The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Analysis needed of what the heck happened!

Danni3ll3's picture

Analysis needed of what the heck happened!

I was given a couple of bags of organic buckwheat groats and thought that a bread including those and dried apples and apricots would be very tasty. Well, it is tasty but there was zero oven spring! I have a few thoughts on what happened but I need your input.

Here is the recipe and method I used.

1. Toast 150 g of buckwheat. Chop 75 g each of dried apples and dried apricots (these had sulphur dioxide as a preservative). Soak all of this in 400 g of hot water. The apples and the apricots swelled significantly. Once cooled to warm, add 50 g organic yogurt.

2. Autolyse all of the above with 550 unbleached flour, 50 g of fresh buckwheat flour, 100 g of multigrain flour, 252 g of freshly milled Selkirk wheat, 50 g fresh ground flax seeds, and 450 g of water. The dough felt as if it was on the drier side during the initial mixing so I kept adding water until I felt it was about right and that equaled to 450 g of water.

3. After a couple of hours, I added 270 g of levain and 22 g of salt. The levain was a two stage levain where I fed 80 g of starter with 80 g of rye flour and 80 g of water for the first stage. Second stage was to add 106 g of whole rye flour, 422 g of unbleached flour and 422 g of filtered water. The starter tripled in 4 hours. I usually use a 4 stage levain but I was trying to use up levain left over from my other bakes.

4. I did four sets of folds about 20 minutes apart and right from the first set, the dough was super sticky and didn't seem to want to hold a shape. After the fourth set it did hold for a few seconds but then relaxed. The stickiness never improved. After a couple of hours, I knew I was going to be in trouble with shaping so I put it in the fridge to stiffen it up. I took it out once it had doubled in there.

5. Taking it out of the buckets, seemed to really deflate the dough. It just didn't feel right. It held together but I didn't get that spring back that good solid dough has. I gave it a quick shape, a quick rest and a final shape. The final shape did not have the usual tightness. It just seemed to stretch out and stay there. I then put it back into the fridge to final proof. I didn't do any proofing on the counter.

6. 10 hours later, I took it out of the fridge and noted that it had not risen very much at all. I left two batches on the counter to proof more and the loaves were a nightmare to load into the pots as the dough just stretched and stretched. I had to move really fast to be sure to get them into the pots without it stretching down to the floor. 

7. I baked as usual... 25 minutes at 450 F and 25 minutes at 425 F. I was super disappointed that there was no oven spring. So the last two batches, I baked right out of the fridge but that didn't improve matters.

So I posted a picture of the crumb so you can help me figure out what happened. Here are some of my thoughts:

A. Too much water was released back into the dough from the soaked apples and apricots. Next time, don't soak them.

B. The sulphur dioxide from the fruit interfered with the yeast. I don't know if this point is valid since the dough did double during fermentation.

C. Something went wrong with my starter because I did a two stage levain rather than my usual four. It did triple as usual for the normal amount of time so I don't know if this really was part of the issue.

D. I should have added vital wheat gluten to the dough because of the buckwheat flour. But then again, it wasn't a lot. Only 50 g for a dough of around 1130 grams.

E. Maybe I over fermented the thing. I don't think it was over proofed because the loaves barely rose... maybe I seriously underproofed the loaves.

F. And what was with the stickiness? Dough usually starts off sticky but then gain structure with the folds. This gained a bit of structure but not much. Maybe I should have done more folds?

I plan to redo this tomorrow so any help you can give me would be very appreciated.


pmccool's picture

although I don't know whether the 150g in the hot soaker was still in the form of groats, instead of as flour or meal.

What did the multigrain flour contain?  If some of the components aren't gluten contributors, that could affect the dough characteristics.

There's also 135g of rye flour in the levain.

Overall, it appears that there is only 802g of wheat flour (unbleached and Selkirk) in the dough.  And about 935g of water went into the dough if I followed the account correctly.  So, yeah, sticky and floppy seems like a reasonable outcome.


Danni3ll3's picture

Although they did mostly dissolve in the dough once it was baked.

The Robin Hood Best for Bread Multigrain flour does have some non-gluten grains in it. Here is the ingredients list: Enriched flour (wheat flour, amylase, xylanase, ascorbic acid, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, l-cysteine hydrochloride, azodicarbonamide, folic acid), whole wheat flour, cracked wheat, cracked rye, whole flax. contains rye and wheat ingredients. may contain barley, egg, milk, mustard, oat, sesame seed, soybean and triticale ingredients. I often use it as a substitute for all purpose flour and it usually works just fine. 

And yeah, it was actually 968 g of water in there. 850 g in the soaker and autolyse and 118 in the levain. My second try will replace the multigrain flour with the unbleached and I am definitely going to cut back on the hydration.

Rake_Rocko's picture


So I have been working with buckwheat my past few bakes. The first couple bakes with it went almost exactly how you describe here. Very slack, sticky dough that just never came together like the dough normally would. My last one with buckwheat, I lowered the percentage down to 5% (like you have here) and also added in a mixture of bread flour and AP flour. This worked wonders for me actually. 

Based off of your process, I would say that you probably hit the nail on the head with your observation in "A." I see your flour mix isn't as simple as mine, but maybe work in bread flour in to that mix, just to offset that buckwheat flour with the bread flour being higher in protein. 

