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### Author Topic: Why is my dough so wet when using a starter?  (Read 3974 times)

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#### Everlast

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• Location: Santa Barbara, CA
##### Why is my dough so wet when using a starter?
« on: July 27, 2012, 02:33:10 PM »
I have a batch of dough rising right now and it seems especially wet for what is supposed to be a 65% hydration dough. I'm using an Ischia starter which I've been feeding 169g water and 140g flour consistently. My starter was very active (rising 2 inches on a quart jar in a couple of hours) prior to making the dough. For the Preferment Dough Calculation Tool, I used 55% for my preferment's percentage of water (169g water + 140g flour = 309g total preferment, then divided the weight of water, 169g, by total preferment weight of 309g = 55%). I already did a 65F rise for 36 hours and now I'm on the 12 hour 75F rise. The dough seems like it's a 75% hydration dough and it really hasn't risen much. I'm hoping the 12 hours at 75F will help leaven it more. I've done numerous batches of 65% hydration dough using ADY and it never seems this wet. What am I doing wrong? Am I miscalculating something here? This is only my second batch of dough using a starter.

Total Formula:
Flour (100%):    595.24 g  |  21 oz | 1.31 lbs
Water (65%):    386.9 g  |  13.65 oz | 0.85 lbs
Salt (3%):    17.86 g | 0.63 oz | 0.04 lbs | 3.2 tsp | 1.07 tbsp
Total (168%):   1000 g | 35.27 oz | 2.2 lbs | TF = N/A
Single Ball:   250 g | 8.82 oz | 0.55 lbs

Preferment:
Flour:    4.02 g | 0.14 oz | 0.01 lbs
Water:    4.91 g | 0.17 oz | 0.01 lbs
Total:    8.93 g | 0.31 oz | 0.02 lbs

Final Dough:
Flour:    591.22 g | 20.85 oz | 1.3 lbs
Water:    381.99 g | 13.47 oz | 0.84 lbs
Salt:    17.86 g | 0.63 oz | 0.04 lbs | 3.2 tsp | 1.07 tbsp
Preferment:    8.93 g | 0.31 oz | 0.02 lbs
Total:    1000 g | 35.27 oz | 2.2 lbs  | TF = N/A

#### dellavecchia

• Posts: 2644
##### Re: Why is my dough so wet when using a starter?
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2012, 03:12:13 PM »
What flour are you using, and how was the dough mixed?

John

#### Everlast

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• Location: Santa Barbara, CA
##### Re: Why is my dough so wet when using a starter?
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2012, 03:21:17 PM »
John, right, I should have included that info. I'm using Caputo 00 flour. I mixed it on a KA stand mixer using the dough hook for 8 minutes total. Then I put it directly into the bowl for a 36 hour bulk rise. After the bulk rise, I thought I was going to ball it, but it was so wet, I did 4 stretch and folds, then balled. After 12 hours balled at 65F, I re-balled it and it seemed to be just as wet.

#### pizzablogger

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• Location: Baltimore
##### Re: Why is my dough so wet when using a starter?
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2012, 03:49:33 PM »
Everlast, as a quick note, the formula you calculated for four dough balls is correct (using 1.50% starter):

250g balls
4 balls
100% Flour
65% Water
3% Salt
1.50% Starter (As percentage of formula flour)

This matches your specific numbers exactly as you specified. However, there is no bowl residue compensation accounted for, which means you may not quite be able to make four 250g dough balls.

As to your issues, there could be many things:

1. Do you dump off a portion of your starter when feeding? If so, how much.

2. How long was your starter dormant before recently using it for pizza making? Was it potentially very acidic at the time of use?

3. Was the dough "very wet" after the initial mixing?

4. How sure of you of the consistency of temperature during the initial 36hr bulk ferment (you specified 65°). As a side note, when utilizing Caputo 00 flour with small amounts of starter, it is normal to see little to no visable rise during the bulk ferment.

