The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Tips and Hints for rise improvement and easier maintenance of dough...

birminghamtom's picture

Tips and Hints for rise improvement and easier maintenance of dough...


I have some problems and information I need to source for my sourdough baking, I am still hitting a few brick walls and I would like to hear some opinions or improvements and perhaps ideas or things to consider.

One of the issues I face is that I don’t think I am getting the right rise and I have a feeling that it is due to my preferment and then bulk ferment temperatures, this week I am working at an ambient temperature of 20c in my kitchen and I am refreshing sourdough starter at around 40c as it is coming straight out of the fridge for refreshment. I use a rye starter as this is easier for me to maintain, my wheat starter is in the freezer at the moment as I was constantly getting a soupy starter and it was becoming impractical.

I have followed a few recipes, I believe my better results have come from the Weekend Bakery pain naturel sourdough and then another recipe which is not as detailed and follows a more simple route of no s&f’s etc.

Weekend Bakery – this needs more maintenance and looking after, I can't leave it for long. (latest bake)

Other Sourdough Recipe – less maintenance (latest bake)

I am looking for big rises, a good ear and a professional looking loaf – crumb structure would be a bonus.

100g of starter, 100g of strong white flour, 125g water refreshed at 40c then a bulk fermentation of 200g of preferment for 8 hours. Then I add 520 strong white flour and 275g of cold water plus 10g of salt. This is hand kneaded, bulk fermented for 8 hours and then proved for 3 hours at the maximum. 

What would you do? What do you think of the proportions should I be refreshing at a higher temperature to get the right kind of preferment? My preferment this week didn’t have a lot of bubbles but some, it’s not the bubbliest I have seen it. Also I feel that the final prove isn’t doing much; it looks like the dough is sluggish and doesn’t really have much rise in the final proofing. The taste is there however. It’s the aesthetic side I am not happy about.

Obvious answers would be stick with the Weekend Bakery bake but I am keen to learn more, the reason why I prefer the first recipe is due to the fact the s&f isn’t there and I can carry on with my other activities. Last weekend I built a cob oven as you can see.

I would prefer once it has dried and firing that I can concentrate on my oven to use it for its temperature range rather than be in the kitchen working on dough development. Maybe I am cutting too many corners?

Advice is welcome !

Ford's picture

"100g of starter, 100g of strong white flour, 125g water refreshed at 40c then a bulk fermentation of 200g of preferment for 8 hours."

Are you saying you refresh your starter at 40°C?  If so, I am surprised that you have any activity from the yeast or much from the lactobacteria.  See Table below.

San Francisco Sourdough Activity

Temp Temp   Lb.sf  Yeast

°C    °F          (C.milleri)

 2    36    0.019  0.004

 4    39    0.026  0.008

 6    43    0.035  0.013

 8    46    0.047  0.021

10    50    0.063  0.033

12    54    0.084  0.052

14    57    0.11   0.078

16    61    0.14   0.11

18    64    0.19   0.16

20    68    0.24   0.23

22    72    0.30   0.30

24    75    0.37   0.37

26    79    0.45   0.42

28    82    0.49   0.42

30    86    0.61   0.35

32    90    0.66   0.20

34    93    0.66   0.05

36    97    0.58   0.00

38   100    0.39

40   104    0.1

41   106    0.00


birminghamtom's picture

Yes, it's coming straight out of the fridge so doing it at 40c. 

honorb's picture

Refrigerator temp is 40 F , not 40 C.   And, as Ford was noting, at 40 C, chances are your yeast is dead.  I know it is just one letter... F vs C... but it means a lot.

PetraR's picture

To be honest, I might be just happy go lucky but I keep my stiff starter in the fridge, pull it out let it come to room temperature where it finishes to rise to peek , once the dome starts to collapse on itself I know I can use it.

I never worry about room or dough temp and I do get great bread , oven spring...

I wonder if it would still turn out good if I would think about it more. hmmm

I admire anyone who knows Bakers percentage and all that, I just am glad that I can make bread that taste good and looks nice.

birminghamtom's picture

Sorry for the confusion, I take the starter out of the fridge and then refresh it with my flour and water at 40c.

thegrindre's picture

I do the same thing and not worry about time or temp, I just let it warm up for a few hours, feed it and once it peeks, I stir it down, then measure it out to use, feed again then pop it back in the fridge.