for a total of 4.5 hours until the dough looked kind of jiggly and puffy. Dough temp was about 78F this whole time.

Regret #1: I think I could have gone longer on the bulk ferment, as I didn't see much in terms of bubbles on the side of the glass bowl. When I dumped it out to shape, I didn't see the stretchy spider-webby looking holes that some people get when the dough is clinging to the side of the container. Is that a good sign?

4) When I shaped, the dough was soft and had some air... but it still felt kind of dense. It felt slumpy but responded to my touch when I shaped it into a boule. Once shaped, it was the kind of dough that you like to pat like a baby bottom. It wanted to spread out after resting.

5) When I put it in the banneton, I pinched the seams together, hoping to keep the tension.

6) I covered it in a plastic bag and put the dough in my oven with the light on for the final proof. I kept checking every half hour or so with the poke test.

7) About 3 hours later, it seemed like the dough grew a bit and became more jiggly. My poke test left an indent that came back very slowly. I put it in the fridge while my oven preheated.

Regret #2: I think at this point I should have let the dough retard in the fridge overnight. I'm not sure why, but maybe that could have helped with extending the proof without losing too much shape. Would the yeast make more bubbles and give my dough more puff in the oven? I'm not sure.

8) I turned out the dough and it was pretty flat. Scored it and it didn't spread too much. (Scoring is jagged because I don't have a lame)

9) Baked in a dutch oven at 475F for 20 minutes lid on. 15 minutes lid off. Very little oven spring.... 

10) And a big tunnel.

I've been getting lots of big tunneling bubbles in my bread when I try to do a same-day bake. (No time in the fridge). Is this because my dough is very under proofed? Why/how does under-proofing create such BIG bubbles anyway?

Or is my starter affecting my bread in a weird way? Am I misshaping my dough?

 

VRini's picture
VRini

And then all of a sudden with more practice and attention to detail to the procedure I was following, they went away.. I don't know. Maybe my starter was immature. Maybe my shaping technique was bad.. Maybe I didn't mix well.

I'm curious what others think.

MTloaf's picture
MTloaf

All the tell tale signs are there. Tunnel under the crust, the flatter profile, jiggly before baking, no ear, little expansion, and from your details too much proofing time. It's okay to BF to a  jiggly stage but the shaped loaf should be stronger when it comes time to bake. Try a shorter proof or don't let the domed loaf in the basket get flat. Scoring looks good and will look better when you get more oven spring from a less proved loaf.

Let us know if this helps

tiny_hamburglar's picture
tiny_hamburglar

Your list of over-proofed qualities is helpful. I'm having trouble identifying under-proofed bread from over-proofed bread because I've gotten some pretty ridiculous tunneling in the past. 

Check these out:

I was experimenting with using lots of leaven in these two loaves (18% preferment and 63% hydration) and got feedback that they look really under proofed. They had better oven spring but giant bubbles on the bottom... Would you say these are under proofed or over proofed? Both times these doughs fermented for about 6 hours and spent the night in the fridge.

So are these under or over proofed? 

MTloaf's picture
MTloaf

Those large holes are like the steam pockets in pita bread. The dense parts are the under fermented dough whereas the over proofed ones had some normal looking crumb at the bottom but the gluten structure collapsed creating a hole under the top crust.

tiny_hamburglar's picture
tiny_hamburglar

That makes sense! In the underproofed loaves, the crumb is dense because the yeast hasn't had time to make more gas, right? But how then did I end up with those giant horrendous tunnels? Where did that gas come from? I'm just curious exactly how that structure happens...

tiny_hamburglar's picture
tiny_hamburglar

There's still one other thing that makes me scratch my amateur head:

How did I swing from under-proofed to over-proofed? I think I'm starting to understand...

The under-proofed loaves and the over-proofed loaf had about the same time to ferment (kinda sorta). About 6-7.5 hours (if you don't count the fridge time).

Under-proofed loaves: 18% preferment + 63% hydration. (also mixed in stand mixer for 8 minutes)
Over-proofed loaf: 10% preferment + 76% hydration. (no stand mixer time).

I assumed that the doughs with more starter would ferment more quickly because they have so much more yeast in them, but I guess this shows me how hydration plays a huge role in fermentation speed!

Am I on the right track? 

And does the time in the stand mixer play a role too? If so, how is it affecting the bread?

Wild yeast, Water, Gluten, and Time all have to dance together to make the perfect loaf of bread.....

This has taught me a valuable lesson: Never switch up so many variables at once! (... and so drastically too).

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

.  The last dense one looks underproofed at first glance but as one zooms in, one sees bubbles everywhere and streaks of dense colapsed dough between the big bubbles pointing to compression of that crumb.  Overproofed?  Im not so sure but the large bubbles have grown too big.  I also get the impression the dough is not developed enough for the amount of water in the dough.

Where do the big bubbles come from?  From the little bubbles popping into one another or air trapped while shaping.  Insufficient degassing is also a cause of big bubbles as they expand during proofing and in the oven. When a group of bubbles break into oneanother during fermentation as gas cell  walls become weak and thin they combine and rise to the surface of the dough leaving channels underneath them where the matrix is weaker.

