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Sourdough - ready for shaping? How do I know?

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    Sourdough - ready for shaping? How do I know?

    Given the variability in sourdough fermentation (from temperature, leaven vitality, etc.) what's a good way to judge when bulk fermentation is done and I should shape the loaf & move to proofing?

    #2
    Gas bubbles visible on the sides and bottom of the container (requires see-through container), passes window pane test, volume increase depending on the recipe. Tartine Bread calls for 20-30 percent. Some recipes I have seen say 50% or more.

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    • radshop
      radshop commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks a ton! I sorta, kinda, maybe knew those answers, but in the moment my mind was totally blank. Appreciate the help.

    • Pequod
      Pequod commented
      Editing a comment
      Good advice above

    #3
    Yes - for bulk ferments, volume is the key. You want an increase in volume close to what the recipe calls for.

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      #4
      I knwo zero about baking, but in case you haven't seen it I wanted to share this very valuable sourdough bread topic from a [unfortunately] past member: https://pitmaster.amazingribs.com/fo...ourdough-bread

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        #5
        Here's a few vids on it...
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oAfl1u0fIw
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=387GxA_bOmY
        and by the way I haven't mastered this yet.

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        • Dewesq55
          Dewesq55 commented
          Editing a comment
          Nor have I. I basically know what I should be looking for but I haven't been all that successful at putting it into practice.

        #6
        Thanks for all the replies - especially the timely guidance from Dewesq55. This forum is the best place on the internet!

        Check out the result...

        (Needs to cool before I slice it. I'll have guests later, but hopefully I'll remember to get a pic of the crumb.)

        Click image for larger version

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        • treesmacker
          treesmacker commented
          Editing a comment
          Well, that looks fantastic. Please, what did you do to get there? How did you proof it and know when it was ready?

        #7
        I have wondered the same thing about when bulk fermentation is "done". One time I had to cut it short after 4 hours, it was late at night and thought the shaping left in the fridge overnight would take care of the time lost, it didn't. It turned out just like Robertson of Tartine said, didn't rise enough to produce ears, and the crust did not get very dark. My mistake that time was I didn't check the temp of the dough until late, and it was around 72, didn't have time for that! It was supposed to be 80 and 3-4 hours. I have watched since then and found that I usually have to add hotter water than the recipe calls for in order to get to 80. Then I put it in the oven with the light on, which for mine is 80 degrees, but I also put a pot of hot water in the oven. I replenish the hot water every turn. Even then my dough is usually only 76-78 degrees. Last weekend made the Tartine sourdough country rye, turned out pretty good!

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          #8
          Richard Chrz is the sourdough master IMHO.

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            #9
            Here's the result - bit a ragged slicing job, but decent crumb for a whole wheat loaf. I'm still learning, so I'd say this is one of the best loaves to date for me. Flavor is great.

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              #10
              treesmacker
              Well, that looks fantastic. Please, what did you do to get there? How did you proof it and know when it was ready?
              After the tips I got here, I could see that the volume was basically double - more or less - and even though It was a metal bowl so I couldn't see through, I could still see some bubbles around the edges. But... failed the window pane test. So I did a couple more stretch-and-folds at 20-min intervals, and I could totally feel the tightening of the dough. Really, it was so different at that point I didn't even bother with another window pane test - I could feel the gluten doing its thing. But even though I was pretty gentle with the stretching, it had naturally lost some volume. So I let it continue to rise for another hour or so, and when I saw it had regained the puffy volume, then I shaped it.

              The proofing is still a mystery to me - next thing to focus on and see if I can really get the look-and-feel down. In this case, I was busy prepping other things, so I kinda guessed at when it looked almost ready. And it turned out pretty good.

              BTW - not to rehash what I've posted else where, but I do a lot of trial and error to find highly nutritious, low-toxin foods for a family member with some dietary restrictions. So I'm using fresh-ground organic wheat flour, sifted through a 60-mesh screen to keep the nutrients but reduce the whole-grain heaviness. I keep the recipe the same now every time and focus on improving my technique.

              Oh - and in case you are interested - here's my really simple, don't-have-to-look-it-up recipe (and yes, I know everybody uses the metric system, but look how simple this is and it makes it kind of obvious why people used the common system for centuries). This is for a single loaf, not the common double-batch-and-divide.
              1 lb (aka 1 pint) Water
              1.5 lb flour (sifted fresh whole wheat)
              0.5 lb leaven (50/50 flour/water)
              1 Tbsp coarse kosher salt

              I mix the flour/water and let them autolyse at the same time I mix the leaven from starter, then when the leaven is frothing (either overnight or mid-day-ish if I started in the morning) I thoroughly mix in the salt and leaven. Then the standard stuff: stretch-and-fold, bulk fermentation, shape, proof, bake.

              I'm far from an expert, but I know at this point that rather than chasing recipes I'm better off focusing on technique. So I'll stick with this for now.
              Last edited by radshop; February 23, 2020, 09:20 PM.

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              • treesmacker
                treesmacker commented
                Editing a comment
                Thank you for the details - very helpful! I like your idea of sticking with one recipe and working on technique; part of my problem is trying a whole bunch of different stuff. I think I'll stick with my 25 rye/25 whole wheat/200 bread flour ratio for a while and work on technique.
                Where do you get fresh-ground organic wheat flour?

              • radshop
                radshop commented
                Editing a comment
                treesmacker I buy organic wheat and grind it myself. For now I've been using my Blendtec blender to grind it, which is a pain because I have to double grind to get it fine enough. At this point I'm confident that I'll stick with it, so I'm gonna buy a grain mill. Will pay for itself over time between bread and pizza dough.

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