The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bulk fermentation and proofing

bobku's picture
bobku

Bulk fermentation and proofing

I finally have been getting some decent loaves thanks to everyone advice. I have been bulk fermenting in a clear bowl  (best advice I ever recieved and would recommend for every beginner) and not keeping track of time at all  just going by the amount and size of holes in the dough viewed thorugh the bottom of the bowl. Can anyone tell me what the effect and signs of over fermented dough would be. If an experienced baker would judge the dough to be done fermenting after roughly 3.5 hours and I let the dough ferment for about 6 hours what would be the probable results. Could they both still proof correctly and pass the poke test and turn out fine, what would be the subtle differences if any

dwcoleman's picture
dwcoleman

Fallen dough would be the first sign of overfermentation for me.  An effect to the dough could be less/no oven spring when baked due to lack of CO2 trapped in the dough.  Also depending on fermentation times you could end up with a sweet bread that's not so sweet for instance..  

This is mentioned in ITJB by Norm where they would use one sweet dough for multiple breads.  A 1h fermentation would make a sweet loaf, 2h would make a slightly less sweet loaf, 4h could make a plain loaf.  I haven't had a chance to test this myself so that I can use this method.

bobku's picture
bobku

It seems that there is a large time window for fermentation and as long as it is not under fermented there is a lot a leeway on the other end mostly effecting flavor but still producing an acceptable loaf. So I guess for the beginner it would better to error on the side of slight over fermenting as long as it passes poke test bread should be ok. Just trying to get a handle on all this, I know experience will answer most of my questions. Ultimately the dough will dictate the timing

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Unless you add sugar to the dough, there is only about 10% total sugar (dry flour weight basis) after the dough is hydrated and the amylase enzymes get done doing their thing on the damaged starch. If you are using a yeast that can metabolize many different types of sugar it is possible to use them all (I am under the impression that yeasts which can use more than one type of sugar start with their "favorite" and work down the hierarchy until they can't use what is left).  In a San Francisco sourdough the lactobacillus consumes only maltose (~8%) and the yeast consumes only glucose and various glucofructans which make up only about 2.5% of the dry flour weight.  The yeast population is growing at an exponential rate during both bulk fermentation and proofing.  When the sugar runs out the yeast stop replicating (in a sourdough the LAB stops replicating when the pH gets down to about 3.8 but continues to consume maltose, leak glucose, and make acid down to ~pH 3.6).  If you are not ready for the oven when that happens it is too late.  Even if you are ready, but the gluten has degraded to the point where it won't hold CO2 any more, the loaf will still collapse in the oven.  Sourdough is perhaps a little more forgiving since the LAB does throw off a little glucose which the yeast can use, even late in the game.