Help a beginner please!

NicolaJane

Hi,
I am fairly new to sourdough and need a little help with some basics. Some questions I have are:
1. What is the idea proving temperature and what is the idea dough temperature during this time?
2. My starter never doubles in size after feeding when left at room temperature, yet all the info says it should and that the time of maximum volume is when to bake with it. Is this true? What is a good starter volume to use and what is a good program?
3. What is the ideal protein content of the bread flour? Some say 12-15%. Should I be adding some gluten flour to the mix?
4. What affects oven spring?
5. Sometimes my loaves look great except for an increased denceness at the bottom. What can cause this?
Any comments would be appreciated. So far, the bread is getting better each time (with the odd learing experience in between). A very addictive pursuit!
Cheers, NicolaJane.

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bianchifan's picture
bianchifan 2006 August 23

TP, keep cool, kepp cool...
or do it this way "o v v e n", I like it, it's nice, too...
the other thing: what's proofing, I only know proving

Hello Nicolajane,

1. There is no ideal proving temperature, nevertheless there is a temperature for each sort of bread to become well done. In Germany we use temperatures between 27° and 38° C for proving, in France some bakers use 23° to 24° C.
.
.
4. Try typing a little dent into the surface, it may not spring backwards immediately and a quite little mark my stay.
5. It's always a goog idea to use a stone to get enough and constant heat at the ground.
The stone may be fired up for half an hour min. better one hour.

Good luck.

TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2006 August 23

[quote="bianchifan"]
TP, keep cool, kepp cool...
or do it this way "o v v e n", I like it, it's nice, too...
[/quote]
Thanks....
[quote]
the other thing: what's proofing, I only know proving
[/quote]

I think. Oh no......not another one......!!!

Edit: Oh...er...you mean me? I use 'proofing'? I used to say 'proving' but I guess I get drawn to the 'oof' side now and then...depending on how vulnerable I am at that point in time.

SourDom 2006 August 24

Nicola Jane,

welcome

Just to demonstrate that there are different opinions around, and more than one way of baking a good loaf here are some different answers to your questions

1. The 'ideal' dough and proving temperature is said to be 30, but you can prove fine at lower temperatures, and there are some advantages in terms of flavour and convenience (eg 15C)

2. An active starter left overnight will sometimes peak in volume while you are asleep, and then drop again in volume. It is still OK to use at this point. Alternatively if your starter doesn't seem to have the vigour that it should try refreshing it daily for a week, each time discarding all except a teaspoon and adding at least 100g flour and water.

3. Artisan bakers will sometimes deliberately use low protein flour. French and Italian artisan bakers also use much lower protein flour (closer to 10%), so there is not one right answer. There are other things that affect bread quality other than the 'protein' number of the flour. Having a good quality unbleached, preferably organic flour is probably more important

5. I am going to disagree with my colleagues by suggesting that dense lower part of bread is often a sign of underproving (ie not leaving long enough before baking). You can tell the difference between the two also by the shape of the loaf, and the amount of spring. (Underproved loaves will often have relatively more oven spring, overproved loaves are often flat in shape and have less spring).

hope this helps, and doesn't make things more confusing for you!

cheers
Dom

Bill44's picture
Bill44 2006 August 24

[quote="SourDom"]
5. I am going to disagree with my colleagues by suggesting that dense lower part of bread is often a sign of underproving (ie not leaving long enough before baking). You can tell the difference between the two also by the shape of the loaf, and the amount of spring. (Underproved loaves will often have relatively more oven spring, overproved loaves are often flat in shape and have less spring).
cheers
Dom
[/quote]
Dom, I have to disagree with you. By the very nature of an underproofed loaf the cell walls are strong and don't collapse. Your description of an overproofed loaf as being flat in shape and not having much spring, is correct for a loaf that is well into overproofing. However for a loaf that is in the early stages of overproofing the collapse of the cells at the bottom of the loaf due to the weight of the dough holds true, the weight of the loaf is less as you go up the loaf and the cells are still strong enough to support the dough above them.

I don't for one minute entertain the thought that this lady has underproofed the dough to the point where the cells have not had a chance to form, this is born out by the fact that, apart from the bottom of the loaf, the rest of the loaf was normal.

I am quite happy to be proved wrong. That is how we learn.

