The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

First big SD bread flop.

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

First big SD bread flop.

I guess it had to happen, but it's still rather surprising.  It's an almost all ww bread using my very healthy and active white starter and going by a Bernard Clayton recipe which has added yeast.  It took forever to rise and then not very much.  The dough was heavy and not easy to work with at all; it's in the oven now, in two small pans, no oven spring, and I'm not confident of the outcome.  Curious, but I think that's the nature of sourdough, isn't it?  I can't be high on bread all the time, some bricks will be made, and I just go on from there.  Still, I wish I knew why.  The only thing I did differently from the recipe was to add a bit of sugar.

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

This one is for the bin.  Or the raccoons, skunks, squirrels.....

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Into every bakers life must come the eventual duds.  It is part and parcel that some doughs are born bad.  I've made some that came out so sour and hard that even the compost pile experienced a tough time recyling them.  The interesting part is that this is when you really learn from the post mortem retrospect.  I keep my bi-daily sourdough bake schedule recipe is adhered to to prevent failure.  Tweaks to the starter keep it headed in the right direction but these are only tweaks.

The strange part is that you added sugar which sourdough should love.  That it didn't respond means that something was restraining the leavening action.  How much salt was added?  Was the water fresh without chlorine?  Was there any soap contaminants?  Has the whole wheat flour been couponed (previously tested with sourdough)?  Did the dough experience a temperature extreme or do you proof in a microwave and did anyone turn it on with the dough in it?

Wild-Yeast 

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

I've used that ww flour (organic) many times before and it has actually boosted the starter, the ww ones, beautifully, though I did use the white starter this time since it seemed the most active of the three.  Two tsps. of salt to about 4 cups of flour all told, plus the two cups in the sponge.  No chlorine in the water that anyone can taste and it's the tap water I'd already used in my buttermilk bread, also a sourdough, with no problems  No extremes in temperature either, as all my bread rises on top of the fridge and the temperature up there was a constant 76 F.  I keep an indoor thermometer up there.  Lovely warm day, no overt humidity, blue sky, God in his heaven and all that, but a very definite bad batch of bread.  I have a theory about my bread bricks; any time I start feeling superior about the bread I bake, or big-headed, God sends me a brick to remind me that I'm as human as the next person and certainly no better.  Just hit me, the flour, not the brick!  It's stone-ground flour with bigger bits of bran in it and though the recipe did call for a cup of white flour, I couldn't squeeze more than about 1/3  cup white into the dough.  The texture was ok, bit on the heavy side, but the taste was awful.  Ah well, onwards and upwards.

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Hi PaddyL.

How much kneeding had your dough undergone? The reason I ask is that, the bran and germ in the whole wheat flour tend to act as shortenings, preventing the development of gluten. And without the gluten network fully developed there would be nothing for the steam to hold on to as it tries to lift the dough while escaping from it. Adding high gluten flour to the predominantly whole wheat loaves usually compensates for that. Otherwise, I woudl imagine the dough needs to be kneeded a lot.

Rudy 

Windischgirl's picture
Windischgirl

I also had a brick this week (posted on the Forum under "Weird White Wheat?")  making a totally WW bread from WGB, but using PR's pineapple juice- WW starter.  My starter was crumbly (still is!) and my bread had no oven rise and tasted horrible.  I had no gluten development whatsoever, despite vigorous kneading.

Rudy, I think you're on to something with the bran affecting the gluten...I've also heard that the 'sharp edges' of the coarse WW flour tend to cut the gluten strands. 

I am now attempting to convert the starter to white.  Getting a bit of stretch now but still a grainy texture.  Hmmm. Am a little anxious about trying to bake with this and then my kids having to resort to tortilla sandwiches until I can get another loaf out.

PaddyL, I too have speculated about the causes of flops and wondered if I had incurred the wrath of the Creator as well.  Pride goeth before a fall, they say?

Windi 

Philadelphia PA

holds99's picture
holds99

PaddyL

I was curious as to which Bernard Clayton recipe you used.  Although, I have baked a number of recipes from his book I haven't used it lately.  I recall in one of his recipes (Pain de Compagne Madame Doz), he adds salt in a separate final step and kneads it into the loaf presumably to allow the yeast to reach it peak before inhibiting it with the salt. 

