The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bulk Fermentation: Issues with timing

Ogi the Yogi's picture
Ogi the Yogi

Bulk Fermentation: Issues with timing


I am having some issues figuring out when to stop my bulk ferment and move on to the next step of dividing the dough. 

I have overproofed (extended my bulk fermentation for too long) where the dough becomes extremely pillowy when shaping. 

The pictures from the Tartine bread book show a much smaller (not as thick or gassy) as mine. 

How do I know when to stop the bulk ferment? 

I live in hot texas which makes things complicated, it is so hot here most of the time. 

Should the dough increase by 20 to 30 % or closer to 50%? etc. any tips like these would be welcomed. 

I have also read that you need to wait for bubbles to appear on the side of the bowl. 

One of the recipes I recently made asked for a bulk ferment at 29 degree celsius for a total of 6 hours, 3 hours with S/F and 3 additional hours bulk rest. 

Danni3ll3's picture

on this from no bulk fermentation to hours and hours in the fridge. I can only tell you what I do and what works for me and my schedule. 

The short answer is that I bulk ferment until the dough is double. 

The long answer is that I put my dough in a warm spot (oven with light on and door cracked open) where the temp is 82F. I do four sets of folds a half hour apart (dough hydration is usually 75-78% so it doesn't need more and I also do a 2-3 hour autolyse) and then let it rise till double. I use 13-14 % prefermented flour if that info is helpful. Total time ends up being 4.5 to 5 hours. I often get bubbles on the sides but not always. When I shape, I find huge bubbles and I make sure those get popped during shaping. 

Hope this helps!

barryvabeach's picture

Ogi,  I suggest you proof in a straight sided container, and that you use a rubber band to mark the height of the dough when you start your bulk ferment.  It will probably take several tries to get a feel for whether for your recipe the dough is best at 50% increase in volume,  100%  ( doubled) increase in volume, or even tripled in volume  ( not uncommon to see tripled for ciabatta ).   Try to keep notes on how it feels when you take it out of bulk ferment, and then how it does in final proof.  As Danni says, you will get different answers from different folks, though I think that it depends on the flours used and the recipe as to how much it can increase in volume.  Also, when using a typical bowl, it is hard to judge increase in volume, a straight sided container makes it much easier  ( I use either two quart or one gallon transparent plastic pitchers that they sell for juice.  

dabrownman's picture

dough should rise during bulk ferment 30-300%  Quite a range.  Lucy makes up her own recipes and she tells me what to expect and I always follow her instructions since she bites when you don't.  Most folks that produce recipes for others don't bite though but they probably would if folks would follow their recipes more closely:-)