Summertime Dough Struggles | 80º+ Kitchen and Dough Issues

Started by Globalksp, September 03, 2023, 01:59:17 AM

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Globalksp

I've been struggling with my dough for the past few months and reached a point where I need to ask for help, because I'm at a loss. This is going to be a bit of a ramble.

I make neapolitan dough that bakes in a Roccbox. I also make breads (boules, batards, pain de mie, focaccia, etc.) in a home oven. 99.9% of dough is made with a liquid sourdough starter (100%, 50/50 KAB/KAWW, maintained at a 1/1/1 and refreshed for baking at a 1/2/2) that I've maintained for 3 years. I use a 6Qt Kitchenaid with a spiral dough hook. I have a wine fridge at 58º that can hold bulk dough, but not balled dough.

Over the past year, I've been experimenting with direct doughs, various lengths of CT fermentation, poolishes, and Bigas. While I never landed on a dough that I was proud of, each bake was, at the least, bakeable. According to my dough records/log/journal things started to go south in May of this year.

Life outside the kitchen at that time was haywire... I badly broke my dominant hand, our 1 year old turned 2, and his brother was born a few days later. Needless to say, baking ceased being on a schedule, starter feedings suffered and moved to CT full time, and most importantly (I think), summer temps set in and the kitchen became a sauna. Long story short, new-to-us century home had kitchen addition/reno before we bought and someone did a terrible job. Average summer temps in the kitchen are 83º with RH between 40% and 60% (winter averages are in the 50º's). We're having a minisplit installed within the next month, but for now, it's a very hot space all the time. Storage temp for flours (in cambros) are between 78º-82º. RT starter refreshing/feeding happens in about 3 hours. I've found the Kitchenaid to add about 10º-15º via friction factor and so use iced water (<40ºF) in most all my dough, but end up with final dough temps in the high 70's low 80's.

While at first I blamed different flours for poor performance (see my rant here: https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=80956.0), I'm now leaning more toward the fact that heat is the culprit, or I need to learn how to ride this bike again. There have to be kitchens, dough rooms, prep spaces that are equally hot as mine that still produce good dough. So I'm here looking for help.

Interestingly, my bread doughs (KAB, KAWW, Einkorn, Rye) don't seem to suffer as poorly as my pizza dough (Caputo Chef's, Pizzeria, Pasini Tua Pizza) though the processes are almost identical (almost). This leads me to believe that maybe the weaker, Italian 0 and 00 flours require some more "skill" in these temps? Or that I'm over-kneading in the KA? Or that my starter has gone to %$# (it refreshes very well)?

I've started the process of elimination to see what the culprit may be... different flours, hydrations, mixing times, ADY vs LSD, etc... but free time is non-existent of late so it's been slow going. The latest test batch of NP dough used LSD and Molino Pasini Tua Pizza flour (11.9% Italian)(https://www.molinopasini.com/en/flours/la-tua-farina/167-flour-for-pizza) and saw a much reduced time in the KA... was unusable. Was a sticky, gluey, mess whose balls pooled together and couldn't be reformed without adding a lot of flour. I have two batches in CT as I type this. Pasini flour again, limited mixing time, one batch ADY (caputo), one batch LSD.

I'm attaching details of recent, failed bakes via images below in an effort to help weed out what may be my issue.

Thanks as always.


foreplease

#1
Your paragraph beginning with "Life outside the kitchen..." made me smile with understanding and a little envy. Having completed that (really great-but busy) phase of my life long ago, the best I can do is re-live it from time to time with my grandkids. All I can tell you is: it's going to be ok, it's going to get better, and you will look back fondly at your current situation long before my age. Within a few short years, they will be in school and you will wonder how time passed so quickly. Hopefully, they will be helping you make pizza by that time.


Now for the pizza...I'm not sure any one person here will have all the answers. High temperatures are definitely working against you.


It appears that you are mixing for 20 minutes in your KA mixer? That is LOT of mixing and friction, particularly with your temperature challenges.


I know very little about using SD. On your notes, I assume this is SD but can't understand what it says is at 1%, listed between water and salt.


Can you put flour for your next batch in either your wine cooler, or better yet in your refrigerator the day you plan to make your next batch? Everything we can do to decrease you FDT will help.


Just lost my train of thought with grandkid questions lol.


I think some combination of much less mix time and introducing some stretch and folds to your dough will help. Suggest you do it right in the mixing bowl and refrigerate between folds.


A good control might be to hand mix a half batch of your dough, using flour and water as cold as you can get it. Try it and see what happens.


Somewhere in this post or your 'flours you hate to work with' thread I believe you said you do not like working with KA bread flour. It's helpful when running down problems to simplify and go back to the basics. Try a batch with any bread flour you like - even KA BF may surprise you.


