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Sourdough over fermenting too fast since I started using a new flour.

EC77f19's picture

Sourdough over fermenting too fast since I started using a new flour.

Hello again guys,

I have been having problems with over fermentation since I used this new high extraction flour. It's the organic sifted red spring wheat flour from a place called the in B.C. During bulk fermentation, it doesn't have those visual cues that tell you how far you're in the fermentation process. I'm following the recipe from Tartine Book no. 3 the 60% Kamut bread. The recipe calls for the dough to rise about 20 - 30% at 80°F-85°F. My dough only rises about 10% at 79°F after 3 hours of bulk fermentation. It shaped nicely when I started pre-shaping and final shaping afterwards. 

I placed it in the fridge for the cold retard for about 10 hours for the first loaf and around 12 hours for the second loaf. Both loaves came out over fermented with no oven spring. The 10 hour loaf I scored on top came out flat after baking, the 12 hour loaf I didn't score since it's already over fermented, came out slightly better than the first.

I had similar problems with the other recipes like the spelt wheat bread. Has anyone had any experience with this flour? Your help would be greatly appreciated.


Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Could you please share some pictures, in particular of the crumb?

Benito's picture

I wonder what the temperature of your fridge is in the spot where you cold retard your dough.  Considering it only had 10% rise where the recipe you said calls for 20-30% rise I wouldn’t have expected it to over ferment with a 10-12 hours cold retard unless it was already over fermented or unless your fridge temperature is much higher than 4°C where the dough will continue to ferment.

Did you change anything else in the recipe other than this flour?


bblearner's picture

I had the same experience. When using this flour, no matter in instant yeast or sourdough, my breads failed. I then tried Anita's all-purpose flour, the result was almost the same. My solution is to stick to Robinhood's all-purpose unbleached flour.


clevins's picture

That flour is regular wheat. Kamut is.. not. Neither is spelt. Spelt in particular doesn't form strong gluten nets and is prone to flattening out. I've done spelt loaves at 70% and they needed care to avoid that. At 80%+, I imagine it would be very hard to manage. 

Anyway, if you're only seeing 10% rise after 3 hours @79F I'd look at a) the health of your starter and b) the amount of starter you're using. What is the initial temperature of your dough?

I'd want to see more rise in bulk. A 10% rise and then retard just feels unlikely to have overproofed. 

EC77f19's picture

Hello guys,

Thank you for all your comments. Here are some pics of the crumb Ilya.

Kamut crumb pic

kamut crumb pic

This is the loaf that I scored. The other one, I gave to my friends. It was slightly higher than this loaf. As you can see it has a very tight crumb. I cold fermented both loaves at 2°C at the bottom shelf of the fridge. Yes this is the only ingredient that I've changed for this recipe. Before I've been using the Prairie Hard Red flour from Brodflour. Which is another problematic flour also but I digress. You might be right Benito, I have a gut feeling that it might have started to over ferment right after bulk fermentation after only 3 hours. I know it seems impossible. Like I said, it didn't have any visual cues like the dough rising up to 20-30%, it did have a few bubbles at the side and top of cambro container and it did jiggle when I shook the container. 

I do have a very active starter. It ripens within 4.5 hours after feeding. The recipe calls for 15% leaven. The initial dough temperature was 82°F after the autolyse and adding the salt and the remaining 50g of water. At 85% hydration, the dough wasn't that hard to manage, it stayed nice and tall after the pre-shaping and final shaping. I did noticed a boozy smell emanating from the dough when I placed it in the banneton basket.

When I made the spelt wheat bread using this flour, I waited four hours for the bulk rise with the dough rising at about 20%, by the end of the bulk fermentation, the dough was already over proofed. It flattened out after pre-shaping so I had to bake it right away. 

Thank you for your comments again.


clevins's picture

You've talked about the Flourist Red Spring flour (this, I assume... ) but you labeled the pics Kamut and talk about that.   It feels like you might be mixing this with Kamut, right? So this is 40% and the Kamut is 60% of the flour composition?

On the spelt - spelt has relatively poor gluten development and maintaining structure is a PITA (and not the bread kind!), especially at  higher hydrations. 

PS: one more thought... that flour is listed in the Flourist site as 12% protein which might be a little low when mixed with a lot of Kamut. Tartine uses, I think, this flour from Cairnspring which is 13.5-14%. Perhaps adding some vital wheat gluten would help?

EC77f19's picture

Yes the recipe calls for 20% Medium Strong flour (sifted) and 20% High extraction flour. 

I was concerned about the low protein content of this flour. You might be right Clevins. Now I have to figure out how much vital wheat gluten to add. But this still doesn't explain why this flour combination would cause an early bulk fermentation. 

Anyway, I have another 1kg bag of this flour left. I'll just have to use it up.