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Im About To Trow The Towel!!! Please Help

Hanry's picture
Hanry

Im About To Trow The Towel!!! Please Help

Hi Everyone

Im new to this. I have a starter almost 2 weeks old. I need some help, im kinda frustrated. Already tried making some sourdough bread and some sourdough baguettes but cannot seem to pass the autolyse. Usually the dough never firms. other times it firms a little bit but never grows. I fead my starter every 20 hours. Hydration is 100%. I use whole wheat for one and ap flour and whole wheat for another one. Usually it takes 8 to 9 hours to get to his highest point before falling, and that's when I mix the the other ingredients My kitchen is usually around 80F to 85F. I've tried folding, slap and fold , even kneading but nothing seems to work. 

Please Advice

Thanks

Hanry

pall.ecuador's picture
pall.ecuador

Hi Hanry,

I'm a little confused by what you mean.  Is the dough 100% or your starter at 100%? If your dough is 100% hydration, I'd find a different recipe for your bakes until you get a hang of it. 100% hydration will never really get firm, and firm isn't exactly what you are looking for in dough. 

 

What do you mean you don't get past autolyse?  

Hanry's picture
Hanry

Hi pall

Thanks for your response. My starter is at 100% Hydration. Im currently working on around 75% hydration recipes. 

After I do the Autolyse and then start the stretch and fold the dough is always the same. It does not change at all in consistency. I tried stretch and fold 3 to 4 times during the first 1:30 hours of the bulk fermentation but nothing really seems to be changing on the dough.

pall.ecuador's picture
pall.ecuador

Want to post your recipe? What flour are you using? If your kitchen is 80-85 degrees your dough is going to be even warmer than that which is pretty warm. I'd maybe do 3-4 stretch and folds every 15 minutes and cut down your bulk.  Based on Bill Wraith's work a 15% starter inoculation at 80 degrees,  bulk would be max 4 hours.  Cut your hydration down to 70% and then work your way up from there. 

How long is your autolyse? Depending on how long you are doing that you maybe already developing your gluten enough.  Can you get a windowpane after that? 

Hanry's picture
Hanry

So because im new and I don't want to make too much bread at once because if it goes wrong I don't want to waste it. im cutting the recipe in 1/2. Im putting the compete recipe here but I digit with half. This recipe is around 63%. This recipe is suppose to be for a baguette. 

 AP Flour or Bread Flour (400g)

Sourdough Starter (200g)

Water (250g)

Fine Sea Salt (9g)

you recommend using only 15% starter? so I need to readjust the measure on flour and water is that correct? by taking from the total and putting it on the starter using baker percentage. Autolyse(meaning combining flour water salt and then mixing the starter by folding and pincer method) usually around 20 to 30 mins. The dough does not get strong enough to develop the windowpane. 

Sorry if bothering allot

Amara's picture
Amara

That's a huge percentage of starter! The fermentation of sourdough breaks down gluten, which gives dough its firmness and shape. You may notice that when you first feed your starter, it is very stretchy and full of "strings" while you mix it, but the next day it is like a liquid. This is due to the breakdown of the gluten. In breadmaking, this is controlled by not over-fermenting the dough and also by using moderate amounts of starter. For that recipe I would only use 50-80g of starter.

 

You also may be "under-stretching" during the stretch and fold, which will also lead to weak dough, this is a very common mistake among beginners. They give a slight stretch and just tuck it over, when really you should try to stretch it about as far as it is willing to go without tearing. This may not be one of your problems, but it might be. The amount of starter definitely is, however!

Hanry's picture
Hanry

Hi Amara

Thanks for your reply. ok so you recommend the using around 20%-30% using bakers percentage. Is this what u usually do like this percentages or it varies depending on the recipe? Ok I will take your advice on the stretch and fold.

Thanks Hanry

Amara's picture
Amara

Using baker's percentage, I would rarely go above 20% starter, I'm not sure I ever have except for some failed experiments...I do usually do percentages, in my own creations I do about 15% starter on average. So if using 400g flour, 60g starter for example.

 

I have done experiments in the past with 100% starter (i.e. 200g starter 200g flour) and it just doesn't work, it has issues like yours where the dough never forms together, again because of the gluten breakdown.

