I've made the same sourdough bread a dozen times before, with small variations in parameters:
- 360g white flour
- 240g whole wheat flour
- 390g water
That's a 65% dough with 60% white and 40% whole wheat flour. I've been using the sponge method wherein the night before baking, I'm mixing half the flour (300g) with the water and 60g stiff (100%) sourdough starter.
The next morning I mix in the rest of the flour, 2% salt, and knead by hand.
This has worked well throughout March-May, but the last two times I attempted it I'm having trouble with dough that is sticky, stretchy, and a nightmare to handle.
Last time I ventured for 70% hydration and 1:1 white to whole wheat flour and it got very messy and I abandoned it.
Now, when I'm sticking to my tried recipe, I'm still having the same issue:
No matter how much extra flour I incorporate, the dough will not become more manageable... it seems it's ready to swallow an entire pack! 😅
Do you think it could be:
- the sponge, which was left at room temp. for about 10hrs, is overfermented? (I don't have a picture, but it looked normal, bubbles like a tapioca pudding, no signs of hooch)
- the ambient humidity has messed up the recipe in a major way?
- a combination of both?
It's warmer (25C) and wetter (55-65%) here this rainy June as opposed to ~22C / 40%. If the sponge is overfermented, does halving the starter help in any meaningful way? Or should I give it less time?
If the flour has been soaking up water in the pantry, how much water should you add to get a predictable result? Do I just weigh a pack of flour and work out how much extra water it holds?
As for The Blob, do I continue to incorporate flour into it and hope it starts holding shape, or does an overfermented sponge preclude me from getting a decent loaf?
I've been using the same brand of white and whole wheat flours throughout. Nothing substantial about the technique has changed. I knead the bread by hand 10-15 mins through a series of smear-scrape-twist motions, as shown below in the River Cottage Bread Handbook:
65% hydration with 60-40% flour mix was my safe space, and the dough just doesn't seem to come together as of late.