Sorry - More Bread Woes! (Does it never end?)
Once again, my sincerest apologies. Yes it does seem like every post I make seems to reveal another of my baking woes. Sadly, frustration has set in once again. The situation is serious enough that I am actually developing a new appreciation and taste for supermarket white sandwich bread since it's about the only thing in the house that is made from flour and yeast and edible.
Well, to get to the latest failure. Today, I tried a straight sourdough as a test for lower percentage inoculation before trying the pain de mie recipe that Pat (proth5) kindly posted recently.
50% White Bread Flour, 30% Wholewheat 'bread' flour, 20% Whole Rye
13% starter (white starter at 100% hydration)
Proofing at a warmish 80 degrees.
Well and truly mixed and folded/kneaded to give excellent windowpane.
Predictably, I encountered the same problems that have become all too familiar these past few months. Namely:
*Loose dough which did not hold shape after being formed (puddled within 10 seconds of removing any support)
*Close crumb (cannot get large bubbles in that dough)
*Poor rising. I was shooting for about 5 hours rise time. Any more than this and I would have an overly sour end result (sour soup - it's happened umpteen times before)
*Could not slash dough. I've just bought a new serrated edge knife which should be fine for scoring. I've practiced and practiced and practiced but as yet, I've not managed a single decent slash on any loaf I've tried to make I've watched video after video, read tutorial/post after post...what am I doing wrong??!!
This is just the most recent in a whole run of failures which wouldn't bother me so much except that I'm just not learning from my mistakes. I've tried to absorb all the great advice and help here but nothing is working! Nothing! Any time I think I've got a handle on a situation and I try to make something that approaches tasty bread, I find myself back at square one. Irritatingly, none the wiser as to what went wrong. I think in the last 3 months I've had maybe 2 vaguely edible results (4 including pizza and pita bread) With the increasing prices in flour, this is fast turning into both a mental (and financial) black hole.
The weird thing is my starter is apparently really healthy. It's been doing extremely well (even more so than in previous months on account of the warmer weather) I just wish I could put it to good use! As I have mentioned in previous posts, the starter seems to have a '2 peak' behaviour which results in an initial rise (with fewer larger bubbles) peaking at 2 to 3 times the initial volume. This is accompanied by a sourish smell. The starter then subsides somewhat. The bubbles get smaller and increase in number accompanied by another rise (not as dramatic as the first) and a fruity, yeasty smell. I usually feed and harvest my starter at this point (typically 18 to 24 hours after feeding depending on how warm it is) As a desperate shot in the dark - am I perhaps leaving it too late to use my starter?