Hanry's picture
Hanry

Ok thanks again. i will try this today. hopefully bake some good bread!!!!

PeterS's picture
PeterS

100% starter is a sourdough pancake :)

Amara's picture
Amara

Indeed, a flatbread in my case! Very tasty but texturally just bad.

zachyahoo's picture
zachyahoo

8-9 hours is too long, your starter is too new!

Your starter is only 2 weeks old (not even). It's just not ready yet. Your starter needs to be ACTIVE! It should double within 3-4 hours ideally at a warm temp

Also, that recipe has waaaaay too much levain in it imo

Hanry's picture
Hanry

Thanks for answering. ok good to know that it just need more time to mature. Usually you get answers where they tell you after 7 or 8 days a starter should be ready and ripe to use. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

all the specifics please.  Amounts of starter food, and water.  Something is amiss.

Hanry's picture
Hanry

Hi thanks for answering. So I've been changing little bit with quantities in terms of trying to keep less starter so the discard won't be that much. I have 3 starters going on. 

1. is 15gms starter, 15gms whole wheat, 15gm, 30gms water. this will rise and fall quicker. already starter falling

2. is 30gms starter, 30gms whole wheat, 30gms water. rise but takes longer to fall

3. is 30gms starter, 60gms whole wheat, 60gms water. rise but takes longer to fall.

3 Starters

Picture attached. fead them at 11pm its now 1030am

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

on the starters.  almost 12 hours for feed ratios of 1:2:2  1:1:1 and !:2:2   not a lot of food for 12 hours.  this will cause your yeast population to dwindle.  What were those temps?

If you want to reduce the amount of waste starter, try feeding 10g starter (pick 1 or 3) and feed for the levain.  10g starter: 50g flour and 50g water (1:5:5) for 110g starter.  time it.  Use when it if domed and just about peaked on the first rise.  No need to keep 3 wheat staters.  Remove 10g and chill the rest for other recipes as old starter.  pancakes, muffins.

If you need more levain, try 15g of starter.  There is a lot of room to play around here but feeding the starter more flour will help build the yeast numbers.

Feed what is left but with a feeding ratio closer to 1:4:4 or 1:5:5 to peak at 8 to 10 hours.  Then wait and feed at about 12 hour intervals.  

Amara's picture
Amara

1:5:5 is a bit excessive for such a young starter, no? I typically do not switch to such low inocculation until a few weeks in

Hanry's picture
Hanry

So when is it suppose to rise bread? I mean after what a month or so would it be considerer a starter that will rise a dough or before a month? 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Watch the starter and let it peak.  It may only need one feeding, it may need two consecutive ones.  The dough or starter fed below contains salt.  I would establish the strength of the starter first before making dough with it.

Hanry's picture
Hanry

ok i will try that first then. thanks

pall.ecuador's picture
pall.ecuador

Hi Hanry,

For now make a couple successful loaves, get your confidence and learn what bread should feel like.  Maybe try this one https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/beginner-friendly-bread-recipe-for-your-first-sourdough-starter  

 

Bread is a rabbit hole that you can spend your whole life perfecting but generally even ugly or bad homemade is still lots better than non-homemade bread.  Once you get a couple loaves under your belt, come back here and look for a couple other recipes to try.  Start to learn the vocab and how different things affect different things.  You can do this!

Hanry's picture
Hanry

All-right. Thanks I will try this recipe to see the results.

I have another question. So can I use this same recipe to make baguette? I know it will be different on the shaping stage but the rest of the process will be the same? also because of my schedule im trying to make same day everything. I know that it will affect the taste and have to make some adjustments on the timing of everything but will it be ok to do it?

 

Thanks again and sorry for so many questions!

Hanry's picture
Hanry

Hi so im trying to work things out to see what's happening. I changed to another spot not so warm. I will detail what I did. I mix the stater and water then added the flour and autolyse for 45 mins, then added the salt with a little bit of water. After that I stretch and folded 4 times every 15 minutes. and now they look like this. I will put 3 pictures each one with its recipe. I need to know what's happening in order to fix it, not now but for later cookings. the difference in colors is because of the angle and the light I took the picture. They suppose to be bulk fermenting for another 2hours. I just don't think they will work.

this one is 250gms flour, 165gms water, 50gms starter, 5gms salt.

thi one is 300gms flour, 200gms water, 100 starter, 6gms salt.

this one is 200gms flour, 115grms water, 80gms starter, 2.5gms salt.

