The Fresh Loaf

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What seems to be over rising

wister285's picture

What seems to be over rising

Hello to all and thanks in advance for any help you may offer.

In my quest to make high quality baguettes and pizza dough, I have run into an issue where there are some possible variables.

Initially, the goal was to make pizza dough.  This succeeded and I also used the same dough to make bread that surprisingly resembled a decent baguette.

Lately, however, my dough has not performed as expected.  While the dough tastes pretty good and bakes well enough, it has a number of problems that seem to happen during or directly after the cold ferment:

  • Apparent over-rising and collapsing despite being in the fridge.  I'm not sure that I'm using these terms correctly, but this is what I am calling it after some research.  While cold fermenting, the dough started okay overnight, then at some point expanded to the entire size of the container.  The dough then reduces in volume, is bubbly, and appears wet.  From what I've read, the dough shouldn't rise much during the cold ferment.  I'm pretty sure my fridge is maxed out and hasn't always allowed for such vigorous fermentation in the past.  In other words, unless the door is being opened too much, I don't think the fridge temperate is a factor.
  • Very sticky to handle. Getting it out of its fermentation vessel difficult and it is extremely sticky.
  • Stretches "too easily".  I feel like the dough is now stretching too quickly and is harder to form into a nice circle.
  • Not forming a nicely elastic crumb.  When baked as a baguette, the end result is more ciabatta or English muffin than French baguette.  While not bad in and of itself, it's not what I am aiming for.

Here is my basic recipe:

  • 20.25 ounces unbleached bread flour
  • 1.75 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon Fleischman's active dry yeast 
  • 14 ounces ice water

The steps I have been using:

  1. Mix flour, salt, and yeast.
  2. Mix in water.
  3. Let rest for at least a 20 minute autolyse.
  4. Knead bread using stretch and fold method for 5 minutes.
  5. Divide doughs, form dough balls, and immediately refrigerate for at least 48 hours.
  6. On baking day, pull out of fridge for at least 1 hour prior to baking.

This is where I should have been keeping a log.  I have a long list of possible problem causers, but at this point I just don't know which it is.  Here are some ideas I have.

  • The yeast is fresher and now there is "too much".  Initially, I was using old (but not expired) brewer's yeast just to try out baking.  After that ran out, I bought a container before that was (unfortunately to my later suprise) nearly expired.  As expiration neared, I got a new one that has a much longer expiration date.  Perhaps I need to use less yeast to compensate for more freshness?  This is a bit odd to me though as the recipe actually calls for IDY, not ADY.  From what I've read, you need 25% more ADY to have the same effect as the right amount of IDY.
  • Added the ADY directly to the flour and not hydrating it first in warm (~100F) water.  From what I've read, IDY and ADY almost seem to be used interchangeably at time and some people don't think that hydrating ADY first matters.  I'm not taking a side on this, but at some point I stopped hydrating the ADY before adding it.
  • Used ice water as opposed to straight from the tap.
  • Used less salt.  At first I used 2 tsp, but then started precisely measuring it to 1.75 tsp.
  • Ambient temperature is higher.  My house does not have central air.  When I first started, it was June and now the room is more warm considering it's August.
  • I am kneading more now.  I'd like to think my kneading has improved - or at least more consistent now.

Any help is appreciated.  I realize this is a bit of an impossible question considering the variables, but I don't know if there is something obvious that I am doing that I don't realize because of my inexperience.  Thanks for all your help!

Shai's picture

I guess that this is indeed a combination of the changes you have listed. But the reduction in salt is likely to cause such effects. Salt retards both yeast and anzymes, as well as tightening the gluten. Try adding it back and see if it helps. 

pmccool's picture

1. Autolyse is defined as mixing flour and water only; yeast and salt are worked into the dough after the autolyse.  Your inclusion of the salt and yeast is providing the dough with an additional 20 minutes of fermentation that would not be present with a true autolyse.

2. The quantity of yeast, relative to the cold fermentation time of 48 hours or more, is excessive.  Experiment with just 1/4 teaspoon in your next batch to see how that works.  Since you are using ADY, you may find that using part of the water to make a slurry of the yeast before adding it to the dough allows for better, more uniform incorporation of the yeast throughout the dough.

3. The refrigerator may not be as cold as you think it is, which would allow fermentation to proceed faster than expected.  You can check that by leaving a thermometer inside for an hour or two, then checking the temperature.

4. How long is "at least 48 hours"?  Three days?  Four? Other?  Does the dough look/feel the same no matter how little or how long you allow it to remain in the refrigerator?

Your description of the dough is very consistent with one that has fermented too long.  While the warmer ambient temperatures in your kitchen are no doubt a factor, the use of ice water and your practice of getting the dough into the refrigerator approximately 35 minutes after you begin mixing leads me to think that other factors are more important.  Yeast can definitely be reduced.  You could also use the dough sooner than 48 hours if it is ready; remember the "watch the dough, not the clock" dictum.  The refrigerator temperature might also need to be adjusted.

Those are some ideas for you to investigate and experiment with.  One or more of them ought to bring you closer to achieving your goals for your bread.


wister285's picture

Thanks to all for your help.  I wanted to provide some updates.

Before taking this thread's suggestions into account, I changed my approach to cut the yeast in half.  This has greatly helped.  While not perfect - I think PMcCool's suggestion of 0.25 tsp is better unless I up the salt some - my doughs aren't over-rising like they were.  I had a few follow-up questions in response to PMcCool's post:

RE: #1
How does one uniformily mix the yeast and salt into the dough after an autolyse?  I've seen videos of the DLX Electrolux mixer and I think it would be relatively easy to do it with a machine like that, but right now I'm mixing by hand.  Would the key be to not add in all the flour and then start kneading it when it's really wet?

RE: #2
You were right on here.  I did 0.5 tsp and, while too much, it's helped considerably.  I will try to cut back to 0.25 tsp or maybe 0.333 tsp with added salt.  I had a question.  When using ADY, does it matter what temperature it hydrates at?  The instructions on the bottle are pretty explicit to do it at 100-110F, but I want to delay fermentation if I can help it.

RE: #3
Will do.  I will need to get a fridge thermometer for this.

RE: #4
I've usually been waiting 48 hours before baking my first batch of doughs as my initial experiments (with presumably decayed yeast) really started to hit their stride around day 2 and then improved on days 3 and 4, but then started to trail off at day 5.  As you point out, I made the mistake of watching the clock and not the doughs.  I'm still learning, but I'm glad I have a better understanding of what's going on here.  I was frustrated for not making progress despite having seemingly improved elements of my technique.

Thanks for all of your help so far!  It has been invaluable.

As a side note, I found the following thread to be a good cross-reference to my questions raised, so I wanted to attach it here:

pmccool's picture

Mixing the salt and yeast into the dough can be part of your kneading process.  Save two ounces of water instead of putting all of it in the autolyse.  Use one ounce to soften the yeast while the autolyse is underway.  The cold water won't hurt it any.  Dissolve the salt in the other ounce of water.  

When you spread the dough out for the first stretch and fold, smear the water/yeast slurry on its surface, then fold as usual. After a couple additional stretch and folds, it will be well distributed.  Then repeat the process with the salt/water mixture.  You can always add another round or two of S&F if you think more mixing is needed.

Best wishes for your continued success.