The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Odd smell

  • Pin It
sadears's picture
sadears

Odd smell

I made some French bread dough and it was rising. It had a smell like fingernail polish remover. I tossed it and am starting from scratch. What might have caused it? And how do I prevent it?

Thanks.

Steph

yy's picture
yy

It's hard to answer your question because the strength of smells is subjective. The products of yeast fermentation are carbon dioxide (primarily), and ethanol (as a by-product). What you're smelling could be the ethanol. This is a natural consequence of yeast fermentation, and there's not much you can do to prevent it, per se. There's no reason to worry about it - whatever's in the dough should evaporate during the baking process, and you won't taste it in the final product. Next time, keep going till the end. See if the flavor of the finished loaf still bothers you. 

sadears's picture
sadears

Very strong. Never experienced this before, that's why I tossed it. Actually smelled like it had soaked in the stuff.  Maybe too much kneading? It was ready yesterday. It sat out to rise. Then I threw it in the fridge for the night. Brought it out today. Let it sit. Kneaded it a bit. Let it sit. Went to shape it, into breadsticks, then...whew!

Next time...I won't wait so long...

Thanks.

Ford's picture
Ford

I frequently find that my sourdough starter will develope the odor of acetone (principal ingredient of nail polish remover).  This happens after a long period of being left in the refrigerator without refreshing.  I don't worry about this as it will evaporate during baking ( boiling point 56°C, 133°F).  I am not familiar with the biochemistry of the reaction, but I am told it occurs because the yeast and/or the lactobacilli are low on nurishment.  I suspect that some of the biochemists here can enlighten us.  Debra Wink are you there?

Ford

sadears's picture
sadears

Not necessary Ford. This wasn't sourdough, though I did toss some of that recently for the same reason. Good to know that it would have gone, though sad that I tossed it before I had an answer. Oh well. 

Thanks

Stephanie

sadears's picture
sadears

I baked some thinking the smell would go away...it didn't. Had a acetone-y taste too. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and you will find what you're looking for.  The site search machine will turn up everything you want to know and then some. 

sadears's picture
sadears

It's not starter. It's preferment I make the night before. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

And what is in the preferment at your high altitude kitchen?

sadears's picture
sadears

water, flour, yeast, salt.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

The dough is giving off lots of over-fermenting type aromas, but what is causing the over-fermenting?  Can't really guess further without any details.   Is it possible the salt got forgotten from the recipe?  Or yeast got added twice?  

What makes the bread, French?  Are the aromas only with this recipe?  

Are you up to try an experiment?  

Lets take 5 samples of your dough and run some fermenting experiments.  The plan is to let the dough ferment at different stages and see what smells burst out of the dough along the way.

First mix up 5 tiny lumps of all the ingredients comparable to the recipe but leave out the salt.  Remove 1/5 of the lump and add the appropriate % of salt to the remaining dough.  Divide the salted dough into 4 lumps and place all 5 dough lumps into 5 glasses or plastic containers with a semi loose cover to imitate your dough bulking container.  Then put 3 glasses where you normally set the dough to bulk rise and two glasses (one with & one without salt)  in the middle of the room somewhere else free of drafts, kids and animals where it will stand there for the duration of the experiment (at least a day, maybe two.)  Record the date, smell and temp of the dough, room, time of day, level of dough in the glass, and anything else including location of all the glasses.  You might want to give each glass a number or letter to make recording easier. 

Now wait the approximate time needed for the bulk rise or following the method you're using.   Record data and then move two glasses to the next step, if this is the fridge then do so.  Leave the one glass at the old bulking location.  I hope you are keeping notes on room temperature, dough temp of each glass and rises etc. while this is going on.  Also keep track of all the aromas and texture of the dough every hour.  Poke and prod and whiff knowledge out of the dough! Uncover each separately and take a good whiff and write down your impressions.  The aromas are the strongest when the cover is first removed.  (I would use a cut plastic bag with rubber bands to hold.)

Smell something else between smelling each sample, to clear the air and your nose, like a quick walk outside or open the window shortly.  Cold refrigerated dough gives off less aroma but if the samples warm up to room temp, they will give off stronger smells.  Leave one in the fridge and move the last glass to where you let the dough continue thru any final rises.

Now let all the glasses stand at their places and continue to monitor and smell each one every hour (or two) until the last glass (my bets are on the chilled one) develops the aroma you're talking about.   If you have to sleep or leave the experiment, record what happened and continue on when awake or present.   

The idea with this kind of experiment is to get an impression of the constantly changing aromas of fermenting flour.  If you want to do this with two types of flour, go ahead and double the number of glasses.  Always good to have something to compare to.  The "control" are the first two glasses with and without salt.  Unsalted dough ferments much faster than the salted one so I predict it will be the first sample to show signs of the specific aroma we are looking for.   It can happen that when we find out what promotes or speeds up the aroma, we can find a way to avoid it.  

Good Luck!