The Fresh Loaf

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Is this underproved ? Over fermented?

Missmoneypenny's picture
Missmoneypenny

Is this underproved ? Over fermented?

I’ve kind of hit a glass ceiling with my loaves and was hoping your good selves could put me back on track. 
My method is to make a polish with 240ml water, 200g white flour ( or 150:50 white: wholemeal) and about a ladleful of starter which could be about 60g.

I leave to ferment for about 6 hours until bubbly. Add 240 g white flour and 5G salt. Knead 10 minutes. Always achieve windowpane. Rest 30 minutes, stretch and foldx3. Rest 1 hour. Knock down. Rise about 2 hours and put in fridge overnight- around 12 hours. ( this morning it bounced back well when prodded). Bake in a Dutch oven at 250C 20 minutes with a good spray of water, then 200C about 40 minutes. Ideally I would like a better distribution of holes ( they tend to mass around the top) and a slightly better rise. 
Any diagnosis and advice would be most welcome.

not.a.crumb.left's picture
not.a.crumb.left

would be my advice as the tell tale signs of dense crumb combined with larger holes and sloped shoulders.

I would try to identify where the culprits are...does the starter need to be more active or too short a bulk? What temperature was your dough during bulk?  Was it nice and bubbly and showed signs of fermentation? Kat

Missmoneypenny's picture
Missmoneypenny

Thanks you. The starter was quite lively, raising by  up to 50%. It is quite cold here in England at the moment and I think my kitchen is 18-19C ( Around 66F). Maybe I should extend bulk fermentation to 3 or 4 hours? The dough wasn’t particularly jiggly. But then again, it is not a high hydration (55%) , maybe I should push that up?

Missmoneypenny's picture
Missmoneypenny

Sorry, reading this I realise I have mixed up bulk fermentation and proofing. I now understand bulk fermentation is the process straight after kneading when you stretch and fold, and gI’ve the final shape . So I should maybe have extended this bulk fermentation. What is a good amount of time? Does it depend on watching for bubble formation  and jiggliness as various bloggers advise, rather than a set time?

Missmoneypenny's picture
Missmoneypenny

“ and before you give the final shape”.

justkeepswimming's picture
justkeepswimming

Benny did a great write-up on this recently. See if it helps, including the comments:

https://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/68131/underproofed-vs-overproofed

Mary

 

 

Missmoneypenny's picture
Missmoneypenny

Thanks for pointing me towards Benny’s resource Mary, it is certainly useful to have the visuals and they point at my loaf being underproofed. Another question, is it possible to say if it was the bulk fermentation or the final proofing that was too short, by looking at the loaf? Or do you have to backtrack and analyse your recipe/ method to work that out?

Benito's picture
Benito

I agree with the others who have identified that your loaf is underproofed.

First look at your starter/levain.  You mention that your starter (maybe you meant levain) rose 50%.  Typically for a 100% hydration levain that isn’t much of a rise and it would lead to an underproofed loaf if you give it a typical amount of time to ferment.  Look at getting your levain to peak before use.  For my levains they will rise 3-4x at the time of peak.  So use at peak and not just some defined level of rise, the levain should have domed and just started to fall.  

I’m not sure what the temperature of your dough is during bulk.  For my typical country loaf with 9% prefermented flour, it will take 6-6.5 hour at 82ºF for the dough to complete bulk with a 60% rise in the aliquot jar.  Then I would shape and give it some more time to rise at 82ºF, often 1-2 hours for a strong dough and the aliquot jar could show up to a 100% rise at that point.

It is helpful to provide more information when you’re asking for help, temperature is a key bit of information.  6 hour of bulk at 68ºF isn’t the same as 6 hours at 82ºF.  

So use that levain at peak or just after, bulk longer and warmer if possible and come back with your next bake with details and let’s see how you do.

Benny

Missmoneypenny's picture
Missmoneypenny

Thank you Benny this is very helpful. The temperature here in England is disappointing for the time of year  ( a familiar theme, I know). It’s about 15C outside, and inside in my kitchen probably about 18C around 66F. My levain has never ever risen by much more than 50% ( and that’s good going, it can be as low as 25%), except in summer when it occasionally gets properly hot, I remember one year I had a mini levain volcano on my hands, but that is rare.  I have been feeding daily, and using mineral water. 
I am planning on extending the bulk fermentation in the first instance. 

Benito's picture
Benito

I would try to get your starter more active so your levain will be more active and more predictable.  What is your feeding schedule and amounts?  What type of flour do you feed your starter?

Benny

Missmoneypenny's picture
Missmoneypenny

TBH I’m not too disciplined about it. Lately I’ve been using just white plain flour, other times I have used organic plain white and some rye ( about 50:50). It doesn’t seem to make much difference. The ratio is about 2 of existing starter: 1 water :  2 or 1.5 flour. 

Missmoneypenny's picture
Missmoneypenny

I feed daily. Never twice a day. Occasionally I miss a day. 

Benito's picture
Benito

OK that’s a problem, you’re starving your starter.  The ratio of starter to flour should never be less than 1:1, by doing 2:1.5 you’re gradually reducing the population of microbes in your starter.  I’d recommend increasing the ratio to at least 1:2 starter to flour or even better 1:3.  I left out the water because you can do almost anything you’d like with the water, but I like 100% hydration starters for ease of mixing.  I only feed my starter once per week, but I feed it adequately at least 1:2:2 but usually more like 1:3:3 or 1:4:4.  I always allow it to fully peak and just start to fall and then immediately place it in the fridge.  I’d recommend that you get your starter more active by increasing the ratio of your feeds over several days and I bet you’ll find your bread won’t turn out so underfermented.

Benny

alessia's picture
alessia

and it has greatly improved my breads. I now let my starter peak as you suggested, then put it in the fridge- I feed again when I have about 15 g left, once a week. Works really well. Thank you

Benito's picture
Benito

So pleased it is working for you Alessia, please post some of your baking, I’d love to see it.

Benny

alessia's picture
alessia

I am so grateful for the advice I get here on this forum!

I'll post a photo eventually- I'm still shy to show my breads as you guys are all so good at this- mine is beginning to come close but not quite there yet. BTW I have bought Trevor Wilson's bread e-book and slowly getting through it - hoping to get some tips to improve my crumb, Also just ordered the Tartine book, can't wait for it to arrive.

Missmoneypenny's picture
Missmoneypenny

Thank you Benny, I guess my penny pinching ways are coming back to bite me :( . I will seek out your posts on starters and begin adding more flour to the mix. 

Benito's picture
Benito

I am certain that better ratio feeds will greatly strengthen your starter and thus your levains and doughs.

Benny