The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

FSWY overnight brown repeated disasters

Marble's picture
Marble

FSWY overnight brown repeated disasters

Hi all,

I have been reading this site for weeks and have really appreciated everyone’s wisdom. I’m sorry to ask about a topic that appears to have been done to death but I am at my wits end with this recipe. I have made it eight times and have gotten it to work exactly once. Today’s loaf is going straight into the compost. 

I am new to sourdough but not bread. My starter is active and reliably doubles or more in 7-8h at 23C when fed 1:1:1. The Levain build for this bread is usually ready in 6h especially in my summer kitchen at 23-25C. My problem is the bulk fermentation. My first 5 loaves I assume were all overproofed as I followed Forkish’s timing. The dough was always very sticky and difficult to work with. After reading comments on this site I made the sixth with a four hour BF at 25C and then overnight in the fridge. The loaf had the classic signs of not a long enough fermentation. The seventh I let BF for 9h at 25C and woke up in the middle of the night to shape. It felt overfermented but after a 6h proof in the fridge it rose beautifully and the crumb was perfect. The only reason for the schedule was because I was making it for someone else. This last dough got 5h BF based on the tables that someone else had posted on this site and that it looked like BF was done with bubbles visible and it was jiggly. Dough was soft and sticky again. Proofed 14h in fridge but what I got was a flat loaf with no rise and dense inedible crumb. I have no idea what to do next. 

I have made the Vermont sourdough recipe with great results (increased hydration to 80% with no handling issues) but this recipe even when poorly done tastes so much better. Where am I going wrong? I have read and watched dozens of videos and posts about how to know BF in complete but I clearly cannot figure it out. 

thanks for reading, sorry it’s so long. I’m in tears and I have wasted yet another weekend on this

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

It might be your flour or water.

Let us know what city/country you are in and the exact brands and types of flour you are using.

Someone might be aware of tips or tricks needed for your specific ingredients or water.

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What is your baking arrangement?  Are you using a dutch oven, and preheating it?

Marble's picture
Marble

Thanks for the quick reply. My AP flour is unbleached from a bulk food store (I know...but there was no other flour to be found at the time) which is 12% protein. The WW flour is 13.4% protein from a local mill.  The water is municipal supply in Ottawa, Canada. I left it out in an open bottle overnight before using.  I have been using the same water and flours for the past several loaves including the Vermont sourdough and the magic one loaf that worked. 

I didn’t mention above that I mixed via the Rubaud method, had very good gluten formation, and did 4 stretch and folds, each one done after the dough slackened in the bowl. 

Marble's picture
Marble

I’m using a 4qt DO preheated for an hour at 475F

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Without pictures, it's hard to guess what's going on. But from your verbal description, it sounds like reducing the hydration percent a bit might move things in the right direction.

When you buy flour from a bulk bin, not a package (is that what you meant by "bulk store"?), it might have excess absorbed moisture, or dried out and less moisture.  So hydration adjustments are common.

Canadian white flour is often very different than the US white flour that Forkish uses.  I'm not sure what all adjustments need to be made.

Was there a name on this bulk flour?   We have a bunch of Canadians here who might know it.

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Also, if your whole wheat flour from the mill is very fresh, then it is more active (ferments faster) than the "normal" whole wheat from the shelf of a supermarket that has aged.  And.... that would mean things like shorter ferment/proof times, and maybe less hydration, and maybe less levain as a percentage of flour.

The good loaf, #5, with the 9 hr ferment (as opposed to 12), and 6 hour cold proof, is a hint that your dough is fermenting too fast, possibly due to the freshness of the WW flour.

If you need to stick to a schedule of 12 hr room temp bulk ferment, and 4 hour proof, and if the fresh WW is the "culprit", then reducing the amount of levain (and increasing the final flour and water by equivalent amounts) is one way to slow down the fermentation.

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If you're sure the dough is over-femented/over-proofed, there are three ways to compensate: reduce the amount of  levain used,  reduce the temp of the bulk-ferment and/or proof, reduce the time of the bulk-ferment and/or proof.