This draws more gas bubbles to break into the larger bubbles and expand them more.  If they are not reduced and dough not folded or pressed together to collapse these channels, they remain.  The big bubbles then misrepresent the crumb structure as the dough rises and is viewed fron outside not inside.  It looks well risen and ready to bake but without the large bubbles, the dough might have proofed longer or the middle size bubble could have grown more before baking.  The large bubbles will expand and rip the weak walls connecting them and result in a cave.  Then look at the bottom crust and crumb above it. Where exactly did the lower part of the big bubble walls fall?  How condensed is it? Examine the crust color?   

If you are having problems with this, cut the dough in half with a sharp knife when you think youve reached the end of the bulk rise and examine the air bubbles inside the dough. Look between the large bubbles for lots of bubbles of all sizes.  If the large bubbles are surrounded by dense dough it needs more bulk rise.  If the dough is looking well and hold a fair amount of gas bubbles, go ahead, slap the dough back together and give it a rest as you degas large bubbles and shape for a final proof.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S096399691730707X

MTloaf's picture
MTloaf

She is the preeminent sleuth around here. She could probably read your fortune in the crumb of your bread. It is over proofed in the extreme, almost beyond recognition . Sorry for creating the confusion but at least now you know what direction to go. I hope your next loaf is in the ball park. 

tiny_hamburglar's picture
tiny_hamburglar

I'm impressed, Mini Oven. Thanks for examining my bread and for giving me the science on what's happening to these bubbles. I will try cutting my dough in half to examine the bubble structure next time!

So, really, there's no under proofing happening in the 3rd loaf at all, huh? No wonder I am confused.... people are saying that the loaf is under poofed but it is a super "gassy" recipe with much more starter. Something isn't quite adding up for me... as a beginner, this is a firehose of information for me to process! 

My friend, Jack, who taught me the method, gets beautiful loaves like these:

Here are my two again, with a little more info on each.

Loaf A


Loaf B



The recipe is the same for all three loaves:
320g flour
200g water
140g starter
7g salt

Long autolyse, stand mixer for 8 minutes, stretch and folds during bulk ferment, 8-24 hours in fridge, baked at 475F in dutch oven for 20 minutes lid on, 10-15 minutes lid off.

Differences:
Jack's Loaf: Autolyse for 4 hours, 3.5 hour BF at room temperature, shape, fridge for about 19 hours.
Loaf A: Autolyse 3 hours, 5 hour BF at room temperature, shape, fridge for 14 hours.
Loaf B: Autolyse 4 hours, 7 hour BF a little warmer (dough temp got to 80F), shape, fridge for 16 hours.

Also, Jack has a stronger hand and his stretch and folds are unusual and vigorous, he's basically shaping each time. His shaping is swift and confident. I am a timid beginner. (Also, Jack's house is probably colder than mine because my husband likes to constantly feel like he's in a sauna. I exaggerate...)

Going off of Mini Oven's info on bubbles, perhaps loaf B was over-proofed because of my dough temperature and longer BF time. Combined with my gentle hand and hesitant shaping, there could have been lots of big bubbles and not enough degassing or gluten structure?

Any other guesses as to what happened?

Out of all my loaves, Loaf A was the tastiest, had the best texture, and I finished eating the whole thing. A huge success because I never finish eating something if I'm not totally in love with it. It had the strongest oven spring compared to all my other loaves too.

SassyPants's picture
SassyPants

If your loaves were already at their perfect proof and then you put them in your refrigerator for the oven to heat, they kept right on rising in the fridge. It takes a while for the dough to cool down enough to actually stop the proof. And the warmer your dough (ie. in a more than room temperature oven) the longer it takes to cool down.

Preheat your oven a good hour before you plan to actually use it. You don't want just the circulating air to be hot- you want the actual oven walls and your stone to be as closed to Dante's inferno as you can get them.

I've had some issues with this myself...

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Definitely over proofed.  Good advice above. If you keep folding every 20 min during bulk fermentation the dough will eventually get to the point where it resists folding (don't stretch, just fold).  If you get to that point you have over-developed the dough and it has insufficient remaining extensibility to shape without tearing.  So once you know how long (time) it takes to get to the totally developed dough (i.e., too many folds), stop folding an hour before but let it continue to bulk ferment.  This leaves enough extensibility to allow you to shape, then proof, without much danger of it going flat on you.  But bake when it is ready, which for me always is before the classic press to test leaves an indentation.  When it bakes you want it to expand to totally stretch the gluten to its limit without tearing or collapsing. That is perfect.  And we all have problems getting there consistently.

tiny_hamburglar's picture
tiny_hamburglar

Since I over-proofed last time, I proofed it for less this time around.

My dough was very warm today, it hit 84F (oops), so I did a 3-hour bulk ferment. I saw bubbles on the surface of my dough, as well as bubbles on the side of the container. It looks to me like the top of my dough was domed before I tipped it out and shaped it. Do you agree?

When I shaped, the dough felt bouncy but still wanted to spread out a bit though not as much as last time. Have I STILL managed to overproof this dough? I'll have to wait and see.

I've decided to retard the dough in the fridge this time around.

Now my question is.... how long can it stay in the fridge? Up to 24 hours?