5. What did you ferment the dough in? If plastic, any potential there are scratches in it?

6. What was the temperature in your mixing area when mixing? Was it warm to hot? I know in many areas of the country it has been very hot recently. If so, what steps did you implement to control the temperature of the doughball during mixing? Is there a potential the dough came off of the hook above 80°F? This may have potentially jump started the fermentation too aggressively, although more visable signs of lift/fermentation may have resulted from such an issue.

There is more that could be the issue, but I would suspect either the temperature got too warm and/or your starter could have been very acidic at the time of use. Granted, it is a small amount, but it could play a roll.

I had a very similar issue about a month ago. My dough was just very wet at dividing/balling time for no readily apparent reason. I gave my starter a thorough wash and implemented better temperature controls and the problem resolved itself. The acidity levels and the warmer temperatures had apparently caused an increased deterioration in the gluten matrix (thereby weakening the dough and releasing water). It sounds good on paper anyways.
"It's Baltimore, gentlemen, the gods will not save you." --Burrell

#### Everlast

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• Location: Santa Barbara, CA
##### Re: Why is my dough so wet when using a starter?
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2012, 04:21:50 PM »

1. Do you dump off a portion of your starter when feeding? If so, how much.
I had 1 cup starter that I added 169g water and 140g flour then immediately dumped out enough that I had a little bit more than a cup left.
2. How long was your starter dormant before recently using it for pizza making? Was it potentially very acidic at the time of use?
It was in the fridge for 1 week. I took it out, fed it, dumped the excess, then used the amount I needed after it had activated.
3. Was the dough "very wet" after the initial mixing?
Yes, very wet.
4. How sure of you of the consistency of temperature during the initial 36hr bulk ferment (you specified 65°). As a side note, when utilizing Caputo 00 flour with small amounts of starter, it is normal to see little to no visable rise during the bulk ferment.
I checked the temp every few hours. At first I used the bottom rack of my wine fridge set at 65F, then once I had a cooler with a frozen plastic cup of ice right at 65F, I transferred the dough to the cooler. I swapped out the ice every 6-8 hours every time checking the temp. It was right at 65-66 the entire time.
5. What did you ferment the dough in? If plastic, any potential there are scratches in it?
I bulk fermented the dough in a metal bowl. I haven't had issues with the metal bowl before but it has developed many fine scratches in it over time from years of whisking, etc. Once balled, I used plastic containers with lids and didn't notice any scratches in them as they are fairly new.
6. What was the temperature in your mixing area when mixing? Was it warm to hot? I know in many areas of the country it has been very hot recently. If so, what steps did you implement to control the temperature of the doughball during mixing? Is there a potential the dough came off of the hook above 80°F? This may have potentially jump started the fermentation too aggressively, although more visable signs of lift/fermentation may have resulted from such an issue.
About 75F. The water I used was probably 70F. The flour about the same temp. I suppose the dough may have heated up over 80F but I didn't check the temp of it.

Perhaps I need to try the same process over again to see if maybe this time was a fluke. I was also just thinking of lowering the hydration to 60% to compensate. I was hoping it was just a matter of bad math somewhere (even though I triple checked everything) and I could correct it the next time around.

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#### TXCraig1

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• Location: Houston, TX
##### Re: Why is my dough so wet when using a starter?
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2012, 05:52:19 PM »
65% is going to yield a wet dough with Caputo, but if it is so wet it is hard to work with, my guess is you had a measurement error in the flour or water. It happens. The scale doesn't tare correctly or you just get the wrong number in your head.

