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Sourdough Bread Troubleshooting (Part 1)

Bread

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#571 Eilen

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Posted 28 May 2008 - 05:04 PM

I've been inspired by this thread, the EGCI course on sourdough, and hathor's post on her blog about the need to knead to really try to make bread on a regular basis for my little family of two. I was so pleased with this week's results, I thought I could actually contribute something by sharing! Unfortunately I just spent an hour reading about ImageGullet and haven't figured it out yet, so I will have to link the photos instead.

I started Lulu back in March with some rye flour and slowly switched her over to regular white flour. I don't have any pictures of her, but she's pretty happy hanging out in the fridge in between my baking days. One thing, though, she used to be runny like pancake batter and now she's pretty thick, I'd like to get her back to that consistency, so if anyone has any suggestions....

First loaf: This is a no-knead loaf, loosely based on a recipe from the blog chezpim. Hers was a mixed-flour loaf and I've been doing that (before I had a camera), but I wanted to try an all white loaf using the same method to see if I could get some lighter texture. So I made a fairly shaggy dough using 14.5 oz. flour, 240 g water, 255 g starter/sponge, and 10 g salt (don't ask me why I used ounces and grams! I don't know!). Let it sit covered on the counter for about sixteen hours, folded it envelope-style twice, let it rest 2-3 more hours, then baked it in a dutch oven at 450 for 30 min. with the lid, 15 min. without.
Here she is:
http://i195.photobuc...ze/IMG_0013.jpg

Inside:
http://i195.photobuc...ze/IMG_0023.jpg

Really airy crumb, almost too light! I like it a bit more dense than that. Flavor was great, just lightly sour, a wee bit undersalted for my tastes.

Second loaf: This is the one I kneaded--I followed more or less weinoo's descriptions, including a 1/4 tsp. yeast just for kicks. Kneaded about ten minutes, using a bastardized version of Bertinet's. Overnight in the fridge for again about 16 hours, then in a preheated 450 oven for about 45 min. I baked it right from the fridge. Weinoo didn't say if he let the dough come to room temp or not, so I was on my own there. Anyway, the result:
http://i195.photobuc...ze/IMG_0025.jpg

Inside:
http://i195.photobuc...ze/IMG_0031.jpg
I liked this loaf a lot more. The crust was perfect, nice and crispy, and the crumb was a bit more dense. It was also easier to slash, in fact I think I got a little carried away there!
So, thanks all for inspiring me, if you've got any tips for me, I'm all ears....

P.S. The kneading part of it was easier than I expected, maybe because it was a smaller amount of dough than I've tried before?

Edited by Eilen, 28 May 2008 - 05:06 PM.


#572 hathor

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Posted 28 May 2008 - 05:37 PM

The breads look really lovely, Eilen. I like the looks of the second one better as well. I wish my slashes were as good.

My mother is a tough bird, it looks like any preferment, and rises like crazy so I'm not sure the runny mother is the way to go. But others may know far better than I!

#573 Eilen

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 05:21 PM

Oops :rolleyes: :

Posted Image

Posted Image

I didn't follow directions, simple as that. I missed about three hours of proofing! And here's what happened when I did follow directions:

Posted Image
YUM:

Posted Image
The crust and crumb were just about perfect. I'm still using my dutch oven to bake loaves in as I'm not sure how to otherwise introduce steam. About 20 minutes with the lid on at 450F, 15 minutes with the lid off, ten minute rest with the oven off. The crust had more crunch than any loaf I've ever done. I bake straight from the fridge so I can slash more easily; I've never tried it otherwise and don't care to. I followed this recipe. BTW this blog has been enormously helpful for me in the past month or so, answering questions about hydration levels, etc. and I feel I have a much more clear understanding of how starters work and how to work with them.

I can't seem to shape my loaves into nice batards; any tips?

And thanks to gfron and hathor for helping me with ImageGullet!

#574 hathor

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 02:15 AM

Eilen, nice looking bread!

I'm curious about the baking straight from the fridge business. Any of those more scientific oriented brains, step in here.
What happens to the bread and yeast if it goes directly into the oven? Does the rapid heat escalation change anything? To go directly from fridge to oven seems innately wrong, but that's probably based on habit and nothing more.