MTloaf's picture
MTloaf

Bouncy is a good sign. In my refrigerator the sweet spot is 12 to 15 hours.  Look forward to seeing your bake

tiny_hamburglar's picture
tiny_hamburglar

I'm getting closer, but I think I've over-proofed again! Wouldn't you agree, MTloaf? Looks like I've got a smaller flying crust bubble this time, and the loaf is flat and dense, no ear, etc.. When shaping it wanted to spread out.

This loaf had 3 hours of BF, was shaped, and then kept in the fridge for about 16 hours.

For my next loaf, I'm thinking I've got to cut down my BF time because I've been consistently over proofing and it's warm in my house. I should maybe cut down the hydration too, to make the dough easier to work with and to read if it's proofed properly. These soft jiggly wet doughs are difficult.

Should I just cut one variable instead of time AND hydration?

Or..... I could go back and try Jack's method again, manhandle the big bubbles out, cut the BF time, and see what happens! I did get pretty close with Loaf A.....

The quest for the perfect loaf continues...... sigh!

MTloaf's picture
MTloaf

The blisters on the crust are from the time spent in the refrigerator.  The shaped loaf looked good. If your BF needs to be less than three hours then you should use less starter in your recipe to allow more time for gluten and flavor to develop. I would also check the temperature of your refrigerator. If it is above 40 F degrees the fermentation will continue. You should shorten the 16 hours proofing to 10 or 12. I have found that too high of a percentage of starter will over proof in the fridge if left too long.

tiny_hamburglar's picture
tiny_hamburglar

These are all great tips. I'll factor these into my next loaf. I'm hopeful...

I'm guessing my friend Jack was able to get away with SO much starter and a 3 hour BF time because he used the stand mixer and lots of manhandling to get the gluten going... That's my hypothesis anyway. 

loaflove's picture
loaflove

Did you put the dough in the fridge right away after shaping, or did you let it sit out for an hour or 2? 

tiny_hamburglar's picture
tiny_hamburglar

Straight to the fridge this time, because I was afraid of over-proofing! 

VRini's picture
VRini

Like I said before, I had the same problem and it went away after the first few bakes. Your formula looks ok. You're probably using good flour.

My intuition is that you're not mixing as well as needed.

All I can relate is that I generally follow Maurizio Leo's best sourdough recipe. Longer autolyse than you use, about 1.5 hours. When it comes time to mixing in the levain, I learned from Trevor Wilson who spreads the levain over the dough in a bowl and then creates "layers" by stretching out the dough and folding over to the opposite side at 8 or more points around the bowl. Then I fold and fold working around the bowl into the center until the dough starts to tighten a bit. Do look at his videos at breadwerx.com. I also add a little water like 25g on top of the levain at this stage as per Maurizio's procedure. Then a half hour later add the salt, 25 gm more water and fold it in.

The ML recipe also calls for 6 stretch and folds at the beginning of the BF.. 3 spaced 15min apart and 3 spaced 30 min apart for a total 4 hour BF.

Then there's the issue of shaping, bench rest and proofing in the fridge. You look ok there.

This is the oven spring from this morning's bake:

 Spring

And here is the end result:

End Result

As you can see, I overbaked just a bit. Got distracted. Ooops. Happy baking.

tiny_hamburglar's picture
tiny_hamburglar

Thanks VRini. I agree with you, my mixing technique is probably too hesitant. I will try this folding technique with my next loaf and see how the crumb structure turns out! :)

Despite being a little overbaked your loaves look very happy and round. One day I hope to have loaves like yours.

By the way, I noticed you've got the space needle in your little profile pic. I'm in Seattle too!

 

VRini's picture
VRini

Happy baking neighbor!

loaflove's picture
loaflove

Well Tiny hamburglar, do you have pic of your last loaf?

tiny_hamburglar's picture
tiny_hamburglar

Yes! Scroll up a bit! It was over proofed again, but I'm getting closer. :)

loaflove's picture
loaflove

you mean the oval one with the S scoring?

you score so beautifully.  my scoring always go awry. knife just not sharp enough. and i'm not confident

tiny_hamburglar's picture
tiny_hamburglar

The one with the S scoring is my friend Jack. He's been working on his bread for about a year now and has found a method that works great for him. This was my last loaf which BF for 3 hours very warm and then went into the fridge for about 16 hours before baking. I over proofed again.

loaflove's picture
loaflove

Sorry i haven't ready your history, but how old is your starter?  Did you make it yourself?

tiny_hamburglar's picture
tiny_hamburglar

I did not make my own starter, I got it from a friend. It seems to be very active and happy!

loaflove's picture
loaflove

Being a beginner myself, i'm finding your recipe a little complicated.  I'm using Emilie Raffa's everyday sourdough recipe 70% hydration.  just mix it all together and autolyse  then bulk ferment, 4 sets of S and F's , shape , proof and bake.  I'm happy with my results lately, even though i still have problems judging dough ripeness and proofness.  Would you be willing to try that recipe? this is the crumb from my last loaf.  I'm wondering if i can improve upon that or if it's already good. it looks a bit wet only because i cut it too soon but it tastes great.  and no gummy dense spots like i used to get. maybe because my starter is getting stronger.
tiny_hamburglar's picture
tiny_hamburglar

That looks great, Loaflove.

