The Fresh Loaf

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starter went proteolytic?

seasidejess's picture

starter went proteolytic?

Hi friends,

So for my last 3 bakes, the gluten degrades during bulk fermentation.  The dough still makes decent bread if I handle it gently and put it in small pans (flour weight 360g for each loaf) but the last 460g-flour-weight loaf I made was similar to a moist dense rye in texture.  Still tastes good but not the desired outcome.

The formula is a pretty straightforward lightly-enriched pan loaf: 100% fresh-milled whole wheat flour, 25% spelt, 75% hard red wheat. 6.5% of the flour is cooked as a tangzhong/porridge, 11% of the flour is pre-fermented the levain. The liquid is all soy milk except the water in the levain. Probably around 90% hydration initially, not sure what is the percent solids in the TraderJoe's organic plain soymilk. Then 4% sugar, 2% salt, 5.8% EVOO, 1/2 tsp IDY for insurance.

  1. I cook the porridge,  cool it by whisking in the remaining soy milk, and put everything but the EVOO into the Bosch.
  2. Pulse to mix, fermentolyse 30 minutes. 
  3. Start mixer and add additional flour 1 spoonful at a time until dough cleans bowl (added around 50g more flour).
  4. As soon as the dough shows signs of gluten development,  after about 4 minutes of kneading,  drizzle the EVOO in a little at a time. Kneading is complete in under 10 minutes total.  Dough displays windowpane, clear but fragile.
  5. Bulk proof 1.5 to 3 hours.

After bulk proof,  the gluten is gone. At first I wondered if I was damaging the dough by over kneading it, but it seems fine going into the bulk proof.  But by the time bulk proof finishes, it's behaving as if it were not a wheat dough. 

It has neither extensibility nor elasticity. It puffs up,  but the best way I can describe it is maybe like a very soft, gas-bubble-filled clay. If I pull on a piece,  it comes away from the main dough with no resistance, like when you break off part of a soft, warm, freshly-baked sugar cookie. The gluten strands are visible but only stretch about 1/8 inch before separating.

Normally I would give it a 2nd bulk rise, then a preshape and bench rest before final shaping and panning, but this dough is so weird I don't want to mess around with it. After the bulk rise I shape it and pan it, wait about 30 minutes for it to puff up in the pan,  then bake.

Like I said,  the small loaves came out pretty good,  but the last one using 460-470 grams of flour was very dense.

I'm not particularly attached to this starter.  I can just toss it and make a new one. But what do you think? 

Maybe I should I test bake this same formula using IDY, just to make sure the starter really is the problem.

Do you guys have ideas? I guess I'll know more after my test bake using the same formula but leaving out the sourdough in favor of only IDY.

fredsbread's picture

assuming you haven't changed anything about the process, I would definitely start with a quick IDY experiment. maybe replace the levain with a poolish?

seasidejess's picture

Hi Fred, thank you for responding. 

I was thinking of reducing the IDY by 1/3 to replicate the slower bulk rise time of 2-3 hrs instead of 1.5, but am overnight fermented poolish to replace the levain 1 for 1 with prefermented flour would be a closer replica.

tpassin's picture

I wonder if there is something different about the grains you mill.  Did you just start using new purchase?

seasidejess's picture

I got a 55lbs bucket of spelt from Pleasant Hill Grain I've been going through.  The porridge has been spelt with abour 5% barley mixed in that was the result of a tidying-up mishap. I didn't think a little barley would make a difference in the porridge. Can't remember if the gluten breakdown happened after I started using that mix. Bit it doesn't go anywhere but in the 6.5% porridge.

The red wheat is fancy Yecora Rojo from Breadtopia that normally has gluten for miles.

tpassin's picture

55 lbs sounds like a lot to go through. I recall that on another thread someone had mysterious failures and it turned out to be unmilled grain that they had kept around too long.  I've never milled so I have no direct experience.

seasidejess's picture

I misspoke, it's only 40 lbs. I got it January 17 in a nitrogen-filled superpail, so it should be fresh. And the red wheat came from Breadtopia a little after. I'll make an IDY bread with the same wheat combo and ratio and hopefully learn more. 

Honestly I think I just starved the yeasts and trained them to eat gluten. That seems like the most likely. I have many strengths but consistency isn't one of them. And critters do like to be fed regularly or they start chewing up the furniture. 

rgreenberg2000's picture

...toward Redwood City, let me know.  Happy to mill up some of your grain and see what my starter does with it.....I could also mill up some of my grain and use your starter with that.

Hopefully your IDY/ADY test loaf gives you some ideas on what's up!