Try some of these ideas and see if your results differ. I believe some combination of those changes may help but point out you are in need of considerable cold ferment time. Fortunately, you have two temperature to choose from in your home.

-Tony

Jersey Pie Boy

Tony is heading the right way.
You're clearly very skilled and detail oriented. I do think you might consider the ambient temp to be your only real problem.
Could you try a batch mixed by hand to see what part the mixer may play. I'd also suggest the rest periods between mix and folds outing the dough in wine cooler. It's your best friend here.
I actually think if you did that throughout mix and bulk and went straight CF in balls, it might work

Globalksp

Thanks to you both for chiming in.

QuoteYou're clearly very skilled and detail oriented. I do think you might consider the ambient temp to be your only real problem.
Could you try a batch mixed by hand to see what part the mixer may play. I'd also suggest the rest periods between mix and folds outing the dough in wine cooler. It's your best friend here.
I actually think if you did that throughout mix and bulk and went straight CF in balls, it might work

Thanks for the kind words (though, being from Jersey myself, I threw a quick, approving side-eye and thought... was that genuine... :-D), however, what I may have in being detail oriented, I lack in experience and I've always struggled with my dough. Started making pandemic sourdough bread like millions of others which lead full circle to my love of pizza and really started paying attention to things maybe a year ago if that. I haven't had time to come back and edit my original post, but I wanted to add that I'm not assuming its simply one factor causing my issues, i.e. mixing times were probably much too long.


QuoteYour paragraph beginning with "Life outside the kitchen..." made me smile with understanding and a little envy. Having completed that (really great-but busy) phase of my life long ago, the best I can do is re-live it from time to time with my grandkids. All I can tell you is: it's going to be ok, it's going to get better, and you will look back fondly at your current situation long before my age. Within a few short years, they will be in school and you will wonder how time passed so quickly. Hopefully, they will be helping you make pizza by that time.

This is a lovely sentiment. Thank you. I like to think I do an OK job of taking the long view, but it's always nice to be reminded to do so. :)

QuoteNow for the pizza...I'm not sure any one person here will have all the answers. High temperatures are definitely working against you.
Of course. And to that effect, it's probably not one factor that's causing me issues.

QuoteIt appears that you are mixing for 20 minutes in your KA mixer? That is LOT of mixing and friction, particularly with your temperature challenges.
Duly noted, thanks.

QuoteI know very little about using SD. On your notes, I assume this is SD but can't understand what it says is at 1%, listed between water and salt.
Yes, LSD is my shorthand for Liquid Sourdough.

QuoteCan you put flour for your next batch in either your wine cooler, or better yet in your refrigerator the day you plan to make your next batch? Everything we can do to decrease you FDT will help.
I can and I already have the Pasini flour in the wine cooler (fridge is a bit tight).

QuoteI think some combination of much less mix time and introducing some stretch and folds to your dough will help. Suggest you do it right in the mixing bowl and refrigerate between folds.
I'm glad you brought up stretch and folds because it's one of two reasons I started using the kitchenaid. First, time is short lately and I assumed that I could build a bit of gluten strength via the KitchenAid and eliminate the need for the stretch and folds. So far, this has worked for my breads. Second, I have an end-goal in mind for this hobby (vacillates between mobile catering and small NP pizzeria, the former winning out at the moment. I posted about it around a year ago and then "life" happened and progress slowed) and I've been trying to make small, smart steps toward learning my dough and being able to scale it up to production quantity. A proper spiral mixer is on the horizon (next month?) and I assumed (incorrectly) that the KitchenAid would suffice until the spiral mixer was part of the mix (no pun intended). Living where I live, I have little access to pizzerias (no NP pizzas here, hence the business direction) to pop into and talk dough as none have spiral mixers (that I'm aware of), so I'm "stuck" learning from YouTube and here (which, is a pretty fine education considering the distance learning).

QuoteSomewhere in this post or your 'flours you hate to work with' thread I believe you said you do not like working with KA bread flour. It's helpful when running down problems to simplify and go back to the basics. Try a batch with any bread flour you like - even KA BF may surprise you.

I actually enjoy using KA Bread flour and it's my main flour for all of my bread baking (and constitutes half of my starter, the other half being KA Whole Wheat. What I may have said is that I didn't like it for my NP dough. However, going back to a flour whose "performance" I know and "starting over" is a great idea.

I have 2 batches of dough in the fridge as I type. One with ADY and one with LSD. They look and feel better after better temp control (dough never got above 75º), but hopes are still low. FWIW, the ADY was easier to work with than the LSD, but I guess that's to be expected. These 60% hydration doughs felt like 80% hydration when balling. Not (as) fun. Photos below are of the ADY batch just out of the Kitchenaid after having mixed for 8 minutes on speed 2.