Please let me know what's happening.

Thanks Again Hanry

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

to the autolyse, the 45 minutes counts as part of the bulk ferment or part of the total ferment.  Salt will slow down the yeast or pace it so let's tack on a few hours if the yeast population is low in the starter.  

It's been 5 hours since the three pictures were posted.  You may start to see some tiny bubbles on the sides of the containers.  If you play with the doughs and do some folding to move the yeast around and stretch the gluten, note if you feel the dough puffing up or collecting gas inside.  You can take a sharp knife and slash each one open to look for gas bubbles.  Just slap them back together after you look.  This will give you more information on how the fermentation is progressing.  You also get a good whiff of aroma.  Tasting the dough is also a way to judge the build up of bacteria wate products.  Take notes including the temperatures and consistency of each.  After playing and observing, continue to use straight sided containers, press the surface as flat as you can and then cover them to prevent drying.  

You should find them rising at different rates.  

When observing the bubbles inside the dough, note sizes, variation of sizes and the dough between the bubbles, its density.  That blank space is important to watch. With each handling of the dough the larger bubbles may be turned into smaller ones and even out the bubble size formation.  Cutting the dough to look inside is a great teacher and learning experience.

Hanry's picture
Hanry

So after 4 hours of the bulk ferment, the dough was slacks, no shape can be made with it, I tried folding them many more time to see what happen and nothing, it just didn't work out, I ended trowing everything away. I will continue riding the starters and trying again making some variations to see if I can get the dough together instead of getting this slimy mess.

thanks for taking time to answer

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Only four hours?  That's too bad. and starting after 8 hours it might had made a nice dough to add softened yeast to and  have a decent loaf if it hadn't risen by then.  Gee whiz. Batman, if you do this again wait 24 hours.  Can even tuck it into the fridge for a day or two. Henry, we are your secret support group.  I was looking forward to some results no matter how long it took, even with the salt (which isn't a bad idea in very warm climate) until the babies got thrown out with the bath water.  

Several points: once yeasts appear in a new starter, the feeding of them regularly with enough food becomes more important.  Let the culture show you when the yeast need to be fed.  When yeast gasses raise the starter and reach a peak in about 8 hours, discard and feed the starter.  20g of starter is enough to save and feed. 

Im not sure what is causing the starter not to rise but if you don"t give it enough time, we may never find out.  There could be several things happening.  Meanwhile instead of feeding 3 starters, take part of the most active one to play with and put the others into chill mode in the fridge.  They can get dumped later next week if there is no need to go back to any one of them.  

I might encourage you to start up a new starter keeping it separate from the others.  Take a few spoonfuls of some falling starter.  add enough flour to make a stiff ball about the size of a ping pong or golf ball. pinching in flour one spoonful at a time.  Make a ball that is crumbly, yet holds itself together.  Now spoon a heaping tablespoon of flour into the bottom of a short wide jar, set in the ball and shovel a spoon or two of flour over the ball.  Loosely set on a lid to allow gas exchanges and to keep bugs out and park in a protected out of the way spot.  Ignore it for at least 4 days (4x24)  and until it smells beery.  

Make a second ball but use just a tablespoon of water to make a very stiff ball of dough. Give it a separate jar.  Lebel.  

If it helps, put a note on a calendar and hide the things from sight. 

Hanry's picture
Hanry

My starters are rising good. the are doubling in size around 4 hours after fed. It might be that the videos on YouTube are miss informing me about the times and the process all-together. I don't put any salt on the starter. the thing is that after I mesure the ingredients and wait for the starter to double in size, I put them together and what I thought is that after the autolyse and after the stretch and fold the dough should already look nice and clean and ready to make it a round ball and wait until it rise. I guess I have to let the dough longer to see the results meaning let it bulk ferment for 8 or more hours. 

I already storage 2 of the starters and im feeding only one. I will also try what you recommend on the ball to see what happens.

I will keep on trying and posting any news.

Thanks again hope to write with good news soon!!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

that one starter now and what is the temperature?   

