The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hello, all, I'm back again

Justin's picture
Justin

Hello, all, I'm back again

Hello, everyone, I'm back again--and of course I need help desperately.

I've actually been around, just haven't had anything to add to the conversations, so just been lurking.

Now, I'm at my wits' end. Even though Karina is a very happy starter since the last time I received help here, her daddy (that would be me) hasn't been as happy. Just. Can't. Seem. To. Master. A. Good. Loaf.

My last attempt at a sourdough loaf was just a couple of days ago, on the 11th. The recipe I used was from Home Grown Happiness, and the result was what I've become accustomed to by this time. Talk about that in a minute.

Previous attempt was a recipe from Alexandria's Kitchen, with the same result.

So, to assuage my guilt and to build my sagging confidence, I decided to build a traditional-yeast bread, one that I've had success with before from Flavors of Spain in the Southwest. This basic--but high hydration--bread was actually pretty easy before--but this time, I got the exact same result as I did with my sourdough loaves.

What was that result? Take a look at the picture and just imagine my disappointment. 

This is actually the second time this week I've tried this dough, and both times were exactly the same. The picture shows the result after the 12-hour room-temperature final proofing.

Now, with the two sourdough loaves, I'm assuming that probably environmental differences  were to blame, since Mexico--especially right now--is undoubtedly a lot hotter than where those two recipes came from. And even hotter than the Flavors of Spain loaf, since I believe he mentioned that the ambient temperature was around 80 degrees, and yesterday and the previous time, I was working in 90 degree heat. (Yesterday, I actually reduced the timing of the stretches and folds by five minutes each from the times recommended in the video to help compensate.) The previous time I had success with this dough was in April, obviously not nearly as warm as it is now.

Am I correct in deducing that I'm experiencing overproofing? And am I going in the right direction by reducing proofing times? Obviously, the reduction I made yesterday wasn't successful.

I'd appreciate any suggestions anyone might have to help me get back in the saddle and build my confidence back. Right now, I'm just accepting making some super-delicious pancakes from my starter discard.

Thanks in advance!

 

phaz's picture
phaz

That dough is over, way over. As others also come out like this they are also over (fermented proofed or both). Fortunately an easy fix.

Justin's picture
Justin

This is like an episode of The Avengers. You left me at a cliffhanger. "Fortunately an easy fix."

Because I'm fairly certain that--with 1 gram of instant yeast--it's probably not over fermented, I would think it's over proofed. If you were in my situation, working in 90 (or more) degree heat, what steps would you change to prevent that? The recipe calls for inoculation along with the original addition of water, salt, and flour, so obviously the proofing starts right there--right? (Remember, I'm a N00B, so what seems "obvious" to me might be "obviously" wrong to an experienced bread baker.)

This recipe calls for mixing, an abbreviated autolyse or wait of 20 minutes, followed by 4 stretch & folds with a twenty minute pause between, immediately going into a 12-hour fermentation, then an immediate bake. That's 13 hours, 20 minutes of proof time at room temperature.

What would an experienced baker change here to prevent that "over, way over" situation? Reduce time between stretch and folds; reduce the 12-hour fermentation; or both? If that's the solution, any guidelines of reduction amounts would be appreciated.

Another thought I had was to use some or all of that 12-hour fermentation in the refrigerator. My fridge isn't extremely cold, running at about 38 degrees most of the time, so it wouldn't exactly be a complete retard.

Or, I might be completely off-base with all of the above.

Recommendations would be appreciated.

Thanks!

phaz's picture
phaz

Sorry, but I thought you'd know - if it's over, shorten timings. That's a long time at room temp which I'll call 75, but I see your a lot higher then that , at 90, the time from mixing the starter and yeast you're over in I would say 5-6 hrs - you're at 13 and with added yeast which is made to work hard and fast (and a little goes long way - I still use a little when needed or it's on the cool side and I want something risen in a short time). The rule when it comes to temps - higher= faster, cooler= slower. You can also adjust for temp by varying starter/yeast amounts. More goes faster, less goes slower. You'd have to experiment a little to find the exact amounts to end up with the desired result, but that'll give you a feel for how it goes and how you can use it to get bread making to fit in a schedule.

I just remembered - I made a loaf the other day, the usual, mix night before (with a pinch of yeast), fridge till next afternoon/night, shape bake that night, but, I fell asleep right after mixing (about midnight). Woke up about 8am, it was about 70 overnight, and it rose and fell - hard - looked just like your dough. That was 8 hrs at 70, which is a smidge low for optimal yeast/bug growth (90 is better).

I think cutting timings in half at those temps would give better results. Or cut the starter/yeast in half to be closer to the timings in the recipe (see how that works). Something like that anyway, play around, have fun with it, most of all Enjoy!

Justin's picture
Justin

That's certainly a more in-depth batch of suggestions, and I appreciate your reply. Being new to this whole thing, I'm hesitant to make changes unless I (or someone here, for example) know for a fact that those changes will increase my chances for success. I'll try the reduction in times you suggested, and once I turn out a loaf I am willing to brag on, I'll be sure to give you credit for your help.

phaz's picture
phaz

If it makes you feel better, I know the above suggestions will help, I won't say it'll give the results you want as I don't know your starter or flours or environment or even what you want to see, and they all make a difference , could be a big difference could be a small difference. Hopefully the info given by me can help one understand how those differences effect the end result. Then one can adjust things to get the results they want in whatever time frame they want. The good thing is that there isn't really all that much to grasp and it's pretty basic principles. The more one understands them the easier things gets - just like anything else. 

