Newbie sourdough problems

I'm new to baking sourdough and seem to be having a few problems. I've tried two starter recipes: Dan Lepard's Rye starter and Richard Bertinet's white flour, spelt and honey starter. Both are alive and well and behave as expected (I believe). So what's the problem, I hear you ask?

I am using Richard Bertinet's recipe (from his book Crust), which has quite a high water content (70%) and am trying his kneading technique for conditioning the dough. I *think* I am doing it correctly since the dough rises as the recipe says it should.

Per the recipe, I leave the dough in proving baskets for 16-18 hours (covered with a linen bread cloth) but find the dough seems to be rather delicate when I turn it out from the baskets with the internal dough looking 'runny'. The dough spreads quite a lot and if I try to slash with the lame, it 'bursts' like a balloon. I have tried two batches so far and only 50% of each batch makes it to the oven. The resulting bread tastes good, but it's rather flat.

Any ideas what I'm doing wrong? Am I proving for too long? Too much water?

Many thanks

6 users have voted.


TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2009 June 8

The ideal proving time depends on many things...temperature, which, contributes to the activity of the yeast and, yes, hydration of the dough, among other things.

What was the ambient temperature where your long proving was done? Since mine is around 28 degC plus, I stick it in the fridge for such long proofs.

Enzymes in the yeast breaks down starch into simple sugars. As the dough proves, gas expands stretching the cell walls, which, gets more fragile as the starch degrades. You could try reducing by 2 hours...maybe, more.

70% hydration makes quite a workable dough, especially, for wholemeal flours. What flour or combo are you using?



timcooperuk 2009 June 9

The ambient temperature is around 18 degC, which is more or less what the recipe recommends

The recipe is:

90g spelt flour
700g strong white flour
400g ferment
650g water
20g salt

I will try proving for less time and maybe keeping it in the fridge to prove instead.



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