I use 90% home-milled (ie, fresh) whole-wheat flour. And it "only" took me about, maybe, 15 loaves to find the "sweet spot" combination of levain %, bulk ferment time, and final proof time.

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Rubaud mixing can be  a problem with some of  Forkish's formulas.  

Assuming you're doing the formula on page 174...

Step 1b, "... mix by hand just until incorporated."  No Rubaud there.

Step 2, mixing the final dough.  "Use the pincer method (see page 67) alternating with folding the dough..." 

I'm not saying this is an exact solution in your case. But it is a possibility, or maybe a part solution.  

(This actually was the solution for someone else, but on a different formula.)

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Are your ingredients and proportions as written in the book?  Any add-ins, substitutions, or changes?

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Lastly, even a bad loaf of bread can sometimes be sliced, toasted, and made into croutons.  And maybe fed to the birds if nothing else.

 

Marble's picture
Marble

Sorry, no loaf shots, just crumb shots. 

#1 BFx4h then into fridge for 8 hours, proof at 25C for 6h

#2 BFx9h at 25C, proof 6h in fridge

#3 BFx5h at 25C then proof in fridge 16h

 All the same recipe, same methods. Obviously I should just do #2 again but no idea how to work that timing into my day without waking at 4am again. 

I used Rubaud because with the Pincer method I didn’t feel like the salt was getting well mixed into the dough. Also I like working the dough and enjoy Rubaud but I can try going back. 

Bulk Barn doesn’t say the brand name of the flour. I would guess it is One of the common grocery store brand because that’s what they usually sell but they didn’t list the name. I only noted the protein content. However it was a very humid day so that may have affected the flour weight. 

I am confused by what I should expect for volume I guess. Forkish recommends tripling which does take 12-15h as recommended but the dough is impossible to shape and very sticky. It won’t hold shape at all. I guess I should try some other recipes and see how things go but I’ve put so much time into this particular recipe that I need to figure it out. For the record, I made the overnight blonde once and had similar problems. 

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Why are #1 and #3 so much darker?  Is that due to lighting, or different amounts of WW flour?   Was rye added?

I know Forkish mentions different proportions of WW and Rye, but he fails to mention that timings or levain amount has to be adjusted when you do that.  I was just corresponding with someone who fell into that substitution trap.

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The resolution of the photos didn't come out good, so it's hard to judge the crumb on #1 and #3.  But they look overfermented at a far glance.

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"but the dough is impossible to shape and very sticky. It won’t hold shape at all. "

THat's a good indication to try less hydration.

Adjusting hydration is something everyone needs to do because moisture content varies from brand to brand, year to year, and bag to bag.  It's  one of the first things (and simplest) to try.  It is practically never what an original formula calls for unless you go to the same store as the author and buy some of the same batch of flour.

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As I mentioned in previous comment, decreasing the levain as a percent of the flour slows the fermentation. (Just like using less dry yeast.)  That may be what you need so your 12 hour BF doesn't over-ferment the dough.

 

Marble's picture
Marble

Sorry, having trouble adding text on my phone. I think #2 looks different because my friend took the shot from her phone at a different place. No difference in the recipe which is 70% AP and 30% WW. 

I had been holding off on reducing hydration because I wanted to prove to myself I can handle this but that’s ridiculous because I can’t! Also my Vermont sourdough was technically higher hydration and I could handle it with ease so I need to be more flexible. 

I like the idea of adjusting the Levain down to maybe 10% so see if I can do it overnight. I might also try BF in my basement pantry which is a few degrees cooler during the summer

Marble's picture
Marble

Forgot to mention, the only changes to ingredients are that I used a 100% hydration starter to build the Levain (I find it keeps better in the fridge and is more active). For proportions, I halve everything and only make one loaf at a time. 

With your help and as per your experience, perhaps I’m only 6 loaves away from figuring this out!