The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Dough takes a long time to rise in bulk

Heikjo's picture
Heikjo

Dough takes a long time to rise in bulk

My recent loaves are so tiny and dense. Not much rise during making of the dough and not much oven spring.

70g levain ( 100% hydro, 50/50 white and WW used at peak)
210g white wheat
140g WW
263g water
7g salt

  1. 11:00 - Autolyse with just flour and water
  2. 13:00 - Add salt and levain, dimple in, fold over itself
  3. 13:05 - 10m Rubaud knead, 15m rest, 5m Rubaud, on to bulk
  4. 14:00 - S&F every 30 minutes first two hours, then hourly
  5. 20:30 - Pre-shape
  6. 20:45 - Shape and into banneton
  7. 21:45 - Into fridge

I keep the dough in a B&T proofer set to 27C all through the making, until it hits the fridge. I suppose the Rubaud kneading determine the final dough temp before bulk, but I haven't measured it.

I build the levain with a 1:1:1 mix of an all white starter at 100% hydro. It typically gets to work 4 hours before I use it in the dough, at which point it has at least doubled.

During bulk it didn't really gain any volume at all until the fifth hour. Then it started going somewhere and by 6.5 hours I estimated it to have grown by 50%. I bulk in a glass bowl and have measured the levels and what they correspond to in dough volume. The dough doesn't gain much volume during final proof. I've tried letting it go further, but then I get pancake bread as it flattens out, lose structure and maybe overferment.

I typically feed the all white starter 1:2:2 the night before and it's ready about 8 hours later in room temp.

Is my starter slow and is that making the process more difficult?

It's good bread, but I would like more volume. Here's a dough during final proof and the crumb.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Your bread looks very nice to me. I bet there is not a baker around who wouldn’t like more rise, spring, and/or bloom. The BF did go long for 27C (80.6F). It is bery common for the dough to take off towards the end of the ferment.

My best guess is that your starter should be maintained in order to increase the yeast. Let’s see if others agree.

Please let us know as much as you can about your starter.

HTH

Danny

Heikjo's picture
Heikjo

Thank you, Dan. The starter is homemade on purely white wheat, a pretty strong flour with high protein, 100% hydration. The starter has worked better earlier, giving more volume and oven spring with a shorter bulk. It has had some periods without feeding due to me being away. Sometimes 2 weeks, up to a month. I have not done anything special with it before this. Just left in the fridge.

I've put it in the fridge between uses and fed once or twice before using in a dough. Some days ago I stopped putting it in the fridge and now just leave it on the counter. I now feed it twice a day, usually 1:2:2 (10:20:20), which makes it peak around 8 hours later, 4 hours before next feeding.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

I think your explanation explains the ptoblem. If your starter peaks in 8 hours and is not fed for another 4 hours, it is probable that your starter is decreasing in strength rather than gaining. The yeast are starving before they are fed again.

I suggest you try 4:20:20 (1:5:5). The extra food should increase the feed cycle. Ideally your starter should peak and then fall slightly in 12 hours for a twice a day refresh.

If you try this, let us know your results. It would best best to take 4 grams of starter from your original to build the test starter. Keep feeding your original, just in case.

what would you estimate your roon temp where your starter is kept?

Danny

Heikjo's picture
Heikjo

I'll try reducing the seed a little to avoid those hours where it's past peak. My thermometer says it's 22C now at 4AM. It might drop a bit more until the morning. I have used different seed to account for different kitchen temperatures before. All the way to 1:25:25 in the hot summer.

I can keep a bit fed starter in the fridge as backup, but doubt I'll be able to kill it this time either.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Another option to increase the length of the feed cycle is to reduce the hydration. 1:3:5 (60% hydration) is an example. If you do opt for a lower hydration you will want to knead the dough ball a bite in order to incorporate the flour thoroughly.

Heikjo's picture
Heikjo

That could also work. I fed it 4:20:20 today at 09:00.

09:00 - 35ml
16:00 - 80ml
19:00 - 100ml. It had collapsed here and peaked at 110ml, which is pretty much a tripling. When I checked it had maybe gone an hour or two past peak, so maybe it peaked in 8 hours. Temperature started at 23C, but went up to 25-26 halfways through when I started baking bread in our home oven and pizza in my pizza oven at the same time.

I've now tried feeding it 2:20:20 to see how long that takes. It might collapse during the night, but I'm up every 2-3 hours with our baby anyway. If I remember to check of course.

