The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Starter VS fermentation time

Boulanger's picture

Starter VS fermentation time

Does the time your stater takes to double  determine how long the dough will need to complete bulk fermentation ?

My starter always takes 12 hours to double after feeding (I have constant temperature in my house at 24 Celsius) . I tried BBA basic sourdough recipe that calls for a 4 hours of bulk fermentation but I think it was not long enough. Should I try a 12 hours fermentation since my starter needs 12 hours to double?  



longhorn's picture

An important consideration in all this is the expansion ratio involved. For example, when I feed my starter I "double it" using a ratio of 2 parts starter to 1 part flour and 1 part water by weight. And it peaks in about eight hours. If I raise the espansion ratio to five times (1 part starter plus 2 parts flour and 2 parts water) id peaks in about twelve hours. I think it is far more important to think about peaking time than "doubling" for peaking tells you when the yeast is at maximum activity.

While sourdough starters vary, yours sounds uniquely slow. Your temperature is good. I am going to guess you are keeping a lower hydration starter.

In any event, IMO you don't want the dough to double in bulk fermentation. Sourdough yeasts are typically less robust than commercial yeast. Optimum dough inflation will generally occur before doubling. I would suggest forming at the 4 1/2 hour point (I routinely do so at 3 1/2). Then let the loaves proof until about 70 percent expanded (NOT DOUBLE). (Probably about 3-4 more hours). That should give you great oven spring and loaf expansion. If you go all the way to double you will almost certainly lose oven spring and rip.

Good Luck!


tgrayson's picture

I make the BBA sourdough bread on a regular basis.  Made a batch last weekend and just refreshed the starter to make another.  Four hours to double is about right for me.  If yours takes 12 hours, your culture sounds weak, or perhaps your dough is too dry.  If you make it using the BBA formula with the upper end of the water recommendation, I calculate the hydration to be 68%.  Very sticky.



tgrayson's picture

BTW, after reading the link on the home page "Eye Opening Techniques" I replaced most of my mixing with three folds 45 minutes apart.  The only mixing I did was 1 minute of using the paddle, 5 minutes resting (as the forumula calls for), then 1 minute of dough hook.

By the end of the bulk fermentation it wasn't doubled, of course, since I had folded it three times, but the dough proofed nicely and the resulting bread had a very good crumb.  It was only marred by poor scoring due to the sticky dough, but I see in Reinhart's new book that he says proof the last hour uncovered to develop a skin, which makes it easy to score.  I'm going to do that next time.