The Fresh Loaf

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Autolyse uh-oh - help!

bread1965's picture

Autolyse uh-oh - help!

Hi Everyone,

It's been a while. I haven't posted or baked in a long time. I've decided to get my starter back up and active this past week. I was planning on baking this weekend. My starter was a bit weak so I decided to hold off for a day and kept feeding my starter rather than make a dough yesterday morning. But I had at that point already set aside my flour and water for an autolyse that I was planning to let run for a bit. So without a strong enough starter I left the autolyse overnight - I should have put it in the fridge but didn't. I didn't think it though in the moment.

The flour mixture was 600g hard bread flour, 200g light rye, 200g hard whole wheat with 850g of water. I also threw in 70g of wheat germ at the same time thinking I'd be mixing in the salt (25g) and levain (150g which was made with 1/2 bread and 1/2 whole wheat flours) before realizing I needed to hold off for a day.

This morning my autolyse mixture had ''risen" as all that enzymatic activity (accelerated by the additional wheat germ I suspect) had a long time to run free before salt would have otherwise slowed it down.

Here's the autolyse mixture:


The starter was performing better this morning so I decided to go ahead and add it with salt. I put it in my mixer for 10 minutes and then rest. It's obviously very slack because of the long autolyse. So i decided to add 1% gluten flour and 1% diastolic malt (i think that was a mistake but not my real problem).

I gave the dough another 10 minutes on low in the mixer. This was after that was done - super slack. In the picture below the dough slowly fell off the mixer hook.

Well I've gone this far so I put it in my bowl and tried to give it a series of envelope folds. Even wetting my hands the dough is super sticky. This pic was taken a minute after I stopped folding. That bubble formed in slow motion within 15 seconds and popped quickly. It was likely a one off - but there are several small bubbles on the surface as it rests. So there's alot going on in that dough at this early stage.


My question is should I even bother to keep at this all day and bake it. No point spending all that time and effort if the bread fails miserably and isn't worth eating.  Second - I'm thinking if I do try to keep going I should bake tonight (it's about noon right now) otherwise it'll over ferment overnight even if I put shaped boules in the fridge given how active it seems.

Thoughts? Thanks in advance! Best to all!

bread1965's picture

I just gave it another round of envelope folds. I don't think I can save this dough. Lessen learned. Will leave give another stretch in an hour and make a call then. Thanks!

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

I think the only thing you could try is making it into flatbreads... Or something between pancakes and flatbreads. Might work OK.

A risen autolyse doesn't sound good, did it smell weird? Sounds like you got some other microbes active in it, which might not be the best kind...

bread1965's picture

Hi Ilya, agreed. I ended up pitching it. It  actually did have a bit of a funky smell to it.

Not worth the trouble. Lesson learned. Thanks.

Abe's picture

If I do a long autolyse then it's either with salt and/or in the fridge. I'll often autolyse at low hydration adding the remaining water when forming the final dough.  Even with no levain added when flour is mixed with water it will begin to degrade. So how to save it? How about turning it into a banana bread? There does seem some fermentation going on but that is quite normal especially if the conditions are just right. Salt rising bread uses not so friendly (understatement here) bugs to raise bread and by the time it's baked it's harmless. If it doesn't even smell off then no need to worry I would have thought. It won't make a nicely risen loaf of bread but it's be a shame to waste it all. 

Here is a community bake you missed. A spontaneously fermented buckwheat bread. Soaked for 24 hours, blended and fermented for up to a further 24 hours. 

Edit: Just saw your reply to Ilya. My comment came too late. 

bread1965's picture

Nice community bake. I make some sourdough buckwheat waffles that have the best flavour. But I'll have to try buckwheat bread at some point. Thanks! keep well..

Benito's picture

Nice to see you back Frank.  The proteolytic enzymes had a field day in your autolysed dough.  I used to do a lot of overnight autolyse with salt, aka saltolyse.  Without salt it would be a loose mess, with salt, no issues.


bread1965's picture

It is was what it was.. will go at it again this next weekend. keep well!