The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Newbie wanting to improve

KeilidhC's picture
KeilidhC

Newbie wanting to improve

Hello everyone! This is my first proper post – yay!

Like a lot of new members, I decided that lockdown was the perfect opportunity to finally get into making sourdough and now I can’t believe I put it off for so long! After my first few attempts proved disastrous (I had to literally chisel my first loaf out of my ceramic casserole dish) I decided that winging it obviously wasn’t working so I started looking for bread baking books. Ken Forkish’s Flour Water Salt Yeast was the first one I could find and the breads that I’ve made using his recipes are so much better than my first few – not only are they actually edible, they taste great too! But, as always, I want to improve! I’ve outlined my latest bake below and would really appreciate any comments. I find the dough to be pretty sticky and difficult to work with, but I don't know if I'm not developing the gluten enough, overproofing it or just haven't gotten the hang of working with wetter doughs yet (or a million other problems that I don't know of yet!). The bread usually springs up a bit in the oven, but it also spreads out quite a bit as well. And although the crust is nice and crackly when it comes out of the oven it very quickly turns leathery and tough. I know this is a lot but I'm really keen to learn and make better breads! 

Adapted from the Overnight Country Brown recipe

302g cake flour (which I think is our equivalent of all-purpose flour)

138g whole wheat flour 

342g water 

Mix by hand and then autolyse for 30 minutes. Then mix in 11g salt and 108g of 80% hydration starter by hand. I did stretch and folds every 30 minutes for two hours (so four sets of stretch and folds in total). I then covered the dough and let it bulk ferment at room temperature (about 18 C) for 12 hours overnight. The next morning, I shaped the dough and let it proof at room temperature for 3 hours and then baked it (preheated oven to 220 C; turned down to 200 C and baked covered for 25 minutes; turned down to 180 C and baked uncovered for 20 minutes). 

And here are some photos of the finished loaf! My shaping, slashing and photography skills are not great but hopefully they will improve as I learn more!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The colour of the crust didn't come out well in this photo - it was a nice orangey-brown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I forgot to take a photo of the crumb, but it was very similar to this (even more poorly shaped) loaf from the previous day. I have no idea if this crumb is 'good' or 'bad'. All I know is that it's good to eat!

Any comments would be greatly appreciated! (And sorry about the funky formatting - I guess that's another thing that I need to get the hang of!)

Keilidh

phaz's picture
phaz

Hmmm, well, first, regardless of what it looks like - if you like it - it's gotta be good. 

I don't know where you are - but in the us ap flour is usually 10% protein whereas a cake flour can be around 5%, that's a big difference. With lower protein, you'd have to shorten timings a little as gluten would be fragile and more prone to breaking down sooner rather than later. In essence you may be over proofing/fermenting just a touch for the flour used. If this is the case shortening the timings may give a little more oven spring. Try it, see what happens, and most of all Enjoy!

I forgot - if high hydration is causing grief - lower it - you don't need a lot of water to make good bread (lower protein flour requires less water anyway). 

pmccool's picture
pmccool

And the flour there which is labeled “cake flour” is a close approximation of what we call AP flour in the U.S.  I would have thought the same as you if I hadn’t lived there for a couple of years.  

Paul

KeilidhC's picture
KeilidhC

And sorry for my late response! Yes, as Paul noted, our cake flour seems to be pretty similar to all-purpose flour in the US at about 10% protein. Here our wheat flours are either 'cake' or 'bread' and different gradations are not widely available. My white bread flour ran out a few weeks ago so I have just been using the cake flour that I still had until I could track down some more bread flour. I hadn't thought about the different protein contents of different flours - I must go check if Forkish uses ap or bread flour for his FWSY breads. That could very well be the problem! I'll try shortening the timings on my next bake and see if that makes a difference. 

And after that I will try lowering the hydration - if it means that I'll get good bread and less sticky fingers, I'm all for trying it out!

Edo Bread's picture
Edo Bread

Looks to be a lot to be happy about with that loaf. With a little shaping practice, they should really do well. I imagine it tasted great.

KeilidhC's picture
KeilidhC

It did! Really creamy and nutty even though my starter smelt quite sharp and acidic when I mixed up the dough. I've got a lower hydration dough bulk fermenting now - hoping it will be a more manageable dough that I can use to practice shaping before working up to higher hydration ones again. And the more I practice the more bread I get to eat, so I'm not complaining! 

Edo Bread's picture
Edo Bread

Exactly! Nothing better than delicious experiments! I think if you get a little more surface tension on your loaf it will do great!

KeilidhC's picture
KeilidhC

Thanks! I'll give it a shot in the morning and see how it goes. Hopefully I won't end up with another puddle!

Benito's picture
Benito

Don’t get too caught up with high hydration.  You can get nice open crumb without going to high hydration.  Having early successes will build up your confidence so take your time going high hydration and you may actually find that you’re getting great crumb with lower hydration and not bother to go too high.

Benito's picture
Benito

The crumb looks excellent to me, you should be pleased.

KeilidhC's picture
KeilidhC

Yay! It's really encouraging to know that I'm on the right track

KeilidhC's picture
KeilidhC

Well that didn't go according to plan! Any idea what would have caused it to erupt like this?

Night time temperature in my kitchen was unusually warm for winter, so I cut down on bulk fermentation and final proof times, was enjoying working with the dough (68% hydration) so maybe overshaped it (if that's even possible?), life happened and I had to cut into it while it was still warm. But I've got another loaf in the oven now which is looking a lot more promising. Yay! Will report back when it is cool enough to slice so that I can get a good crumb shot!