The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

For the love of God, WHY?

RDomingos's picture

For the love of God, WHY?

So I've been baking 2 or 3 sourdough loaves a week for the past few months. In general they're getting better and better and I feel like I'm understanding the importance of gluten development more and more.

So then WHY does my dough suddenly seem to just refuse to gain any strength?? I use stretch and fold which is usually fine but then every now and then I try to make a loaf and the kneading process only seems to weaken the dough, making it into gloopy mess that holds no shape whatsoever and has to be binned.

I use 70-75 % hydration but fact that dough refuses to build any strength at all makes me think this is not the problem. Could it be the flour? I use bread flour from a local bakery, but even so, I've seen loaves made with weak AP flour with more strength than these gooey puddles.

Would really appreciate any suggestions from all of you, I can't seem to find anyone else who has this sort of problem.

BaniJP's picture

It sounds like you might be overworking the dough. So you build and build and build the gluten network and it becomes tighter, but at some point it rips and pools out. Are you kneading by hand or mixer?

RDomingos's picture

Hmm I could see that may be it, I tried researching the effects of over kneading but never saw someone describe it like that but it seems to fit the bill. I tend to be using stretch and fold but then when strength doesn't seem to be building i get frustrated and whiz it in the mixer.

Thanks very much for the suggestion!

idaveindy's picture

- did you change water?

- are you in any way inconsistent with your starter/levain?   Using old starter, with a lot of acid, directly in a dough, instead of building a fresh levain, can degrade the gluten.

- are you over-mixing with the Rubaud style of mixing?  Some guys get carried away with that, and it hurts more than helps.   Some formulas are just not amenable to using Rubaud style to mix in the levain. 

ciabatta's picture

If everything else remained unchanged. Then it’s likely temperature change as we are getting into the warmer times of the year. Could the starter/levain be over ripe?