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Cannot pre or final shape - NEVER get the smooth tight surface

alan856's picture

Cannot pre or final shape - NEVER get the smooth tight surface

I’ve been hacking away at sourdough attempts for many months. I can NEVER get tight, smooth skin I see in all tutorials on shaping. Today failed again, with a sticky ball of dough I could barely control. I end up dumping it into a stone loaf pan and I’m sure Ill get the nearly impenetrable crust I usually get. I’m beginning to wonder if I’m constantly over-proofing the dough. It seems that nice tight skin is what will make a decent crust.

I believe the dough to be 66% hydration as follows:

763g APF

477g water

152g starter

28g salt.

it sat on the kitchen table for about 12 hours. I then put in the fridge for another 8 hrs. This SEEMS like it sat way too long.






Sugarowl's picture

Two things my newbie self sees:

First: Did you get any rise out of that? That's an awful lot of salt. Too much salt will inhibit the yeast. I think salt only needs to be 6 2%, but don't quote me on that.

Second: I've noticed that all purpose flour does not hold up to long rest periods like bread flour does. I've done the no-knead method and noticed that I got better shaping with half bread flour instead of all AP flour. The dough wouldn't shape well the next day.

Try the 1-2-3 sourdough loaf, it's pretty good for a beginner recipe. It was one of the community bakes a while back. I know the experts will chime in. It's always fun reading their responses. :)

HeiHei29er's picture

What did you do for gluten development?  Any stretch and folds or kneading?  Was starter active and doubling?  

I agree that you could cut the salt by a third.  2% salt is standard.  I also agree that 12 hours is way too long if you have an active starter.  For that amount of starter, I would expect you’d be done with bulk in 2-4 hours.

clevins's picture

How do  you mix?

How do you develop the dough (mixer, by hand, etc)?

I'd drop the salt to 17g (2%). 

A basic process I use for things like this... 

  1. Make sure your starter is healthy and doubling, at least, in 8-12 hours at ~75F temp. 
  2. Mix lukewarm water with the flour
  3. Add starter and salt.  Mix. 
  4. Develop the dough. I have a Kitchenaid so I usually mix for several minutes on speed 2 in that.
  5. Drop it into a bowl, cover, put it in a warm place.
  6. Do 3 sets of stretch and folds starting 30 minutes after you place it in t he bowl and every 30 mins after that (i.e. at 30, 60 and 90 mins). Check development with a windowpane test. 
  7. Once the dough is adequately developed, cover and let rise until bulk is complete (showing bubbles, jiggly and passes the poke test (ideally). 
  8. Dump out on floured board, preshape, let rest 10-30 mins. Shape, put in banneton, cover, refrigerate. 
  9. Next morning, preheat the oven, pull the dough out of the fridge, place in vessel for baking. shove in oven. 
Econprof's picture

But I sometimes get too cautious about using too much flour on the work surface and use hardly any. That makes it very hard to create tension. It’s important to find a balance.

rondayvous's picture

Too much salt, not enough water, especially if you are flouring your kneading/shaping board, and not nearly enough kneading/folding.

Try 10-15 grams of salt. You can leave the water where you're at, but don't flour your board. Wet your hands instead.

When properly kneaded/folded, most AP flours won't be sticky. They might start that way, but once you've gotten the gluten to form, it becomes more like silly putty than a fly trap.

When you first mix your dough, leave out the salt. Mix until it all comes together, then let it sit for half an hour. After half an hour add the salt to the dough and mix for at least 5 or six minutes. When you put in on your board, if it is still sticky, wet your hands and pull each of four sides out as far as you can, folding back over the center. Flip it over and wait for 10 minutes before repeating this 3 more times. When you're done, put the dough into an oiled bowl for bulk proofing. After bulk proofing you can shape it on a floured board.


Rempejek's picture

What starte do you use? Equal flour to water?

Looks like you calculate your hydration percentage without taking the starter into account. If you use a 100% starter, then your hydration is closer to 76%.

This could be why you find it difficult to work with?

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

What flour do you mean by APF? Are you in the North America?

idaveindy's picture