The Fresh Loaf

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Weak dough

TangoDancer's picture

Weak dough


Beginner sourdough maker here.  I've tried 3 times now making sourdough and the dough tends to be weak after proofing.  Twice with the Modernist's sour dough recipe (V3 p63), the dough flowed from the cold proofing (14 hrs) and I couldn't cut it with the lame because it was so sticky and fluid.  However, when it baked it had a beautiful crumb will large pockets, the bread was flavorful and the crust was good.  I can't seem to get a tight skin after the proofing.

(Recipe: 480g flour, 315g H20, 195g mature liquid levin (ie. 1 Starter, 3 flour, 3 H20), 10g wheat bran (I used wheat flour), 1 g Diastatic malt powder, 12g salt.)  Autolyse, 4 hours, 6 folds, 14 hrs cold (fridge) ferment.  Let warm up 1 hr and then bake.

Trying to debug the problem I am going down the track to see if the starter is good.  After 9.5 hrs, it has doubled in size and passed the drop test (in water).  The pH when I fed the starter was 5.41 and 9.5hrs later was 4.26.  As an aside, the Modernist V3 p48 says a young levain will have a pH of 4.2-4.3 and can be used for leavening purposes.  At most ripe it will be 3.8 to 3.9 and sour.  So, I am assuming that the issue is not a faulty starter.  The starter was made 50% King Arthur bread flour and 50% whole wheat.

Any ideas on my next steps to try and address the issue?








phaz's picture

I find the biggest issue with following a "recipe" is the timing. Play around with that and you'll be good. Enjoy!

breadmad's picture

Just bake straight from the fridge, the dough doesn't need to warm up before you bake it. A cold loaf is much much easier to score and will give a greater ovenspring.

I wouldn't worry too much about keeping precise track of the pH of your starter but rather pay most attention to timing, temperature and feeding ratios. Especially when it comes to the temperature that you keep your starter at during feeding and the dough temperature during the autolyse & bulk fermentation. If you want a tight skin after proofing I would lower the amount of wholewheat (maybe 10%) and keep the dough and starter at warm temperature in order to max stimulate the yeast. A too great an acidload coming from the starter will also make for a weak dough (and which occurs faster with more whole wheat flour present). You can read more about acid loads and it's effect on dough strength in the ebook Open Crumb Mastery by Trevor J. Wilson. Which is a great read anyway. Good luck!  Keep up the good work!