The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

White Wheat & Full Grain Spelt Sourdough, no oven spring

JK's picture
JK

White Wheat & Full Grain Spelt Sourdough, no oven spring

Over the last couple of weeks, I have managed to make a whole grain spelt sourdough starter and tried my hand at baking. (Novice.) I cannot get a good oven spring, though. Please help. 

 

I've tried the 1:2:3 method (making very small boules until I learn.):

100 g whole grain spelt starter (100 % hydration),

200 ml water,

300 g flour (of which 80 g whole wheat spelt and 220 strong white wheat)

4 g salt

Room temp: Between 21 C and 23 C (becomes warmer when I cook.)

 

Procedure:

Autolyse (5 h)

Add starter and 4 g salt 

Bulk ferment (5 h 30 min). Perform stretch and folds every 30 min until the dough passes the windowpane test - this time after the 4th stretch and fold.

Pre-shape

30 min bench rest

Final shape

Final proof (1 h)

When taken out of the proofing basket the dough flattened out. 

Score.

Bake covered at 260 C for 20 min (oven thoroughly preheated), uncovered at 230 C for 20 min.

 

The bread did rise a bit. The crust was lovely and the crumb was soft. However, it was very dense in the middle. The taste was mild, which is the way we like it (small children...).

I am thinking: Less water? A bit longer final proof? Shaping? Less spelt flour (I really do wish to keep it in the recipe, though. The taste is great.) Maybe starter needs to grow stronger (born on 26.3.2020)? Temperature fluctuations (between 21 C - 23 C)?

 

Thank you for your opinion. 

Jana

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

keeping the same recipe but call that 5 hr autolyse a soaker and toss the recipe salt in with it to control enzymes.  Then continue and see if you notice a difference.

One hour final proof may be too long with whole grain spelt, whole grains tend to speed up fermentation so watch it carefully. Don't let it double from original volume before baking it.  When you flip it out of the banneton, it should still have some strength to keep its shape.  

JK's picture
JK

I did the soaker for 3 h (to be on the safe side) and shortened the final proof to 40 minutes. 

What an enormous difference!

Thank you so much.

It is still hot, still crackling... photo of the crumb coming up. Fingers crossed.

 

JK's picture
JK

It is still a bit dense in the middle but overall a wonderful loaf.

I'm thinking I should shorten the bulk ferment by half an hour. It did look ok to me a full hour sooner but I cannot rely on my experience just yet...

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

looking better.  Can't help to think that big bubble was in shaping.  Try to pop the big ones you see while shaping.    If you pop the big bubbles in shaping, it gives the smaller ones a chance to rise more if you are judging by volume when to bake.

Trust your instincts. If shortening the bulk rise, try tacking the 30 min onto the final rise. I don't think I would shorten the overall rise time from mixing to baking.

JK's picture
JK

I'll trust your advice about shaping tomorrow, then. 

Additionally, I will double the quantity. This bread was gone in seconds!

No other changes. I will only make one little change each time I bake spelt bread from now on. (Until I feel I understand the dough well enough.)

I'll post the picture if you're interested in how it turns out.

 

JK's picture
JK

The result was a tighter but even and soft crumb. Delicious taste. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Looks great from the top!      Has that classic "X" score nicely opened too!

-The crackling sound is music to a baker's ear.-

JK's picture
JK

...the bread was gone by the time the baby fell asleep!

But the bottom always looks more or less the same... sending the picture of yesterday's bake:

Funny enough, half of it was missing by the time it cooled down (and I was released from the baby duty). We used to eat 1 kg of bread per week before I started baking... fresh bread goes fast!

The bottom usually stays very light in colour if I take the bread out a bit early (but 20 min covered and 20 - 25 min uncovered works fine). This happens even if I preheat the oven at 260 C for 1h 30 min. You think it could effect the oven spring?

New bake: I was very curious about the role of salt in that soaker. If you remember, I reduced the original time of the autolyse from 5 h to 3 h when introducing the soaker. Therefore, I wasn't sure whether it was really mostly adding the salt early that improved my result. 

So this time I did a 5 h soaker. - But also... the temperatures here are rising. Previous bake 21°C - 21.5°C throughout the process. This bake 22°C - 22°5°C.

During shaping, the dough had a nice structure but felt even more 'airy' than usual. I wonder if I popped too many bubbles!