But, Eilen, if you free yourself from the dutch oven, you can make all sorts of shapes and sizes, which for a family of two is handy. From a typical batch I'll makes some rolls, some loaves, or a baguette or two, whatever my needs are for the coming week. Everything goes into the freezer and gets pulled out when I need it. Then your dinner guests think you are some sort of super hero...which of course, isn't true, but that's our secret.

Spray bottle is what I use for hydration. Spray the bejeezuz out the first minute of so, then maybe a spritz or so later. The hard part is to only open the oven door a crack so that you don't lose the precious heat.

You know I'm just enticing you over to the knead side of things........right? :laugh: :cool:

Bread is great fun, and that's probably the only truly immutable fact about baking bread.

#575 weinoo

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 07:05 AM

Well, as Jack stated in his eGullet Sourdough class:

When ready to bake, take the dough out of the fridge. Some advise letting the dough return to room temperature --a couple of hours or so, but I find I it better and easier to cook these very soft doughs straight from the fridge. The cold dough is stiffer, handles easier and spreads less.


Sometimes, I'll give the dough 30 minutes to an hour out of the fridge, other times right into the oven (or dutch oven)...play around and see what works best for you. Be careful when spritzing into a hot oven, however...I've read horror stories about shattered oven glass or shattered oven lights, but it hasn't happened to me.

Jude, do you ever spritz your actual breads before putting them into the oven...certainly gives them a nice, shiny crust. imo.

And, this topic makes me a little jealous, as I curtail pretty much all baking activities during the months of June, July and August...no a/c in the kitchen, and it's bloody hot here.
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#576 hathor

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 07:31 AM

Well, as Jack stated in his eGullet Sourdough class:

When ready to bake, take the dough out of the fridge. Some advise letting the dough return to room temperature --a couple of hours or so, but I find I it better and easier to cook these very soft doughs straight from the fridge. The cold dough is stiffer, handles easier and spreads less.


Sometimes, I'll give the dough 30 minutes to an hour out of the fridge, other times right into the oven (or dutch oven)...play around and see what works best for you. Be careful when spritzing into a hot oven, however...I've read horror stories about shattered oven glass or shattered oven lights, but it hasn't happened to me.

Jude, do you ever spritz your actual breads before putting them into the oven...certainly gives them a nice, shiny crust. imo.

And, this topic makes me a little jealous, as I curtail pretty much all baking activities during the months of June, July and August...no a/c in the kitchen, and it's bloody hot here.

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Ciao Mitch!
If the dough is that soft then I can see why you would want to go from fridge to oven, it would never hold a slash.
I'm pretty careful with the spritz direction....I go to the bottom and the walls, and yes, I do directly spray the bread or rolls. But usually after they've been in awhile and are starting to get brown, if I spritz too early I get little blisters on the surface of the crust.

Now...as far as it being too hot in the kitchen....I thought you were made of sterner stuff!
Here's today's bread: regular rolls, olive rolls, little salty knots and a totally bizarre baguette/loafy shape. I made it too thick and the poor thing wanted to be a loaf while it was trapped in a baguette skin.
I've been getting really nice bread using Bertinet's ale poolish recipe, but I'm using 700g of bread flour and 600g of my natural starter. My starter is more like actual bread dough, it's not the runny kind. The rest of the formula is the same.
Posted Image

#577 weinoo

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 08:07 AM

Bee-yoo-ti-ful...and no, I'm not stern enough to bake - but I'm sure making lots of ice cream and sorbets :smile: .
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#578 Eilen

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 02:41 PM

Eilen, nice looking bread!

I'm curious about the baking straight from the fridge business.  Any of those more scientific oriented brains, step in here.
What happens to the bread and yeast if it  goes directly into the oven? Does the rapid heat escalation change anything? To go directly from fridge to oven seems innately wrong, but that's probably based on habit and nothing more.

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Thanks! As for straight from the fridge, what weinoo said and also I've read elsewhere that letting the dough come to room temp. overproofs it, and I think they take your bread license away or something if you overproof your dough. :shock: For me it's not so much that the dough is hard to handle, especially the recipe I linked to, because I'm really stingy with the amount of water I add. I don't appreciate huge holes in bread, because I'm mostly using it for sandwiches and toast, and I like a slightly more dense bread anyway. It's to get nice slashes--that's my favorite part, the crusty bit in between the slash marks.

