Sourdough Rye problem: tears while rising
Posted: 27 September 2011 04:19 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I’ve been an avid bread baker for many years and this summer encountered a problem with my rye bread for the first time.  I’ve been using Rose’s Sourdough Rye recipe for years, always with great success.  Twice this summer I’ve had what I can only describe as “tearing” in the bread as it rises after shaping.  Perhaps it is the humidity? Or poor gluten formation? The dough was slightly more sticky than usual, despite precise weighing, which I compensated for by adding a spoonful of flour so that the consistency was right. Last week’s loaves were perfect, this week, I doubt I’ll be able to salvage them. I’ve attached a picture which shows the problem better than I can describe. It is so disheartening to see otherwise lovely dough stretch and break like this! 
Thanks so much for any insight anyone has!

-Janette

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Posted: 03 October 2011 07:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Hi Janette,

I don’t have the magic answer, but I thought of your post this past weekend when I made pizza crust and I noticed after shaping a small place that looked just like your photo.  I baked it up anyway and it came out just fine, hardly noticeable.  How does yours bake up?

I feel like it may be related to gluten content, could it be a combination of strong shaping (really stretching the crust) with a lack of elasticity in the gluten?  Elasticity can be a function of the brand of bread flour- I like Gold Medal Better for Bread for its elasticity.

Or do you think the crust could have dried out a bit?

Acidity can also relax gluten, could the starter have undergone something to alter its acidity?

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Posted: 03 October 2011 10:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Hi Julie,
Thanks for the ideas.  I did think that it might be a gluten issue.  I always use KAF and in this case bread flour with a little of their rye mixture which has worked out well for the past couple of years. 
The tearing began almost immediately after shaping the loaves—I was able to get a decent skin, but nothing terrific as the dough felt ever so slightly wetter than usual. The tears formed within minutes and then just grew and grew so that I ended up baking the loaf almost 2 hours earlier than normal.  In the case of the other loaf (I do 2 at a time) by the time loaf one was out of the oven, that one was almost entirely flat.  It’s as though the gluten just gives up and it deflates.
The first time this happened, I baked the flatten loaves and they were dense disks…almost no rise in the oven at all and the dough seemed to spread.
Acidity is another good idea to watch, though my starter has been very consistent.  And strange that I would have this happen in alternate weeks—one week failure, another perfect, the next failure again. 
Could there be something wrong with the flour, I wonder?

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Posted: 04 October 2011 12:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Your description of the flat baked loaves makes me wonder if there was insufficient gluten development.  Could there have been a difference in kneading times or in time spent in the fridge between the weeks?

KA bread flour is very strong, but not as elastic as BFB.  However, it should have had enough elasticity to hold the crust together.

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Posted: 04 October 2011 03:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Update: I think it may have been a gluten development issue.  Today’s loaf, exactly the same recipe, baked up wonderfully.  Only difference:  an extra 1 - 2 minutes kneading before the autolyse and lower general humidity (down to 50% from 80%).  I may have been skimping on that initial knead before the autolyse / before adding the sourdough.  What a difference a minute can make.

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Posted: 04 October 2011 09:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Glad to hear you found the fix!

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Posted: 10 August 2014 12:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Unlike your other respondents, I’m going to guess that, maybe with the higher humidity or something, you might have over-mixed. Unlike ordinary bread flour, whose gluten breaks down when over-kneaded, rye gets “slimey”.  And like overworked wheat dough, you can’t come back when you’ve gone too far. 

Rose’s SD rye is one of my favorites and I make it all the time. I repeatedly take its temperature as it nears the end of the knead to make sure it doesn’t go over 77-80 degrees before I can get it to pass the window-pane test. And I always get a windowpane before it proceed to the rise.

Do you know about the temperature calculation to adjust your water temperature to compensate for a room that is either hot or cold: take your optimal dough temperature and multiply by 4 if you’re using a sourdough or preferment (3 if it’s just a straight dough), then subtract the temperature of your SD or preferment, the temperature of your flour, and the temperature of your room. Subtract a constant of “26” as a friction coefficient. What’s left is the temperature of the water!  For the home baker, whose environment is not as controlled as a commercial kitchen, this little adjustment is invaluable.

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