Beginner sourdough – weak, wet dough?

Beginner sourdough – weak, wet dough?

As I posted here, I’m a very early-stage convert to sourdough, just practicing with a very simple recipe to get a feel for the dough. Here’s my recipe, adapted from James Morton

400g strong white flour

200g starter (100% hydration)

275g water

5g salt

Combine, wait 30min, knead 10min.

I’m finding this dough loses cohesion and turns into a bit of a puddle after this knead, which doesn’t seem extremely long to me. It can be shaped after a fashion, but puddles out again; it will survive a 3-4 hour rise (confined to a loaf pan) and bake OK. I’m doing a single rise just now as I have no faith in it, though I did bulk ferment one batch for a modest 4-ish hours before shaping, and it survived and baked pretty well.

The bread varies in texture between fluffy and crumpety, all edible and tasty, but I’m just not happy with this dough. I wouldn’t want to try anything adventurous with a dough like this, it feels precarious, if you know what I mean. Like if I made a wrong move I’d end up with soup.

Is sloppiness just a feature of sourdough? If my maths is right, the hydration is 75%, which is high but should be manageable. What’s niggling me is that it seems to lose strength in kneading, not gain it.

The starter is kept at cool room temperature (between 12C and 18C), fed twice a day and is active, bubbly and pleasant-smelling, mostly somewhere between yeast and yoghurt. I’m happy with its leavening, it doubles this dough easily in 3-4 hours. But does it have a secret agenda? Is it sabotaging the gluten in some way? Or am I making some basic mistake like under-kneading?

All thoughts welcome.

Source: Fresh Loaf