Tests for Proper Dough Development

cross1242

I'm new and having great problems getting my sourdough to rise rather than spread out.  (From what I've seen elsewhere, it's a common problem.)  Anyway, I think my problem may be in knowing for sure when the kneading of the dough should stop and the next stage begin.

 

I've tried using the "windowpane" test and it's never formed a proper windowpane regardless of whether I've kneaded by hand or machine or for 5 minutes or 25 minutes.  Poking the dough always seems to get a hole that stays almost as soon as the dough is coming together.

 

I've learned to distrust the indications in recipes on how long to knead.  No matter which time I've used, the results always seem to be a flat (Ciabatta-like) loaf and not a boule or French loaf.

 

The tast is always fine.

 

Can anyone offer advice on how to really make the tests for a fully-developed but not over-developed so that the gluten is broken up?

 

Thank you.

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eyendall 2011 August 18

 Give us some more and detailed information on how you put together your last (flat) loaf. The first thing I would look at is your hydration level. Could be you are adding too much water? Is your sourdough starter fully active when you add your bread flour and water? Or perhaps your flour is not strong enough for bread-making. Perhaps you are not giving the dough enough time to rise and develop. After kneading, do you allow the dough to rise and be folded, a couple of times, before shaping into loaves and the final proof? There are plenty of steps in the process where one can go wrong so a better picture of what you do would help us.

eyendall 2011 August 18

 Give us some more and detailed information on how you put together your last (flat) loaf. The first thing I would look at is your hydration level. Could be you are adding too much water? Is your sourdough starter fully active when you add your bread flour and water? Or perhaps your flour is not strong enough for bread-making. Perhaps you are not giving the dough enough time to rise and develop. After kneading, do you allow the dough to rise and be folded, a couple of times, before shaping into loaves and the final proof? There are plenty of steps in the process where one can go wrong so a better picture of what you do would help us.

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