The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

how long to bulk ferment (first rise) and oven spring issues....

Matt Edy's picture
Matt Edy

how long to bulk ferment (first rise) and oven spring issues....

Hi guys...

just recently I have been "trying" to make bread with a bulk fermentation stage, yes this may sound stupid as we all no that this is required! Before I was simply making up a 30% sponge the night before and then incorporating the rest of the ingredients the next morning, followed by kneading, then shaping the dough straight away without any "bulk ferment". I was getting great results from this method and satisfactory oven spring :-)

Anyhow, Ive been experimenting with a basic white loaf recipe which inculdes a bulk ferment, and i'm not getting any oven spring at all :-(

Here is what im doing, along with my recipe;

300g organic white bread flour (type 4)

195g water (65% hydration)

6g yeast (2%)

6g salt (2%)

6g rapeseed oil (2%)

6g caster sugar (2%)

and a smidgen of ascorbic acid

I knead for approximately 10 mins, then leave to ferment in an oiled sealed container for 45 minutes, i then give it a stretch and fold and place back in the container for another 45 minutes.

I then remove the dough from the container and gently knead it for 30 seconds, shape and place into my tin

I let the dough proof for 45 minutes to an hour, and then bake at 230 degrees with steam, turning my heat down to around 220 as soon as the loaf enters the oven. I bake for around 25 minutes.... but no oven spring at all!

any suggestions to what i may be doing wrong?

Many thanks





hanseata's picture

Matt, this sounds to me like you are overproofing your bread. Two times 45 minutes for the bulk ferment, and then another 45 - 60 minutes seems rather long for the amount of yeast you use (active dry or instant?). How do you judge the right time of proofing? Do you use the finger poke test?

It's always interesting to experiment with formulas, but I would encourage all beginners to start with getting a good, instructive bread baking book (like Peter Reinhart's and others, see recommendations here in TFL), and follow those proven, well explained recipes, before you start experimenting on your own - without knowing how and why it works. (Don't take this amiss, I baked many "bricks" myself, when I first started out.)

You might also find that there are easier techniques than long kneading - like autolyse and stretch and fold. And that many breads benefit from cold retardation - their taste develops during slow fermentation.



Matt Edy's picture
Matt Edy

you could possibly be right, i was thinking about that to be honest... i think my problem is, i work in a supermarket bakery where improvers are used, and i normally judge that proofing is finished when it rises to the rim of the tin? and by the way its fresh yeast i am using....

Matt Edy's picture
Matt Edy

So how long would you bulk ferment at ambient room temperature using the recipe i have given? would this be why i get hardly any oven spring?



Sean McFarlane's picture
Sean McFarlane

hes got enough yeast in there, though more wouldnt hurt if he wants a faster rise.

I like to recomend to all beginers to let their dough double in size for the bulk ferment. 

Iw ould take the oil/sugar out, as they dont do much for the bread, but thats me.

as far as ascorbic acid...the amount needed for such a small batch would be like .001 ounce(often i use .06oz int 50lb batches of dough) so you might want to skip that as well, as adding even a fingers pinch could be too much.

ehanner's picture


Why don't you go back to using a sponge and do a bulk ferment of the final dough, based on dough condition? Ferment in a transparent container and watch the bottom and sides of the container. You want to wait too see gas pockets about 1/4 inch diameter or more. A stretch and fold midway into a 2-3 hour ferment builds strength.

I didn't hear a word about dough temperature in your method. You MUST be aware of dough temperature and ambient fermenting and proofing temperature. 24C-76F is a good range to use where the yeast will be active. If your dough is cool, the yeast isn't creating gas and growing in population. Low activity will result in poor oven spring. Watch for bubbles.


Matt Edy's picture
Matt Edy

When you say based on the dough condition, what do you mean?