I did the poke test after 30 min of the final proof and the dough seemed to be over proofed already. Sure enough, it did not retain perfect structure when tipped out of the basket. 

The bread turned out better than the original bake, however reducing the time of soaking worked better. The crumb was tight but light and mostly even. It got maybe too tight only in the middle. Still edible. 

 

This experiment also makes me wonder how I should adjust the bake once the temperatures rise... just shorten the time of soaking? Shorten the time of bulk rise, as well?

The starter might be better off in the fridge. Will this make the bread taste more sour? How about I take it out of the fridge, feed it only 1 and then use it? I don't want to have too much discard... which may happen if I have to feed it 2 or 3 times.

Do sourdough questions ever stop? I thought I needed to nail the fermentaton and then try different hydrations and flours... but new questions just keep coming up!

 

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

what are you baking on?  Is it shiny?

Fresh bread is hard to resist.  You can put up a sign to let it cool for 3 hours, that might work. Or try not to bake before preparing meals.  Bake after them.  

JK's picture
JK
Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Either get the pan lower in the oven (lower the rack) and/or put a dark pan/sheet/iron griddle under the shiny pot in direct contact.  

Gettin more heat under the dough during the initial oven spring is a good idea.  

JK's picture
JK

I will give it a try. It should work when I use yeast, as well, right? I will try it on my next bake, wheat + buckwheat + walnuts (on Friday).

I've baked another spelt sourdough for tomorrow. 20 ml water more. Still hot.

Now the starter is in the fridge to test whether the bread will become too sour if I keep it there.

I'm seriously impressed by your knowledge. I cannot believe you were able to correctly diagnose the bread from pictures alone and come up with such elegant solutions. Truly amazing. 

Thanks!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

...and a crumb shot another thousand.  Lol!  

You're going to make me blush.  

JK's picture
JK

Too long, perhaps. I'm a bit disappointed about today's bake.

And I was so hoping to make you proud with this one...

The weather is warmer (23.8°C). My starter needed 3 h 30 min to rise fully. (It took 4 - 5 h before.)

I decided to shorten bulk rise by half an hour. Still, the dough felt rather slack after bench rest. Therefore, I shortened the final proof to half an hour. I think the dough was over fermented even so.

 I have also tried to bake on a dark baking sheet (2x yeast, 1x sourdough). The bottom gets completely burnt if baked on it the entire time. It is a bit better if I remove the sheet when I uncover the bread. Today I also tried moving the bread a bit higher up. Still burnt.

Maybe I could preheat on the dark baking sheet but then take it out when I put the bread in?

I'll do better next time. 

 

 

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

position.  Careful with the final proof on sourdough, it is too easy to let it proof to double and then it doesn't rise much in the oven. Try getting it into the oven sooner than a yeasted loaf.

I'm easy to please, as long as it tastes good.  Taste is number one!

JK's picture
JK

I'll share my next attempt in a few days. 

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

for a Trekkie replicator and/or an aroma app.  

JK's picture
JK

30 min soaker - 4 h bulk rise - 30 min bench rest - 40 min final proof (23.8 °C)

It was delicious! Perfect bread.

And the taste: children used to sweet white bread opted for sourdough! 

Thanks a lot for your help. I wish I could share it with you...

 

 

JK's picture
JK

Hello again,

Do you mind me running my assumptions by you?

I have been baking this spelt sourdough a fair bit since I've last posted. I'm happy to report I'm able to consistently achieve wonderful results. However, the fermentation times vary a fair bit (4-6h bulk). I have bought a glass bowl so I can see when the dough is ready for shaping. Seems to work but more predictability would be great from the planning point of view. Also, I don't like not understanding the process.

Here are pictures of my average loaf these days:

I assume my feeding schedule is to blame for inconsistencies:

If I take the starter from the fridge, I try to squeeze in 3 feedings before I use it. Because I take it out a day before, it gets 3 feedings over the course of 24 h. The yeasties seem to build up their appetite when fed this generously. The dough gets fermented super quickly.

If I keep the starter out of the fridge and feed it every 12 h, the bulk ferment lasts 5.30 h - 6.00 h. 

Am I on to something or is this just a coincidence?