Thanks again for taking the time to reply. I'll do my best to post any updates.


Jersey Pie Boy

Looking forward to seeing your work...and yes, genuine  :)

A D V E R T I S E M E N T


foreplease

Thanks Globalksp, what you have said here about KA BF reflects what I recall you saying. Sorry I overstated things. Your two dough pics above both look as though good pizza with easier handling is not far off. Looking forward to seeing your progress.
-Tony

Pizzailolz

#6
The two things that catch my eye from your pics is a very hydrated and slightly inactive dough. It looks a little less hydrated than my 100% sourdough starter. But reading your recipes, they look good.

I'm guessing the +50 on the H20 is equating for the liquid sourdough?

Also, check your scales accuracy. A nickle weighs 5g. If your scale doesn't do good with minimal weights, use more nickles stacking them one at a time. It should go up in 5g increments.

Just suggestions. Hope you get it figured out.
If all I had was pizza, wings and beer the rest of my life, I'd die a fat happy man. ~Chris :)

Yuvalvv

Quote from: Globalksp on September 03, 2023, 01:59:17 AM
This leads me to believe that maybe the weaker, Italian 0 and 00 flours require some more "skill" in these temps? Or that I'm over-kneading in the KA? Or that my starter has gone to %$# (it refreshes very well)?

You are absolutely correct with your observation; Italian flours are weak by nature (they ARE made mostly of soft, weak Italian wheat), which also makes them very extensible (and more suitable for pizza? depends on who you're asking :P). I won't say they "require more skill", but they do require a different dough management process (i.e., DO NOT let them ferment as balls for too long, as their weak & plastic/extensible nature will make them turn into a porridge, just like seen in your pictures).

Also bear in mind, Italian flours protein % is based on dry matter while American flour protein % is based on 14% moisture basis, so in order to compare Italian (European) flours to American flours, you need to multiply by 0.86; 11.9% Italian = 10.2% American. For Caputo flours it's even "worse" and you need to multiply by 0.8 because they also use a different nitrogen base to calculate their protein content (Nx5.75 instead of Nx6.25 which all other mills use, if I'm not mistaken).

If I read your notes correctly, your time in bulk/balls (before reballing) was 50/50~ (24 hours between balling and reballing)? That might be too much for an Italian flour; Try more time in bulk and less time in balls (or reballing existing balls), i.e. 70/30.

With that being said, that is some extreme flattening for a 60% HR dough; If less time in balls doesn't help, you might wanna check the acidity of your starter, a too acidic starter will promote too much protease activity which will cause the gluten to break down far too much (reballing won't help in this case because the gluten forming proteins are damaged and won't be able to form new gluten bonds).

It's also possible that the Italian flours you use are just too weak to hold 24 hours of fermentation with your specific conditions (starter, fermentation time, temperature). Does your starter work fine when you make long fermented RT breads?

My advice:
1. More time in bulk, less time in balls (or reballing)
2. Try the same process with a stronger flour (KABF is MUCH MUCH stronger than any Italian flour)
3. Reduce fermentation time, you should get plenty of flavor with 8-15 hours

There might be additional factors, but these are the main that come to (my) mind. Your dough does look a bit too sticky for a 60% HR dough after mixing, but as you are seemed skilled as JPB have mentioned, I don't think it's a gluten development problem, but maybe do consider adding some elasticity to the dough with folds (as I mentioned earlier Italian flours are less elastic and more extensible by nature, so adding some elasticity through mixing and/or s&f might benefit them; this is something that is generally not needed when using other, stronger flours, as biochemical gluten development + long RT fermentation will yield a fully developed, more extensible gluten, with enough elasticity).

*Disclaimer: I only do (long) RT fermentations, in summer the room temperature here is usually 84f, which is close to yours

I hope this helps :)
My pizza blog: www.pizzablab.com

Globalksp

Quote from: Pizzailolz on September 10, 2023, 01:23:33 PM
The two things that catch my eye from your pics is a very hydrated and slightly inactive dough. It looks a little less hydrated than my 100% sourdough starter. But reading your recipes, they look good.

I'm guessing the +50 on the H20 is equating for the liquid sourdough?

Also, check your scales accuracy. A nickle weighs 5g. If your scale doesn't do good with minimal weights, use more nickles stacking them one at a time. It should go up in 5g increments.

Just suggestions. Hope you get it figured out.

Per the hydration appearance, yes, you're on point. It looks AND feels like 80%+ hydration dough though it is/was much, much less.

The +50 on the H20 is not coming from the sourdough starter (100% hydration), but rather the holding back about 15% of the H20 (50ml/405ml=12%) in the mixing process. I do this as a safety in case the dough doesn't want to take the full hydration the recipe is designed for. Learned it from watching folks make dough on spiral mixers. It's one of the pieces of my workflow that I've cut out in going back to square one as I'm not sure how well dough in a planetary mixer reacts this (it's been hit and miss for me).

