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Diagnose my loaf - SD Milk Bread

clunkipoo's picture

Diagnose my loaf - SD Milk Bread


I've attempted this recipe for Sourdough Milk Bread a few times and I'm not quite sure where it's going wrong. It seems they are always bursting out of the middle and sides, and the crust is way too hard. I couldn't figure out if I was under proofing or over proofing, so I left the right side dough for 3 hours longer in the final rise - doesn't seem that much different though. I have a WW starter at 100% hydration that generally takes longer to double, 6-8hrs, so I figured leaving longer for the final rise made sense since they were not really doubling in the pan... I also used a different shaping method that I saw on a youtube video - is it possible the problem was in the shaping??

Also any tips on how to make the bread taste less sour? I tried taking starter out of fridge a few days early and feeding at 1:2:2 (starter, flour, water) twice a day. That seemed to help the last time I made this bread but this time it was still very sour which I'm guessing is bc the final rise went too long?

The recipe I used is below ( and I did the following things differently:

- kneaded for the first two rounds bc dough was too stiff/tough to stretch & fold

- after the "several rounds of stretch & fold every 5 min" I waited 30min and did another 2-3 rounds of s&f as dough was still pretty tough

- bulk fermented around 12 hours, final rise for 5hrs & 8hrs (left & right loaf respectively)

- added a pan of water to steam during bake 


Ingredients InstructionsThe Night Before
  1. In a large bowl gently mix all ingredients, just until incorporated. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
  2. Using slightly wet hands do several rounds of stretch and folds in the bowl, letting the dough rest for 5 minutes in between each round.
  3. Once the dough is soft and smooth with long strand gluten development, gently shape it into a ball in the bowl. Cover and proof overnight at room temp (65℉). I let mine go for 10 to 12 hours.
The Next Morning
  1. Do one round of stretch and fold in the bowl to deflate the dough. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
  2. Butter two loaf pans and set them aside. (I use cast-iron or glass loaf pans)
  3. Lightly flour your work surface and turn the dough out. Divide in half and gently shape each half into a loaf by first patting the dough into a rectangle. Next, bring the top third toward the center and the bottom third over it. Let the dough rest for a few minutes and then do the same patting out and folding over in the opposite direction. Let the dough rest seam side down for 5 minutes before transferring it into the loaf pan for the final rise.
  4. Let the dough rise at room temperature until doubled.
  5. Preheat your oven to 400℉.
  6. Score the loaves straight down the middle with a lame or razor blade. Spray each loaf lightly with filtered water.
  7. Bake both loaves side by side in the center of the oven for 30 minutes. Rotate the loaves once at the 15-minute mark.
  8. Remove the loaves from the oven and let them cool for 5 minutes before turning the loaves out of the pans and cooling them completely on wire racks.
clevins's picture

You say the dough was stiff, but that should not be. It's a 75% hydration dough (125g water from the starter plus 420g milk = 545g and there's 725g flour (2 x 300 plus 125g from the starter). So, are you sure you're measuring it all correctly? By weight not volume, yes?

Aside from that, the only thing I can think of is that the crust is setting too soon - how are you steaming? Is this a convection oven and if it is, can you turn the fan off?


clunkipoo's picture

Yes, I'm measuring by weight. I say stiff but maybe I'm not experienced enough to say what's normal or not... I technically can stretch and fold but it doesn't stretch as much as I think it should (based on videos I'm seeing). But that said, can kneading and s&f techniques be used interchangeably/do they affect the dough differently?

I put a pan of water on the bottom rack while it preheats and leave it in there while the bread is baking... It is a convection oven but I don't use the convection function - but it's interesting because I had noticed it does seem like the fan still runs... Maybe this is the problem so I will have to investigate that. Thank you! 

MTloaf's picture

was lacking judging by the dull crust and the bursting problems. The extra sour could be coming from the WW starter especially if it was used after it peaked. I don’t know what sizes your loaf pans are but it doesn’t look like the recipe makes enough for two 9x5 loaf pans. 

clunkipoo's picture

These were 8.5 x 4.5 loaf pans so I'm in trouble if the recipe wasn't enough for those!

I did spritz a little more water than called for because I thought it would help the crust not be so hard and brown. That's a good point about the starter, I will have to watch the rise more carefully. Were you saying that a WW starter is likely to be more sour than AP anyway (even if used before peak)?

MTloaf's picture

Yes, whole grain starters are generally more sour than white flour starters. if you wanted less sour you should try building your levain with the same white flour that is used in your recipe rather than a 100% WW starter added to the mix.