Sourdough beginner's Tale: 1st Bread Attempt Failure...

Discussion in 'Bread' started by J13, Jun 16, 2019.

  1. J13

    J13 Well-Known Member

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    :( Wahh-wahh. Sad trombone here. Yes, I made the attempt and was well aware I might fail...and, well, did. I actually suspected it was failing early on because it just didn't seem to be proofing during the four hours in the tub. And, of course, when I pulled it out of the refrigerator this morning and it didn't look like it has puffed up at all, that kinda gave me a clue. But I took it to the end simply to get used to the steps. And because I had this vain hope that maybe, just maybe it would pop up in the oven.

    No such luck. I got something the shape of a flying saucer. :oops:

    Where did it go wrong? Possibly my starter/levain wasn't strong enough. But I suspect that that the pre-shape and shaping were to blame. I honestly did follow the Perfect Loaf instructions to the letter. But pre-shaping and shaping tripped me up. Because his instructions don't include video—there is some video he has online of what to do, but he just quickly demonstrates with no audio to explain what he's doing or why. And watching other bread shaping videos didn't help much. There are so many variations. Some just use the bench scraper and hands to tuck away the dough into a ball for pre-shape. Others slap and fold then tuck into a ball for pre-shape. Then, for shaping, some say, "stretch it out and tuck up for shape," and others say, "no do the tuck and shape"....I'm really confused.

    I suppose the biggest problem was that there was no one at my side to say: "You need to do more to this before you try to turn it into a round ball..." or "Go easy here, don't do too much..." Pre-shape and shaping is supposed to take 5 minutes each, but it certainly didn't go smoothly enough to be that fast. The dough was very wet and sticky, and the folding and such never seemed to transform it from a wet and sticky mass into that smooth elastic ball.

    Back to the drawing board!
     
    J13, Jun 16, 2019
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  2. J13

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    Sorry I’m not at home so I can’t respond in detail.

    The more sources you read the more you’re going to confuse yourself. At a certain point there’s sensory overload.

    For simple video fundamentals on shaping see Bake with Jack. He keeps shaping simple for the beginner.

    Video 1
    https://www.bakewithjack.co.uk/videos/2016/8/11/bread-tip-4-how-to-shape-a-loaf-of-bread




    Video 2
     
    Norcalbaker59, Jun 17, 2019
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  3. J13

    Becky Well-Known Member

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    If it's any consolation, it took a while before I started to get good results from my starter. It took a couple of months before I started getting a better flavour and rise... unfortunately these things take time.

    There are photos here: https://www.baking-forums.com/threads/rye-sourdough.5266/
     
    Becky, Jun 17, 2019
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  4. J13

    J13 Well-Known Member

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    Very true. I'll try Jack's method next time...but he does imply that sourdough is a tad different, which worries me a little. Sourdough seems to be its own beast, which isn't going to start out as nice and fluffy and willing as that dough he demonstrates on. I wish he'd used a dough that was really sticky and oozing about to demonstrate on :p
    That does console me! Thank you! And I do mean to try and try again. Maybe even next Saturday :D

    UPDATE: Before I forget, we did cut into the loaf at lunchtime yesterday. I was surprised to find some big holes in the interior (bubbles were created!), though the crumb itself was, not surprisingly, a bit dense and gummy (I'm thinking next time of using King Arthur Organic all-purpose rather than bread flour. It's 11% protein, high for an all-purpose. In fact, only only 1% over their bread flour at 12%. From what I'm reading, that 1% difference might help...not sure why, but that's what I'm reading),

    So, the interior didn't turn out, texture wise, as bad as I feared....and the crust was great looking.

    As for the flavor...it was *delicious*! :D I was totally shocked and awed. We were totally able to eat it. So. Not a complete failure. I feel better.
     
    J13, Jun 17, 2019
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  5. J13

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    Well I’m glad the bread wasn’t a total loss. As @Becky explained, it does take practice.

    Regarding differences in shaping sourdough, yes there is some differences due to hydration levels. But you’re not working with an extremely high hydration dough at this point so don’t worry about it. Right now stick with one recipe and one shaping method. What’s important right now is consistency and some level of comfort and familiarity with what you’re doing. So stick with the perfect loaf recipe. Use Jack’s shaping method.