Maybe it sounds like my recipes are complicated because I'm getting into all the nitty-gritty details. I tend to do that because I just want to understand why/how things work. (And I've got two very different recipes in this long thread!).

But honestly, the process of all my loaves are similar to yours! Mix stuff together, do some sets of s&f, let time pass, shape, proof, and bake. 

I looked up Emilie Raffa's Everyday Sourdough. Is this the one with oil in the recipe?

I found an old thread for Susan's Simple Sourdough (9/09) and fell in love with the tiny boule and the simplicity of her instructions. I'm going to try that next. :)

loaflove's picture
loaflove

I know what you mean by wanting to understand how things work. Even though i majored in biology i had to really think about how yeast reproduce and tell myself that activity=reproduction.  And the concentration of yeast in the starter is what's important. I'm gonna look into the Susan recipe.  Here's a link for the Emilie Raffa recipe.  She also has a blog called the Clever Carrot with other recipes, some from her book. But this recipe of hers, i found on another website.https://vanillaandbean.com/emilies-everyday-sourdough/ Emilie also has a 75% hydration recipe in her book that might be on the internet somewhere.  It sounds really warm where you are.  

I just read your recipe again and i noticed you used a stand mixer  first.  Was that just to mix the ingredients together at the beginning? Could it be that the dough was overworked? Prob not if you were just doing it to bring the ingredients together.  I just peeked at susan's recipe and it calls for a stiff starter.  So  I don't think i can make that one

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

just add more flour to your starter until it is a dough, allow it to ferment (it will take a while but with each refreshment get stronger). and refresh again a few times.  When it peaks it expands,  looses its shape and turns to bubbly soft inside.  ...and smells great!

loaflove's picture
loaflove

Hi Mini Oven.  Thanks for the tip.  Can i have some numbers please?  Like 1:2:1? or even stiffer than that? 

Off topic here but, why is it when i make sourdough bagels vs sourdough bread , the lower hydration dough of the bagels seem to make the dough more forgiving.  For example, i use the same bowl to bulk ferment my bagels every time so i know (or so i thought i knew) when BF is complete by looking at how much its grown ( and there are no bubbles like there are in a SD bread recipe). I always thought i had reached ripeness because my bagels turn out great.  Well, this morning i slept in and i guess BF went on longer than usual and low and behold.(see pic below)  I was wondering if it was over fermented but i shaped and baked my bagels and i haven't cut into one yet but they don't seem any different than my usual ones.  so either all that time i had been underfermenting and they turn out great, or this time i've over fermented and they still turned out great (just cut into one and it looks great). What's up with that? It's almost behaving like commercial yeast which I totally wouldn't mind, and why can't sourdough bread be less finicky.  Sorry tiny h.  Don't mean to hijack your post but while we've got mini oven on board...😬

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

without any water at first.  The formula is on Susan's post I believe for feeding the starter. It speeds up with each consecutive feeding.  Dont put it in the refrigerator while transitioning.  Wait until after you use it into a bread and feed it, let it rise a little and then into the fridge.  I prefer firm starters in summer, they are powerful starters.

Oh, almost forgot.  Yes lower hydration dough ferment slower and therefor give you a larger working window to play and judge your dough.  Frankly, I cant understand why everyone wants such wet doughs to play with. So much frustration!  A firmer sourdough requires less folding because it isnt loosing its shape every hour. And if you wait long enough, also get big bubbles. Just aim for a dough that feels slightly firmer than a yeasted dough that you like to work with.  Now that youve seen what your bagel dough can do.... why not apply to a loaf?  Might shape a bit earlier and then just let it rise and rise and bake.  So many possibilities!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

by the way.  Dont you just want to reach into the picture and touch the dough?  Look at those bubbles!  It's practically ready to bake.  Carefully cut off a chunk and slip onto parchment without deflating it and into the oven! 

loaflove's picture
loaflove

Thanks for your input Mini.  That bagel recipe is 50% hydration. It's more fun working with lower hydration doughs for me. i suppose people are aiming for an open crumb and that's why they want higher hydration recipes. but i read somewhere that you can achieve an open crumb with a lower hydration dough. But i haven't looked into how to do that.

Another thing i learned is, a watched dough never rises.  Kinda like how a watched pot never boils. Get it ? Haha

loaflove's picture
loaflove

I just remembered that this sourdough bagel recipe has 24g of sugar in it.  Whereas most loaf recipes don't have sugar.  Since yeast like to eat sugar, does it have a big effect on fermentation.  Is that why there's so much growth?  

DeeBaker's picture
DeeBaker

If that has the sourdough taste, I'm all in and no more high hydration doughs for me. I didn't know I had a choice, because I first stumbled upon TPL "Beginner Sourdough"

loaflove's picture
loaflove

I think you can take any recipe and just add less water 

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

The counterexample is ciabatta. 

Less water does not a ciabatta make.

loaflove's picture
loaflove

Oh haha.  I meant any sourdough bread loaf type recipe. 

tiny_hamburglar's picture
tiny_hamburglar

Haha, oops. I just made a stiff starter, let it rise over a few hours, and mixed it into some dough to make bread today. (I used 15g starter: 15g water: 25g flour.)

