Do you allow your sourdough to double during bulk fermentation?
Was wondering what everyone else does: do you allow your sourdough to double during bulk fermentation? I always have, but had really good results with a much shorter ferment this past weekend and now am questioning my past techniques.
I have always puzzled over recipes that talk about a DDT of 76F and then a bulk ferment of only 2 and a half hours. It always amazed me how on earth they managed to double in that time. (I have always taken it for granted that recipes implied the dough should double during bulk ferment. Now I am thinking I have been mistaken). And this coming from recipes where people say their starter matures in 8 to 12 hours. I have a much more vigorous starter: it will double in 3, triple in 4 -5 and force its way out of a wire clamp jar in 6 hours. I usually only use a small amount of starter in my recipes (not more than 15% of the total flour comes from the starter). However, I live in a very warm climate and our kitchen is always somewhere between 27 and 31 degrees C. Even under those warm conditions with my vigorous starter I can't match the optimistic proofing times of most recipes.
This got me thinking that perhaps not every recipe meant for the dough to double during bulk fermentation. So this past weekend I gave a new light rye loaf I have been working on a 2 and a half hour bulk ferment. My dough temp after mixing was 26C which is about 76F. I let it ferment at room temp for 2 and a half hours. Shaped it, let it rise until 3/4 risen and then retarded it for 10 hours. The result was delicious. Mild but full of flavour. The crust, especially, was intensely flavoured. I can't wait to try again this weekend.
The advantages of not letting it double during the bulk ferment seem to be:
It produces a milder sourdough, which is what I like. No overt tang but full of flavour.
It is easier to shape. No huge fermentation bubbles to shape around and the gluten hasn't started to degrade as it often can with very long bulk fermentations.
I can't seem to find any disadvantages. It certainly didn't compromise flavour but perhaps I did make up for it with the longish retard. The only thing I wasn't satisfied with was the height of the loaf. Even though the crumb was tender and full of the right sized holes, it slumped a little and didn't stand up as high and proud as my white sourdough boules usually do. I can only attribute this to the 20 percent rye flour in the recipe. (I have only very recently begun to work with rye and shaping it is a whole different ball game). Perhaps I should have baked straight from the fridge as I always do. I find baking from the fridge allows the dough to keep its shape better. Perhaps I should have included some ascorbic acid or added an extra fold during bulk ferment.
Anyway, that is my story and I was just wondering what everybody elses opinions on the bulk ferment were. Is it at all necessary for the dough to double? I always do with my yeasted loaves but I think that is necessary for flavour development and it doesn't seem to interfere with shaping. Sourdough can be much more delicate, though (especially rye breads). The length of the fermentation will also depend on the dough temp and the room temp where the bulk fermentation takes place. But is there a guide as to how much the dough should increase in volume? Would love to hear your thoughts/experiences.