The Fresh Loaf

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Help on Mixing, pointers appreciated!

alonewitheverybody's picture

Help on Mixing, pointers appreciated!

Hi guys, I have been making sourdough at low hydration between 68% and 70%. Recently, after achieving an ear on the sourdough, I have decided to challenge myself to move on to higher hydration. But be it I did a 78% or 75% or even at 72%, it just doesn’t form a cohesive dough. The steps that I do (the same as the low hydration dough) is as follows:

1) Autolyse 1hr with salt added.

2) Add starter. My starter ratio is 1:2:2 and it is active.

3) Let the Kitchen Aid do the job with a dough hook (chilled) until window pane is formed.

4) I let it rest until it doubles before I shaped and put in the fridge for overnight fermentation.

This mixing by machine doesn’t work once I hit above 72% and there is no way to achieve the window pane. Once levain is added to the dough and the mixing starts, the dough become more slack than before. I even tried reducing the mixing time and use the lowest speed and it doesn’t work too. I also tried letting it rest in for like 20mins interval within an hour but the dough juz didn’t recovered. 

The reason I switched from stretch and fold method to machine mix becos I realized that having a window pane allows me to reach the extensibility of the dough in a shortest time becos my kitchen is always averagely at 85F, which I have sent it to the fridge by the 4th hour after levain is added.

Does the machine mix destroyed the delicate gluten formed during the autolyse and the dough needs time to rebuild them? I realised that when I did the enriched dough for panettone, the hydration is so high and yet machine mix can still provide the window pane. So could it be the flour problem? I’m using bread flour with 11.9% protein.

It’s been very discouraging, it’s been 5 or 6 bakes and I’m still troubleshooting it. 

Thank you so much and stay safe.





barryvabeach's picture

KL,  sorry,  I can't answer your question directly since  I only work with 100% whole wheat flour and don't use a KA, but one workaround is a double hydration.   Mix in you KA at 70% until you get a window pane, then add the rest of the water to bring it to the hydration you want .  Since you already have a window pane, you only need to mix for a few minutes till the water is absorbed.  This process is often used for very high hydration doughs.  It is also called bassinge

clazar123's picture

The cause of a dough collapsing is always some form of overproofing/over fermenting. Each dough has its own time when the fermentation and proof is good for that dough. When you change to a different dough-different hydration,different handling- the new dough may have different fermentation and proofing requirements. I see several challenges for you- warm,ambient temp is esp.significant.

1) Autolyse 1hr with salt added.

Try adding the salt at the end but don't forge to add it! Salt engages the water molecules and makes it less available for the starch to absorb. The hydrated starch is what helps form the window in the windowpane. Autolyse (flour and water,I'm assuming, or are there other ingredients?) WITHOUT the salt. Make the dough and mix to windowpane, THEN add salt. I always left it sitting right next to the bowl to remind me to add. Bread is very bland, otherwise,

2) Add starter. My starter ratio is 1:2:2 and it is active.

3) Let the Kitchen Aid do the job with a dough hook (chilled) until window pane is formed.

Why is it necessary to chill the dough hook? If the room temp is too high,start with cooler liquids. There is a formula somewhere here on TFL about how to achieve a final desired dough temp (DDT) in a good range. It was a few years ago.

King Arthur DDT link     and  HERE is TFL link. Easier to do a google search.

4) I let it rest until it doubles before I shaped and put in the fridge for overnight fermentation......AND... "which I have sent it to the fridge by the 4th hour after levain is added."

I think THIS is where your new (higher hydration) dough is different. Since it is overfermenting with 4 hrs to doubling at a warm ambient temp, the answer may be to only bulk ferment to 70% (NOT double) before refrigerating.The gluten deterioration is outrunning the rise. It may become more extensible but you reach a point of diminishing return and the gluten becomes so weak it cannot support the rise.

Another thought is to check the temp in the refrigerator using a constant read probe.Refrigerators temps are always in a range that  averages to where you set it. The range is a setting internal to the machine and not in the user's control. If the range swings up to 50F (10C) or higher before the compressor comes on and drops to 34F (or so), then the refrig.temp is too warm.Your only option is to set the refrig a little cooler. Hopefully, it doesn't freeze/thaw items.

A third thought is to reduce the DDT by using cooler liquids when the dough is mixed. I would continue to mix to windowpane as that helps achieve the best crumb in any loaf.

So-try higher hydration but reduce fermentation time before refrigeration. Continue to develop dough to windowpane BEFORE adding salt, but remember to add salt at the end (before bulk fermentation). Possibly check refrigerator temp.

I hope this helps. Bake some deliciousness and add a picture. A crumb shot can tell us a LOT about the dough.



justkeepswimming's picture

I am definitely not an expert, but one of the general principles I have seen repeated on this forum is that flour matters. And that the ability of flour varies by type (bread flour vs all purpose vs pastry vs whole grain, etc.) as well as in different countries. For example, bread flour in the US behaves differently than similar flour in France. 

Your profile says you are in Singapore, which makes me wonder if the flour you have access to may not work well in a higher hydration dough? Or for recipes written primarily for US readers (i.e. Tartine, etc.)? If you share the specifics of your flour and recipe, others with far more experience may be able to get you closer to your desired goal.

Good luck!


phaz's picture

A particular flour can only handle a particular amount of water before the water starts to inhibit gluten formation. you may have found the limit for this flour. Enjoy!

mariana's picture

Hi, KL, 

you can have good gluten development at very high level of hydration, way over 100%, up to 120%, even with 10% protein white bread flour, but then you need to rely on stiff starter and double hydration method. Your starter is liquid which inhibits gluten formation and weakens gluten. In panettone, starter is always stiff. 

Still, your starter is a minor issue, unless you use huge amounts of it. 

For higher hydrations always use double hydration method. First, mix dough with lower hydration and chill it (at 20C more gluten will be formed, compared to 30C) and after its gluten is developed 2/3 by kneading, slowly add the remaining water and complete mixing. This way you can achieve very high hydration and super hydration levels with excellent gluten development. 

Here's the description of that method from the textbook (M.Suas, Advanced Bread and Pastry)

Good luck!