We'll see what happens with this loaf. My guess is it won't have enough yeast activity? 

When I incorporated it into my mix the starter was very young. Not at peak and definitely didn't lose shape yet, but it was bubbly inside. 

I'll make a new stiff starter and give it 2 feeds before I try again. :)

 

 

loaflove's picture
loaflove

can't wait to see that loaf

loaflove's picture
loaflove

it's the May 24 loaf?

 

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

I just tuned in, so it took me a while to catch up.  A 3 hr BF for a dough with 20% pre-fermented flour seems long to me, then add the cool down time when it goes into retard and that makes it worse.  At 20% pff I would expect a BF to be no more than 90-120 min and maybe shorter depending on dough temperature and salt.  The shaped loaf looks very nearly ready for the oven and you retarded it for a very long time after the photo.

Also, ditch the long autolyse.  20 min is enough to get the amylase enzyme activity ahead of the yeast's demand for sugar (unless your wheat flour has no added malted barley flour or alpha amylase).

tiny_hamburglar's picture
tiny_hamburglar

Yeah, the 20% pff is ridiculous isn't it! I was just trying my friend's method and it definitely didn't work for me, as you can see. 

I'm ditching the autolyse for now. I'm also ditching all this wet dough that everyone loves working with!

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Try decreasing it by 2% hydration for each iteration until you find a point where you can handle it.

When I make ciabatta I work between 75% and 80% depending on the flour and what I am trying to do.

For baguettes, I cannot get a nice ear at a hydration above 69% so that is where I target a batch for mini batards or baguettes.

For bagels, I generally work at around 55% unless I will be retarding and shaping cold (then maybe 58-60%).

Find what works for you.  Just a different flour can move you 3% or more (think AP to hi gluten flour).

tiny_hamburglar's picture
tiny_hamburglar

Interesting. I've failed again in a very similar way. I'm still getting large tunneling holes. This time I followed Susan's Simple Sourdough Recipe. 

Disclaimer, my stiff starter was probably not ready yet. As mini oven told me I need to build it over 3 feedings and I only gave it one.

BF time was about 4 hours in the mid 70s
I only proofed it in the fridge for about 3 hours. 

Here's what it looked like after shaping:

Here's what it looked like straight out of the fridge (it got stuck to the towel a bit):

Fresh out of the oven I felt encouraged by its spring:

2 hours later I cut into the loaf and got this hollowed-out brain look:

 

How did this happen again? Perhaps it has nothing to do with proofing and it's all because of my shaping technique??

SeasideJess's picture
SeasideJess

I would rather see a picture of the side of the clear bulk-proof bowl than the shaped dough...the crumb looks maybe underprooved to me but I'm no expert at reading the crumb. What I use to see if my dough is proofed is the view of the side of the dough. 

How did the dough look at 4 hours?  Did it rise to double as called for in the recipe? 

If so, this may indeed be a shaping issue. Is the crumb gummy and tight, or is it nice other than the large mouse holes? If it's nice, you probably have a shaping issue. 

tiny_hamburglar's picture
tiny_hamburglar

Hm, ok! Should it be really similar to the bubbles I get when I feed my starter?

I'll watch the bubbles on the side of a jar in my next batch of dough.

In my last loaf, my dough did not rise to double. I snipped the dough with scissors before shaping to check for bubble structure and honestly didn't see much, maybe some pin holes of bubbles. The crumb around the giant holes seems pretty tight.

I'm trying Susan's 63% hydration recipe today. It's a small amount of dough, so I've just transferred it in a plastic container to watch for bubbles. It's been in this container for about 1.5 hours. I can't tell if the bubbles are from fermentation or if the bubbles are simply from the dough being moved into the container. In total, the dough has been fermenting for about 5 hours, I did 1 set of stretch and fold at 3 hours. The dough temperature is about 76F.

It's 10pm now. I wish I could check it through the night to see what happens! If I leave it on the counter overnight, I'm sure it'll be over-proofed by morning.... right?

Perhaps I should retard the dough in the fridge, and then continue fermenting tomorrow and watch for more bubbles before shaping?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

hard on the counter to deflate it, then get it out and shape it.  Be sure to degas thoroughly before shaping popping any bubbles bigger than your fingernail.  Chill overnight and bake in the morning when it looks like it has risen enough.  

Yes it is an awkward time to observe the dough.  How much has it risen from its original volume?

If only about a third, then you can get away with chilling it now and shaping in the morning.  

If it has doubled in volume, line the space above the dough with a very lightly oiled on outside plastic sack and add a tray of ice cubes and a cup of water to the bag, press the air out and tie it up well.  A cold compress to cool the dough down fast.  tuck everything into the fridge and shape in the morning.  Or shape now after cooling down the dough and give it a cool final proof.

tiny_hamburglar's picture
tiny_hamburglar

Ok, I'll follow your advice! 

I can't say if it's risen much from the original volume. My instinct says no.... (but my instinct is not reliable!) the texture of the dough is bouncier though.