I read somewhere in this thread about a method of kneading 15 seconds, then resting 10 minutes, then repeating a couple more times. Not nearly as fun (yes, fun!) as kneading 10 minutes straight, but it seemed to work fine.

I need to get a bigger stone for my oven, then I'll experiment with different shapes and spritzing (that's scary) and such. For now I'm happy with what I'm doing.

Also, I learned from the blog I linked to that a pancake batter consistency is more than 100% hydration, she maintains her starter at the consistiency of the inside of a "perfectly toasted marshmallow." Sounds good to me.

P.S. Where I'm from, we aren't quite sure what summer is. :sad: Only half joking. I bake early early in the morning or late late at night, and if it's really hot I have a dinky window unit a/c that I can turn on. But that rarely happens.

#579 gfron1

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Posted 22 September 2008 - 11:51 AM

Alrighty...just re-read this topic but I wanted to check in before taking my next step. I've been doing very consistent sourdough batards for the past couple of months. It's time for me to do a whole wheat version.

note that I've added the percentage by volume of the total ingredient at the end of each line for easier comparison.

My current bread formula is:
2.25 C. AP Flour (11% protein) 35%
2.125 C. Water 33%
2 C. Starter 32%

Mix, rest for 45 min, add 2 T. salt, knead, rest for 2 hours, form, fridge, bake the next day.

I've seen a few versions of whole wheat upthread. This one looks promising as it follows a similar process:
5 c. AP Flour 50%
2/3 c. whole wheat flour 7%
1 ¾ c. water 18%
2 ½ c. starter 25%
2 ½ t. salt

Going off of the percentages, that's a huge increase in flour - up to 57% from 35%. If we work from the starting point of knowing that my current formula is working perfectly for me, are there any suggestions as to a conversion to WW?

Thanks

Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM


#580 sanrensho

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Posted 22 September 2008 - 12:20 PM

Going off of the percentages, that's a huge increase in flour - up to 57% from 35%.  If we work from the starting point of knowing that my current formula is working perfectly for me, are there any suggestions as to a conversion to WW?

Thanks

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Firstly, I find it really confusing to deal with volume measurements and percentages, rather than metric weights and baker's percentages.

However, I can tell you that I add similar amounts of whole wheat to my sourdough bread without any adjustment to the amount of water or kneading time. (Roughly 4:1 white to WW.)

Now, if you're talking about a 50% whole wheat bread (baker's percentage--50% of flour or 1/2 whole wheat), that would probably require some adjustment of water. For a "light" WW of 20% (baker's percentage), I'm inclined to say that none or minimal adjustment may be needed.

If you're current formula is working fine, I would just simply start adding WW in gradual increments. The handling of the dough and baked results will tell you if you need to adjust for water. I say just do it/try it.

Edited by sanrensho, 22 September 2008 - 12:24 PM.

Baker of "impaired" cakes...

#581 Paul Stanley

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Posted 22 September 2008 - 12:39 PM

Using my (sloppy) measurements, 1 c of flour is about 120g, and 1 c of water is about 220 g. On that basis, your proposed wholemeal (though hardly!) dough is (using conventional bakers percentages)

600g + 80g = 680 g flour (100%)
285g water (57%)

That gives 57% hydration, which would be a very tight dough indeed. But how tight would, of course, depend on how wet your starter is. There's a lot of starter in there, and if it was good and wet, itt might be just about workable, though I would have thought still tight. (And salty?)

I confess to being baffled by your "normal" recipe, though, which looks to me as if it would be well in excess of 100% hydration, and I would have expected to be batter!

Why don't you just try subbing a proportion of wholewheat flour for your normal, and do what you usually do. If you are looking for something very lightly wholewheaty, you could try about 1/5 to 1/3 wholewheat. You may want a *touch* more water, but at this kind of amount I doubt it's worth fiddling.

#582 gfron1

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Posted 22 September 2008 - 01:32 PM

I'm afraid to say this since its been quite some time since I did my base recipe, but if I remember correctly it was using Jackal's tutorial...he will now come on and say I'm nutz. The starter is a wet starter and, as I said, I'm making batards, so they are freeform and hold up on their own. Since my base is as perfect as I want it, we won't go there today :) But I will just start subbing out flours gradually and see what happens. Thanks.

Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM


#583 Alcuin

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Posted 22 September 2008 - 06:10 PM

I'm afraid to say this since its been quite some time since I did my base recipe, but if I remember correctly it was using Jackal's tutorial...he will now come on and say I'm nutz.  The starter is a wet starter and, as I said, I'm making batards, so they are freeform and hold up on their own.  Since my base is as perfect as I want it, we won't go there today :)  But I will just start subbing out flours gradually and see what happens.  Thanks.

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I regularly do about 50g whole wheat to 550g white flour, about 9% of the final dough in baker's percentages. Adding whole wheat to your formula should result in only a few minor adjustments if any. Go for it--it's good.
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#584 gfron1

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 03:14 PM

I never really followed up, but my whole wheat version is doing great! I didn't lose any crust in the process, and the customers like it even more - so thanks!

Now, on to the next dilemma :)

One of my customers told his wife that for his 60th birthday, all he wants is a loaf of my bread. Wow :wub: thanks...but I don't want to just send a batard home (my daily bread shape). I would like to send a boulè. The problem is that all of my boulès have been either bursting and/or bulging. My instincts said, 1) not hydrated enough or 2) not slashed properly. I'm shaping in a 9" (I think) banneton. And no rush for assistance...she's coming to pick it up tomorrow at 10! Obviously I can't change my hydration at this point since the loaf is already resting in the fridge. Any thoughts?

I can tell you that in my recent boulès I have been slashing directly out of the fridge, proofing for about 2 hours.

Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM


#585 judec

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 03:23 PM

My instincts said, 1) not hydrated enough or 2) not slashed properly.  I'm shaping in a 9" (I think) banneton.  And no rush for assistance...she's coming to pick it up tomorrow at 10!  Obviously I can't change my hydration at this point since the loaf is already resting in the fridge.  Any thoughts?


Hey gfron,

It either needs a longer proofing time or more steam in the oven (or both).

2 hours in the fridge may not be enough time for the final proof, especially if it's sourdough. Sometimes I retard shaped loaves overnight in the fridge and then leave it at room temp for 2 hours before baking to bring the dough temperature up.

#586 gfron1

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 03:26 PM

Sorry, let me clarify. Its in the fridge for 10+ hours, out at 6 am, in oven anywhere from 8:30-9:30 am. I wait til it feels rights...but you're leaning toward under proofed then. I might have to get up even earlier tomorrow for this one loaf of bread.

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#587 judec

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 03:32 PM

Sorry, let me clarify.  Its in the fridge for 10+ hours, out at 6 am, in oven anywhere from 8:30-9:30 am.  I wait til it feels rights...but you're leaning toward under proofed then.  I might have to get up even earlier tomorrow for this one loaf of bread.

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Oh okay.. Your timing sounds similar to mine...

Lots of steam would probably keep it from bursting. Overnight loaves tend to form a skin so I do about 2 cups of boiling water on a preheated cast iron skillet filled with rocks.

A # slashing pattern would be great for expansion, too.

#588 gfron1

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 03:37 PM

Cool - thanks. I'll let you know how it goes.

Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM


#589 andiesenji

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 04:31 PM

I like to slash mine in a square. Similar to that shown on the boule
Here - scroll down a bit.
I like to run the slash along the spot where the "crowning" begins and sometimes that produces a "hat" effect that I think is quite attractive.

For the heavier breads, such as Struan, ryes, black breads, etc., I prefer the traditional three parallel slashes which date back to the monastery bakeries in the middle ages and refer to the Trinity.
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#590 gfron1

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 08:20 PM

Posted Image
That did the trick! It was a very joyful 60th for our customer.

Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM


#591 judec

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 11:33 AM

gallery_41282_4708_16894.jpg
That did the trick!  It was a very joyful 60th for our customer.

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Looks great. What did you use for scoring? The cuts looks so clean.

 

 

 

 

[Moderator note: This topic continues in Sourdough Bread Troubleshooting (Part 2)]


Edited by Mjx, 22 June 2013 - 06:18 AM.
Moderator note added.






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