The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

large mass fermentation

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freerk's picture
freerk

large mass fermentation

This is a question I have been wondering about lately; at what mass of dough, do you start getting the full benefits from the effects of a large mass fermentation. And what are the actual benefits?

curious for your input

 

freerk

 

 

cranbo's picture
cranbo

freerk, I'm not a commercial baking professional so consider my feedback accordingly. 

<my.02>

Let's consider your question another way: what are the benefits of fermenting 100kg of dough? (that seems like a large enough mass!) 

I would guess heat retention is both a benefit and drawback. With a large enough mass of dough, once fermentation starts to happen, a lot of heat will be generated, and because of the mass of the dough, heat will likely not be dissipated into the air as quickly as in a small mass. That's good for keeping your dough temp stable, and would help with consistent fermentation time (assuming you calculated your DDT accordingly). On the other hand, it could be potentially disastrous, i.e., due to retained heat fermentation happens too quickly and you have trouble controlling it because you can't reduce the heat quickly enough, thereby forcing you to bake before you're ready, etc. 

Aside from that I can't think of any major benefits. Handling 100kg of dough just doesn't sound that simple.  

At what quantity does this effect start to happen? I have personally experienced this kind of 'runaway' fermentation at quantities as small as 4-5Kg. 

One more thought: large mass fermentation may be beneficial for establishing a starter, due to the quantity of yeast and LAB present in that mass of milled grain. My guess is that this was Nancy Silverton's idea behind her La Brea Bakery starter recipe which requires obscene feed amounts. My personal experience suggests that this is overkill, and that given whole grains and the right temperature control, you can successfully begin a starter with less than 1kg of flour over the course of about 7 days. 

Thoughts? 

</my.02>

OldWoodenSpoon's picture
OldWoodenSpoon

According to my SFBI Baguette class instructor, Frank Sally, the "mass effect" does not occur in less than 1.5kg of dough.  He said to make at least 1.5kg in order to be sure of mass effect in fermentation.  I was a little surprised at how relatively small that quantity was, but I'm not qualified to judge it right or wrong.  He's a mighty good baker, so I've taken his word for it.

Free advice:  Always worth what you pay for it. 
Happy Baking
OldWoodenSpoon

FlourChild's picture
FlourChild

Did he elaborate on the benefits of the mass effect?  Wondering if it is purely related to the slower rate of heat loss, so that if you have control over the proofing temp there is no real benefit?  Or are there other benefits to 1.5kg + batch size?

OldWoodenSpoon's picture
OldWoodenSpoon

He only said that the mass effect yields "a more thorough bulk fermentation", but did not go into the science of it. 

It was just a weekend class, packed with baking, biology,  and technique discussions and demonstrations, and we baked four different batches of baguette.  He was pushing on pretty steadily, and did not pause long on any topic once covered.  Science got the lightest treatment.

OldWoodenSpoon

cranbo's picture
cranbo

1.5kg sounds about right to me. 

 

freerk's picture
freerk

This whole question came up because of an SFBI study book, so I will most certainly take this free advice and start with these numbers and find the differences! Thanks a bunch

 

greetz from Amsterdam!

freerk's picture
freerk
freerk's picture
freerk

thank you!

concetta's picture
concetta

is there an approximate measure of starter  fer 4lbs of flour?

cranbo's picture
cranbo

I don't think this question is related to the OT, but I'll take a shot. 

For 4 lbs of flour, "typical" is anywhere between 10-50% of the flour weight, depending on the schedule and flavor profile you're trying to achieve. You may want to start at 20%, i.e., 20% of 64oz (4 lbs) = 12.8oz

freerk's picture
freerk

what happened to replying to a specific answer in the new design? I'm trying to respond to oldwoodenspoon, but my response just hangs there somewhere in the middle, not making any sense at all...