The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Descending into Sourdough Cavern

YeastilyConfused's picture
YeastilyConfused

Descending into Sourdough Cavern

Hi All,

I started to make sourdough in August and am generally having a blast, but my most recent attempt left me baffled once I cut into it. It looked deceptively fine from the outside, but as you can see, there's a huge cavern that runs pretty much through the entire loaf, and everything around it is collapsed and gluey.

This is pretty much the Tartine Country Bread recipe with the 3h bulk ferment they recommend and 4x stretch and folds during that, although I tried a 90 minute autolyse this time because my wholemeal flour is pretty coarse and bran-y, and after that I added in the salt and starter. It's also a slightly lower hydration - 70% as I'm in the UK and have found that flour here doesn't like as much water as US recipes use.

I'm a bit stumped, as my other attempts have turned out pretty well. The only thing I can think of is that would have caused it is a change in the weather: it's been very cold and damp here lately, so it might not have fermented properly, or my levain might have been off. Any ideas?

Thanks!

texas_loafer's picture
texas_loafer

underproofed indicated by the dense crumb at the bottom of the loaf. The cavern was probably introduced during your folds and shaping. The 3 hr bulk is probably quite short for the UK this time of year unless you regulate your ambient temp. ( I remember the cold damp fall days when I lived there)

YeastilyConfused's picture
YeastilyConfused

Underproofing makes sense - it's not freezing here but the kitchen is getting pretty chilly. What do you think would help with the shaping? I've always found shaping a bit dicey (lack of practice I guess) but never had anything like this happen...

Benito's picture
Benito

I agree that the loaf was very underproofed.  I’m not sure what temperature Tartine does their bulk fermentation but if we’re talking about 9% pre-fermented flour and a small portion of whole grain, if you bulk ferment around 80ºF it would take almost 6 hours to fully proof, at least that has been my experience.  If there is a much greater portion of whole grain then it might go down to 3-4 hours with the same % pre-fermented flour and 80ºF dough temperature.

YeastilyConfused's picture
YeastilyConfused

That sounds about right - I'll definitely push my fermentation time in future. By the way, is there a difference between prefermented flour and leaven/starter? Because the Tartine recipe calls for 20% leaven (so 100g to 500g total flour).

Benito's picture
Benito

Most of us here at TFL use pre-fermented flour to describe how much levain is being used.  Pre-fermented flour is just the total flour in the levain divided by the total flour in the final dough including the levain.

Benny

bakeyourownAU's picture
bakeyourownAU

Hey there,

I also use Tartine's recipe, and have been having issues a little while ago similiar to ours where I had huge holes in the middle of the loaf.  

How I improved my results was:

1) Have the dough temp between 23-26 degrees at the end of bulk fermentation. To do this, I'd aim for about 28-30 degrees right at the start after autolyse, as gradually your dough's temp will come down. You can generally control your dough temp with your water temp. What you need to do is firstly calculate the ideal temp of your water for your dough. To do this, you need to first find our the temperature of a) your flour(s), b) your room temp c) your pre-ferment/levain temp. Once you add all these up, you gotta take them away from 100 to get your ideal water temp.  Example is:

Room temp = 17, Preferment temp= 18, Flour temp = 20 = 55, so 100-55 is equal to 45. For you to reach an initial dough temp of about 25-26 degrees, you will need your water at 45 degrees celcius.  By doing this math, you will be able to control your results every single time.

2) I'd say bulk ferment for eat least 4 hours, and then another 3.5 hours of proofing. In the last half hour of your proofing, you can pop the dough in the freezer so it can be easier to score

3) If you have a fan oven, use a dutch oven as the fan causes the dough to for man early crust, and you can have either a cavern or really big holes in your loaves because of the loaf not being able to grow and gas being stuck inside. 

 

Best Regards,