Thanks for that scale accuracy, nickel trick! Scale is reading properly.

Globalksp

Quote from: Yuvalvv on September 10, 2023, 04:45:22 PM
You are absolutely correct with your observation; Italian flours are weak by nature (they ARE made mostly of soft, weak Italian wheat), which also makes them very extensible (and more suitable for pizza? depends on who you're asking :P). I won't say they "require more skill", but they do require a different dough management process (i.e., DO NOT let them ferment as balls for too long, as their weak & plastic/extensible nature will make them turn into a porridge, just like seen in your pictures).

Ah! Makes total sense and yet I'd never thought of it. I've experimented with balling at different points along the process, but unfortunately, more than one variable always changed and I'd overlooked the balling as potential cause.

Quote from: Yuvalvv on September 10, 2023, 04:45:22 PM
Also bear in mind, Italian flours protein % is based on dry matter while American flour protein % is based on 14% moisture basis, so in order to compare Italian (European) flours to American flours, you need to multiply by 0.86; 11.9% Italian = 10.2% American. For Caputo flours it's even "worse" and you need to multiply by 0.8 because they also use a different nitrogen base to calculate their protein content (Nx5.75 instead of Nx6.25 which all other mills use, if I'm not mistaken).

I actually learned this (and the bit about Italian flours being weaker) from an earlier post of yours on the forum while researching! So, thanks again!

Quote from: Yuvalvv on September 10, 2023, 04:45:22 PM
With that being said, that is some extreme flattening for a 60% HR dough; If less time in balls doesn't help, you might wanna check the acidity of your starter, a too acidic starter will promote too much protease activity which will cause the gluten to break down far too much (reballing won't help in this case because the gluten forming proteins are damaged and won't be able to form new gluten bonds).

This is a very likely scenario... the paragraph in my original post about life being just a wee bit hectic (take note that I'm posting this at 1AM local time ::)) has led to my starter being abused. It's fragrance has changed and not for the better. Over the past week, I've attempted to "reset" it by feeding it twice a day and keeping it at 58º. The fragrance has improved a bit, but it's still much different than what it was. Currently, when it gets beyond peak "ripeness", the odor goes from mildly sweet to stinky feet. It's rather off-putting and I've avoided using it until today: I made a boule with 20% LSD and though it appeared a bit weak, the odor of the final dough wasn't offputting. All that to say, my starter took a hit and I'm hoping I can coax it back to proper health.

Quote from: Yuvalvv on September 10, 2023, 04:45:22 PM
It's also possible that the Italian flours you use are just too weak to hold 24 hours of fermentation with your specific conditions (starter, fermentation time, temperature). Does your starter work fine when you make long fermented RT breads?
Continuing from above, yes. And it also worked fine with prior pizza dough recipes over the winter and spring. That said, I only recently began going with RT only fermentation so can't compare past performance. On that note, there's a future post in my brain regarding CT vs RT, but will come back to that at a later date.

Quote from: Yuvalvv on September 10, 2023, 04:45:22 PM
My advice:
1. More time in bulk, less time in balls (or reballing)
2. Try the same process with a stronger flour (KABF is MUCH MUCH stronger than any Italian flour)
3. Reduce fermentation time, you should get plenty of flavor with 8-15 hours

There might be additional factors, but these are the main that come to (my) mind. Your dough does look a bit too sticky for a 60% HR dough after mixing, but as you are seemed skilled as JPB have mentioned, I don't think it's a gluten development problem, but maybe do consider adding some elasticity to the dough with folds (as I mentioned earlier Italian flours are less elastic and more extensible by nature, so adding some elasticity through mixing and/or s&f might benefit them; this is something that is generally not needed when using other, stronger flours, as biochemical gluten development + long RT fermentation will yield a fully developed, more extensible gluten, with enough elasticity).

*Disclaimer: I only do (long) RT fermentations, in summer the room temperature here is usually 84f, which is close to yours

I hope this helps :)

Thanks again for the detailed advice. And, noted on the stretch and folds. I'm actually planning on removing the kitchenaid from my workflow for the next few batches of dough so S&F's will be in the mix.

Your disclaimer gives me more hope than frustration!

A D V E R T I S E M E N T


Yuvalvv

Never lose hope ;D Yes, RT at these high temperatures is much harder than say 68f, using SD makes it even harder, but it's possible, you just have to be very precise and know your sh*t (which seems like you do). Keep experimenting, preferably changing only one variable at a time, and you will get this to work (or, summer will end and temperatures will drop 😄)
My pizza blog: www.pizzablab.com

A D V E R T I S E M E N T