#1  
Old 06-04-2009, 12:58 PM
Peasant
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: nice
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Default back to basics. help needed

During the past two weeks I've been starting a natural sourdough culture. The culture went through all the common staged I read about, including the first bubbles, smelling bad, then turning into a nice yeasty flavor and looking quite like a normal sourdough starter. After a week and a half it was doubling in volume quite easily so I thought, Yippie... Yesterday I started a test dough using the napolitana way (natural yeast and long room temperature fermentation). I used very little starter in the dough, around 4 table spoons in a 1kg flour dough. Kneeded by hand with 70% hydration (cold water), 3 the spoons of salt. Kneeded for about 10 min until I had some gluten development but did not go through the full window test. Left it overnight and saw that it had some activity. Left it the recommended 14 hours and it had risen some but also flattened out. Smell was quite sour at this point. I did a few balls and then rested them for 5 hours more. Temp overnight might have been 22-24degrees celcius and 24-26 during the day.

This evening I tried to open up a few to use in my home oven with the pizza stones. Disaster!!!!! Big time. The dough was quite mushy and not streachy at all. Impossible to handle. Holes right away. I took the damaged dough and made it into a ball again. Seemed quite normal at that point. After some time I tried streching it and it worked a bit better at this point. Managed to make a pie and dressed it quickly and threw it into the oven. Took it out when it had some color. Was very flat and almost hard. The other two pies was just as bad.

So what went wrong?

1. Overworked dough in the beginning?
2. Underworked dough in the beginning?
3. To much starter?
4. To little starter?
5. To long raise period?
6. To little raise period?
7. To hot during the raise period?
8. Bad sourdough starter? Not the right yeast culture that maybe doing bad things to the dough?


I have no idea what caused this disaster. Please help....

Cheers,

Kosta
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  #2  
Old 06-05-2009, 05:38 AM
Frances's Avatar
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Default Re: back to basics. help needed

I'm sure someone else with chime in soon, but since I'm here... the one thing that strikes me is that you used very little starter. I read somewhere here that you need 20% starter in summer and 40% in winter. But shorter rising times.

So you'd take the four spoons of starter and feed it up a day in advance, adding enough flour and water by and by to make 20% of the total dough weight you're aiming for. The next day you add that bubbly mass to the dough, do a bulk rise in the fridge for 12 hours or so, form your balls and proof them some more in the fridge or not, depending on how soon you want to eat pizza. Something like that. But you do need to feed the sourdough culture up slowly.

I'm sure you'll get lots more advice... Just don't get discouraged, keep trying and I'm sure it'll work out sooner or later!
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  #3  
Old 06-05-2009, 06:52 AM
egalecki's Avatar
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Default Re: back to basics. help needed

I had to augment my starter with a little IDY for at least a month before it was strong enough to use alone. Just add a good pinch and it makes all the difference- the flavor is not negatively affected at all.

Because you had some initial rising, then it petered out and the smell became sour, I'd say it just isn't strong enough yet. The bacteria took over and the yeast stopped. My perception of the natural yeast starters is that it's sort of a balancing act between the yeast, which acts first (big bubbles) and the bacteria, which take longer to ferment (small bubbles). If the yeasties aren't strong enough, they get overwhelmed by the bacteria. (of course, I could be all wrong, in which case I'm sure I'll be corrected!)

When I started mine, I had to keep it on the counter all the time and feed it every two days- it got stronger as it went. I could tell by the speed with which it doubled.
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Old 06-05-2009, 12:17 PM
Il Pizzaiolo
 
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Location: San Antonio
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Default Re: back to basics. help needed

Each of us has a different starter with a different personality and that complicates generalizations a lot. But...my NORMAL expansion approach is a 4X expansion - i.e. 100 grams of starter and add 200 grams of water and 200 grams of flour at dinner time. Next morning it will be just about peaking at 8 am with temps at about 76. In the winter when temps are down around 68 I go to a 3X expansion and would take 125 of starter and 250 of water and 250 of flour. If it is much colder, my yeast REALLY SLOOOOWWWWWWWS down.