I don't think your starter had anything to do with it at quantities that small.
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, baker's yeast when we must, but always great pizza."
Craig's Neapolitan Garage

#### Everlast

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• Location: Santa Barbara, CA
##### Re: Why is my dough so wet when using a starter?
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2012, 05:59:39 PM »
Thanks for the input Craig. I know I'm obsessing over it a bit and I probably jumped the gun without having achieved the same result multiple times. Don't know if this helps or not, but here's a picture taken today of a 250g dough ball. This is after the 24 hour bulk rise at 65F, 12 hours balled at 65F, re-balled and then 5.5 hours at 73F, then re-balled again right before I took the pic. Threw the tape measure in there for scale. I've still got 6.5 hours to go at ~73F before I bake the pizzas. Based on the amount of rise, I think I'll be OK in that aspect, but the dough still seems really wet. Hopefully, after it rises some more it will lose some of that wetness. Perhaps it's just a matter of my inexperience with making dough using a starter and fermenting at different temps than what I'm used to when making dough with ADY where I implemented mostly cold rises in the fridge.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2012, 06:02:33 PM by Everlast »

#### TXCraig1

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• Location: Houston, TX
##### Re: Why is my dough so wet when using a starter?
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2012, 07:06:42 PM »
It does look wetter than I would expect for 65%HR. It could look that wet if you didn't develop the gluten enough, but given the long fermentation time, I'm still thinking it's a measurement error.

I guess we won't know for sure until you try the same formula and workflow again and see if you get the same result.

CL
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, baker's yeast when we must, but always great pizza."
Craig's Neapolitan Garage

#### Everlast

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• Location: Santa Barbara, CA
##### Re: Why is my dough so wet when using a starter?
« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2012, 04:26:39 PM »
Here are the pizzas I made from this dough. I must have made some sort of error or had a measurement mishap along the way. The dough felt like it was 70% + HR. It was really hard to work with and I had to patch a couple of tears. Luckily I didn't have any misfires when launching the pizzas into the oven. I'd have to say that the brussel sprout and pancetta was awesome! The bitterness of the sprouts contrasted well with the salty sweet spiciness of the pancetta. It will definitely be one to add to the line up and I'm excited for some guests to try it. Thanks for that Craig!

I have a question about the flavor profile of the dough. This is my second batch of dough using Ischia starter. The first batch I used 10% starter for a 12h 75F rise, then 30h in the fridge, followed by 5h of proofing at 75F. The flavor seemed different on this batch of dough implementing 1.5% starter and 36h 65F fermentation followed by 12h of 80F. There was less of the tangy, sourdough taste. However, the dough didn't rise as much using 1.5% starter versus 10% starter - probably about ~30% less rise. My question is this, does dough with 10% starter yield more sourdough flavor in the dough versus using 1.5% starter? Given proper technique and time, the yeast should propagate to the same levels in the final dough when using 10% starter or 1.5% starter, right?

#### DannyG

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• Posts: 142
##### Re: Why is my dough so wet when using a starter?
« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2012, 08:46:27 AM »
Not to change the subject but what type of oven are you using and what temps are you cooking at?

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#### Everlast

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##### Re: Why is my dough so wet when using a starter?
« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2012, 12:26:19 PM »
I have a Forno Bravo Primavera 60 and I usually have the deck at around 750F-850F.

#### pizzablogger

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• Location: Baltimore
##### Re: Why is my dough so wet when using a starter?
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2012, 10:37:26 AM »
It does look wetter than I would expect for 65%HR. It could look that wet if you didn't develop the gluten enough, but given the long fermentation time, I'm still thinking it's a measurement error.

I agree as well with this.
"It's Baltimore, gentlemen, the gods will not save you." --Burrell

#### Everlast

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##### Re: Why is my dough so wet when using a starter?
« Reply #12 on: August 03, 2012, 12:38:48 PM »
I think it was definitely a measurement error. I just mixed up a batch of dough last night using 2% starter, 62% HR and it seems exactly like it should feel for a 62% hydration dough. Thanks for all the input everyone provided on this. I'll post some pics of this weekend's pizza bake for comparison purposes.

#### Everlast

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• Location: Santa Barbara, CA
##### Re: Why is my dough so wet when using a starter?
« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2012, 03:20:53 AM »
I'm pretty certain I made a measurement error last time. Here are some pics of attempt #4 using the Ischia starter. 62% HR, 2.5% salt, 8% starter, 21h 65F rise, 24h fridge, then a 3 hour proof at ~ 74F. This dough definitely seemed like 62% hydration.

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