The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Weak dough or Over-proofing?

Zigs's picture
Zigs

Weak dough or Over-proofing?

I've been having consistent problems with my loaves deflating during scoring and little to no oven spring. From what I've been reading, this usually indicates over-proofed dough, but I really don't let the dough proof very long (30 minutes - 1 hour) and when I poke it before scoring, the dough still slowly rebounds.

I'm wondering if this could be an indication of dough strength instead of over-proofed dough. I really don't know what "strength" means, but I've read it could be a problem when scoring.

My breads are whole-grain (ground myself) typically either Hard White Spring or a mixture with Hard Red Spring. I'm using the Reinhart whole wheat method (biga, soaker, fridge for a day, etc...). Also using the stretch-and-fold (~4-6 folds w/half hour rests) instead of kneading.

So, any ideas on if this is a strengh issue or over-proofing? If it's strength, any tips on increasing the strength of the dough?

holds99's picture
holds99

Are you following a specific recipe and if so which one?  How are you mixing the dough?  you said you were doing 4-6 folds instead of kneading.  Please explain the process you're using in a bit more detail.  Have you had success with other loaves using your current method or are you generally having problems with the mixing method.  4-6 folds at half hour intervals seems like a lot of stretch and folds but, as I said, it's hard to tell without knowing more details re: the process you used.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

Zigs's picture
Zigs

It's a slightly modified version of the Whole Wheat Challah from Peter Reinhart's "Whole Grain Breads". The only difference is replacing the water for buttermilk in the soaker. I don't shape it as a Challah, but as a Batard.

I haven't had success with other loaves as I just started and this is pretty much the only recipe I've baked more than once. By a fluke, my first loaf was spectacular, have not repeated since. And I didn't even know proper kneading technique then.

Process:

1st day afternoon, mix biga(preferment) and soaker. Knead biga for ~3-4 minutes. Then they go in the fridge overnight until the next day around noonish when I pull them out to warm up to room temp.

Mix biga, soaker, honey, and some shortening until homogenous. And into the bowl it goes for the first rest.

The several folds do seem a bit much from what I've read other people doing, I've generally done that many because it seems like the dough wants more than just two stretch-and-folds (based on windowpane look and feel).

I hope that helps.

holds99's picture
holds99

Zigs,

I'm looking at the recipe and Step 3 calls for kneading the dough by hand for 3-4 minutes then letting it rest on the work surface for 5 minutes while you oil the bowl.  After the 5 minute rest Reinhart calls for 1 minute more of kneading...that's it.  At that point you shape it into a ball and place it in the oiled bowl, flipping it over once to lightly coat the entire dough surface with oil.  Cover it for 45-60 minutes until it 1 1/2 times its original size.

I think if you're doing 4-6 folds during the bulk fermentation you're overworking the dough and deflating it.  One thing I would highly recommend is to follow Reinhart's recipe to the letter until you have masted the recipe, before making any changes.  Otherwise if you modify the ingredients or the technique you won't have a benchmark to use to judge when and how things went wrong.  Sounds like you were OK until you got to Step 3.  My suggestion is to try it again and from step 3 onward---do it by the book.  Good luck on your next go round.

 

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

Zigs's picture
Zigs

I'm not sure why, but whenever I kneaded for that little bit of time according to Reinhart I got a very poor crumb. Looked more like a muffin inside than bread. That's why I first tried the stretch-and-folds, and the gluten development/crumb improved drastically when I started doing the folds vs. the kneading.

I have tried less kneading and more kneading with this same recipe and I never got the quality of crumb as with stretch-and-fold.

BTW, as an aside. What is this "strength" thing people talk about?

home_mill's picture
home_mill

I am using the same type flour as you and I also get the "muffin" crumb.

I think this is somewhat normal for home milled WW flour. It does seem to me to occur more when using a loaf pan vs free form. I think one way to reduce it is to sift out some of the flour components (i.e. high extraction flour) although I have never tried this. I am considering adding a portion of white flour after reading the thread about white sourdough having a lower impact on raising blood sugar.

I also have some of the same issues heve with slashing and no oven spring.

Its less of an issue when I make yeasted bread. With Sourdough I get inconsistent results, sometimes good oven spring other times not. Because of the long processing time for sourdough I don't have a set process yet and I think it just takes more experience to get consistently good results. I frequently find myself putting the dough in the refrigerator so I can work on it when I have time.

 Another problem I have had but really noticed lately, is on the final proof I get tears in the top of the loaf. I wonder if it is from trying to form the loaf too tightly.

I think of strength as the ability of the dough to generate CO2 and to contain it within the gluten structure. If the dough rises too long it runs out of fuel to generate CO2, if the gluten structure is not good it cannot contain the CO2.

 

 

 

home_mill's picture
home_mill

Although I have been opposed to adding any processed white flour to my dough, I now want to try it for the reason that it would a good test vehicle. I can tweak my process until I get good results and then back off the white flour if I want to.

 

Zigs's picture
Zigs

Did you ever find a pattern to the 'slashing caused the dough to deflate' problem? Mixing method, kneading method, tightness of shaping, proof time, etc...

I had thought about adding some white flour, if nothing else for the fine grind it takes so much effort to get from a home mill setup.

holds99's picture
holds99

If you have a copy or can get a copy at the library of Jeffrey Hamelman's book Bread, A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes, take a look at Step 2 Mixing (page 5) of the 11 step baking process.  As he explains it, "during mixing gluten is formed.  At first the gluten molecules in flour are randomly bunched, haphazardly oriented in all directions.  During mixing, the molecules are stretched and become aligned in more or less straight lines, and it this stretching and aligning of the gluten strands that develops the dough's strength." 

If you can get a copy of this book read the first 86 pages and then reread it.  Understand the 11 step process.  It's the most important thing to know about baking.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

charbono's picture
charbono

Didier Rosada, in this article:  http://www.sfbi.com/pdfs/SFBINewsWI07.pdf ,

recommends scoring whole wheat doughs right after final shaping, when the dough still has good strength.

cb

Zigs's picture
Zigs

I will try that this weekend and let you know what happens. I'd considered going earlier, but never that early. I can't wait to find out how that effects the final shape of the dough.

Thanks to everybody for the info.

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Hey Zigs.

How much starter are you putting into your dough? If your dough is that active you may be putting a little too much starter in it. Just a thought.

Rudy

Zigs's picture
Zigs

It was definetely a combination of over-proofing and slashing too late (while over-proofed).   I slashed right after shaping which definetely works, but the pattern is going to have to change to account for how the dough expands on the final proof.

Dough went in the oven about 15 minutes early, and I got the amount of oven spring I was looking for.

This is all going to take much more work/experimentation, but all of your tips have helped a lot.

Thankyou. 

ahhoefel's picture
ahhoefel

I've found myself in the exact situation that you've been describing Zigs. I'm been working on Reinhart's whole wheat hearth bread, which has a very similar recipe (no enrichments). It keeps sagging and losing its shape. It also deflates horribly when slashing. After trying to overknead it and underknead it, I'm left thinking that I'm over proofing it.


Next time I'll shape it earlier and bake it earlier. How have your experiments gone? I'm interested to know if you've been able to solve the problems.


Thanks.