Anyway, if it's any consoloation I have made some baguettes that have the same color and texture as a Louisville Slugger baseball bat.  Hang in there and keep the faith.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

...was the Sourdough Whole Wheat Bread in the Bernard Clayton book, and I did notice that after rising (not much) in the bowl, the top was all separated or broken, not the smooth top I usually get.  I kneaded it initially in the bowl of the KA mixer, but it just refused to come together, so I took it out and kneaded it by hand, gave it a rest part way through, then came back and kneaded it some more until it gave me that 'bounce' back after a finger was applied to the top.  Of course, it didn't exactly bounce, and the dough never felt good through all the kneading/resting/kneading/handling, so I didn't expect much from it.  I think it had to be the larger particles of bran breaking through the gluten that made it so tough, and that probably, in the end, stopped it from rising and expanding. It definitely is not, as Clayton claims, "..a satisfying dough to work, soft and pliable."  Anything but!  The Pain de Compagne Mme. Doz is one recipe I have made, it's a great upper body workout, and makes extremely good bread.

holds99's picture
holds99

Patty,

I have not made this recipe, but you got me thinking that you're an accomplished baker and it just might be something in the recipe.  So, I took down Clayton's book and looked up sourdough w.w.  I presume you're working from the recipe on pg. 283-284.  Well, unless I've completely gone blind it looks like he forgot the liquid in the dough portion of the recipe.  For the sponge he calls for 2 cups of whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 cups of warm water, just for the sponge.  Then in the dough portion of the recipe he adds 3-4 cups of whole wheat flour with no additional liquid.  This is a ratio of 6 cups flour to 1 1/2 cups of liquid (water) or 4 parts flour to 1 part water,  Sounds wrong to me.

In the following recipe, on pg 286 Sourdough Loaf, he calls for 3 1/2 cups water for 7-8 cups of flour.  This is about 43% water (measured in cups) to flour.

Anyway, for what it's worth, I think his recipe is incorrect and it's not your fault.  As they say in "Big D"...Bum Steer.  I just struck a big X through that one in my Clayton book.  Thanks for hte heads up.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

You just might have something there.  I did wonder when the dough simply refused to come together in the mixer and I thought maybe I should use the spritzer to add a bit of water, but when I use a recipe for the first time I usually follow it pretty much to the letter.  I don't think I'll try this one again, though.  The last sourdough loaves I made were by guess and by God and maybe I should stick to that formula.  And possibly sift out some of the bran when using a stone ground ww flour!

holds99's picture
holds99

I did read somewhere (Peter Reinhart, I think) that the bran should be sifted out or it will act like shards of glass and tear the gluten during the mixing process.  I sometimes leave the bran in and soak the flour containing the bran overnight with a portion of the water to be used in the recipe so as to soften the bran so that it's moist and pliable isn't dry and doesn't cut or tear the gluten.

Re: a sourdough white loaf. I had really good results with Tom Leonard's Country French Bread from Maggie Glezer's book Artisan Baking, pg. 133.  My wife prefers all white bread so I modified Glezer's recipe and use all KA bread flour and leave out the rye and whole wheat.  It turns out great as a white loaf.  I also bake it according to recipe (with the rye and whole wheat) and it's excellent.  If you decide to do it, Glezer's recipe calls for a 4 pound loaf.  I advise against that.  I suggest dividing the dough (after bulk fermentation) into 2 equal loaves of two pounds each and let it rise in linen lined banetons or however you normally do it----and bake 2 loaves instead of a monster loaf.  That way you don't need a Stihl Farm Boss chain saw to cut it up into slices :-)

Best of luck,

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

edh's picture
edh

PaddyL,

Just a sympathetic fellow sufferer; it was far from my first SD flop, but I made a couple of paving stones today!

It felt like a pride goeth before a fall moment; I'd made up a recipe a week or so ago and it was one of the best things I'd made. Tried it again with some added vital wheat gluten (the recipe is half spelt so I thought it would help with the rise), but found out that way that vital wheat gluten doesn't agree with me, so tried again today with the original recipe. I think I messed up the timing though, and produced two seriously flat loaves!

Tasty though.

Ah well, live and learn, one hopes...

edh