The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Hello! and Advice?

levlise's picture

Hello! and Advice?

Hi Everyone!

I'm new to bread (about a year). I'm a long-time reader of this site, and I don't know why it took me so long to make my own account and share rather than just read all the great advice. Here I am. Hope everyone is staying safe and healthy.

Have recently started using Forkish's method in SFWY. Following formulas precisely by weight. Had great success first couple times, even with levain, past few runs ran into same problem - dough so wet and sticky even after bulk ferment basically impossible to shape, even with oil / wet hands / flour. Pictured here is a 100% white with 80% from biga. I didn't want to give up so just threw the shapeless wet mess in the banneton, to which it stuck. I couldn't even tell if it proofed because was so wet / sticky finger-dent was barely working - gave it extra time in fridge. Then just dumped it in dutch oven and voila. Tastes pretty good, looks like this. I'm using KA AP flour (out of bread) and SAF red instant. What's going on? Also, anyone else struggle with his pincer method? I'm worried part if it is I'm not evenly distributing the yeast...

Danni3ll3's picture

Your flour is probably not the same so feel free to cut back on the water. Water is the one variable you can adjust in a bread recipe. If it needs more water you can add it but you can’t take it away as you found out. 

levlise's picture

Makes sense, thank you!

zachyahoo's picture

Few things:

Forkish recipes are notorious for the times being too long. Unless you're baking in the winter, pay more attention to the dough than the provided times.

If I remember correctly, that 80% Biga bread is 75% hydration. That's definitely possible with KA Ap flour, but if you're not used to high hydration loaves, you should cut that percentage down to 70% and try again.

If the pincer method works for you, great. If not, who cares, mix it however works for you!

Just a guess – if you followed his times to the letter, it could be that your 80% biga overferemented? Which could have contributed to the "shapeless wet mess", especially considering that the preferment is almost.. the entire dough in this recipe!

And lastly, if your finger-dent test isn't working because your finger is sticking.. just use (more) flour. If your finger sticks, you're not performing the test correctly, so just use enough flour that that's not an issue!

levlise's picture

Thank you - that is very helpful. Just so I can wrap my head around it - why are his times so much longer (I keep seeing that on here) - is it because of the humidity in Portland- does that slow fermentation?

pmccool's picture

Based on the length of some of the fermentations he recommends, it might even be cooler than that on any given day.  When my kitchen temperatures are 67-70F, I find his timings work reasonably well.  Yeast activity is slowed by the cool temperatures, not by the high humidity.


idaveindy's picture

Another user recently tried that recipe.

Forkish was serious in saying to use pincer method and gentle folds when mixing the biga into the final dough.

If you overmix or knead it  you'll break down the gluten network that built up in the biga, which at 80% is most of the gluten.  If torn apart, the remaining 20% won't rebuild the gluten network.  So follow his incorporation/mix instructions closely, and don't improvise according to any prior bread-making experience.

I'm not saying that was the exact situation with your loaf, it could have been something else.  But keep it in mind.