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Sourdough - going flat as a pancake!

(20 Posts)
TwigletMonster Mon 29-Nov-10 19:34:08

Have been trying to make sourdough for a few weeks. Starter is going well, and tried recipes by Hugh FW and Dan Leperd from the Guardian this weekend.

The bread tastes fine, but has no shape! Today's is about as big as a pizza, and not much deeper! So it's fine for soup, toast etc. but not much good for sandwiches.

I've been proving it in a basket, then turning it out and putting it directly in the oven - as soon as it turns out if just flows out to a flat shape. It does rise a bit in the oven, but not much.

I don't want to make the dough any drier, as guess this will affect the texture. Should I use tin and bake it in there for a while then turn it out to brown up?

Anyone else have this problem?

moondog Mon 29-Nov-10 19:34:55

Yes.My sourdough always flat and heavy.
Dunno what to do about it.

ProfYaffle Mon 29-Nov-10 19:38:37

What sort of flour are you using? I've been doing exactly the same with the same recipes. I found wholemeal using the River Cottage recipe went flat like your describe. I'm now onto white flour using Dan's recipe. Tonight's loaf is looking much better. Are you turning it out of the basket onto a hot tray?

ProfYaffle Mon 29-Nov-10 19:39:17

Are you on Twitter? I've had loads of help and advice on there.

TwigletMonster Mon 29-Nov-10 19:48:03

I've been using a mix of white, wholegrain spelt and malthouse, with greatest proportion of white.

Gradually moving more towards using white flour as it definitely seems to give a better texture.

Dan's recipe seems to have more of the open sourdough texture, but still flat! I've turned it onto a hot tray. Baked it on the fan setting tonight though. Is it more likely to spread flat if it's under- or over-proved?

Am getting quite obsessed! Not on twitter. There's probably sourdough forum somewhere..

ProfYaffle Mon 29-Nov-10 19:52:54

I made my starter using wholemeal/spelt flour but use 100% white flour to mix with it then dust the board etc with Rye flour.

Are you putting it the right way up in the basket? ie round side down, crease up? I was putting it in upsidedown at first which seemed to stop it rising properly.

littleomar Mon 29-Nov-10 19:55:49

i've been making mine in the oven WITHOUT the fan and using very little rye/wholemeal in the mix.

don't think the weather's helping at the moment - my kitchen's unheated and the rest of the house not terribly warm...

littleomar Mon 29-Nov-10 19:56:58

I forgot to mention - it IS rising, not flat as a pancake but not a disaster.

the only combination i've had to bin was with barley flour, which was flat and grey and stuck to the tray. annoying, because it tasted nice.

ProfYaffle Mon 29-Nov-10 19:59:50

Good point about the cold kitchen. I've been leaving mine to rise in a 'hot spot' where next door's Aga heats a patch of our wall!

ProfYaffle Mon 29-Nov-10 20:01:01

It could be worth having a read through Dan's website here

TwigletMonster Mon 29-Nov-10 20:20:45

Am clearly a novice...round and crease? I've been mixing and kneading in the mixer. Then first rise in the mixer bowl, quick knock back then into the basket. Am I missing something crucial in the kneading phase?

Today's loaf is a vast improvement in terms of taste and texture - much more open and chewy. The dough rises fine whilst proving, it just looses all shape on the tray.

Thanks for the link, will take a look.

ProfYaffle Mon 29-Nov-10 20:52:17

I do that thing that HFW showed on RC, put the kneaded dough onto a board, pull the sides to the middle to form a uniform round shape. Flip it over then use the sides of my hands to turn it quickly to form the shape further and then put it into the proving basket with the smooth 'dome' side down.

After a few hours, tip it out, put it dome side down and squash it down gently. Then repeat the shaping process and prove again.

The purpose of the basket is to support the dough as it rises so maybe longer in the basket as opposed to the bowl would give it a better shape? Just a guess though, I'm still very new at this.

4merlyknownasSHD Tue 30-Nov-10 12:31:20

....and, as far as I understand, onto a very hot baking tray/stone to give a bounce to it. Have you slit the top of the loaf to give space for this 'in-the-oven' rise?

TwigletMonster Tue 30-Nov-10 14:09:56

Ok, having looked through the website, I think the lack of shape might be due to either over-proving, or not shaping, or both!

So, today I've left it in the mixer bowl for first rise. Then turned it out and shaped it with the sides of my hands as described by ProfYaffle.

It's now upside down in a large bowl to prove a bit more, then it'll be onto a hot baking tray. Fingers crossed!

Have been slitting the top, but it seemed to flow sideways so quickly once out of the basket that it then didn't have the oomph to go upwards!!

TwigletMonster Thu 02-Dec-10 19:48:14

Progress grin. Tuesday's loaf was a vast improvement - it kept it's shape much better when turned out, and rose a lot more in the oven.

I think it's a combination of shaping, using Dan's recipe which has a lot more starter, and using more white flour.

The only tricky part was turning it out of the bowl onto the hot baking tray - despite flouring the bowl it got a bit stuck. So tonight I've done the final proving in a bowl lined with a tea towel to see if turning it out is simpler.

UptoapointLordCopper Thu 02-Dec-10 19:55:15

TwigletMonster - I used tea towel once and it just stuck to the tea towel and I had to snip of the stuck-to bits with scissors and the bread came out of hedgehoggy. But not flat. Tell us how it goes and if it doesn't stick tell me just how much flour you put on the tea towel!

TwigletMonster Thu 02-Dec-10 20:01:10

Eek. Right, just about to go try extracting it, will be back!

TwigletMonster Thu 02-Dec-10 20:22:39

Phew, turning the loaf out was fine.

The dough had oil on it's surface from the initial proving in the mixer bowl. Then it got a coating of flour from shaping.

I then added a lot (probably 2 tablespoons?) flour to the tea towel in the bowl. It was quite a fine weave tea towel though so not much flour stuck to the sides of the bowl, it mainly flew to the bottom.

Loaf is in the oven and looking good, hooray.

TwigletMonster Thu 02-Dec-10 20:29:48

Ooh it's a corker, almost touching the top of the oven (top oven) which is such an improvement on my initial efforts.

Thanks everyone!

UptoapointLordCopper Thu 02-Dec-10 20:31:10

Hmm. I'll give it another go one of these days. Congratulations on your success!

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