The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bulk Fermentation Times @ 58 - 60 Degrees

Neil C's picture
Neil C

Bulk Fermentation Times @ 58 - 60 Degrees

Hi!


Are there any TFL bakers with experience with retarded bulk fermentation at temperatures greater than a typical refrigerator's.  I have a separate basement area where temperatures range from 58 to 60 degrees. 


My confusion stems from the many baguette recipes that call for primary (bulk) fermentation times in the 2 to 3 hour range.  At the same time, when discussing fermentation in general, most writers call for the longest possible fermentation times in order to maximize flavor.  Logically, I have a problem believing that it can be both, assuming that flavor is my primary objective.  




Back in 2002, I had the pleasure of touring the great French boulanger Lionel Poilâne's Belgravia shop in London.  All their baking was done in a sub-basement two levels beneath the shop.  Basement temperatures a constant 55 degrees.  Unfortunately, as I was just getting into baguette baking at that time, I did not ask question about fermentation times.


QUESTIONS:



  • At lower temperatures, e.g. 58 - 60 degrees, when would you turn and fold. 

  • After the dough has doubled, has anyone frozen the dough, and with what results.

  • Would proofing at these low temperatures improve upon the loaf's flavor.

  • Etc.


Any thoughts and suggestions are much appreciated.


Best to all, and a very Happy Thanksgiving,  Neil

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Yes,


QUESTIONS:



  • At lower temperatures, e.g. 58 - 60 degrees, when would you turn and fold.


It depends on the dough,  if it seems to be rising and losing its structure, then I would fold it.  Experience with the dough will tell you about how often this needs to be done.  Checking the dough as it retards will give you acquired experience even when no task needs to be done.  Poke and prod and touch it.  Note it's surface, transparency, and any bubbles. 



  • After the dough has doubled, has anyone frozen the dough, and with what results.


No, I have not done this.  I don't have a large freezer.



  • Would proofing at these low temperatures improve upon the loaf's flavor.


Anything that slows down the yeast, and therefore lengthening the proofing time, will add to the flavor by bringing out the inherent flavor in the flour.  One can reduce the amount of yeast or cool the dough slowing down the existing yeast.


 


In the case of sourdoughs, a bit more is involved and worth mentioning, again the Q:



  • Would proofing at these low temperatures improve upon the loaf's flavor.


Yes, but I believe you get more flavor when you promote the yeast and lactobacteria first in a warmer temperature, when enzyme levels are lower,  then cool them down to control their speed.  The cooling affects the yeasts more than the bacteria.  There is a flavoring process as the yeasts and bacteria work on the dough multiply their numbers and give off by-products in fermentation.  As we cool them, they become stressed and panic setting up a condition in the dough that helps them survive a dormant state.  They acidify the dough and we call it flavor.   This will vary slightly with type of flour, temp, and the organisms and enzymes envolved.    Leave them in this preparation for dormancy state long enough,  they will eventually go dormant.  What we do is use the trick of fooling the yeasts and bacteria to get them to flavor our dough, then if we were careful not letting them use up all the available sugar, we can warm up the dough and get some more activity from them before we put them into the oven and kill them.  


Mini


 

Neil C's picture
Neil C

Re: Bulk Fermentation at 58-60 degrees


Mini,


Thanks for your thoughtful response. 


The next step in my learning experience will be initiating the primary (bulk) ferment at the crack of dawn on the first day, hoping to get my two to three folds in before bedtime.  If not, I will try a slightly higher temperature, e.g. 64-66 degrees, in order to get my stretches and folds during the first day, prior to putting the dough into the 58-60 degree section of my basement.