Hallelujah~A Sourdough Beginner's Tale


J13

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Ah-hem. Please put on "Thus Spake Zarathustra" :
[horns]Dum-Dum-Dum...te-dum![horns]
[kettle drums] Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom[/kettle drums]
[louder horns] Dum-Dum-Dum...TAH DA![/louder horns]

Actually, I don't know if I really got more puff than last time, but I think I did. Maybe the title of this thread should read "Hallelujah?" with a question mark? :D
 

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J13

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To continue....

So, what made this loaf different from all the others and how did I do it? Honestly, I'm not sure. I made changes detailed below and any one or more undoubtedly helped. I'm sure the biggest one was taking down the hydration level. That said, the dough still failed to really double up in the tub during bulk fermentation (it rose, but reluctantly and only as little as possible). It also wasn't bubbly. But when I finally decided to remove it, it had lots of gluten strands. So...half right?

Changes I made:

(1) 68% hydration. NorCal called it first, and everyone else I talked to said the same: take the hydration down 10%. It was 78%.

(2) Levain: original recipe said 5-6 hours. I really kept my eye on it this time, and made sure to do the float test. It wasn't ready to float till it the full 6 hours. Then, it floated. Yay!

(3) I dissolved levain into the water for the autolyse. Originally, the recipe had me add water/flour, wait an hour while the dough absorbed that water, then add in levain and salt. I wrote of my woes to a baker friend up north, and he advised pouring in water, dissolving levain in it, and then adding the flour. He advised this to make sure the levain was fully incorporated into the dough. I've no idea if that helped, but it did allow me to start the bread making an hour later than before, and that was useful to my schedule.

(4) Autolyse: He also advised that I should add in the salt 40 minutes after mixing up dough, and follow with a good five minutes of mixing it all around by hand, this to get the salt fully incorporated and also to start the gluten going. Again, I don't know how much this helped, but I did seem to have more gluten in this dough.

(5) Bulk Fermentation Folds: Original recipe had three, I did four instead of three, again, as recommended by NorCal.

I'll add that this dough still stuck to the board and scraper and was a little molten; still hard to handle—but not nearly so bad as before. Most important, I got both loaves shaped. I knew I'd done something different when that first loaf (the one above) came out still round and plump-ish from the refrigerator. Before they came out of the refrigerator looking like I'd overturned a pie. And, in fact, the second one came out that way (guess I didn't give it enough tucks), though it's puffed up higher than previous ones as well.

Overall, I'm pleased, relieved, and more confident.

Oh, and that loaf in the photo above...Cold Oven! :cool: Here's a photo of both loaves. One on the right is preheated. If I may quote the pre-eminent musical band of the 60's... "I'm a believer...." It looks to me as if the cold oven method is a go, at least for those with ovens like mine.
 

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Ah-hem. Please put on "Thus Spake Zarathustra" :
[horns]Dum-Dum-Dum...te-dum![horns]
[kettle drums] Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom[/kettle drums]
[louder horns] Dum-Dum-Dum...TAH DA![/louder horns]

Actually, I don't know if I really got more puff than last time, but I think I did. Maybe the title of this thread should read "Hallelujah?" with a question mark? :D
Oh yes, that is a much better shape all around than the previous loaves. :D

Ah-hem. Please put on "Thus Spake Zarathustra" :
[horns]Dum-Dum-Dum...te-dum![horns]
[kettle drums] Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom[/kettle drums]
[louder horns] Dum-Dum-Dum...TAH DA![/louder horns]

Actually, I don't know if I really got more puff than last time, but I think I did. Maybe the title of this thread should read "Hallelujah?" with a question mark? :D
Oh yes, that is a much better shape and rise than the previous loaves. :D
 
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To continue....

So, what made this loaf different from all the others and how did I do it? Honestly, I'm not sure. I made changes detailed below and any one or more undoubtedly helped. I'm sure the biggest one was taking down the hydration level. That said, the dough still failed to really double up in the tub during bulk fermentation (it rose, but reluctantly and only as little as possible). It also wasn't bubbly. But when I finally decided to remove it, it had lots of gluten strands. So...half right?

Changes I made:

(1) 68% hydration. NorCal called it first, and everyone else I talked to said the same: take the hydration down 10%. It was 78%.

(2) Levain: original recipe said 5-6 hours. I really kept my eye on it this time, and made sure to do the float test. It wasn't ready to float till it the full 6 hours. Then, it floated. Yay!

(3) I dissolved levain into the water for the autolyse. Originally, the recipe had me add water/flour, wait an hour while the dough absorbed that water, then add in levain and salt. I wrote of my woes to a baker friend up north, and he advised pouring in water, dissolving levain in it, and then adding the flour. He advised this to make sure the levain was fully incorporated into the dough. I've no idea if that helped, but it did allow me to start the bread making an hour later than before, and that was useful to my schedule.

(4) Autolyse: He also advised that I should add in the salt 40 minutes after mixing up dough, and follow with a good five minutes of mixing it all around by hand, this to get the salt fully incorporated and also to start the gluten going. Again, I don't know how much this helped, but I did seem to have more gluten in this dough.

(5) Bulk Fermentation Folds: Original recipe had three, I did four instead of three, again, as recommended by NorCal.

I'll add that this dough still stuck to the board and scraper and was a little molten; still hard to handle—but not nearly so bad as before. Most important, I got both loaves shaped. I knew I'd done something different when that first loaf (the one above) came out still round and plump-ish from the refrigerator. Before they came out of the refrigerator looking like I'd overturned a pie. And, in fact, the second one came out that way (guess I didn't give it enough tucks), though it's puffed up higher than previous ones as well.

Overall, I'm pleased, relieved, and more confident.

Oh, and that loaf in the photo above...Cold Oven! :cool: Here's a photo of both loaves. One on the right is preheated. If I may quote the pre-eminent musical band of the 60's... "I'm a believer...." It looks to me as if the cold oven method is a go, at least for those with ovens like mine.

Getting more gluten development really paid off. The dough will always be sticky. It’s the nature of the beast. In time you will develop your own techniques to deal with the sticky dough. It feels awful and frustrating at first. But in time you get used to it. And more important, you learn how to handle the dough and it does not become so frustrating.

The loaves look beautiful. You did great girl
 
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*Blush, blush, blush* (high praise indeed). And the proof is in the crumb, right? Here’s the interior (forgive the ragged cut I made). Having consumed several slices, I can confirm that it’s definitely more spongy, airy and, well, like sourdough:
Hahaha! That is a very lovely crumb indeed.:D And really J13, four tries to get to this loaf is really very fast progress. Even the loaves you bemoaned were not shabby for first tries.

This is good bread. You are doing excellent. :cool:
 
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