Sourdough Beginner: Third time...Not the Charm Yet....

Discussion in 'Bread' started by J13, Jul 4, 2019.

  1. J13

    J13 Well-Known Member

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    Made up the recipe yet again, and yet again got sticky dough I’m having difficulty shaping. EVEN with a special tool for scraping around high hydration dough into ball-ish shapes.

    Here are some pictures of pre-shaped dough. Yes, dough I TRIED to shape by pushing around on the board.

    I think this is my limit with this recipe. Unless these two bake up into amazing, beautiful, sourdough loaves, I’m done with it. Definition of insanity, right, doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. Three times with this recipe and I’ve gotten the same result each time. It all falls apart when I pour out that dough to find a sticky mess that I cannot, for love nor money, shape.

    If I’m going to keep trying my hand at sourdough, I need different results.
     

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    J13, Jul 4, 2019
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  2. J13

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    I think you should go over to the weekend bakery site and try the basic sourdough recipe that I’ve mentioned several times.

    Several things are going wrong. If the dough is falling apart when you’re turning it out, there probably isn’t enough gluten development. It should not tear apart when turned out. And if that’s what’s happening, then the “skin” that has formed on the outside tears. And then of course the sticky interior is exposed and it’s impossible to shape.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Jul 4, 2019
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  3. J13

    J13 Well-Known Member

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    Well, I wanted to give it one more hurrah as you did suggest I try to stick with this recipe a little longer.

    UPDATE: I bench-rested the dough for a good long time in the hopes that would help...it didn't. The dough stuck like glue to the board. Finally, I got two, stretched out, sticky messes flipped over onto a good spread of flour and at that point the dough (no surprise) stopped sticking and I was able to do the stretching and folding exactly as directed. And lo-and-behold it *did* come together in a round ball with a smooth exterior.

    I've no idea if this means I finally succeeded in shaping them; all I know is that this is the only one of my three attempts where I got the right *looking* result at the end. I know that doesn't guarantee how it will bake up, but at least I was able to scoop these two balls up and plop them easily into the baskets. I was afraid I was going to have to drip them in!

    We'll see how they come out of the oven tomorrow. If, as you say, there's not enough gluten development, then the results will probably be the same as before (flying saucer!). But at least I got a chance to feel how it is to shape the darn things and swirl them around the board between my hands, like in the videos.

    Whatever the results, I will take your advice and try one of the recipes from weekend baker. I do wish I knew why the gluten wasn't developing. I'm now worried that whatever I did wrong with this recipe will follow me to the next and the next....and I don't even know what that "did wrong" was. Usually, if something fails when you bake it—the cake sinks or the pie crust turns out tough—you can pinpoint where and why and fix that. Here it's like "try this," no? "okay, try that," no? "how about this..." :oops: It's like spinning a wheel and hoping you get lucky.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2019
    J13, Jul 4, 2019
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  4. J13

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    Wait— “...and I was able to do the stretching and folding exactly as directed..”?!!

    I think you’re confused about the different stages of dough and the different steps in bread making


    There may not be anything wrong here at all.

    There’s about 14 steps to making sourdough. When you said you were having trouble shaping the dough, I assumed you had completed the S&F since shaping and S&F are two separate steps AND S&F precedes shaping. You cannot shape without completing S&F.

    S&F is to develop gluten.

    When you start the S&F process the dough will slack, sticky, and rough. The dough will be very difficult to work. All dough before S&F will be like this. This is the nature of the beast. So if theses photos are of the dough before you started S&F, then that is exactly how the dough should be.

    Dough at this stage is fermented, but it is NOT ready to be shaped. In fact if cannot be shaped because there is no gluten network. So you need to work the dough.

    At the S&F stage the dough is extremely slack, sticky, and rough looking. After about three cycles of S&F the gluten develops and the dough will build some elasticity, and becomes smoother, and fuller. It also will form a gluten membrane that hold it together. So when you turn it out after the last of the S&F it is a cohesive whole. The exterior will still be sticky, but significantly more manageable with floured hands. The exterior will have form a gluten membrane. If you cut through the dough you’ll notice the interior is significantly more sticky.

    These dough characteristics are with all bread dough with hydration above 70%. This dough is what it supposed to be at the S&F stage. I think it’s a misunderstanding of what to expect at the different stages for these

    Shaping is a completely different step from S&F.

    When S&F is completed, the dough is more elastic, smoother, and it will have a “skin” on the exterior. When you cut through the dough, the interior will be considerably stickier than the exterior. The dough will hold together and when turned out of its container it will easily pull away from the sides of the container and come out as a whole piece. So it’s important in shaping that you don’t damage that exterior skin. otherwise you have to deal with that sticky interior.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Jul 4, 2019
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  5. J13

    J13 Well-Known Member

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    I'm sorry. :oops: It's not the steps that are confusing me, it's the terminology. *YES* I performed the stretch-and-folds of bulk fermentation. My problem came when I tried to PRE-SHAPE the loves. This is always where I run into trouble. The fermented, stretch-and-folded dough came out of the container and it didn't seem to have much smoothness, much tension, as you describe. It never has in any of my three attempts. It stuck like crazy to the board, like it always does. I pushed it around with the big scraper, as in the video for high hydration dough. The dough would not develop any shape or tension. Not even like those in the video. I left them to bench rest for about 45 minutes in hopes this would help. Then I tried to FINAL SHAPE them.

    They flowed and stuck to the board like mad. I scraped them up and flopped the mess down on a well-floured surface.

    And HERE is where the situation finally turned out different from my other attempts. The floured underside of the dough stopped sticking and I was able to SHAPE the dough in the way demonstrated in all those videos. By stretching out the sides, folding them in so they lapped over each other, then stretching up the top, folding that over those two, and stretching out the bottom and folding it up. Envelope style?

    It all rolled up into a neat ball that seemed to have tension; it was very smooth, not sticky at all.

    I apologize for messing up the description of what I was doing. I've no idea what words to use to distinguish between "stretch-and-fold" meaning develop gluten during bulk fermentation and "stretch and fold" meaning final shaping. It seems to me that final shaping involves gently pulling out the dough (stretching) and then folding it in. So...how do you describe it differently so that the two are not confused? :(

    First loaf out of the oven. See photos below. Not a disaster! (Yay!) This was baked cold oven. The second, obviously, has gone in in a preheated oven, and in a preheated pot. I'll post a comparison of the two loaves in a separate thread.
     

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    Last edited: Jul 4, 2019
    J13, Jul 4, 2019
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  6. J13

    J13 Well-Known Member

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    Here’s the interior of the cold bake loaf. I have to say, of the three, I think this one may have the best interior. It’s pretty darn “fluffy.”
     

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  7. J13

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    Ok, I understand now.

    It sounds like you’re not developing enough for gluten in the S&F.

    If should not be that sticky and rough. Your dough should also have formed a skin.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Jul 5, 2019
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  8. J13

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    This loaf is really good for your third bake. You always slam the recipe in lead up to the bake, and always sound like it’s utter catastrophe...this is hardly a failure J13. Not even close. Seriously, this is very good progress.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Jul 5, 2019
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