The Fresh Loaf

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Sourdough Loaf Doughy and possibly underfermented?

alextoney's picture
alextoney

Sourdough Loaf Doughy and possibly underfermented?

Hi all! New user here, and new to baking in general, let alone sourdough! My wife was a baker in her young adult years but worked for a commercial bakery and hadn't done much in the way of home baked bread. I have been on the Sourdough journey since December and after about 6 tries I am reaching out for some advice. My loaves are getting better each time but I'm still not quite there.

My recipe is 80% hydration (a friend had given us an 85% recipe but for me being a new baker this was too sticky to deal with so I dropped it down by 5%) and includes a 30-40 minute Autolyse period followed by a bulk fermentation period of about 3 hours with 5 stretch & folds before pre-shaping. My starter was used at its peak and passed a float test. This time I attempted for the first time proofing in the fridge for about 13 hours after which it seemed to pass the poke test.

I'm still learning (obviously!) and want to understand better how to know when fermentation is complete - I'm wondering if my loaf was underfermented as it is doughy and moist (you can see the dense doughy parts in the middle). Any tips???

BXMurphy's picture
BXMurphy

I love The Sourdough Journey on YouTube if that's what you're watching. Really solid lessons.

You said you dropped down to 5% hydration. You must mean 50%. Even that is quite low and would give you a dense crumb, I would imagine. Go up to about 65% or even 70% and you should be gold.

And... looks over-proofed, actually. Hard to tell. The cross section looks flattish and the density says over-proof. Bulk was only three hours, though? At what temperature? 

An under-proof usually gives you large holes. Tunnels, really. Can you add more details or maybe try again and take great notes?

Also, do watch some of that The Sourdough Journey if you are not already. I benefited greatly from his experiments. 

Murph

alextoney's picture
alextoney

Thanks Murph, I have not seen the Sourdough Journey videos... I’ll have to check them out! Sorry I wasn’t super clear... the original recipe hydration was 85% and I dropped it by 5% to 80%. That made a big difference in reducing the stickiness of the dough.

In terms of fermentation, I did 5 stretch and folds about 30-40 minutes apart after adding salt after the autolyse. Temperature is my trickiest issue... I’m in a basement suite without control over our heating (thermostat is upstairs with our landlord). It’s pretty much room temperature. When I finished my bulk fermentation the dough had a number of bubbles across the top... not sure if I overdid that part or not.

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

How much had the dough risen before you shaped? what did it look like?  can you give details of the recipe as well, that would help.  3 hours is not very long for bulk ferment unless it is very warm.  

Leslie

alextoney's picture
alextoney

Hi Leslie, I’m finding a bit tricky to tell amount of rise... maybe 20-30% but I’m not sure. It looked a bit bubbly and a bit jiggly but, again, perhaps not enough.

Recipe was from a friend but hers was 85% hydration and I removed 50g of water because it was too sticky. She has great success with this recipe and we began with some of her starter which I’ve been feeding exactly how she does it:

- 200g starter (reached peak and passed float test), 700g water, 900g unbleached all purpose flour and 100g stone ground milled whole wheat flour to start.

- 22g salt and another 100g water after 40 min autolyse.

- Bulk fermentation was actually 5 folds over 3 hours 45 minutes from post-autolyse mix.

- Pre-shape and 30 min rest then final shape. At this point my friend’s recipe calls for proofing on counter but I tried cold retardation in fridge for 13 hours which helped with scoring and my timing.

- bake in preheated oven and Dutch ovens at 500 degrees for 18 minutes and then another 29 minutes (recipe originally called for 25) at 425.

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

goes 4 - 5 hours (its summer here) but in winter it will be a bit longer.  so perhaps next time give the bulk a bit longer, maybe 40 - 50% and see how that goes.  I tend to let mine go to at least 50% give or take a bit as I prefer the crumb I get this way.  I also give it 30 - 60 minutes on the counter before retarding - really just to see that it is still rising. 

But maybe someone else can help you more, I can only go by what I do. 

Good luck with your next bake, you are making a great start!

Leslie

alextoney's picture
alextoney

Thanks, that is helpful - I started doing a shorter fermentation (first couple times were longer) because it was ending up really sticky and unmanageable... I read somewhere that that meant overfermented, but now I think I’m under-doing it! I’ll try longer again!

_JC_'s picture
_JC_

Try and ferment until you see lots of air pockets from the dough(use a transparent bowl if you have) or ferment until doubled, then shape it and proof/prove at room temp for 1  hour or less then cold retard, room temperature will vary times of fermentation, you can adjust the amount of Starter if in colder temp. 

alextoney's picture
alextoney

Thanks JC - appreciate the input. Would you do more or less starter for colder temp? I feel like this recipe already has a fair bit of starter compared to others I’ve seen. 

_JC_'s picture
_JC_

Sorry I think i'm in a wrong thread!! More starter if colder months but really depends on your schedule, try 25%?
How was your shaping? did you have a lot of flour while shaping? Have a look at some of my blog entries here maybe it can help? 

clevins's picture
clevins

Most recipes don't mention this but in general baking recipes assume bulk takes place in relatively warm (75F-ish) place. If your house is even a little cooler, say 68F, it can lengthen the time considerably. 

Hit up https://www.theperfectloaf.com/beginners-sourdough-bread/ partly for the detailed recipe walkthrough but mainly for the pictures. Seeing things helps a ton and Maurizio does pictures at every step.

alextoney's picture
alextoney

Thanks! I’ll check that out! Good to know about what most recipes assume temperature-wise!