The Fresh Loaf

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doughball in the water test - does it have any validity?

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nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

doughball in the water test - does it have any validity?

Hi,

there's a test that is often recommended here in italy: after the bulk fermentation, just before proofing, take away a small ball of dough and make it fall in a cup full of water at room temperature. When the ball comes afloat  it's time to bake the bread.

I wonder if the test has any scientific validity, that I doubt. The bread dough proofs  in the air, while the test ball proofs in the water. The environments are completely different, they simply can't compare IMO. At most the emersion of the ball indicates that the dough has a reasonable amount of gases in it...

Any opinion is welcome.

Ford's picture
Ford

The temperature is the important thing; the water should be at proofing temperature.   The air has little to do with the proofing.

"At most the emersion of the ball indicates that the dough has a reasonable amount of gases in it..."

Yes, that would be the measure.

Ford

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

My doubt is that the water can influence the proofing speeding it up. Does it?

rpinet's picture
rpinet

There are very common meals in Mexico made with corn flour, not wheat; and that is the standard test. However, mexican wheat bread commercial or artisan bakers do not use it. Hope it helps.

Candango's picture
Candango

Nico, perhaps the best way to look at it is that the dough ball is your "gauge",  if you will.  When the dough is freshly made, it is "solid" and compact.  As it proofs (whether in air or room temp water), the yeast produces gasses - CO2.  And the dough expands.  It changes in volume because of the increased gasses.  The weight remains essencially the same.  When there is sufficient gas produced by the yeast, it will cause the small dough ball in the water to rise and float on the surface.  You can take this as an indicator that the rest of the dough, sitting in the air at room temp, has proofed sufficiently.  If you have any doubts, try the "poke" test.

Bob

ww's picture
ww

remember reading in Tartine that Chad Roberston suggests you do the same with your starter to determine if it's ready to be used. Pinch off a bit and if it floats, it's ready to be used. I should think it's the same concept - enough gas to float

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

If there is no heat transfer going on, then there is no difference in proofing in water vs air.  As mentioned above, that requires the doughs and their environment (whether air or water) all be at the same temp.  Otherwise, water will conduct heat to or away from the dough much more quickly than the air does with the air-proof dough.

FF

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

I feel obliged to test the method and verify if I get to slap the dough  in the oven before overproofing it! :-)