Sourdough Bread – Scaling Up

Continuing my theme of practicing first I’m attempting making 4X the loaves I normally bake. I chose 4X (8 loaves) due to my plastic tub, banneton, and refrigerator constraints. I also considered that I can only bake 2 loaves at a time and I’ll need to switch to baking croissants shortly after the last pair of loaves.

Scaling up bread

It all started last night when I fed my starter to reinvigorate it for this morning. I need 400g of fresh starter to seed the 2000g needed for the recipe. I am feeding the fresh starter on a 1:2:2 ratio. Therefore, I’ll add 800g each of water and flour to get to my 2000g total.

My normal tub I keep in the fridge was too small to make the 400g as well as another 250g or so to put back in the fridge.

Solution: Use new tub.

My house is also cooler now that it’s fall so I determined to use my proving box to maintain the temperature at 74°F. From the pic above you can see that my invigorated starter more than doubled.

I mixed 800g of water and 400g of starter and, once combined added the 800g of flour. This is the most amount of leaven I’ve ever made!

I didn’t have any tubs large enough to hold 2000g of starter that will double in size so I decided to use my Pyrex tub I normally use for ready bread flour in my pantry.

The tub was too high to place the lid on the prover so I substituted a towel instead. Again, control temperature to 74°F. The leaven was 74.5°F when I put it into the box.

The next step is to autolyse (at scale). I have 3000g of bread flour and 1760g of water… which I’d like to have at about 94°F when I mix it with the 72°F flour. I’m aiming for a dough temp of 82-84°F as it bulk ferments.

What to do? I’d considered my microwave or adding hot water but discarded those as impractical. My final solution…water bath!

Water bath to preheat water.

I placed the tub containing my measured 72°F water into my sink filled with 99.5°F water. It will heat the water inside the tub and stabilize at a lower temperature since my tub is (pardon the pun) a “heat sink”! Ha! I crack myself up!

The water should be close to the desired temp when it comes time to autolyse.

The water was a bit cooler than desired due to me starting the bath too soon (83°F). I dumped a bit of water and added warmer water and boosted the temperature to 98°F. The flour was 72°F. Mixed it was 88°F. Maybe a bit warmer than I had thought but acceptable. I’m leaving covered on the counter. It will cool down a touch so that won’t be a problem. I’m looking for the dough temp to be mid-80’s going into bulk ferment.

I mixed in the leaven roughly 90 minutes later due to needing to run an errand. I ha plenty of rise in the leaven. It looked great! The dough had lots of strength starting to show due to the autolyse. In my haste to mix in the leaven I failed to take a picture. It was beautiful looking! It had more than doubled and wad more than 4L in volume.

I added the salt. Pleased that I’m seeing activity/bubbles in the dough already after only 30 minutes! Transferred the dough to a larger tub where it will be easier to stretch’n fold. I’ll cut off a piece of dough for my aliquot jar at the first folding. Dough temperature is 78.8° F. This is actually lower than I wanted overall. Thinking my water temp initially could be higher.

First Stretch ‘n Fold. Dough feels good. I feel a few lumps of harder/non-hydrated pieces of dough. May need a better oiling of the bin next time since the dough sticks a bit as I pull it up to stretch. Dough temperature is still just north of 78°F. I cut off a piece of dough and put it in my aliquot jar to judge the bulk ferment.

Stretch’n Fold #2 after 30 minutes rest. Dough is looking good. I’ve continued pinching little nodules that seem to be hard/not hydrated well. Overall I’m pleased with the progress. Dough temp is cooling slightly to 78°F even.

Stretch’n Fold #3 after another 30 minutes of rest. Dough continues to look good. I’m pleased with how it is looking/growing. The dough is holding its shape through the 30 minutes and not expanding outward to both sides now. Dough temp is falling a bit to 77.2°F. I’m expecting that that will prolong the bulk ferment a hair but not substantially. Now to let it double in size/volume.

It has now doubled in size! Dough temperature is holding at 77.7°F. It is now time to do a dough dump, weighing out eight loaves and preshaping!

Note: next time I’ll dump it horizontally so I don’t hit my pendant lights with the tub.

Dough Dump

I divided the dough into eight loaves, preshaped and let rest.

Preshaped Loaves

My shaping leaves something to be desired. Frankly, I don’t do a very good job. The rice flour makes it hard to create tension if it is covering too much surface.

In any case I have four Batards (loaves) and four Boules (rounds) in the fridge.

Tomorrow is bake day!!

Published by Jim Hayden

Enterprise Transformation Consultant by day; Baker by night! Learning all the time! Iterative and incremental improvement always!

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