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

 of flour every 8 hours compared to 12 hours.  Feeding sooner at peak or just before tends to favour the yeast that can reproduce faster.  There are a variety of yeasts living in the culture.  How they are fed and when affects their various populations (and bacteria). You may or may not notice any taste differences between the two feeding methods but it will effect the bulk times.  

Many variables will influence the bulk ferment and the sooner they influence the dough, the greater the influence. Flour, temperature of flour and water, dough temp, additional ingredients, milk, butter, seeds whole grains.  If you know your basic times for your starter to influence say bread flour wheat, they you take that and add or subtract for any changes.  Say your water is very cold (slower) or the sun has warmed up the kitchen (faster).  Exchanged 100g bread flour for whole wheat (faster) or spelt (a little more faster) or added oats (slower) or kneaded long with warm hands (faster) or popped the dough in the fridge (slower) using chilled flour (slower) frozen flour (snail pace)  for some examples.  How long the flour is wet before yeast start to work is another. Temp of work surface can also speed up or slow down times.  Salt too, forgetting it or not enough can lead to very unpredictable ferments. The ash content or fiber amount in the flour can speed things up but give you a longer dough working window if you like your bread sour tasting.  Keep your eyes open and take notice of the doughs environment and you in it.  

Sourdoughs take longer than standardard yeasted doughs while the yeast is concentrated in instant yeast.  It ferments faster so less time is spent watching the dough.  With the expanded times of sourdough, even tiny influences can slow down or speed up fermentation and combined, well you just have to notice them and sort of add them up (+\-) to predict the dough. That's the fun part.  

JK's picture
JK

It must be it, then. Getting faster fermentation after taking the starter out of the fridge seems to be a bit of a constant. It would make no sense if I didn't squeeze in that extra feeding. But such a difference - just 4 h bulk! And there was a taste difference. The bread was less sour. 

I intend to experiment further (time allowing).

On that note, If I add more water = faster ferment? Spelt is supposed to be less thirsty. I've noticed many bakers stick to around 70 % hydration. I'm therefore thinking of increasing the spelt content to 50/50 at the same hydration first. Not sure it's a good idea since whole grain is supposed to need more water, though. But then... spelt...

Then there is the mystery bake

What would you say when wrong? It looks sad but I promise the taste and the texture were perfect!

My best guess is that the alignment of stars and the moon on that particular night made the bread magic go a bit wonky at my specific location.

Details: I intended not to bake so I discarded much of the starter before changing my mind and feeding very generously. The starter needed much longer to peak. The flour soaked 30 min longer. Bulk rise lasted 5h 30 min. I would leave it longer but I decided to retard in the fridge overnight. It does seem to ferment quite a bit in the cold, which has to be accounted for by shortening the bulk. The dough seemed perfect during pre-shaping & shaping. Rose a fair bit in the fridge but not more than normally. It did spread out more when taken out but not disastrously so... spread further in the oven. I'd say this has to do, maybe, with the spelt gluten structure? 

In any case, it's beyond my knowledge. Any ideas?

 

JK's picture
JK

Hello Mini Oven,

I wish you merry holidays, all the best in 2021 and plenty of fragrant, crunchy crust and soft yummy crumb. 

Many thanks for your help with this bread recipe. I think of you every time I bake sourdough and wish I could return the favour. This really was a game changer for us. 

Best wishes, 

JK 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Merry Christmas to you too.  I love crunchy crust!     Make a loaf for me and then share it with my blessings.  The coming new year can only get better, we hope and pray that it does.  I just read an article that suggests we count three things each day that we are thankful for so I started counting.  I'm thankful for my 91 yr old mom filing out her vaccination form, my newly discovered baking form to play with for the holidays and you my dear for making this a most wonderful day.  Thank you.  God bless you and yours.

JK's picture
JK

You are most welcome. A short note to let you know just how helpful you've been is really the least I can do.

I am very moved by the list of things you are thankful for. My prayers go to your mother. May she stay healthy and happy in your company. 

I must say this pandemic has so far been an opportunity for me and my family to thank for our fortune every day, as well. None of my close family or friends is ill. My mum works as an operating room nurse but has remained healthy. I'm also greatly thankful I have the opportunity to focus both on raising my children and on improving my cooking and baking skills throughout these difficult times.

This holiday season, we can be cheerful relying on science to bring normality back while enjoying the fruits of our newly acquired/improved skills. 

God bless you and your loved ones.