The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

What is thiol and how is it getting in my bread?

MichelleKslak's picture

What is thiol and how is it getting in my bread?

Here is my original post:

I just went through this!  4 weeks ago I wrote here and got wonderful help and seemed to fix things, then everything went bad again!  My first loaf looked fine, rose beautifully, and as it was baking, half just overflowed (on the long side) and the other half stayed normal.  Very strange looking loaf.  The second loaf looked all melty in the pan, rose about an inch in the oven, then fell.  I am now starting all over again (again!) with new Carl’s starter.  So my new questions:

1. What is thiol and how does it get in my bread?  Is it in the air, flour, water? I’ve used both tap and bottled spring water—just using bottled now.

2. My new starter is still very gummy and not doubling.  I’m in day 6 of “refreshing and tossing”.  Am I just waiting for it to become “normal” again?

A comment about my starter:  For almost a year my starter never rose and I got beautiful bread that would rise more than double.  I hope this makes sense, I’m not a baker, just make bread once a week or so for myself.  Being so new at this, I didn’t realize the starter was supposed to double, so I didn’t know that wasn’t right.  But it made really good bread! 

This is very frustrating.  How could I go a whole year with the same starter and get beautiful results.  Now it seems like nothing is right, even though I’m doing the exact same thing as before.  Please HELP!


MangoChutney's picture

Thiol is the chemical term for a family of chemicals with a certain chemical composition.  It refers to the presence of sulfur in a compound where normally there would be oxygen.  In general it makes the compound stinkier.

Sulfur is present in the proteins of wheat flour.  It is the reactions of the sulfur in proteins that allow gluten to be formed.  However, some bacteria process the sulfur out of the proteins and turn them into thiols.  This leaves the proteins with no way to form gluten, or even destroys gluten that was already formed. 

It is the errant bacteria that are the problem.


Nickisafoodie's picture

1) use the search box and research "starters".  there are hundreds of post, by reading a handful, you will have a better sense or what it takes to maintain a starter.  And anything else you are curious about as just about eveything is covered. 

2)  re starter use a scale and measure one part water to one part flour (if not, use parts flour by volume to one part water by volume).  Keep covered or use a clear acrylic containers with the hinged lid that flips open and with clear gasket.  Easy to use this for a starter vessle.  Do not use plastic or a crock which can have cracks in the glazing- prone to housing bad bacteria.

3) buy a digital scale (LOL.)  seriously.  Most recipes are in weight/grams on this site and converting volume to weight is a real pain, although possible.  Plus much easier to scale quantities up or down when using metric.  About $30 for one that goes from grams to upper limit of 5-10 lbs.  20% off coupon at Bed, Bath and Beyond or on web.  over time you may come to regard this as best money you ever spend

4) find a recipe on this site to your likeing - that has very detailed instructions and follow it.  Make it three times, ideally each result coming out the same

5) Buy Floyd's $4.99 ebook on Amazon "The Fresh Loaf Bread" - perfect for beginners

Once you start having success you can evolve forward into other bread styles.  You will get there...


jcking's picture

So the bakers mission, as I tell my students on their first day in my baking classes, is to learn how to draw out the full potential flavor trapped in the grain.I explain that the way to accomplish this is by understanding the effects of time and temperature on the ingredients. Controlling temperature is a very powerful method of controlling time and fermentation, and it has a hugh impact on the ability of the baker to evoke the full potential of flavor from the grain.
[ Peter Reinharts artisan breads every day, pg 7 ]

Temperature control is a very important factor in fermentation.
[ Rose Levy Beranbaum, The Bread Bible pg30 ]

Consistent baking results require many things, not the least of which is consistent temperature control. The importance of spending a few moments calculating water temperature in order to achieve mixed dough in a correct temperature zone cannot be overstressed. Once we have the correct water temperature, the actual mixing can proceed.
[ Jeffery Hamelman, Bread pg 5]

Happy Baking; Jim

MichelleKslak's picture

All of these comments are great and informative.  I am seriously considering both a digital scale and the e-book.  But I still don't understand how this thiol is getting in my bread.  If I've used new Carl's starter, now the third time (including my original use), new flour, new yeast, new spring water.  Is it in the air?  If so, what's the use?  If it can just swoop in whenever it wants, how do I keep it out of my bread?  I am using a crock-type because I read (somewhere) that it is the best.  I don't have any acrylic bowls with lids - plastic yes, acrylic no. 

Anyway, I started brand new starter on 7/2.  This morning I took it out of the refrigerator and .......... YAY! It looks, smells and is acting completely normal (it was a 2-toned gloopy sticky lump).  Since this thiol thing has happened twice in the last 30 days, I'm afraid to use it!  If it happens again I know I will just quit.  So if anyone can explain how this is getting in my bread, in laymen's terms, and how to keep it out, I'd really appreciate it!

Thanks to everyone!

MangoChutney's picture

Some of the little bugs that are growing in your dough create thiols from a vital part of your dough, without which your dough will not rise.  You need to keep the conditions in your culture such that those little bugs are not favored over the ones that you do want.  There have been a number of posts on how to do that.