The Fresh Loaf

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how to tell if bulk fermentation is finished when...

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eatbread's picture
eatbread

how to tell if bulk fermentation is finished when...

how can you tell when bulk fermentation is finished if you have been stretch and folding intermittently throughout the period. the dough doesn't ever really get to fully rise or double, so how do you know when to move on and shape?

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

The dough may not double, but it will definitely be fuller than the it was before the bulk fermentation. Usually the recipe will give a time range for the fermentation period. If your environment is relatively warm, it will probably be ready near the shorter end. If relatively cool, it may need the entire , longer period.


Back Home Bakery kneading and folding video:


http://thebackhomebakery.com/Tutorials/KneadFold.html

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Test it for ripeness (fully fermented) as you would test dough in final proofing.


Jeff

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Good question!


I agree with both of the preceding responses. (I assume Jeff is talking about the "poke test.")


Another helpful clue is available if you use a glass bowl to ferment your dough. When it is fully fermented, it is full of bubbles which can be seen through the container wall. I ferment most doughs in a 2 quart glass batter pitcher made by Anchor-Hocking. It will hold about 4 lbs of dough.


David

eatbread's picture
eatbread

how funny that i just did the glass bowl thing today! fascinating stuff indeed. and delicious. 

davidg618's picture
davidg618

I am possibly guilty, of late, thinking of bulk proofing more of the time wherein my focus is primarily on the dough's gluten development, through time-spaced bowl or bench Stretch & Fold, and only secondarily on its proofing. I don't neglect observing that the dough has expanded, but I think of it as incidental.


I read your question and the rest of the thread about two hours ago, and I've been thinking more about  it, off and on, since--I've been mixing sourdough in the interim; it's bulk proofing now; I just completed its first S&F.


I don't think my shift in focus is necessarily wrong. Each time the dough is manipulated yeast cells, new and old, are redistributed exposing them to fresh food sites, carbon dioxide and ethanol are more evenly distributed, and the outside temperature to inside temperature difference made more homogeneous. All these actions contribute to improving yeast growth throughout the dough. That's the primary purpose of bulk fermentation; the dough's expansion during the process is merely our way of subjectively measuring yeast growth's progress. 


When we manipulate the dough it degases, but not entirely. Tri-fold S&F hardly degases it at all once the gluten network has developed strength. I usually let the dough rest a final half hour before turning it out to divide and pre-shape, and at that time I often poke test it, but not always. I've come to know by feel when a dough's gluten network is strong, and it has bulk-proofed enough. That, to me, is a good thing.


David G

ananda's picture
ananda

Yes, David,


I very much agree with your focus.   To me the bulk time is a mechanism to ensure sufficient dough rheology; ie softening of the gluten to create a strong, but extensible dough, capable of expanding to hold plenty of gas.   Everything you say about dough manipulation to give even and more rapid yeast growth is true.   Large pockets of CO2 gas hold back yeast activity anyway, so S&F, or "knockback" help create this even fermentation.   But dough expansion and time are just guides for us to use; the judgements we are really making are mainly in relation to the all-important dough rheology to create a well-risen loaf.


Best wishes


Andy

davidg618's picture
davidg618

I've seen the phrase "dough rheology" used extensively in erudite food processing papers, book, and technical journals when I've been researching sourdough cultures, but, until now I never understood what it meant, in a practical sense.


Regards,


David G


P.S. I also Googled rheology, after reading your post, and now understand it's broader scientific definition. I value your practical explanation more. 

eatbread's picture
eatbread

I too have been going by similar methods- feeling when the gluten is developed to a proper extent, but also by how aerated the dough feels through stretching and folding.

davidg618's picture
davidg618

Here is a picture of one of the loaves I was making when I posted earlier. Sorry, no crumb shot; both these loaves are headed for the freezer to restock the bread shelf.



David G

eatbread's picture
eatbread

beautiful loaf! always good to have a readily stocked bread shelf.