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Lose some, win some ... help? | Sourdough Companion

Lose some, win some ... help?

Hi all,

Recently I had a loaf not turn out so well. Rather poorly in fact!

I'd welcome some comments and advice about what might have gone wrong. Fair warning -- this posting is a bit long. I've tried to include enough detail so that someone can figure out what happened. Or what multiple things happened, more likely!

As my initial loaves had been bigger than were ideal for me, I decided to reduce the amount of dough. I also decided that I'd try baking this one in a tin, since I have a tin and didn't have anything that looked like a good stand in for a small banneton.

I had been told my bread tin was for "750g" loaves. So I aimed at that size, and think I made my first mistake (assuming planning to use a tin isn't counted a mistake!

Razz

). Are such weights the weight of the finished loaf (as I now think ...) or dough weight (as I first thought)?

Moving along, here's what I started with. Aiming at a 750g loaf at 68% hydration:

385g white bread flour
240g water
130g starter # only refreshed once, 50% hydration
12g salt

There I suspect I have my second mistake: while the starter is healthy and has worked well before, it was starting from the fridge. I think I should have refreshed it twice over 24 hours as usual instead of once over 12 hours.

The starter smelt stronger than usual: much more "yogurt"-like than it does usually. Not 100% pleasant even ... so I think the starter might have run out of food? (My notes don't say what refreshment it had, but probably 5x.)

There was little or no rise during the bulk ferment, and not too many bubbles at the end when I slashed it checking for progress. Running out of time, however, it got shaped after six hours(*) regardless.

(*) Really 3-4 hours, overnight in the fridge, ~2 hours out of the fridge before shaping. This has worked in the past and since, however.

The loaf didn't rise much or perhaps at all during its second proof. It also only had five hours as I had misjudged the time. Then I forgot to slash it.

Embarassed

Here's what it looked like out of the oven:

[img]http://stonerows.net/giles/2006/07/bad-loaf-7492.jpg[/img]

It doesn't show in the picture, but it tasted and smelled much stronger than usual. Again, not 100% pleasantly so.

Sad

[img]http://stonerows.net/giles/2006/07/bad-loaf-crumb-7496.jpg[/img]

Anyone got any ideas?

To show that I can make a loaf, here's one with twice the ingredients of the above, two refreshments over 12 hours, and allowed to rise in my collander&tea-towel "banneton":

[img]http://stonerows.net/giles/2006/07/good-loaf-7500.jpg[/img]

No crumb picture for that one, but it had a nice open crumb, good crust, lovely flavour, and wanted just a little more rising time before going into the oven (I think!) as the crumb at the centre bottom was a little bit compressed and dense.

So ... did I just botch the starter on the first one? Or did I do other suss things too?

Embarassed

Embarassed

Thanks in anticipation!

Giles

3 comments

[quote="SourDom"]
So, ideas for next time.
1. Is your starter healthy? - give it a couple of consecutive refreshes over a few days, each time discarding almost all of it, and topping up with flour and water. It should increase in volume, have froth on the surface and bubbles below the surface. If it is still smelling unpleasant then we have a bit of a problem on our hands, but not unsalvageable - let us know.
[/quote]
I now realise I wasn't clear: only the starter fed for that problem loaf smelt dubious. The stock starter in the fridge and subsequent starters made from it have been fine. In future I'll stick to two feeds twelve hours apart for this starter before baking; it seems to like that.

[quote="SourDom"]
3. When proving - if the dough isn't showing signs of development (no/few bubbles when you slash) then leave it for longer (if you can)
[/quote]
Will do.

[quote="SourDom"]
hope this helps
[/quote]
Thanks again,

Giles

Hi Dom,

Thanks for taking the time to read that long post and comment.

[quote="SourDom"]
Giles,
You mention that yours was 50% hydration, which I reckon would be 50g water to 100g water (quite dry!).
[/quote]
I meant 100%; equal amount of flour and water. Which in other than bakers' percentages each ingredient is half, not 100%. I'll get used to it; bakers' percentages are very convenient, just not familiar enough yet!

[quote="SourDom"]
1. Is your starter healthy?
[/quote]

It subsequently made the pictured boule, so I'd say so, and it made nice dough after two refreshes yesterday. (I didn't get to bake those loaves due to them over proving when I was late home, but that's a learning experience too.

Smile

)

Cheers,

Giles

Giles,

don't worry, all of us have less successful loaves from time to time.
Fortunately they mostly still disappear into the bellies of our families, necessitating another baking adventure...

It does sound like the starter was the main problem. It is a worry that it smells not quite right. And a 12 hours refresh out of the fridge is never enough for my starter (but others with more vigorous ones may have a different experience).
With starters that are more 'solid' (ie with lower hydration) I think that it can take longer for the starter to mature. You mention that yours was 50% hydration, which I reckon would be 50g water to 100g water (quite dry!). My theory is that the small population of yeast at the start can't spread and multiply in the more solid medium.

So, ideas for next time.
1. Is your starter healthy? - give it a couple of consecutive refreshes over a few days, each time discarding almost all of it, and topping up with flour and water. It should increase in volume, have froth on the surface and bubbles below the surface. If it is still smelling unpleasant then we have a bit of a problem on our hands, but not unsalvageable - let us know.
2. Before baking make sure that your starter has had time for yeast to multiply (same signs as above)
3. When proving - if the dough isn't showing signs of development (no/few bubbles when you slash) then leave it for longer (if you can)

hope this helps
let us know how you go

cheers
Dom
PS the boule looks great!