Today's dough was maybe 30% after 4.5 hours and 50% by 5.5 hours.

David R's picture
David R

Maybe one of the recipes you used before is better in your opinion? (Under your conditions and the way you work, at least)

Your new bread looks great to me, though.

Heikjo's picture
Heikjo

It's the same recipe. I just reduced it from 1000g to 700g to match my banneton better.

I'm not unhappy with the bread, absolutely not, but I've been making sourdough bread for 3 years and know what I like. Since I've had better results before, that's what I'd like to get back to. I also want to optimize things for when I want to use different flours and more WW, which has a negative effect on baking properties.

Heikjo's picture
Heikjo

Actually it's the same recipe, but also not the same recipe. The process is pretty much the same with the exception of Rubaud, but now I'm watching the dough and not the clock. Back then I just let it bulk 1.5-2 hours without paying too much attention to volume increase. The recipe says to bulk until 30% rise, which is around 4.5 hours in the recipe. 30% after 4.5 hours is pretty much what I'm getting now, but I keep the dough warmer in the proofer than I was when I kept it on the bench.. 

It sounds backwards, but maybe I should try following the recipe I used then to a T and see what happens.

Heikjo's picture
Heikjo

Making some progress now. I'm keeping the starter at room temp and feeding once it starts to collapse. I've also started using a rye/wheat starter instead. I keep feeding the all white one and will make some loaves with that one too to see for any differences.

Starter maintenance has maybe been the most important factor. Maybe timing of when a starter or levain is used too. I'm still experimenting with timings, how long to bulk and how long to proof. This one bulked 4 hours I believe it was and 1 hour proof before retarding.

Are there any disadvantages to changing a starter feeding to make it take longer time to collapse? When I've fed it 3 or 4:20:20 with cold water it can take 12 hours to peak, but it seems less vigorous, doesn't rise as much and don't get as much bubbles. Is this just visuals or can the starter have less strength when fed this way?

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

“Are there any disadvantages to changing a starter feeding to make it take longer time to collapse? When I've fed it 3 or 4:20:20 with cold water it can take 12 hours to peak, but it seems less vigorous, doesn't rise as much and don't get as much bubbles. Is this just visuals or can the starter have less strength when fed this way?”

Changing the starter ratios, along with temperature is how you increase or decrease the length of fermentation. Different grains, especially whole grain will also have an impact. Are you anticipating leaving your starter on the counter or will you refrigerate? What would be your optimum time for your starter to mature (fully rise and just begin to recede)? The hydration of a starter can be easily adjusted. If you are willing to lower the hydration of your starter, you will be better able to observe the rise and fall of the starter. Wet starters are not as obvious a dry ones?

Temperature has a huge affect on the fermentation. A starter (this depends on the individual starter) can be raised in 8hr @ 73F or that same starter can be raised in 4hr @ 80F.

I don’t think your starter is weakening. Think of your starter as a colony of rabbits and at present there are 100 of them. But they keep breeding and if not managed they will multiple beyond your capability to house and feed. So you sell 90 of them and feed and water the remainder. Before you know it there are 100 rabbits in your back yard again. ...and the cycle continues.

My starter lives on the counter and is fed twice a day at 12hr intervals. I tweak the feed ratios when the seasons change causing the temperature to fluctuate. The starter is fine with that. At least I think so, it never complained :-)

HTH

Dan

By the way, your bread looks very nice. I like the scoring.

Heikjo's picture
Heikjo

I will keep it both on the counter and use the fridge. Sometimes it will stay in the fridge 2-3 weeks, sometimes on the counter an entire week, sometimes used 2-3 times a week and in the fridge between. It will always rise before use on the counter. Fridge will be for when it won't be used for 2-21 days so I don't have to feed it a lot just to keep it going.

I can work with a lot of timings, but usually between 8-12 hours is ideal. I like working with wet starters (got one 100% and one 130%), but might consider some stiffer to fit my schedule better.

Do you always feed it with the same water temperature and use ratios to adjust? I went down to 3:20:20 one of these days and I think it needed closer to 10 hours to peak.

Thanks, Dan.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Adjusting starter.

When I want to make a minor adjustment. Find it easier to slightly increase or decrease the starter portion.

For example. The weather cooled down and I want to maintain the 12r cycle. Normal feed is 2:6.5:12. I simply increase the starter to 2.5:6.5:12 It is simple and eliminates the math.

Depending on the ambient temp, I generally mix 1:10:10 or as high as 1:15:15 to get 12hr out of a 100% starter.