Then in the morning in warm weather I do another 4x expansion (adding 2000 grams of water and flour tothe 500 grams of starter in the amounts necessary to give me the BP I want (that is about 1240 grams flour and 760 of water. (In winter it would be 3X so I would add 1875 grams total water and flour to the 625 of preferment.) The adjustment of expansion gives me relatively constant proofing times.

Hope this is useful!
Jay
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  #5  
Old 06-05-2009, 12:31 PM
Peasant
 
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Default Re: back to basics. help needed

Thanks for both your feedback.

I thought my started was doing okay since it was doubling in volyme on each feeding. I had daily and sometimes even 2 per day feedings and it was always out in room temperature. But maybe your right in that its not strong enough yet. I'll give it some more time.

Regarding the amount of starter I used a small amount as advocated by Marco over at the pizzamaking site and a room temp raising period. What is weird is how totally destroyed the dough seemed to be after the full period.

Saturday we have another pizza party so today I did some dough with 65% hydration and using 2kg of Italian pizza flour tipo 00 (not caputo). I used 20gr of cake yeast. 2% salt. Consistency seemed fine when I was hand kneeding and it became smooth, soft but still sticky. Even though I worked it for quite some time I did not get enough gluten to do a full window pane. How long does this normally take by hand kneeding? Is it even necessary to go that far?

After finalizing the kneeding I put the dough straight into the refrigerator for some bulk cold fermentation. After 6 hours in the refrigerator it had already more then doubled in side. I took it out and did two or three folds. This deflated it and back in the refrigerator for the night. The idea is that I will ball it tomorrow and then use it in the afternoon.

Some of these new tricks I'm reading about on this and other forums don't seem to goto well with me. My normal technique was to double dough in room temp then ball it and into the ref for the next day. That always seemed to work. I'm hoping this new method with bulk refrigiration will work out for me. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

I would really love to get into the sourdough starter thing and I guess I must be more careful and scientific about it until I learn all the details.
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  #6  
Old 06-05-2009, 12:39 PM
Peasant
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: nice
Posts: 43
Default Re: back to basics. help needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by texassourdough View Post
Each of us has a different starter with a different personality and that complicates generalizations a lot. But...my NORMAL expansion approach is a 4X expansion - i.e. 100 grams of starter and add 200 grams of water and 200 grams of flour at dinner time. Next morning it will be just about peaking at 8 am with temps at about 76. In the winter when temps are down around 68 I go to a 3X expansion and would take 125 of starter and 250 of water and 250 of flour. If it is much colder, my yeast REALLY SLOOOOWWWWWWWS down.

Then in the morning in warm weather I do another 4x expansion (adding 2000 grams of water and flour tothe 500 grams of starter in the amounts necessary to give me the BP I want (that is about 1240 grams flour and 760 of water. (In winter it would be 3X so I would add 1875 grams total water and flour to the 625 of preferment.) The adjustment of expansion gives me relatively constant proofing times.

Hope this is useful!
Jay
Very useful.

So I used quite a lot less starter then you. Probably my starter is not strong enough at this point. I'll try again soon. But since summer is here our house tend to get around 24-26degrees Celsius. Might be to hot right? Can cold retardation work with sourdough?
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  #7  
Old 06-05-2009, 04:37 PM
Il Pizzaiolo
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
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Default Re: back to basics. help needed

Retardation can definitely work but it depends a lot on your yeast. Mine simply shuts down rapidly below 65 or so. If I refrigerate it, it takes forever to wake it back up. So I don't do that much.

Your description feels weird. 70% hydration is pretty high for bread and will give you a lot of trouble if you don't handle it right. It will always in my experience run and flatten if that high. I would suggest doing a double expansion as I do along with lower BP until you get some experience.

One problem you may be encountering is that flour degrades over time. Try taking some flour and simply adding water. Let it sit for 14 hours. It will be weird because enzymes will break down the flour structure. It sounds like you did ONE expansion to final BP. That means all of your flour was wet a long time. The two stage expansion lets you build flavor in the first expansion and get the yeast really cooking and then the second expansion (which is usually less than 8 hours to baking) provides some strength to the bread.

Watch your starter. It will start somewhat stiff and relax over time in the fridge until after a week it is runny (or at least much less stiff).

Good Luck!
Jay
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