    A flour recommendation...Central Milling Artisan Bakers Craft Plus. This flour is 11.5% protein. It is a blend that had a variety of wheat called Yecora Rojo. Rojo makes a beautiful bread. It known for its buttery flavor. It’s a great organic all purpose flour. This is my go to flour for breads, rolls, most cookies, most quick breads and muffins pie crust, biscotti. The only thing I don’t use it for is shortbread, cupcakes, some quick breads and muffins, cake, The “Plus” means it’s malted. The Artisan Bakers Craft is not malted. Doughs made with Rojo flour blends won’t be bucky.

    Central Milling produces some of the best flours in the country. They blend and mill flours to specification for the best bakeries and bakers in the country: Tartine, Josey Baker, Acme Bread. Central Milling is a partnership between the farmers, millers, and Keith and Nick Giusto the distributors. Keith and Nick are also third and fourth generation bakers. Nick was the bread baker for US team in the 2016 Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie.

    They sell to the trade, but they repackage some of their organic flours for the retail market.

    If you want to try this flour, and the shipping cost is too high through Central Milling, message me. Their distribution center is near me. I’m making a flour run next week, so I can ship you some flour.

    https://centralmilling.com/product/organic-artisan-bakers-craft-plus/

    I was at Keith Giusto’s a couple weeks ago for a casual happy hour talk about wheat.

    Keith
    86B005B3-A517-481B-9FD0-6BCD1CE068AC.jpeg

    Nick
    7E0B7124-D158-4357-B44A-888501C390D0.jpeg

    Warehouse
    4A15618F-E591-4429-8D6A-9A7CF0238581.jpeg
     
    Norcalbaker59, Jun 18, 2019
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  6. J13

    J13 Well-Known Member

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    That is very generous of you! Thank you so much. I think for the moment, however, I should practice on more easily accessible flour where my failures won't make me feel like "Ack!" :confused: "I wasted that good flour...!" :D Once I've successfully made a real, puffed-up loaf...then I might take you up on that amazing offer.

    It's too bad Central Milling doesn't sell more commercially. I see that they used to be at Costco, but no more, at least not in California (I'm in Southern CA). Is there an on-the-store-shelves flour you'd recommend? One that I can restock quickly and easily in case I, ah-hem, end up with another flying saucer or two? ;)
     
    J13, Jun 18, 2019
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  7. J13

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    Keith actually takes some of his 50 lbs sacks and repackages it for retail market. All his flour is packaged for the trade. But the interest in baking has grown so much that Keith decided to make his flour available to the home baker.


    I know there was a bread Meet Up in SoCal (I think they’re out of LA) that periodically organized a bulk buy of Central Milling. There really is a cult like following of Central Milling flour among bread bakers. Members pre-paid for their orders, then some of the members drove up

    and hauled the flour down for everyone.


    In the past Whole Foods 365 brand name flour was Central Milling Beehive. Which is the lower protein it’s 10.5%. Another really nice flour. When I buy flour next week I’ll ask they are still the supplier.

    Fortunately they are just an hour drive from me. That’s also where I’m taking my baking classes.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Jun 18, 2019
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  8. J13

    J13 Well-Known Member

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    Whoah-ho! Please do ask! I would never have thought that the 365 brand might be a superior flour to any other. I'd happily buy that! And I'm jealous that I can't take baking classes at a nearby flour company ;) There are plenty of places around me that offer baking classes, but they're pretty pricey, and, right now, I'm watching finances. Maybe in a few months....
     
    J13, Jun 19, 2019
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  9. J13

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    I can understand the financial thing. I pick and choose my classes carefully. Classes are always expensive, especially when they are associated with a culinary program or professional bakers. About 18 years ago I took my first cake class at Sur La Table. It wasn’t bad. But there’s a difference from learning from a professionally trained pastry chef/baker and self taught baker. Getting the science behind what you’re doing is critical. I’m fortunate that CIA, Keith Giusto, SFBI, and SF Cooking School are all close. They are all excellent and expensive. I’ve learned a lot taking classes at these places though.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Jun 19, 2019
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  10. J13

    J13 Well-Known Member

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    My second attempt at sourdough and the dough is doing it again. I pour it out and it spreads and sticks to the board. If not for the bench scraper I couldn't give it any folds at all. Not that they matter. They just melt back into the dough and it spreads out again, and again, and again. Nothing I'm doing makes any difference. And every website has made me afraid to flour it...which would logically be the thing to do to get it to stop being sticky and start forming into a ball.