Hanry's picture
Hanry

20gms starter feeding with 40gms water 40gms flour. temperature around 85F to 90F.

when I am suppose to trow in the salt? for you message I understand that it wasn't suppose to be there right? 

SeasideJess's picture
SeasideJess

The usual time to add salt to your mother starter is never.

The usual time to add salt to your bread dough is at the same time that you add your leavening, whether your leavening is dried yeast or a fermented flour levain (such as a sourdough pre-ferment or a conventional yeast pre-ferment).

Your third dough had 57% hydration but it was inoculated with starter at 40%. That is too high, and it may be what made your dough runny and slack, if it caused a proteolytic breakdown of your flour.

If you have a runaway proteolytic reaction happening in your starter, you must deal with that or it will mess up every dough you make, most especially doughs with a high proportion of starter.

To fix the proteolytic reaction in your starter you would want to feed often and with the biggest feeds your starter will tolerate. I would keep it dryer as well. For example, take a very small amount of your most lively starter and feed it at 1:4 or 1:5 starter:flour and just enough water to moisten all the flour.

For your further experimental doughs, remember to only inoculate with starter at 20% or lower. Large amounts of starter proportionally to the flour in your bread dough are not helping you right now.

Hanry's picture
Hanry

I never added salt to my starters I think I miss wrote something. ok so I will be adding the salt when I add the Levain. 

ok i will inoculate with 20% starter next time. 

I had climate change during the las 4 days in Panama, so now when I wake up the top part of my starter is dry. so im not sure if giving less water can help right now. 

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and the starter is on a feeding ratio of 1:2:2. starter, water, flour.

My experience tells me this is low feeding for this temperature range as yeast and especially bacteria will use up the food quickly.  I would advise to feed the starter with less water, just enough to make a thick paste.  Liquid starters at equal amounts of water and flour will ferment faster than thicker starters.  This will slow down the fermentation at first but as the yeast population grows, it will speed up. You will want a healthy population of yeast to raise the dough.   

So when is the next feeding?

The next feeding should be when the starter peaks.  With the next feeding cut back the amount of water by half.

      so 20g starter, 20g water and 40g flour. that will give a starter with 60% hydration.  

See how long it takes to reach the first maximum peak.  when it does feed

           20g starter, 30g water and 50g flour. (60% hydration) record how long it takes to peak. 

With the following feeding, try 10g starter, 30g water and 50g flour.  If at anytime you predict the starter to peak while you are sleeping or cannot feed it at peak, slip the starter into a refrigerator and remove to warm up when you can watch it.  

The goal is to dilute much of the byproducts made during fermentation and stimulate growth of the yeast in the starter when it is fed.  at the 1:3:5 ratio, the just fed starter should taste like wet flour.  As it ferments it will increase in flavour as it rises, hopefully.  

Hanry's picture
Hanry

so I just feed it. and im waiting for it to double in size in order to try one more time to see if this time a get better results. 

Theres been som climate changes here, and when I wake up the top of my starter is dry, not sure why this is happening, so until I find out im not sure giving it less water can be good right now. 

Thanks for having patience, as I said im just starting on this!!!

SeasideJess's picture
SeasideJess

We are here for you. Don't worry about asking questions.

Your starter should be covered tightly enough that it doesn't dry out, but loosely enough that it doesn't shatter the glass from gas buildup. Try some plastic wrap and a rubber band, or a screw-on lid left a tiny bit loose. That will fix the issue of developing a crust on top, and allow you to use a lower hydration in your starter.

Trust MiniOven.

You need need to get/keep your yeast active and your enzyme activity under control. Too much enzyme activity is a likely culprit for what is causing your dough to turn to goo.    

Hanry's picture
Hanry

ok so I just took out the amount I needed for the recipe. discarded the rest and only left 20g starter with I aded 20gms of water and 40gms flour.i did this when it was at its peak. it is very thick. It was hard no to let any dry flour on the jar. so I will continue with the stretch and fold and bulk ferment and come back haha next time I will feed it with this ratio20g starter, 30g water and 50g flour. and let you know what happens.

thanks again

SeasideJess's picture
SeasideJess

Let us know how it goes! What recipe are you using?

For the drier starter, to feed it, I put it in a bowl, add the water, mix, add the flour, mix, then use my hand to knead it in the bowl for a minute or two until it's thoroghly mixed. I and put it into a clean plastic container with a snap-on lid that will just pop itself open a little if it needs to.  