A note on "recipes" - they are all good - for the person who creates it as they have perfected (so they say) it with their specific ingredients and environment. For another to get the exact same results, they would have to use the exact same ingredients in the exact same environment, and the odds of that are somewhere between slim and none. A recipe is a place to start nothing more. Post some pics of the next loaf, I'll bet it'll be better. Enjoy!

Justin's picture
Justin

I understand that you and I could connect for example by Hangouts, mimic each other's movements exactly (I'm sure I'd be the one mimicking) have approximately the same environment, and still turn out completely different results. Several people I've watch have talked about staying literally "in touch" with the dough so you can monitor how it's progressing. And I actually felt that with these doughs--and except for the last one, that went south during the final overnight rise while I wasn't watching--I knew just when they began to go bad. I just didn't know why.

What I needed, and what you folks have given me, is a pointer in the right direction. After that--it's up to me to actually follow that advice. And, from what I understand, it's also kind of up to a certain amount of serendipity, how successful--or not--the bread turns out. It's up to me to interpret that serendipity and respond accordingly.

When I get a successful loaf, I'll certainly be so happy I'll want to share pictures with those who have helped me!

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

Try bulking until the dough has risen about 30-40%. Then preshape, rest 10 minutes or so and shape. And for final proofing, stick it in the fridge and bake 10-12 hours later right out of the fridge. 

Justin's picture
Justin

Thank you for that tangible advice. Next week I'll be able to implement that; can't bake until then, since most of my paying work is on the weekends.

As well as any other suggestions that may come in from other experts around here.

Justin's picture
Justin

I have to say, the bakers here are so kind to be willing to spend time helping wannabees like myself, and I want to give out a big thank you to phaz and Danni3ll3 for grabbing my hand and leading me in a positive direction.

I'm certain I'm not the only person who is experiencing high-temperature problems, as I'm hearing of egg-frying temperatures in the midwest U.S. And I know most people think of Mexico as an oven, but where I am we haven't come even close to temps like that. (Well, maybe close, but not within cigar range.)

So I wanted to share something I found on this site that could be a help for heat-related problems. That would be an essay called The Importance Of Dough Temperature In Baking

What a great help that is. Of course, he's focused on the opposite of the problem I'm experiencing, That has a link to his Common Bread Baking Calculators, which I used some test temps on (I was going around reading my room-temp water, my levain, and my flour, kicking those temps into the calc page) and it came back and suggested that I lower my water temperature to 38 degrees! I'm sure that, through trial and error, I could have come up with that idea sometime around the middle or late part of this century, after having fed a whole battalion of rats and other things with my Bagdo. (That's the name I've given to doughs that look like the above picture, because I put them in a bag, tie the top, and pretend they never happened.) And I'm sure I'll be able to put it to good use toward the end of the year when the temps in my apartment are going to approach the low fifties.

So if this rank amateur might help someone with this information that I found by accident, I consider it just a tiny bit of pay-it-forward.

phaz's picture
phaz

I forgot, when dough go over that far, you can knead it a little to redistribute the food, it may rise a little, then toss a in a pan and cook it. It won't rise much, it'll be dense, but most likely very edible - and you can get a feel for what way over tastes like - you may like it (it'll be tangy). Enjoy again!

Mr Immortal's picture
Mr Immortal

Something that I would recommend is to pick a recipe that seems like something you’d like, and stick with it.  The reasoning for this is that when you make the same recipe over and over, you learn how it is supposed to react, and you learn how it actually reacts.  You learn what it looks like at each step, and how to anticipate what it’s going to look like at the next step.  You’ll learn what works and what doesn’t, and you’ll learn how to fix issues that pop up because you’ll be able to spot them before they wreak havoc on your dough.  Once you’re fully familiar with the dough and the recipe, you can start tweaking things, and that’s when you’ll really start learning how each thing you tweak is affecting your outcome.  Dialing in on the basics in this way, you’ll learn many things that will help you once you start branching out into new recipes and techniques.

 

Ultimately, baking is just like any other sport.  Start with the fundamentals, learn the fundamentals, practice the fundamentals.  Repeatedly.  It may seem boring at first, but in the end sticking with the same recipe until you know it backward and forward every step of the way, will help you do better with every recipe you’ll ever bake in the future.

Justin's picture
Justin

This seems to be very reasonable and grounded advice. Right now, I'm mostly looking for a recipe that's simple to make, uses common flour(s), and tastes good. I'll try the recipes that call for the "Ancient Toltec Virgin-ground at a half-hour past midnight on the high holy day" flours and that require a ceremonial dance during final proof later. (Though I'm sure they're quite good.)

Thanks!

Mr Immortal's picture
Mr Immortal

Wait...  you haven’t been doing the ceremonial dance?!?   I think we may have just found the problem!

Justin's picture
Justin

Oh, no! I knew there was something! Just glad you didn't require the other part. That might be awkward.