NicolaJane 2006 August 25

Thank you so much to everyone for your replies. I have been keeping a diary of what I have done and the results, all ending with questions and ideas for the next loaf. It is great to have some of those questions answered and have people so willing to give advice. I will be baking again early nexty week and will be putting all your good advice to the test. Does anyone know of a good bakery in Hobart? I am down here for the weekend and love to hunt down sourdough I can aspire to.
Thanks again, Nicola Jane.

NicolaJane 2006 August 25

Oh and a note on the underproofing/overproofing denseness debate, my loaves have varied in sometimes being flatish and othertimes having great ovenspring, with varying amounts of ventral denseness present. So, going on your comments it seems I may be going either side of that perfect moment. I am sure I will nail it one day
Cheers, Nicola Jane.

NicolaJane 2006 August 25

Hi again,
I have had a bit of a read of this forum and I have a few more questions.
I have found my dough to be really wet when I begin kneading and have to add heaps of flour when kneading. I tried kneading with oil with my sopping dough and this was a complete disaster. I have been holding back on the water and it has been heaps easier to handle. Now I read about this hydration thingy and realise that this is a whole area I know nothing about. Can someone give me the basics or point me to somewhere that I can get this information?
Cheers, Nicola Jane.
PS I have far too may questions.

bianchifan's picture
bianchifan 2006 August 25

Hi Nicola,
no one can answer your question generally, it depends on a lot of things as the used flour, its quality, hydration and so on.
Main thing, you need zo get familiar with your dough, you have to learn to feel it, if its all right or not.
At beginning, best kneading method..with your hands. With kitchen aid or something else you will disturb the structure perhaps, when using a machine on slowest speed, please. Slow...and long but not too long, at about 10 min, depending of the dough, sometimes a few min longer, espacially at a very fluid dough.

In Germany (awful wheat quality) we use a hydration between 45% to 65% for white wheat flour, where 65% isn't really good for beginners.
For whole wheat flour a hydration betwenn 60% and 75% is used, 75% only for very good flour with fine soaking potential and a lot of protein.
For rye flour a hydration betwenn 65% and 85% is almost used.

You must try...and learn.

I wish you quite good success..

Cheers

NicolaJane 2006 September 6

Is it normal to have a forum completely hijacked?
I have another question if someone can help me. I have read up on the bakers percentage and understand the concept. However, how do you calculate the hydration of the starter? I imagine that the water in the starter would affect your overall water content, but how do I work out what this is? My starter is fed using 1/2 starter, 1/4 water and 1/4 flour. Also I add liquid malt extract - should I count the water in this too? And should sourdough be in the 65-70% hydration range as stated in that article at artisan.net.? Is that what I should aim for. Also, the recipe I have used all along to learn has 83% white flour and 17% rye flour. I have yeat to stray too far from this as I am keen to get the whole concept right first. Should I just get white only bread right firts? Is this easier.
So many questions. I appreciate any comments.
Cheers, Nicky.

Croc 2006 September 6

talk about hijacking
this was one hell of a hijack

anyway hydration starter from what it sounds like is 100% hydration (you do include this in final calculation lets say 50gr/50gr (water/flour) add to your totals in finall recipe

i'm not sure about malt as i don't use it myself but if you don't use it much don't calculate it, just like with oil in recipe it is not part of hydration calculation.

65-70% in general but it is not a rule, play with it and remember that same brand of flour at my place counld be not as dry as yours so to hit same TRUE hydration i would have to use more water than you so don't stress it, but i find that high hydration does makes texture really nice and open, i used to hate working on dough like this but now that i got used to it i love, so easy compared to lower hydration doughs.

look at bills calculators here if you want to play with different combinations http://www.sourdough.com.au/learn/tools/

as for trying bit of this and bit of that, is up to you, it does makes learning easy to stick with one recipe and watch what happens to it as you change hydration, or proofing time, or kneading style, baking temp, etc.....
it helps to understand whole process and consequences of one or other changes.
saying that i toy with recipes a lot and do many different things, it might take bit longer to grasp some ideas but is great fun too but if you bake for family make sure you make your "good" bread at the same time so if you end up with experimental flop they got other one to eat

TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2006 September 6

[quote="NicolaJane"]
My starter is fed using 1/2 starter, 1/4 water and 1/4 flour.
[/quote]

Hmm....excuse the layman lingo...but methinks your beasties may not be getting enough food. I work with 1T starter, 3/4 C water and 1 C flour. That would make a 100% hydration starter by weight.

