Old 06-09-2009, 07:34 AM
Il Pizzaiolo
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: San Antonio
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Default Re: First go at sourdough

Hi Salv/Elizabeth!

RE: Close-up, Salv! I almost always do bread in a conventional oven using a cloche for I really like that look and I can't seem to get it in small batches in the WFO. That said, I will probably shift to the oven this fall for I will probably start baking larger batches due to demand (and more time once fall arrives). The cloche was heated to about 420 and the oven was set at 435 (the cloche NEVER reaches oven temp!) and the bread was baked to 210 (which is a degree or two warmer than I prefer).

Your bread is very lovely Salv! The loaf on the right is by my values somwhat underproofed and I would try to put it in a slightly hotter oven for a shorter time - but those comments are intended to focus on what is causing the difference for future troubleshooting, not as a critique for there is nothing wrong with the loaf - but...I should also acknowledge that the color I tend to get from a WFO tends to be more like yours than what I prefer - which is why I tend to use the cloche in a regular oven.

RE: Sourdough..., Elizabeth! What is the temp in your kitchen now vs. when it seemed to work well? My guess is that you need to drop your expansion ratios and that you are directionally overproofing. (keep in mind bacterial and enzyme action also rise with temperature so being ten degrees warmer is a pretty big deal (most chemical reactions double in rate for every 7 degrees F which should definitely apply to the enzymes that are breaking starch into sugar). My personal "standard" expansion ratio is 4 (take 100 grams of starter and add 400 grams of water and flour (200 each) in the spring summer and 3 when it is cold in the winter (to allow for the fact that my yeast is less active so I need more).

Are you doing a double expansion to get your final dough? I too keep a 100% (equal flour and water) starter and so is my first expansion so I don't think that is it. You might want to consider dropping the BP 2 points on the final dough (say from 66 to 64). That should give you a bit more "body" to the dough and perhaps more character. How is your oven spring and slash expansion? I will bet your slashes are "sagging" more and "ripping' less. And your color is probably a bit pale. (all signs of overproofing which means you have lost too much gas from the dough and the sugar is low (which results in lighter color).

Could be your flour also - and possibly humidity in your flour...

How do I %*$&^ know? Careful experimentation? Lot's of reading? Other's problems? More experimentation? All of the above?

Good Luck!
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Old 06-09-2009, 09:22 AM
egalecki's Avatar
Il Pizzaiolo
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Virginia
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Default Re: First go at sourdough

Um, my comment how do you know @#$% should have read how does ONE know. Bad grammar on my part... my mom always told me to stop writing that way! Sorry if it read rudely. (I took a softball off the face last night and I'm feeling a little slow today)

Seriously, I haven't seen a whole lot of printed info about the changes seasons bring. My kitchen isn't that much warmer, since we have central air and heating, so it's fairly consistent, but I do keep it warmer in the summer than I do in the winter. I'd say it's probably at least a 7 degree difference.

The color of the loaves hasn't been too bad, but my dough's not springing as much upward- it sort of sags more sideways. (my personal color is always pale as I'm a redhead... )

So, you'd recommend changing my hydration a tad- I can do that. Will that also address the sour issue, or do I need to shorten my rise as well? You know how frustrating it is when you get a bread JUST where you want it and then it takes on a different character!

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Old 06-09-2009, 12:17 PM
Dutchoven's Avatar
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Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Mississippi
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Default Re: First go at sourdough

Originally Posted by egalecki View Post
obviously I need a lame. I'd also like a couple more banettons, so...

I'm having an odd problem with my last sourdough projects- it's as though the dough is being weakened. I can't explain it well, but when you look at the proofing loaves, they go from having a nice tight skin on them to sort of looking oatmealy. I cover them with bags to keep them from drying out, but I think this would happen even if I didn't. The loaves are also more sour than they have been.

Is this change because of it being summer? Or is my starter going wonky? It looks fine and when I expand it it seems ok. I've not changed my recipes at all. I usually keep my starter at 100%- 2 oz starter, 2 oz water, 2 oz flour. Do the ratios need to change as the weather gets warmer? Or does the ferment/ bulk rise need to change? And how in the @#$% do you know this stuff?

On a less frustrating note, I made Hamelman's golden raisin and pecan loaves the other day. I had to bake indoors AGAIN because no joke, we got 5 inches of rain LAST WEEK. Anyway, the loaves were terrific. I did toast the pecans just a little, but you have to watch that you don't heat them up too much.

Fabulous toasted with cream cheese.
It is very likely due to the fact that it is summer. Warmer starter storage temperatures as well as higher humidity. Try to find a place that will keep the starter cooler during the expansion and bulk fermentation and I think you will find yourself back on track. Like many great beers need a cooler fermentation(many of the lagers as I remember...your husband will have lots of extra info for you on the homebrewing side) so does great bread!
Good luck and all the best!
"Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity. " Charles Mingus
"Build at least two brick ovens...one to make all the mistakes on and the other to be just like you dreamed of!" Dutch
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Old 06-09-2009, 02:00 PM
Il Pizzaiolo
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: San Antonio
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Default Re: First go at sourdough

Hi Elizabeth!

Ouch! Softballs are not soft enough to be compatible to the face! Not nice!

As Dutch suggests and I implied there are a lot of things that can be different.

My first expectation is that the higher temp (and my range is about 7 to 8 degrees also) is that you are using the same proofing times and your dough is overproofing. That will tend to give you less oven spring (less gas in the dough), paler color (less sugar in the dough) and a more relaxed dough (the sag it seems you describe). Three main fixes to that: 1) a cooler location as Dutch suggested, 2) shorten the time to baking probably by an hour or two (if you are following the normal 6 to 8 hour second expansion procedure) or 3) increase the expansion from say 4X to 5X or 3X to 4X depending on your normal final expansion to slow the proofing process.

The other possible culprit is (as I suggested) humidity. Your house is definitely wetter (higher water vapor per cubic foot) in the summer than the winter so flour will tend to be wetter (absorb more water vapor). The effect CAN be huge - at least 5% on BP and possibly 8 to 10 based on my favorite pizzaria. Or maybe you simply got a wet or weird batch of flour (also happens)! That would explain the sag and MAYBE the lack of spring (but you should still get some rip with some bigger holes than normal), but it does not explain the color.

And it is also possible it is both temperature and humidity.

My suggestion of dropping the BP a couple of points was to stiffen the dough a bit to decease the sag. Given your comments I think I would drop the BP and shorten the proof time and drop the BP. (One can judge proper proofing by touch but...in absense of hands on experience with someone who knows....the judgement is subtle and I would rather suggest simply shortening up on time). I think that combo will pull you in the right direction. You will probably have to tweak things a bit but... that is normal!

Good Luck!

Last edited by texassourdough; 06-09-2009 at 02:03 PM.
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