I'll degas (I always think of the painter Degas when I see that word) and shape now and chill overnight. Tomorrow I'll take it out and watch to see that it rises more before putting it in the oven. Will this take an hour or so? I'm guessing it has to get back to room temp and then some...

dbazuin's picture
dbazuin

How much preferment and salt did you add?

Salt also slows done the fermentation. 76° is bit on the cool side for a sourdough bulk rise I think thats i s part the reason for the slow rise. 
But it can speed up very quickly once the yeast has multiplied enough. 

 

tiny_hamburglar's picture
tiny_hamburglar

I followed this recipe, but my starter was far from ready.

SeasideJess's picture
SeasideJess

So in my experience, the bubbles on the side of the container should be markedly different after fermentation. In other words, if you put your dough in the container and look at it, and see some bubbles, and then 2 hours later the bubbles look pretty much the same, that dough is not fermented. Fermentation bubbles are obvious and different from the air bubbles in the dough that were there to start. I give my doughs bottom heat so I can see the many many tiny bubbles building up, starting at the bottom and moving up the sides of the container. 

tiny_hamburglar's picture
tiny_hamburglar

Hmm. Ok, I'll watch for that next time.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I said it takes three days.  Big difference.  The starter needs time to adjust to the heavy load of flour, low hydration to increase the population.  Its sort of like putting lead boots on all the participants of an orgy.  First the heavy boots slow everyone down until they figure out how to use the extra weight to their advantage.   :)

Patience. The first feeding may take longer than you expect, the second as well.  The starter will speed up  increasing yeast population with each feeding. You're growing a heavily concentrated yeast starter and it takes time.

While we're at it, the reverse is not true; that is; converting a firm starter to a wetter one (like 100%) takes just enough time to add the extra water.  No waiting.  

tiny_hamburglar's picture
tiny_hamburglar

Ok, well now I want to know how to use lead boots to my advantage in an orgy??

Thanks for the hilarious metaphor. I'll keep feeding the starter for days and get the orgy going at full blast. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

some crazy fad or event.  Lol!  Does paint an x-rated picture doesn't it?  

Think microbes!  Microbes in teeny tiny lead boots. 

tiny_hamburglar's picture
tiny_hamburglar

These clumsy microbes in teeny tiny lead boots are being put to work in (yet another) loaf after just 3 feedings (I mixed it up before I realized that you said 3 days!). They're definitely not strong enough yet, but I might as well see what happens if I let them go to town on this batch of dough. Any guesses as to how it will fail this time? Haha.

I took 50g of stiff (but not strong) starter and really squelched it into 204g water, I figured this would more evenly distribute it into the dough.

Then I followed Susan's ratio: 300g flour, 6g salt. Gave it a rest and a quick knead and now it's sitting in a deli container. I've marked the line to see where it ends up in the morning.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

just takes longer.  Add a pinch of yeast to speed it up if desired.  

Ah! ...so the other container was just starting to bulk.  Got it.  Had some difficulty judging the size.  See it is smaller than my perception.  Play with the other one after a good nights sleep.  So one tray of ice is a bit much!  Probably dont need it but save the info with the ice for emergencies. Kids, telephones, power outages, and the like.

tiny_hamburglar's picture
tiny_hamburglar

I've got two different doughs to play with today!

1) Susan's Stiff Starter Sourdough. (Weak starter)
I mixed it up at midnight last night and left it on the counter. It grew only a little bit over 9 hours. The dough temp is 74F. I'm putting it in the oven with the light on to see how long it will take to grow up more. I guess my aim is to get another inch of growth, and then I'll try shaping and baking.... unless anyone has better advice!

2) Susan's 63% hydration (with 100% hydrated starter).
This one BF'd for a total of 6 hours total yesterday. Last night, I de-gassed and shaped it (honestly didn't know what I was doing, I kinda flattened the dough out and then shaped it into a ball and tried to make a tight skin on top). It slept in the fridge for 9 hours. Now it's warming back up in the oven with the light on. I'd like to see if it rises before I try to bake it... so I'm guessing this will take a couple of hours.


Susan's recipes are simple and straight forward. They're also a smaller amount of flour (300g) than most recipes (500g), so I feel much less wasteful while experimenting. :)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

the dough gives the impression it reached the end of the bulk rise for sure and is falling.  That being a poke test.  What do you think about a reshape?  or slice it open and see whats inside.  Then reshape.

tiny_hamburglar's picture
tiny_hamburglar

Ok so here are my two doughs now. It's Noon-ish.

1) The Stiff Starter dough (out on the counter all night) grew more in the oven with the light on! It smells more sour. When I carefully got it out of the container, I could tell it was soft and airier. Kind of webby looking with the bubbles. So I'm feeling hopeful that it's proofed correctly... It has been pre-shaped is resting on my cutting board. I popped some bigger looking bubbles.

Does anyone have a good link to a shaping video? I'm worried I'm going to add giant holes to it somehow.


2) The dough that came out of the fridge has had 3 hours to warm up and I was hoping it would rise a little more. I wish I saw your comment earlier, Mini Oven! If it looked like it was falling when I took it out of the fridge, I've most likely over-proofed this one. The internal temp is about 70F. I sliced it open to see what's inside... the dough has some bubbles, but not much. Not sure what I'm looking for here. The skin is rather dry so I really don't know how to go about re-shaping it. Any tips? I think I'll just close the cut, score it, and bake it. 

