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Author Topic: Confused: Starter vs Levain  (Read 3634 times)

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Offline hotsawce

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Re: Confused: Starter vs Levain
« Reply #120 on: December 05, 2017, 06:55:59 PM »
I made a large batch with the same bakers percents as the small batch. Surprisingly, I saw activity in the bulk ferment 6 hours after mixing. My kitchen was slightly warmer but given I went 24 hours at room temp with 1% starter last time, I thought Iíd get a minimum of 12. Guess not.

I guess larger batches of dough just stay warmer longer and ferment more quickly. I may go even lower with the starter percentage in larger batches.

I can say with certainty the aroma present in the last batch was only just starting to come through in the larger batch with the shorter bulk. I really think that Long room temp bulk is critical for flavor

Offline hotsawce

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Re: Confused: Starter vs Levain
« Reply #121 on: December 09, 2017, 03:54:48 PM »
Well, after that promising first batch with the Caputo flour I went back to my KA bread flour and havenít had much luck. Going into bulk it looks great but then quickly becomes very slack and sticky. The dough balls pancake out and donít rise much. Not sure what is causing this.

Interestingly, the gluten isnít really degraded. That same sticky dough, I was able to stretch very large and thin before it tore. Itís just really flat and loose.

At 65% hydration - balls just become increasingly wider and donít rise up. First photo is shortly after the balling second is a few hours later
« Last Edit: December 09, 2017, 03:58:28 PM by hotsawce »

Offline Jersey Pie Boy

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Re: Confused: Starter vs Levain
« Reply #122 on: December 09, 2017, 04:37:29 PM »
But how are they baking up? Varasano's dough balls are pretty flat but bake up nicely I think

Offline hotsawce

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Re: Confused: Starter vs Levain
« Reply #123 on: December 09, 2017, 05:26:30 PM »
Definitely not as airy as I would like. Thereís activity and some air in them but not even close to what I want in the cornicione.

Iíve got a batch of lower hydration dough in bulk right now to see if it fixes the problem.

Itís been a chore to balance flavor/rise/color in the crust for sure. Could also be the health of my starter. Doesnít smell ďoffĒ but maybe it caught something.

Offline hotsawce

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Re: Confused: Starter vs Levain
« Reply #124 on: December 10, 2017, 02:43:06 PM »
Well, I think itís a flour issue or a hydration issue. Caputo flour batch made with a slightly lower hydration. Balls seem to be holding up great. And they smell incredible again, just like the first batch I made.

I think the trick is going to be finding the right hydration and starter amount such that I get just enough activity in the bulk ferment so that my dough doesnít need much one in balls (less time in balls for
more browning is the thought I have...)

I have a batch of dough I made with King Arthur bread flour at the same hydration as the starter batch with that flour and just as sticky and slack - even though when balling it felt very tight and smooth. After resting in the trays for a bit the dough still feels very fluid and almost taffy lack. The balls are holding a bit better than the starter version but not by much. So based on the promising looking Caputo dough and suspect results withthe KA flour and commercial yeast, it leads me to believe something is going on with this particular bag of flour.

Attached is the Caputo dough a few hours after being balled first pic, and Update: about 10 hours later: was concerned the dough wouldnít rise much more but slowly inflating and becoming nicely puffy - probably best used about now, but will hold cold until tomorrow. The Caputo flour made a big difference.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2017, 09:11:11 PM by hotsawce »

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Offline hotsawce

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Re: Confused: Starter vs Levain
« Reply #125 on: December 11, 2017, 01:30:56 PM »
Well, the Caputo batch, while appearing well proofed and ready to go, was kind of a dud. I canít figure out what happened.

Mixed with 62% hydration, and 1% starter. Left to bulk at room temp for around 24 hours. Minimal activity and dough held its shape. Balled and left at room temp for about 12 hours to proof. Balls looked and felt well proofed. Into cooler to chill and hold until today.

Pulled and stretched right from the cooler. Very tough to open. It was a struggle. Didnít tear but felt like it could have. Not the supple and soft dough I was expecting.

Anyone have a clue what might have gone wrong?

Offline HBolte

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Re: Confused: Starter vs Levain
« Reply #126 on: December 11, 2017, 01:42:49 PM »
Lou, what is the cooler temp? Do you think letting it warm up a bit before stretching may help?
Hans

Offline hotsawce

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Re: Confused: Starter vs Levain
« Reply #127 on: December 11, 2017, 01:46:29 PM »
Cooler temp is 41 or lower.

Iíll let a couple balls warm up. It didnít feel tough because of the cold, though. It felt like the dough itself was tough.

Offline hotsawce

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Re: Confused: Starter vs Levain
« Reply #128 on: December 11, 2017, 04:50:55 PM »
Letting the dough temper a bit made it easier to stretch but as I suspected, the dough itself was still pretty dense.

Offline hotsawce

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Re: Confused: Starter vs Levain
« Reply #129 on: December 12, 2017, 11:46:09 AM »
Well, Iím pretty confident the long bulk ferment is leading to excessive acidity and strength. Not only is the doughís flavor very pronounced at this point, itís still tough to open, the bottoms (though sealed when I put them away,) arenít sealed when I use them (you can see where it was pinched.)

I think my whole wheat starter is just too acidic to use for a 24+ hour bulk.

That being said, I made a quick batch of dough yesterday using the same amount of starter and only bulked  for about 4 hours at room temp. The balls arenít even close to proofed enough yet but I opened one up to see how it handled and it was elastic but smooth. No signs it would tear like the other dough, and bottoms were sealed.

I think Iím going to back off to a 12 hour bulk or less and see how things go moving forward.

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Online mitchjg

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Re: Confused: Starter vs Levain
« Reply #130 on: December 12, 2017, 11:53:12 AM »
Lou:

I am not encouraging you to stay with the very lengthy bulk ferments - I generally do my bulk for 12 - 18 (I made the dough the afternoon or evening before baking and then ball it all up in the morning - so call it 24 to 30 altogether) and feel good about the handling and flavor that results.

Having said that, if the root cause of the excessive acidity is the whole wheat in the starter, it makes me wonder why you are using whole wheat starter.  Is there some advantage you believe you are creating that you would not get with just AP/Bread/or 00 ???

Thanks.
Mitch

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Offline hotsawce

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Re: Confused: Starter vs Levain
« Reply #131 on: December 12, 2017, 12:47:16 PM »
The whole wheat is a little more resilient and promotes acid, which I want for flavor, just not so much it makes my dough unworkable. I would consider going to an AP starter but I need to find the time to switch over and feed often. Before the whole wheat starter I used a rye starter that worked really well for the same reasons - but not best for gluten development IMO.

The best pizza so far in terms of flavor and texture was made with my Rye starter with 10% leaven inoculated at 50%. The bulk fermentation for that batch lasted about 4 hours before balling.

So Iíll probably cut the bulk down a bit for now

Offline hotsawce

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Re: Confused: Starter vs Levain
« Reply #132 on: Yesterday at 03:24:43 PM »
Still not having a ton of luck recently. Much of my dough is turning very slack, sticky, and wet. I think Iím going to switch my starter over to bread flour and go back to square one again.

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