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

"Peak" and "Double" are not the same.  A starter peak can be much higher.  The starter will dome and rise until the gluten can no longer hold the gasses forming inside the starter.  The dome top will start to level starting from a spot in the middle and spread to the sides before it starts to deflate enough to "drop" or "fall."  As soon as some gas is released the gluten will fall and layer together and become stronger and the gluten may be able to trap more gas and rise again (and again) until all the food is used up.  

The first dome interests us right now.  Let it rise until it starts to level out, then you know it has reached peak.  

There is often a corelation between how much the starter is fed and how high it rises.  Larger feeds allow the Yeast to build inside the starter, stopping it at "double" is too early.  Forget "double" and watch what the starter is doing.  You are training the yeast to multiply. We are all here helping you, ask questions.  

Hanry's picture
Hanry

so las fed was like this so 20g starter, 20g water and 40g flour. it didn't double in size and peak was a lot lower than what it was before making changes. it also smelled different more like alcohol.now I just lest 20gm starter and fed with 30gms water and 50gms flour. it made a stiff ball. I will let you know what happens in a couple of hours.

LittleGirlBlue's picture
LittleGirlBlue

I have mostly kept my starter at 100% hydration so my experience is limited, but I did not see a lot of rise with a starter that stiff.  However, the change in texture was very noticeable.  I noticed it puffed up, so there was an increase in volume just not a lot.  And when I stirred it, the network of gluten strands between the bubbles was very noticeable, much more so than in a more liquid starter that will come much closer to totally collapsing the moment you disturb it.

Hanry's picture
Hanry

hi I need help with the starter. so now is a stiff balll little activity going on. it looks like white on top for some reason. It smells different. I need to know how to proceed from now, should I discard most of it a leave 20 gas and continue feeding 30gm water 50gm flour? and how often?

thanks

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

:) be back in 8 hours.

Hanry's picture
Hanry

My guess is that the white thing is mold but im not sure

 

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and work some water into the stiff starter, it looks too stiff.  I'm sorry, i have to go off line for a while.  I hope to be back in the future.  

Hanry's picture
Hanry

Ok, so I used a recipe like this. 200gm flour, 115gm water, 40gm starter, 2.5gm salt. 

I took out the amount of starter needed and mix it with equal parts water and flour to make the Levain. after 5 hours it was at his peak. meanwhile I mix the flour and water and autolyse for 45 mins. then I added the Levain and the salt and folded and pincer method to get it together. then I left it there 15 minutes covered. After the 15 mins I starter stretch and fold every 15 minutes. I did 4 stretch and folds total. Then I let it covered for around 6 hours. (it never grew). Then I put it in the fridge covered until today afternoon. So it was like 15 hours total (bulk ferment). then I took it out from the fridge, let it rest for 15 minutes and the did a pre shape. rest for another 15 minutes. Then I flowered the cloth, put the dough facing down and then left it there covered for around 45 mins and then put it to the oven which was pre heated 1 hour before. I don't have a dutch oven so I used a pot which was also heated for 1 hour and the I closed it with foil paper. I cooked it for 20 mins and the took the cover out and finished cooking another 20 minutes. I forgot to score it. This is the result. 

Please adivice on any single point you considered that I erred in order for me to fix it next time. 

SeasideJess's picture
SeasideJess

So, hmm, you had the dough at room temp for a 6 hour untouched bulk ferment, after an hour of fermentation with stretch and folds, and it never expanded? What did the dough look and feel like as it was undergoing the bulk fermentation?  

If your dough doesn't expand and become puffy during bulk fermentation, it's not going to bake well. 

Was your previous problem of the dough turning to goo during bulk fermentation solved? I notice your hydration is relatively low, at only about 58%.  How did your dough handle? How did it feel after the autolyse, and when you were folding in the levain? Do you feel like the levain and salt were thoroughly and completely integrated into the autolysed dough? 

Hanry's picture
Hanry

it was very stretchy, after the third fold I almost couldn't continue because it was already not sticking to the sides of the bowl.

i didn't try another time because I changed my starter to the stiff one and I don't know how to proceed, the dough was easy to handle this time not sticky. yes everything was mixed well together and integrated.