I'm going to bake the refrigerated dough first. I will keep you all posted. If both these loaves have major tunnels inside I might rip my hair out. lol.

tiny_hamburglar's picture
tiny_hamburglar

Here are the two loaves side by side. I was happy to see the left loaf had oven spring! I credit that to watching the dough in the deli container (Thanks, Seaside Jess). The crumb is softer, bouncier, and tastes great! FINALLY. Once I get my stiff starter going at full blast, I hope to get an even better rise. 

Is the right loaf over proofed? My guess is yes. The crumb is dense and tight.

Is the left loaf properly proofed?

Either way, I'm still getting those big tunnels!!

 

1) The stiff starter loaf on the left (75% hydration) had a 12 hr BF with no stretch and folds whatsoever. After BF it was taken out of the container, shaped, then went into the oven. The dough seemed to respond to the poke test the way it should. I did not de-gas it.

2) The 63% hydration loaf on the right had a 6 hour BF at room temp, with 2 stretch and folds. I punched it down A LOT and shaped it by spinning it on my countertop (no flour) and creating tension on the skin. Then I put it in the fridge for 9 hours, then let it warm up for another 3 hours before baking.

Please send some links to shaping videos my way.... I don't understand how I'm trapping so much air.

Here's a video of me shaping today's loaf.

VRini's picture
VRini

And easier.. I'm seeing quite a lot of fussing with one part of the dough. Other parts not getting attention. Your dough looks good. It's gassy.

See this wiseacre:

https://youtu.be/eod5cUxAHRM?t=474

However I think Trevor Wilson's technique is even easier:

https://youtu.be/QHiQ5X3NKEI?t=242

All that being said I rarely shape a round these days. All batards and I've fallen for this guy's shaping:

https://youtu.be/C8PUlZrngZQ?t=1826

All of those video clips start after the pre-shape step.

Just within the last couple of days I looked at one of Kristen Dennis' videos (Full Proof Baking) that I left a comment on a long time ago on youtube. I had commented that the crumb on my batard had come out  pretty close to what she did (patting on myself on the back) BUT the crumb on my round had those dreaded holes. Two loaves from the same dough, different crumb results. I believe the difference was the shaping.

tiny_hamburglar's picture
tiny_hamburglar

Thank you for these three links, VRini!

Also thanks for watching my long, boring, fussy shaping video. Haha. Which parts of the dough did I not pay attention to?

When comparing to the videos you sent me, it's clear I haven't been doing the "skin tightening" part where you push the dough to get some friction from the work surface. I gotta do that! I also need to sufficiently de-gas after the first ferment to organize the "dough matrix" as Mini-Oven suggested. I'm going to try to do a more vigorous stretch and fold in the middle of my BF time.

I'm comforted that you used to have the same big bubble problem that I currently have. I'm hopeful that I'll get past it one day soon. 

Curious why you had more luck with the batard shape compared to the boule... any ideas? 

VRini's picture
VRini

I guess I thought you were fussing with the part of the dough closest to you while you were stitching but on second look that appears ok. Maybe your dough mass was a bit too small to stitch as you did. And it's funny that I've only seen that stitching done for batards. And lo and behold you did roll up the dough as though you were making a batard but the dough mass just seemed a bit small.

In the Josh Weismann video notice he doesn't stitch. He just make four folds just as you did, flips the dough over and then does the turning and pulling, turning and pulling.

Wow we've all covered the strength of your starter, check, your mixing, check and now your shaping, check..  Your gluten development looks ok... Maybe that could be a little better so your dough isn't as sticky.

How about temperature? I see you measuring it. Good. I believe you said your kitchen is warm. Your friend Jack's kitchen is cool and my kitchen is cool. Perhaps the fermentation is getting out of hand during the pre-shape and rest in your warm kitchen? One thing I've relied on to regulate fermentation is a Brod and Taylor proof box. I set it a few degrees higher than target temp for the autolyse and I can crank up the temperature in the box during the bulk ferment to compensate for a cold house and not even bother with measuring the temp of anything. I just feel the dough as I go through the stretch and folds and adjust the temperature of the box accordingly. I crank it up as high as 98 degrees to get the dough modestly warm to the touch, adjust downwards as needed thoughout the BF and "watch the dough" to get it to that rising, bubbling, jiggly domed look just like you  see in the pictures by the end of the BF.

Keep in mind though I'm using these high hydration recipes. Trevor Wilson seems to be of the opinion these wet formulas are a bit of crutch that bakers use to achieve eye-popping oven spring. Don't feel compelled to go back there until you've mastered where you are at the moment. On my part, I'm going to try some of these beginners recipes and review the hydration numbers of recipes I've used in the past.