bianchifan's picture
bianchifan 2006 September 6

[quote="NicolaJane"]
My starter is fed using 1/2 starter, 1/4 water and 1/4 flour. Also I add liquid malt extract
[/quote]
Hello Nicky, it's better to give the starter some more food at refreshing time, he's hungry, aren't you?
In Germany there is a rule for refreshing by several stages, named ARCADY, you feed 12 g starter with 100 g flour and water each, for example.
You mustn't look to close to the hydration, a low hydration as you told above, is only appreciated for wheat dough only, better is a higher hydration at about 100%. Rye starters need much more hadration, best results with 150 % hyd. at beginning. Only the last stage should be at 100 %, in special cases you may use 80%.

I hope, you havn't kick the malty juice to the starter? You may add to the dough what ever you want, starter is flour/meal and water only. In special cases salt, but rhat a very special way of doughing and mostly unsuitable for beginners.
I recommand rye starter at beginning, no wheat. but i you find it easier with white wheat, do it.
I don't know you recipe, so I can't tell you more at this time.

Don't worry and have a good baking.

NicolaJane 2006 August 28

Thanks heaps for you reply.
The thing I dont understand is what the percentage hydration means.
In a nutshell, can you please explain the bakers percentage concept, say for 1kg of flour. I really appreaciate your time.
Cheers, Nicky.

Bill44's picture
Bill44 2006 August 28

Nicky, have a good look at the link and then come back with your questions. It will save a lot of writing.
[url]http://www.theartisan.net/bakers_percentage_revised_2001.htm[/url]

Croc 2006 August 28

huge help for beginers (and the pros) is dan's book.
i just got it today from one of members around here that double ordered and it is money well spent no question, i don't think i ever seen baking book (or any other cooking book) with such great pictures and detailed info.

Croc 2006 August 28

i'm making first bread today following recipe from book to the dot and hope to get great bread later on today so if everything works out ok i be posting pictures

Croc 2006 August 29

[quote="TeckPoh"]
Which one, which one? I just made his Apple and Custard Loaf yesterday. SLurp.
[/quote]

the basic white loaf, it is yeasted recipe but very different way, with DL steps of short kneadings and this one got addition of plain flour also it uses very little yeast compared to other recipes i been doing so the proofing time it longer.......

just got them out of the owen, made two small breads (400gr each), they look great, and smell fantastic, i put little bit too much flour on the baking tray but other than that all seem perfect, now just got to wait for them to cool down ..............................................................(this is worst than watching grass growing)

i guess i could make little bit deeper cuts, but didn't think after almost 3hour of proofing time dough would be still bit underproofed so oven lift got little bit limited but still great with slashes opening up to max and one got slight split in a centre, with deeper cuts i would get it even better but for first shot i'm very happy with what came out of the owen.

pics will come soon

Croc 2006 August 29

oh my god

i waited 35min before first slice and it was more than enough since the size was not so big.
anyway what a magic, it looks great, it smells fantastic, crumb got perfect texture (better than my breads with 100% of 11.9% protein flour breads)
taste is great as well.

half of first loaf is GONE (all me ) but i got some pictures

Croc 2006 August 29

i just had another slice ..........YUM
ok i lied, i had not just one but two more slices
at this speed my family will have no bread in a morning

TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2006 August 29

You glutton! Think of your poor hungry family.

Now you know why some of us love this book so much! Try and catch up with me, bro. I've done at least 10 recipes already.

NicolaJane 2006 September 7

I think the starter may be a problem too. I have just baked this morning and the bread is vile. I think I have been over proofing the bread and today seems to be underproofed. Very dense, some big bubbles, small loaf size. Gross. I bulk proofed for only 2.5 hours before knocking back, then putting it into the fridge overnight. But it had barely risen at all.
I fed 200g starter with 100g flour and 100g water 24 hours prior then fed this with 200g water and flour 6 hours prior, then placed start @ 39degs. It looked pretty active. I need a regime that works. Can I have that German regime in ABC form? Please help!
Nicky.

Bill44's picture
Bill44 2006 August 29

Yep, must have the pics. We know you are getting better Croc but we would like to see the results.

On the subject of photos, and baking credibility, we have had in the past a very critical poster and never saw a loaf of bread he made. It would appear that we have another one with us, not you Croc, that seems willing to voice his opinion. He would have a lot more credibility if we could see some of his baking, and I would take him a lot more seriously. It's easy to talk the walk, but it's another thing to actually walk the walk.

TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2006 September 7

You say your starter looks active, so how can it be the problem?

Actually, there's no need to knock back the dough for sourdough breads. On the contrary, a very gentle touch is desired....you don't want to burst any bubbles which have so slowly build up. Why don't you try the 45-60 mins turn and folds?

Croc 2006 August 29

i take pictures of just about every bread i bake, not just finished bake but also quite a few during whole process to compare, most of them get forgoten but some make it here.

Croc 2006 August 29

little bit of history for everyone (because poor sucker got eaten )

[img]http://www.sourdough.com.au/gallery/d/4629-2/yum_.JPG[/img]

Croc 2006 August 29

what i really liked about this two breads was how the crust looked and tasted, i guess the little amount of yeast made the difference and because of that it was very slow proofing for yeasted bread (~ 3hours total)

also what really shocked me was the so much more open crumb compared to my every other yeasted bake with 100% of strong flour where here i got almost as much plain flour as much i had strong flours (both flours were laucke)

bianchifan's picture
bianchifan 2006 September 7

Hello Nicky,

an active looking starter isn't all, 39 deg ( I assume Celsius) is much too high. You will get lots of lactat and your fungis will work so hard, its bubblling and bubbling, but they won't breed , they're bathed in sweat like you sitting in a suomi sauna at 120 deg Cel. (I like it, but I don't make any sports in there).

[quote]
Can I have that German regime in ABC form?
[/quote]
It's not clear to me, I don't know exacly what you want.

Croc 2006 August 29

here is one i somehow forgot to post
this one is 1kg sourdough, one of my latest bakes.
poor thing didn't even got crumb pictures (family was very hungry) but was just as great looking as the rest of this loaf.

[img]http://www.sourdough.com.au/gallery/d/4626-2/lastsd.JPG[/img]

TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2006 August 29

Great breads, croc!

As for putting money where the mouth is, I'd settle for more talk even if it doesn't come with pix, especially if the theory/words are creditable. No pix no biggie. Reading a book vs watching a film based on the book.

Bill44's picture
Bill44 2006 August 29

[quote="TeckPoh"]
Great breads, croc!

As for putting money where the mouth is, I'd settle for more talk even if it doesn't come with pix, especially if the theory/words are creditable. No pix no biggie. Reading a book vs watching a film based on the book.
[/quote]

"especially if the theory/words are creditable" This is my whole point TP, establishing credibility as a baker, not just sitting back like an "armchair critic" who has picked up all their information off the internet and spouts forth like an expert.

TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2006 August 30

Oh, Carla, Germans are not only direct and abrupt, they're also so warm that their bear hugs will squeeze the 'oom pah pah' out of you!

NicolaJane 2006 September 9

Thanks heaps again for all your help.
I was not aware that I was feeding the starter too little or that the 39degs was knocking the poor fellas about. What is a good temperature?
Also, Bianchifan, about the German regime, I want to know how many times should I feed prior to baking and how long before? I will try the 12g starter to 100g flour and 100g water to refresh. Also, do I need to knock the bread back towards the end of the bulk fermentation? I thought I did, but I am just going off a recipe by Dean brettscneider from his and Lorraine Jacobs book "Taste - baking with flavour".
Thanks heaps again - I am sure it will happen for me one day.
Nicky

SourYumMum's picture
SourYumMum 2006 August 30

A belated welcome to you, Nicky! I've been out of the loop for a few weeks.

You will find everyone here helpful, amusing, irritating (in their fantastic abilities!) ... did I say HELPFUL?!

We look forward to seeing lots of your bread!

Carol

bianchifan's picture
bianchifan 2006 September 10

[quote="NicolaJane"]
I want to know how many times should I feed prior to baking and how long before?
[/quote]
Hi Nicky,

I must look over the forum whether there is an expanation of Det-3-stagees.
In case of not I 'll post something upon.
Please, don't use such high temps, nver > 30° C, only at proving-time, there but only there you can use 35 - 39° C.

carla's picture
carla 2006 September 10

Yes bianchifan there are some good explanations [url=http://sourdough.com.au/forum/viewtopic.php?p=2315&highlight=#2315][b]here[/b][/url]

And two recipes [url=http://sourdough.com.au/forum/viewtopic.php?p=2430&highlight=#2430][b]here[/b][/url]

Good luck!

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