The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Dough feels like silky smooth play dough - very extensible

hotsawce's picture

Dough feels like silky smooth play dough - very extensible

Well, I'm experiencing a recurring problem with my dough.

Last week, I made a pizza dough at 62% hydration using a bread flour leaven (12% in bakers percents) inoculated at 20% the night prior. 3% salt, using King Arthur bread flour. I mixed, it went into the fridge overnight  to bulk, I balled it the next morning and it baked up okay that evening. A little pale compared to active dry yeast, had trouble getting it crisp, but it was active and airy. The balls held their shape and were very active.

Today, I make a batch at 62% hydration, 3% salt, 5% leaven inoculated at 50% (I built it this morning.) Mixed, bulk for a couple hours, then balled. The balls almost immediately turned to pancake batter. I reballed, and same thing happened. Reballed again, and they STILL flattened out. The dough felt like silky smooth play dough with little to no resistance or elasticity. I found this surprising, as I had much more leaven in the previous batch and if the starter was the issue, I would have expected to see it in the last batch rather than this one.

For both, I dissolve and froth the starter in water. Add flour and mix until hydrated. Cover and autolyse for at least 30 minutes. Add fine sea salt, mix, and then bulk. I can say, the dough when just the flour and water feels like the proper hydration (62) where its not sticky and holds together. It cleans the bowl and is a cohesive mass. After I add the salt, it gets very sticky and sticks to the side of the bowl. Don't know if the salt has anything to do with it, or maybe the starter is messed up and thats about the time it affects the rest of the mix.

Does anyone have any idea what might have happened? I've heard talk of "thiol" compounds but I think it has to be more than that. Why would my dough a few days prior be fine and dough today pancake out. It happens a lot, and I find it hard to believe more often than not my starter or leaven is infected by thiol compounds. Originally I was using a whole wheat starter ( and it was happening with that) and I thought the whole wheat may have been the issue but apparently not, because it's now happening after I switched over to bread flour starter. Both the starter and leaven rises and falls predictably. Could I be overmixing the dough before the salt is added, causing the gluten to become damaged?