One last thought: the timing of things you do after the bulk ferment seems different than what I'm used to. I pre-shape and rest for 30 minutes; final shape, place in form, cover and counter rest takes 30 more minutes before the cold proof which is 15-16 hours for a mostly white flour sourdough and 10-12 hours for a 50 percent whole grain sd. But again - high hydration. Good Luck. Happy baking.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Degassing and shaping are important.  It doesnt help to have a slow yeast but that will improve.  You need to figure out when to switch from bulk rise to final rise.  If the final rise is long, these bursting bubbles inside the dough get together and make big ones.  Look again at the bubble science paper earlier.  Lots of small bubbles first form and as the dough's ability to hold them in place weakens, they pop together.  There are two forces you're dealing with, the dough breaking down with time vs trapping gas for maximum rise.  You are good at the trapping gas part.  You need to find out when to final shape the dough or when the bulking has ended.   When the dough is degassed or big bubbles are popped they colapse on themselves and stick together this alone will help the dough trap more gas.  

Think back to your starter feeding.  Starter culture is fed and expands when there are enough yeast to populate and make gas.  Gas pushes up the starter (provided it is thick enough) domes and reaches a peak.  A peak of entrapment, but then the dough can no longer hold the gasses and gas leaks it into the room.  The starter colapses and the dough falls against itself but if you continue to watch it without disturbing it, it can rise again, and rise again. All depending on the type of flour and how fast its trapping abilities wear down until availabe food is gone.  Fancy that!  That's shows the importance of letting most of the gas go at the right time as gasses bubbles deminish as time go on.  

That, is your mission, should you decide to accept it, tiny ham., is to squish out the big bubbles after the small bubbles have formed and start colapsing into each other making big ones, reorganize the dough matrix (folding, light knead, and shaping) If the dough appears over stretched, reshape.  With sourdough the bacteria activity is more agressive than in a yeasted dough and this self distruction is your friend up to a certain degree of fermentation, then it turns into a double agent and becomes your enemy.  

This post will self destruct in 5 seconds..... lol

got a side job for you.... start early....give yourself plenty of time and set a timer. Make notes. date, temps, recipe, etc anything you can think of.  I add location as I travel a lot. Type of flour.  You can always erase notes but you cant  get details once time goes by.  

Make a small sourdough loaf like Susan's when you are done mixing it all up and ready to bulk.  Take more notes on how it feels.  Use both hands either with flour, water ot lightly oiled lay both hands on the dough.  Wiggle your fingers and search for soft or firm spots.  Take in the aroma of the dough. Taste a little bit and spit it out. Decribe.  Search for sour notes, any yeasty smells, discribe difference to wet flour to compare.  (If needed mix up a little flour and water and taste,smell)  Add in texture mouth feel.  Then spit it out.  

After an hour and every hour of bulk fermentation, feel the dough again with both hands firmly on the dough, describe and note any changes, cut with a knife to look at the inside, photo, press back together and continue the bulking.  

The first time you cut the dough,  pinch off a pingpong ball size of dough and place into a tall narrow glass about the width of that dough ball. (Making a rising gauge.) flatten it out in the bottom and keep it near your dough to keep the same temperature.  Mark it, mark what it would be at "double."   Once gauge gets to double or when you shape the larger dough, collapse the gauge dough similar to the main dough and put it back into the gauge.  Marke the new height and about 3/4 to "double."  (Dont erase the previous marks for comparison.  If you mark on a piece of tape, you can remove it and stick it into your notes.  Be sure to mark the inside bottom of the glass.)

   Check the dough every hour cutting into it, photo and press back together, if you fold the dough, after cutting this is a good time to do it.  Leave the rise gauge alone so that you can see when the dough reaches double.

Time to push that learning curvr!  :)

 

tiny_hamburglar's picture
tiny_hamburglar

I'm inspired! Thank you, Mini Oven.

Thinking about yeast and dough structure in more conceptual ways is so helpful, rather than trying to figure out percentages, following recipes, and rigid schedules.

I've been feeding my stiff starter (which I have named Yeast Orgy) and found that it filled its jar this morning nearly 4x its size. I stirred it down to de-gas it, and within an hour or so, it's back up to the top! How fascinating.... So that's basically what should be happening with my bread dough in the bulk ferment, shaping, and the final proof?

It might not surprise you that I have already been keeping a bread journal for the last 13 loaves I've made. My notes were focused on timing, temperature, percentages and observations of the final loaf. I love the idea of using my senses instead of math. I am much more of a visual/tactile person anyway. (I went to art school and math is not my forte).

I will observe with my hands and my nose and my eyes. I never thought to taste the raw dough and compare it to flour/water. I'll give that a try too. The ping pong ball dough gauge will be so helpful! I'm excited to use it. 

(Btw. The bubble science paper you sent me is, well, very scientific, and honestly a bit over my head. But also I don't think I can access more than the Abstract.)

This thread is getting SO long. If anyone has read through this whole thing, I am totally embarrassed and impressed at the same time. 

 

loaflove's picture
loaflove

Just curious what you do with all the bread you’re not happy with.  Do you eat it or make bread crumbs , croutons? 

tiny_hamburglar's picture
tiny_hamburglar

I mostly eat it while sadly muttering to myself that I want to make better bread. Haha.

I compost most of it, feed it to birds, or fry it up to make it more edible.

loaflove's picture
loaflove

Awww you'll nail it soon! I can feel it.  You know you score beautifully right?  Maybe we can set a record for longest thread ever.  lol