The Fresh Loaf

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Starter is very active but dough will simply NOT rise

Gabicmacola's picture
Gabicmacola

Starter is very active but dough will simply NOT rise

I've been struggling to make a 20% WW/80% AP flour sourdough with 20% levain for the past couple weeks. My starter is very active, very strong in consistency. This pic is old, right now it almost triples in volume and it's fed thrice a day with organic all-purpose flour+organic whole wheat flour (10%). Here is the thing: I live in a place that reaches 32°C EASILY through the day. It's hot as hell in here. Also very humid. I have tried dough hydrations from 70% up to 80%, the results stay the same: Dough takes more than 8 hours to double in size. 8 FREAKING HOURS... The flour I've got is not the best in quality so it starts to weaken and break down at about 6,5!! What is happening??? How can that be?? Super hot climate, very active starter, but no rise at all?? I know, I know, I should just increase the seed amout, but I want to know how it is possible to happen what is happening. I SHOULD NOT need to to do that. You guys, does anyone have a clue about what is going on? I can't accept that I just need to put more starter in my recipes. At this temperature, with a thriving starter, that shouldn't be necessary. I've seen bakers from milder climates take less starter in order to control a too fast speed of fermentation... Just a note: I've also tried other flour combinations in recipes but they all go down the same road.

texas_loafer's picture
texas_loafer

of the resulting bake?

IMHO

You don't want to double in size for a successful SD bake. 8 hours at 32 C is probably grossly overproofed, hence the decline. Try a 30-50% increase in size. That might only take 4 hours.

More details of your process would be useful.

Gabicmacola's picture
Gabicmacola

I meant 100% increase in volume in an aliquot jar, forgot to say that. I do aim for about 50% with the dough, though. I confess, I do have a hard time trying to determinate those 50%. Do you have any suggestions on a much more accurate and precise way to do so, opposed to the simple guess by looking?

naturaleigh's picture
naturaleigh

Doesn't sound like a starter issue, but perhaps a recipe and procedure issue.  Since the heat is so high as well as the humidity, I think you should consider lowering the hydration in your dough as the dough can pick up moisture when the humidity is high.  Additionally (as mentioned by the other poster), you shouldn't be looking for a doubling of dough during bulk ferment...more like 30-50% increase.   An 8-hour BF in high heat is most likely resulting in significantly over-proofed dough, which correlates to it breaking down at 6.5 hours.  Adding more starter isn't going to fix those problems.  Try a significantly shorter BF (like 3-4 hours), decrease the hydration to around 65% and then add a cold final proof in the fridge, for at least 6 hours or overnight and see what happens.  Also, make sure you aren't using warm water for your dough mix, which will only exacerbate things.  You might check the temp of your dough during BF too, so you know how warm the dough is.  Using cooler water for your mix should help with the over-proofing in your type of climate.  Best of luck!  I know it is frustrating, but keep trying.  

Gabicmacola's picture
Gabicmacola

I will try the things you suggested, but I would like to know your opinion on this: At 4 hours BF (Wich I already used to think should be more than enough at such high T) my doughs normally haven't risen enough to be shaped. That is the weirdest about it! If I try to, they'll just flatten right after and the shaping process is difficult because there is no air to hold the forms as I shape. What would you say about this? 🤔🤔

Benito's picture
Benito

I agree with the others, allowing your dough to bulk ferment to a rise of 100% is causing your dough to over proof.  Most bakers here bulk their sourdough to 30-50% rise.  If you go much further the proteolytic activity will increase breaking down the gluten and turning your dough into a wet sticky gloopy mess.

Try reducing hydration to 70%, use cooler water to mix to slow down fermentation.  You could also reduce the levain to 10% as well to slow things down.  Keep an eye out on the dough temperature, if it gets a bit high you can quickly give it a chill in the fridge.

Gabicmacola's picture
Gabicmacola

I see all the thing you're pointing out. But what would say about the dough pretty much not rising? I see that overproofing is the obvious answer, but how can a dough overproof without having the volume of an overproofed dough? Or maybe I'm missing the point and can't judge a 30-50% increase in volume. What do you suggest me to do in order to be able to determinate when the BF is done? I mean not by just looking, but a more precise way?

texas_loafer's picture
texas_loafer

would help you gauge your bulk rise?

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Sounds like it could be a flour or water issue.

what city/country are you in?

what brands and types of flour are you using in the main dough?   is it bleached? does it have malted barley flour or malted wheat flour in it?  does it have added enzymes (amylase)?

what kind of water are you adding? if it is tap water from a municipal water plant, are you letting it sit out for several hours so that the chlorine evaporates before using jt?

Gabicmacola's picture
Gabicmacola

I live in the North of Brazil. The flour we have available sucks, to be honest, and it doesnt have any information about the wheat type, nor if it is unbleached/bleached (I suppose it is). Really it is a guessing work. Water is mineral, bottled. Same I use for my starter and it looks fine

Gabicmacola's picture
Gabicmacola

What I meant for double in size was inside an aliquot jar for fermentation checking. I do aim for about 50% rise of the dough itself, but that doesn't seem to happen. The mass in the jar rises veery slowly and so does the dough. I have made SD successfully in the past so I know what it feels like when done proofing and how it behaves during shaping. The thing is that the dough does feel overproofed but doesn't have the volume of one, looking underproofed and behaving like one when I try shaping. Also I do use cold water

Benito's picture
Benito

So long as the dough in the aliquot jar is the same as the main dough, meaning that you have really ensured it was well mixed prior to separating them, the aliquot jar really should be a reflection of the rise in the main dough.  If the aliquot jar has risen 50% then assume the same for the main dough and go to shaping and ending bulk fermentation.

Gabicmacola's picture
Gabicmacola

What about degassig throughout bulk? Stretch and folds do degas the dough... Maybe hit for a 60-70% increase in volume in the sample jar to make up for the lost gas? That's assuming I take the aliquot right after mixing salt

Benito's picture
Benito

Since there is very little rise in the first part of bulk. And because you want to ensure that the aliquot jar dough has some structure to hold the gases produced, take the aliquot dough off the main dough after the first stretch and fold. 

Yes stretch and folds and coil folds will degas the dough somewhat but so the aliquot dough might over estimate the rise a bit. But it is a great tool to use when you need to know how to adjust your fermentation the next time you bake the same bread, that is where it is really useful. So if you found that the bread was a bit underproofed when you ended bulk at a 30% rise then next time you try 40 or 50% etc. 

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

can you copy the ingredient list from the flour package, please?  It is usualy in fine print on the side or back.  that will tell us a lot.  go ahead and copy as is in Portuguese, and then also translate if you want.  (at least give the ingredients in Portuguese, so that we see it in the source language.)

If you can give the brand name and the name that the manufacturer/miller gives it, (that is, type/category of flour, not type of wheat)  that might help because another Brazilian baker might see it and then tell you if it is good or not-good for bread.

is the mineral water carbonated or non-carbonated?

if the water is carbonated, do you let it sit open for 12 hours to remove the carbonation first?

Do you have a testing device or pH test strips to determine the pH (acidity)  of the water?

Carbonated water can be acidic, which is fine for the starter, but might not be good for the main dough.  Too much acid in the main dough will do exactly what you described as the problem.

--

Just looked it up.  Carbonated water can be as low as 4 pH.