Day 28 out of 40
A little piece of dough inside a glass of water makes a nice sourdough clock.
After I mix my sourdough bread, I take a littel piece of it and add it to a jar with water. It is a test for judging when bulk fermentation and/or proof is done (first rise is done) and then we can shape the bread. We just want to know or don’t want to miss the time to shape the bread. Temperature, flour, how the dough was mixed, how much starter we used, all effects how long it takes for the dough to ferment.
Another way to monitor is to use a rubber band on your container and see when the dough doubles.
You can see on this picture, my #multipurposesourdough that it doubled and the little piece of dough went from the bottom of the jar to floating.
This is not a float test we do before we mix bread to check if our leaven is at peak and ready to mix bread. I found out some call “Water-Proofed sourdough bread”
I could not remember where I saw it, sometimes information is filed until we have a question. I was talking to a friend about the bread float and I wanted to look for it. I found a couple posts referring to to an 1860 Russian cookbook. One from the thefreshloaf.com and another from leaandjay.wordpress.com/tag/water-dough-rise/ (with lovely recipe) that states:
[In the book “Bread Matters”. Andrew Whitly states that “an original method of judging proof is given in a famous Russian Cookbook and household manual from the 1860’s called “A Gift to Young Housewives” by Elena Molohkovets.” She wrote:
“After molding the dough made with fine flour, you may put the loaves in a bucket of water (the temperature of a river in summer) where they will lie on the bottom until they are fully proofed. When they float to the surface, put them straight into the oven…..Incidentally if you are proofing bread on the table, you can put a small test piece of dough into cold water; when it rises to the surface, you can put all your loaves into the oven.”]
I wrote a few weeks back about the peak moment of the sourdough starter and it is also true with the main dough. Sometimes we miss and we can still use the fermented dough and make delicious and nutritious breads for example. I love making paratha and other flat breads if my dough overproof.
When we bake by touch, intuition or are using new flours or recipes, sometimes it feels like we are baking in the dark. This little piece of dough in water could be a little window into what may be going on with the dough and if people are new to sourdough, may guide the timing.