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bread failure question

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Made baguettes today. Almost. Chef had us make a poolish yesterday. Came in this morning and the poolish was watery. Not all puffed up like on previous mornings. Chef said it was ok, go ahead with it. Added the rest of the ingred.'s and proofed. When it came out of the proofer it was really stiff. Put it back in after punching down and kneading a little, let it proof again and it hardly rose at all. Chef looked at it and said it wasn't any good and to throw it out. Didn't offer up any reasons why. Was the poolish dead and could it have been saved with a little more yeast, or did I knead it too much before the second proof. I can't imagine it was the kneading because it was really too hard to knead well, but it did start kind of breaking up and I stopped at that point. The instructions, that I did not copy - one of my team copied them and I followed them, said to knead after the first proof. I still have not actually checked the recipe, but seems to me I have never kneaded bread after the first proof. Always scale shape and then proof again. The kneading killed it didn't it. Oh well, I think I just answered my own question. :(
Funny how things make more sense when written out.
post #2 of 6
I have never experienced kneading killing a dough. More than likely the problem was with the poolish from the beginning. Perhaps incorrect scaling of ingredients. If scaling was correct then you need to look for things that might have delayed yeast production or destroyed some of the yeast. Finding the answers to these things will enhance your understanding of producing yeast leavened products.
post #3 of 6
Kneading won't hurt a dough. You can knead dough all day and it will only affect the texture. The more you knead, the finer the grain (smaller air pockets). jbd is right, either the yeast didn't develop or something killed it (too hot of water maybe) or ingredients scaled wrong. I would guess the last since the dough was crumbly. With yeast kill it won't rise, but shouldn't be crumbly.
post #4 of 6

Ex moritur, nihil nisi bonum

The poolish (pate fermentee) was dead. That's why it didn't poof. Even a little bit of healthy yeast would have got some action. I have no idea what your instructor was thinking. Or even if. Everyone else is right about kneading, although I would characterize the consequence of over-kneading as "tough," rather than "too fine." But same thing, really.

post #5 of 6
You only knead it if it needs it. Say if the dough is way too wet. In your case is seems it was the opposite. Hang in there.
post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thanks all. I feel much better now. Even after I had written that I thought the kneading killed it I was trying to figure out how. Kneading only kills biscuits and pie dough and stuff that should be flaky in my experience. I have been making breads (sourdough is my all time favorite!) for at least 30 years. My son never had store bought till he was 10. My old brain said I could be wrong though because the young instructor is supposed to know what he is doing. Not the first time he has messed up, either. Funny, he seems to be human. Well I am certainly not sweating it. The baguettes were for part of my practical final. He did say the croissants were the best he had seen out of one of the school ovens. That same day I made croissants, apple danish, profiteroles, blueberry muffins, pastry cream, anglaise (the devil uses that stuff as bait!), and one perfectly iced (with buttercream) three layer yellow cake. Quite a day. (Of course the croissant and poolish were started the day before.) I didn't even want to stop for the standard 4 martini end of another class celebration. Too tired. If I ever find a job, it's gonna kill me!
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