I want to tell you a story about a special flour.
One day, I spotted a flour on the shelf of a local shop and it was a sparkling moment: an organic flour with 12% protein content with a greyish colour. Of course, I bought the flour, I had to try it right?
Well, I had some other types of bread listed on my TO DO list but I decided to use it to feed my lovely sourdough Maya.
After a few days, I noticed that my beautiful Maya was raising less and less. I blamed the temperature as the autumn was entering also into my kitchen. I knew that something was not right when my starter was not reaching even 50% after 8 hours. I resuscitated my dear Maya with some rye flour and put the flour in the pantry for another time.
About a week ago, while cleaning my pantry I found again the bag with this flour and I felt it was the time to give it a proper test. I quickly came with a 75% hydration recipe and with big hope I started my dough. Autolyse of 4 hours and the dough was looking nice and thin, although breaking the window test a bit faster. The more I was advancing the worse it was. S&F, 5 coil folds and I ended up with an awful dough. The only chance to rescue it was in a bread pad... no way that this dough would have stayed overnight in the fridge in a banneton. At the end of the proofing, I baked it immediately. The resulting bread was condensed, not much raised, with a dark colour but nice aroma.
I then sat on the chair and started thinking: "What was wrong?". My conclusion was leading to hydration. Maybe this flour was not handling well this hydration and I went out of the acceptable hydration window.
The next day I was ready to give it another chance. Jumped down from 75% hydration to 65% but ready to add more water if the flour requested. After mixing, it didn't look like, so I remained at the initial 65% hydration.
Things were going familiar with this second trial, nice S&F, 3 coil folds and I felt the dough was ready for shaping. It behaved exemplary!
Put in bannetons, started the 2nd fermentation at room temperature and then it stayed in the fridge overnight.
The next day, was the big day of baking. I took the banneton out of the fridge... wonderful behaviour at scoring and straight to the oven.
And after 10 minutes every hope was ruined. The bead got flat and didn't raise too much. What a disappointment!
I sat again on a chair and concluded: there is a moment when you have to accept that some flours simply won't give you the expected results no matter how much effort or love you put to make them. And I am also very sure that every baker with more or less experience has seen this at least once.
I give up my hopes for this flour and go and test some better ones... Time to move on. Lesson learned to trust my feelings from the first signs when a flour behaves strangely.