Also, in regards to the water, I would think that if you do not soak the apples and apricots, they would take in water once you start your bulk and they have time to sit and soak it in from there. dough may end up feeling a bit more firm than what you are used to, but atleast its on the firm side rather than on the too slack side where it doesn't form any structure!

Just some thoughts from someone who is DEFINITELY not as experienced as you!


Danni3ll3's picture

I use unbleached all purpose flour because our bread flour and our all purpose flour have the same amount of protein - around 13% if I recall right. I think I will ditch the multigrain flour and use whole wheat in my starter instead of the rye. That should definitely help with developing the gluten.

As to not soaking the apricots and apples, since I put in my add-ins at the very beginning, I can always add more water at the add the levain and salt stage if needed.

And as to being experienced, you do realize that I have only been baking bread for not quite two years now, right? I still very much a newbie compared to the years of experience of others here. =-)

dmsnyder's picture

I think you have a combination of issues. First, some low-gluten components. Second, some ingredients that will cut your gluten strands, leading to a denser crumb. Third, solid, insoluble ingredients (dried fruit) that will also make for a denser crumb.

Decreasing the buckwheat would help, but another idea would be to let your gluten develop more before adding the stuff that interferes with it.

So, mix all your flours and water. Autolyse. Then finish mixing to develop the gluten. At the end of mixing add the soaked groats and mix gently. Bulk ferment. Add the dried fruit during the first or second stretch and fold. (Stretch the dough out to the max without tearing it. Sprinkle the fruit over it. Do fold, then briefly knead in the old-fashioned way to distribute the fruit.) Carry on with the procedures.

I don't know the effect of sulfur dioxide on fermentation, but I can't imagine it is good.

Happy baking!


Danni3ll3's picture

I totally understand your process but for some reason, when I add in stuff later, it turns out to be a disaster. I mix by hand so that might be the problem.

Flour.ish.en's picture

the buckwheat groats or cooking it into a porridge. I tried both and the breads turned out OK. The breads would invariaby be denser relatively to breads baked with other higher-gluten flours. I put in as much as 30% of total flour weights in the sprouted buckwheat bread (you see pictures here: The dough rises as expected, although it's not a high riser. Hope that helps!


Danni3ll3's picture

and used it in bread but I haven't tried the porridge approach yet with buckwheat. Something to keep in mind for the future. And thank you for the link. It is very helpful!

Flour.ish.en's picture

I agreed with point A of your analysis. When I have to use apples in bread dough, I use dry apples or dehydrate them in a 250°F oven to prevent the apples from releasing excess moisture in the dough. Think baking apple pie, apples can make the pie soaky if they are not properly prepared. 

suave's picture

You mixed a 70%+ hydration dough with significant percentage of your flour being weak or gluten free.  It looks better than it should, IMO.

rushyama's picture

What you're describing sounds a lot like what's happened to me during some early porridge / potato loaf bakes -- the soaked grains / potato released a lot more water than I expected, making for dough that got stickier as bulk went on. I'd definitely consider not soaking the fruits if they aren't too hard. You could also try adding in the fruits at the end of mixing, before the folds. That might help the dough build strength a bit better during autolyse but should still be easy enough to distribute the fruit easily.

Hope you figure it out! It sounds like a super tasty mix, and dried apricots are one of my favorite add-ins!

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Awesome combination of ingredients, as usual Danni. Here are a couple of my observations from my own baking:

  1. Buckwheat groats turn to mush if cooked in a porridge, so I'm not sure what they will do when soaked then mixed into dough, but I wouldn't be surprised if they release a lot of moisture back into the dough
  2. I used sulfured dried fruit, and haven't had any problem (so I'm hoping that's not affecting your bake)
  3. Dried apples in particular are like little sponges, and I bet they also release some of that water back into the dough
  4. I don't know what the proportions are of all the ingredients in the multigrain blend (probably not too much) but many of them are not gluten-producing. And rye flour doesn't have the same gluten structure as wheat flour either (as you know already).
  5. I used buckwheat flour in a couple bakes; not much but it still makes the dough more 'plastic' than stretchy (a bit like rye). I do like the way it ends up though. I don't seem to get a lot of rise during the proof, but it seems to spring fairly well in the oven. The bread ends up very moist and a bit dense, so that's probably contributing to the overall dense, wet result you're getting

So, like others (and you yourself) have already said - use more bread flour; don't soak the fruit or the buckwheat groats; and reduce the hydration a bit. And watch the proof - I think buckwheat might speed it up the same way whole rye does (not sure about that though).

Danni3ll3's picture

I redid the loaf with the following changes 

1. I didn’t soak the fruit. 

2. I soaked the toasted groats for an hour and then drained them. I also reduced the amount of groats to 100 g. 

3. I replaced the multigrain flour with unbleached flour. 

4. I reduced the water in the dough to 655 g. I did add a bit more with my hand during folding. It still could have used a few more grams but I was very leery of using too much considering my previous experience. 

5. I used whole grain wheat flour to feed the Levain rather than rye. 

The dough felt much better and behaved as it should. The loaves are in the oven now and considering the cracks in the top, they might be slightly underproofed, but they did rise and look a thousand times better than my previous attempt.