Sourdough gluten problems after bulk fermentation
I've been observing a fairly consistent problem with my loaves lately, and I'm hoping you can help me out.
Basically, the gluten in my doughs appears to be degrading instead of developing over the course of bulk fermentation, and I can't quite figure out why. My doughs have been consistently feeling ultra-sticky and weak after the bulk fermentation and fail to pass the windowpane test.
Before I get into some of my hypotheses, I'll just quickly run through my formula and process.
45g bread flour
45g whole wheat flour
10g mature liquid starter
Mixed and left to mature for 11 hrs at 70 deg F, which is as warm as I can get my place at this time of year. It passes float test by the time I use it, although I'm guessing that it's on the younger side.
Autolyse Part 1:
425g bread flour
25g dark rye flour
Mixed and left untouched for 50 min.
Autolyse Part 2:
Add 100g of levain to autolyse, mix and let sit for 30 min.
Final Dough Mix, followed by the rest of the process:
- Mix in 10g (2%) salt, along with 25g of water (totaling 80% hydration)
- Slap and Fold until medium-high gluten development. At this point, the dough feels pretty strong and isn't too hard to handle.
- Place dough in a container and place the container in a large bowl filled with 85degF water, so that the container with the dough floats. (This is just my way of making sure that the dough isn't too cold).
- Do 3 folds in the first 1.5 hrs.
- Allow the dough to expand by 50% of it's original volume. (It's worth noting that I usually retard the bulk fermentation overnight so I can get a bit of shuteye.)
- Take dough out of the fridge and let it come up to temperature for an hour.
- Preshape and bench rest 20 min. (This is when I like to remove a piece of the dough for a post-bulk windowpane test. It's also pretty sticky at this point.)
- Shape, proof for an hour.
My hypothesis for why the gluten might be degrading is that I'm using overmatured starter in my levain. Currently, my starter formula is 33g mature starter, 33g whole wheat flour, 33g water, left to mature at 70degF for 12 hours.
However, I have my doubts about this hypothesis, because I feel that even an overmature starter would have limited effect on the final dough, since my final dough likely only contains about 5g of it.
Do any of you have thoughts on this matter? Any insight would be appreciated.
Note: regarding the bulk fermentation volume increase, I've tried everything from 30% BVI to 70% BVI, with varied results. At 30%, the dough is strong at the end of bulk fermentation, but the crumb structure of the resulting bread is tight. At 70%, the dough is incredibly weak, and the crumb structure is tight. Either way, the dough has increased in stickiness, and seems to have weakened. Basically, I'm trying to get it so that I can have an extensible dough at the end of bulk fermentation that can yield a more open crumb and scoring that opens up more.