The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Flour + water = stretchy, sticky, weird mess

Ade's picture
Ade

Flour + water = stretchy, sticky, weird mess

Hello everyone and Happy new year!

This is the first time this has happened to me so I'm counting on the community's expertise on this one.

My dough transformed into a complete mess after autolyse . It was stringy, stuck like glue, almost like trying to knead 100% rye dough. No structure, no integrity....nothing. 

I used a premix of semi-whole wheat flour (thought it was perfect for making 50% whole wheat bread), it has 12% protein (which i did think was a bit low). 

320 gr flour + 220 gr water (room temperature), left to autolyse for 5h at around 19-22 degrees Celsius (66-68 fahrenheit)

I get it when dough become stretchy and sticky after adding an acidic sourdough or when having high hydration but this...I don't get it. Was the autolyse too long? Is it the flour? 

Anyway, i tried to save it, let it bulk without SF, poured it into a tin and then baked it....it came out dense, like a 100% rye, but edible.

Would still like to figure out what happened. 

Thank you so much and hoping everyone had a lovely New year.

Ade

Abe's picture
Abe

I'm not a fan of extended autolyse but 5 hours shouldn't be the cause of what you experienced. So that aside is it possible you miscalculated the hydration? And what flour are you using? 

Ade's picture
Ade

I'm not either, I didn't get home in time. I'm pretty sure I didn't miscalculate or weighed it wrong, but I guess I'll never know for sure. Maybe I should do another try with a smaller portion. It's Auchan bio, Wheat flour, Semi-complet, T110 and now i'm seeing it's 11% protein.

 

Abe's picture
Abe

Which is low but not too low. 11% doesn't tell us anything of the actual gluten in the flour as it just says total protein. So can't tell you anything about the quality. 

Whenever I autolyse I'll do so with less water than I'm aiming for in the final dough. So just add enough that all the flour is hydrated but it'll need extra when forming the final dough for a better extensibility. And agreed, try a smaller batch as a trial. 

Ade's picture
Ade

That's good advice, thanks. I usually estimate how much hydration I need depending on the flour but adding less from the beginning sounds better.

Abe's picture
Abe

Just occurred to me... Often with weak flours it's best to skip an autolyse adding in the salt straight away. This gives the dough more strength. So if it were me I'd do that plus hold back some water at first adding it slowly till it feels right. 

Ade's picture
Ade

So flour + water + salt for about 30 minutes, then add my levain and start mixing? I'll have to use up my flour so I'll definitely give it another try.

Thank you!

Ade

Abe's picture
Abe

...all at once. No fancy autolyse nor starter/levain later. Just go for a good old fashioned mixing then kneading the dough. A low hydration starter will help too. 

Here is a recipe that might suit this flour. Just watch the hydration! This has been left to your judgement so make amendments where necessary but follow the method of this recipe. 

Ade's picture
Ade

The recipe and bread look great! Thanks so much!

Have a great day, 

Ade

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Glad that it was still edible.  "Bricks" as we say, happen to most all bakers.

Here are my ideas, based on what you've written so far.

This part is unclear: "My dough transformed into a complete mess after autolyse ."

I am a literalist, so I am going to parse/interpret your post literally.  But please realize that most bakers are by nature a detail-oriented type of personality anyway. So please don't take offense at my asking  for more details.

 I also see you are in Romania, so I realize you may not be a native English-speaker.

At what point did it transform?  When you mixed in levain after the autolyse? Or at some point during bulk ferment?  Or did you mean it transformed during autolyse, and you discovered it at the end of the autolyse period?

And  this is unclear: " I get it when dough become stretchy and sticky after adding an acidic sourdough or when having high hydration but this...I don't get it."

Did you autolyse with or without the levain included?  I ask because there is no widely accepted standard in the matter. Some people say an autolyse includes the levain, and some people say the autolyse does not include the levain.

If your autolyse included levain, then yes, 5 hours at room temp, with T110 (high bran content) was too long.

--

And how much levain did you use? What percentage hydration was it? And how long was it (hours or days) between the time it was fed and the time it was added?  If it was acidic, and if you included it in a 5 hour room temp autolyse, that could ruin it.

--

Another angle,  a high bran T110, with only 11% protein, does not sound like a good bread flour.  It would be interesting to see the W number for that flour. Is it given on the package or on the miller's web site?

--

What is the expiration date on the package of flour? If it is expired, it could be degraded.

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How did you (what method) combine flour and water before the autolyse? How did you incorporate anything added after the autolyse?  (If you added levain after autolyse.)  A stand mixer, a food processor, by hand, Rubaud method?  

Reason:   Sometimes, a too vigorous or too long of a  mix will cause gluten to break down. What speed and for how long?    

A food processor, if run too long, will cut up the gluten and leave it stringy.

Ade's picture
Ade

First of all, thank you so much for the genuine interest and taking the time to point out what might have gone wrong.

My bad, I meant to say during autolyse. It seemed fine after initial mixing, maybe even a bit on the 'dry' side and when I got home it was glue.

I autolysed without any levain, starter or salt. Just tap water and flour.

After I added the levain, being stubborn as I am, thinking that might magically fix everything, it didn't get worse, but it didn't get better. I used 100% hydration levain, used it when doubled, after about 15 hours of fermentation.

160 gr levain (20 gr starter + 70 gr flour mix + 70 gr water)

320 gr flour

220 gr water

8 gr salt

16 gr wheat germ (not added to the autolyse)

I hand mixed everything. Lightly mixed just to incorporate all the flour for the autolyse. Afterwards, when adding the levain, I tried Rubaud but it was just sticking and tearing all over the place. 

But seeing as my dough was doomed even before adding the levain, I don't think my starter/levain was the culprit. 

Flour wise....yeah, I think I bought bad flour. But not expired, it says it still has until June 2021. 

I don't know what you mean by the W number. But it has 7,3 gr of fiber per 100 gr. Not sure if that's relevant.

Hope I covered all the questions. Is it possible that the water was too much for the weak flour? I'll try another batch in a few days, maybe my scale went rogue. 

Thank you soooo much again for your reply. I love understanding more about this never-ending mystery that is flour, water and yeast.

Have a lovely day!

Ade 

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

you might get some clues from the customer reviews for the flour:

https://www.auchan.fr/auchan-bio-farine-de-ble-semi-complete-t110-1kg/pr-428307

I don't know enough french to understand what kinds of baked goods they are speaking of.

--

Your autolyse was 220/320 = 68.75% hydration, which could be high for a weak flour.

And your final hydration, ( 220 + 80 ) / ( 320 + 80 ) = 75%, would also be too high for a weak flour.

-- 

I agree with Abe above, about trying it with less water and no autolyse. But, after mixing, let it rest for 30 minutes, and check to see how well it absorbed the water. Flour with bran can take a whlle for the flour particles to fully absorb the water.

Baking with a "new" (to you) flour can take some experimenting in order to discover how much water the flour needs. So, after the 30 minute rest, you may need to add water, or need to add flour.

--

If loaf bread is not appropriate for this flour, then pita (flatbread) might be a better way to use it up, even if you have to mix it with some strong bread flour.

 Bon chance!

Ade's picture
Ade

Thank you so much! 

The reviews seem ok on their site, I'll try and find some blogs in France that might have mentioned this type of flour.

Pita sounds great:) 

Have a lovely day, 

Ade

Muddy Gardener's picture
Muddy Gardener

Even the person who found flour moths in it gave it a 4 (!).  Its most popular feature seemed to be the price, but someone also said their pain levain turned out well.   However a lot of reviews are pretty old and if they are really building to a price what goes into the product might well vary from year to year.