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Tammy Grogan

    Hope this is the proper place to post this. Did my first practice batch last weekend. Two-loaf batch, Modern formula, using Trailblazer, 5 g diastatic malt, King Arthur whole wheat flour, hand mixing. Videos very helpful, but I ran into mixing issues. Got autolyse, then yeast, then salt incorporated, but then had a really hard time with the slap-and-fold process. Started out just like the videos, with slight sticking on the large cutting board I was using as my surface, and only seemed to get stickier. Dipping fingers in water would help at first, but eventually the dough would become too wet, and I’d struggle to hold on to it until it became impossibly sticky again. The elasticity would vary, too. Sometimes it was loose and easy to fold, and sometimes it was almost hard and impossible to stretch.  In the videos, Katherine would just (dare I say daintily?) dip her mostly clean fingers in water or use her bench scraper, and the dough would start to come together. A full hour into my mixing, I still couldn’t pull a windowpane, and my fingers, bench scraper, and almost everything in the kitchen was thickly caked in dough that managed to be both slimy wet and sticky. I looked like a toddler who had been making mudpies (and felt like a frustrated toddler about to have a meltdown). I somewhat randomly decided that maybe the King Arthur flour doesn’t absorb as much water as Fairhaven, and I needed to flour my surface. With that, I was able to dry things out and pull a very loose, very fragile, windowpane. Bulk fermentation showed what I thought was good rise, as did the rest period after pre-shaping. But proofing was a disaster. Checked after 45 min, and the dough had not filled in the pan. Not ready yet, right? Except when I did the poke test, one loaf showed slow, partial rebound (proper proofing?) and the other didn’t rebound (over proofing?). Baked right then. Dough never filled the pan, didn’t rise high at all. Seam on bottom never filled in (looked like pull-apart bread). Cross section slice showed crumb open in middle, dense near surfaces. (Can’t seem to post images). Good color all over, tasted OK. So. Materials? Mixing? Proofing? Ancient curse attached to my family in regard to baking bread? I am so bad at this. Want to know what to change before I try again this weekend.