The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Troubleshooting bulk ferment

EAB's picture
EAB

Troubleshooting bulk ferment

I'm fairly new to sourdough bread and need some help troubleshooting.

I'm making a recipe I've made every week with good success for the past month. After adding the starter, I came back to start stretch and folds and found that the dough is wetter and smaller in volume than usual. I'm not 100% sure, but it's possible I forgot to tare the scale while adding different flours and ended up with 100g less than I intended. Is it possible/advisable to try to add any amount of that flour in at this stage? 

The recipe calls for 100g whole wheat flour, 400g bread flour, 100g starter (100% hydration), and 325g water.

This puts it on the low end of high hydration at 68%, which is what drew me to this recipe after I got disappointing results from higher hydration attempts. If 100g of flour is missing, that would make the hydration 83%. I know that's not unreasonably high, but I'm not sure the flour I use can handle that level of hydration.

What's the best way to salvage this loaf? Add extra flour now (maybe just 50g to split the difference), or take more steps to strengthen the gluten than I would have had to at a lower hydration? 

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

The dough should weigh 925 g now.  925,  minus what it weighs now, should be equal to the missing flour.

Go ahead and add it back in.

EAB's picture
EAB

Genius! I can't believe I didn't think to weigh the dough. The weight is off by close to 150g (the extra must just be what got stuck to my hands, the counter, and the mixing bowl).

Any tips on the best way to incorporate flour at this stage? It's been about 3.5 hours since I added the starter. I've done a few stretch and folds and it's manageable to handle at the current hydration - it's holding it's shape and it's not soupy, but definitely sticky. 

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

It may take some extra bulk ferment time, but it should be okay to add late, especially if it's the white flour as opposed to the Ww.   Hand knead gently and well, or lots of stretch and folds, so that it gets distributed very evenly, not in a mixer, so you don't mess up whatever gluten has already formed. 

You don't have to add all the flour back in, just enough to where you feel comfortable  with how it feels in terms of hydration.  Add just a little at a time, add a little, fold a little, because it takes a few minutes for the new flour to absorb or "rob"  moisture from the flour particles that already have water.

and if it does feel too dry after adding flour, just add a little water.

Do NOT "rubaud" mix/knead at this point, that tears apart gluten that has already developed.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

You don't need to add all the flour back in, just enough to where you feel comfortable with the dough.