    I'm so discouraged with this sourdough recipe. It may make tasty bread, but my experience so far is that it's like one of those super high hydration doughs. Not something a beginner like me should have to deal with because I've no idea how to deal with it! :oops: Going to cry now.....
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2019
    J13, Jun 23, 2019
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  11. J13

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    This is only the second time that you’ve handled the dough. My guess is you’re doing what every beginner does. You shape it over and over again and you break the skin tension on the dough.

    Just take us very small piece. And shape it. Just move it around a couple of times. Then leave it alone.

    Then take another small piece and shape it. Then leave it alone. Keep repeating that with small pieces. It takes time to get the feel of the dough. It takes time to understand what you’re feeling for in tension in the dough.

    The more you work yourself up emotionally over this, the less successful you’re going to be. It’s just dough. It’s not worth this emotional upset over it.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Jun 23, 2019
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  12. J13

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    This is how to shape high hydration dough with a bench scraper. But you really need to know how to feel for tension with your hands.


     
    Norcalbaker59, Jun 23, 2019
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  13. J13

    J13 Well-Known Member

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    But it's not supposed to be high hydration. It's the beginner's recipe. All I can figure is that I need to cut down the amount of water next time around....Because I haven't even had a chance to shape a dough that's "regular" let along high hydration. Shouldn't I have a few "regular" hydration doughs before I dive into that deep end...and do so because I want to, not because the recipe is giving me that, ready or not....?

    And there is no tension. It's a sticky mess beginning to end.
     
    J13, Jun 23, 2019
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  14. J13

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    What level of hydration is it?
     
    Norcalbaker59, Jun 23, 2019
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  15. J13

    J13 Well-Known Member

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    From the website:
    Baker’s Percentage
    784g Bob’s Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour 80.00%
    147g Bob’s Red Mill Stoneground Whole Wheat Flour 15.00%
    49g Bob’s Red Mill Dark Rye Flour 5.00%
    765g H2O 78.00%
    18g Fine sea salt 1.80%
    36.8g Mature, 100% hydration sourdough starter 3.75%

    I have halved the amounts, as this is for two loaves and I want to get one right before I try to bake more. There is extra water added when the levain is mixed with the dough—assume it's part of this formula but I can't be sure. I think that extra water may be optional and if I don't add it, maybe that will help. Unfortunately, it's too late to try anything now. I'm betting I get another good tasting flying saucer....

    I am not, by the by, using Bob's red mill. I used 365 all purpose this time around, and I've been using Arrowhead wheat. The one Bob's Red Mill product I did use was the Rye.
     
    J13, Jun 23, 2019
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  16. J13

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    Link me to the exact recipe you are using
     
    Norcalbaker59, Jun 23, 2019
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  17. J13

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    I don’t have time to look at it this evening. I have some things that I have to get done this week for my divorce proceedings. But I’ll try to help you troubleshoot.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Jun 23, 2019
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  18. J13

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    This is not the beginners sourdough recipe.

    Use the beginner sourdough recipe.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Jun 23, 2019
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  19. J13

    J13 Well-Known Member

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    Very sorry to hear you’re dealing with such. And thank you so much for taking the time to discuss this. Troubleshooting can certainly wait. I won’t try again till next week at the earliest. Sorry for the sturm and drang. I just worked so carefully to get it right this time, and when I poured out the dough on my board and, once again, all it did was stick to everything, not letting me fold it or shape it no matter how hard I tried...well, I was very disheartened. And confused.
    Um...it’s the only one labeled “Beginner’s” at the Perfect Loaf website....
    https://www.theperfectloaf.com/begi...jSdSAlr0QlO7ljLpcWNH1rgkgtM9xviBoC0hsQAvD_BwE
     
    J13, Jun 23, 2019
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  20. J13

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    It’s actually quite amicable and the process has been in the works for sometime. So we have both moved on into other relationships.


    I had a senior moment on the bread recipe. There’s another website that also has a lot of good recipes on it. They have a very simple beginner recipe, and I was thinking their recipe was Perfect Loaf. But you’re working with the perfect loaf recipe so just stick with it.

    Let me get through this week and I’ll work with you to help you get your bread going. It is doable. We just have to change a couple of things with technique. What you can do this.

    And even I have issues with shaping. That’s why I’m going to baguette class next month.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Jun 24, 2019
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