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Advice on proofing

dgaddis's picture

Advice on proofing

Baked another loaf this weekend, turned out pretty good.  10% dark rye, 75% hydration, my owner starter.  Bread flour.

Bulk rise on the counter for about 12hrs, then shaped and into a proofing basket and into the fridge for 9hrs overnight.

In the morning while the oven was heating up I put the basket out on the counter to warm up a bit.  I put three scores across the side, hoping it would cause the loaf to spring straight up.  

The dough ball, in the morning, was really soft.  It wasn't sticky.  But, it had no tension at all, felt very soft/slack.  I felt like if I sat it on the counter it would just flatten out into a pancake.  I'm wondering if it was over-proofed?

Baked in a cast iron dutch oven at 475*F, 20mins covered, 15mins uncovered.  I placed it in the dutch oven seam-side down.  I couldn't actually see the seam, but you can see where it opened up while baking.

It was good, I'm not complaining really, but I would have liked it to get a bit more of an even spring.  In the crumb shot you can see one side sprung a bit more, that's cause when I dropped it into the dutch oven it wasn't centered.  The side closest to the wall of the dutch oven had a bit more oven spring. It had the softest crumb of any I've baked yet, so that was cool.

Thoughts? Advice?

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

But can you tell us a bit more about the recipe?

Flour: ?

Water: ?

Salt: ?

Starter: ?


Temperature: ?

dgaddis's picture

100g starter (which is all purpose flour that is 100% hydrated)

400g bread flour (King Arthur)

50g dark rye flour (Bob's Red Mill)

300g water @ 90*F

10g salt

Gave it two folds, first an hour after mixing final dough, second an hour after the first.

Kitchen temp was 70*F.  At least, that's what the thermostat was set at.

Also, instead of adding the salt after the autolyse like I have done in the past (per Flour Water Salt Yeast) I dissolved the salt into the water before mixing with flour for the autolyse.  

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

First things first - an autolyse is without the salt. However that's not what stands out here.

Your recipe:

  • Flour 100%
  • Water 66%
  • Starter 22%
  • Salt 2.2%

And you did the bulk ferment for 12 hours on the counter? That is a very long bulk ferment for this amount of starter. Are you following a recipe?

dgaddis's picture

Final dough is 75% hydration

500g total flour: 400g bread flour, 50g dark rye, 50g all purpose from the starter

350g total water: 300g water + 50g water in the starter


Recipe - no, not really following anything.  'inspired by' some of the FWSY recipes, which have 1000g total flour and 200g starter - I always just use 500g total flour because I only want one loaf.  His recipes usually call for a bulk rise of 12-15hrs.  My dough was doubled in size FWIW.  I guess it could have more than doubled and then collapsed a bit, we were out of the house the last ~5 hours it was rising. But there wasn't any dough stuck to the side of the bowl above the dough.

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Total Flour : 500g

Total Water: 350g

= 70% hydration

Water / Flour x 100

[or in your recipe just double everything and you get 700g water per 1000g flour which = 70%]


If I were you I'd either shorten the bulk ferment - at a guess 3-5 hours @ 22% starter - or re-arrange the recipe to have around 8-10% starter for an all night bulk ferment.


dgaddis's picture

Ah you're right, it is 70% hydration.  

So you think it should only ferment for 3-5 hrs?  There was hardly any rise visible after 3hrs.  Maybe my starter wasn't at peak activity?

Also, how do I know how much rise I need? How do I know it should double, or triple, or whatever? Other than following a recipe or just trial and error.

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Make sure your starter is ready before using. This means fed, strong and bubbly. A good way to tell (but not totally accurate as some starters don't perform this test too well) is to drop a bit into a glass of water and see if it floats. Another way is if your starter has peaked. I just go by how it looks and smells. If it's full of bubbles and smells good then I proceed. Depending on how long it's been between feeds you might find two builds for the levain is needed. For example:

Night before and left for 12-14 hours: 6g starter + 12g water + 12 g flour.

Morning of: 30g starter + 35g water + 35g flour - leave for 6-8 hours before going onto the dough.

As an example only and similar to what I do at the moment.

Now how to tell when it's done? When the dough feels billowy and looks aerated. You'll see visible signs of bubbles just beneath the surface of the dough. It should also feel silky smooth. Then it's ready. It might not even double.

Going by how it looks and feels is more accurate then going by the clock. Watch the dough and not the clock.

dgaddis's picture

Good deal, thanks for the tips!  I'll try a double feeding next time.  I keep mine in the fridge, pulled it the night before mixing the dough, discarded all but 50g, and added 50g water, 50g flour.  Next morning it had tripled in volume and smelled alcoholy (but likely had already been peaked for a few hours?).  Didn't try the float test, I'll try that next time too.

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

as long as it hasn't been in the fridge too long. But from the sound of this it does seem ok to use. I think it's just the timing of the dough and judging when it's done.

By all means try the levain build. I have another idea:

10g starter + 20g water + 20g flour : left for 12-14 hours.

50g starter (from above) + 50g water + 50g flour : left for 6-8 hours.

Use 100g from above 50g left over. It should last for a week in the fridge but you can give that a quick feed before returning to the fridge.

So many ways!

Elsasquerino's picture

But just wanted to say that's a tasty looking loaf! Well done