The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Trouble With Bulk Fermentation Using Autolyse

TheDrunkenBaker's picture
TheDrunkenBaker

Trouble With Bulk Fermentation Using Autolyse

Hello, 

I'm new to baking and like many I've seen on here, I went with the Ken Forkish book to begin to learn.  Prior to that I had some success with basic methods like the one Jenny Can Cook shows on YouTube.  My question is in regards to the limited success I've had with Forkish's method and following the Saturday White Bread recipe utilizing an autolyse. 

I've attempted to make it three times.  The first time I followed the recipe accurately with a scale and used Red Star Instant Yeast that I incorporated after the autolyse stage using the folds and pincer technique explained in the book.  After 5 hours there was almost no rise.  The second time I used Red Star Active Yeast that I proofed then pitched after the autolyse stage, and  had a good rise in the designated time mentioned in the book that created a decent loaf, albeit somewhat dense but still edible, with photos of that below.  Today I went back to trying the Red Star Instant Yeast again, and paid particular attention to making sure it was fully incorporated and dissolved in the dough, and after 5 hours again had very little rise.

My final mix temperature each time has been about 80 F, my kitchen remains at 75 F +/-1.  In searching I haven't been able to find a straight answer to why instant yeast has not worked with pitching and incorporating after an autolyse stage.  I've used instant yeast directly with dry ingredients before and never had a problem with the rise.  What could be the reason for this?

 

 

OldLoaf's picture
OldLoaf

it sounds like you may have a bad batch of instant yeast (or it's old).  Try picking up a new package from your local grocery store (doesn't have to be Red Star) and see if it makes a difference.

BreadLee's picture
BreadLee

I know the problem.  It's in your screen name.  Hehe..

Seriously.  I don't know about that forkish method.  Haven't heard much good about it on here.  Seems like many have problems.  

What if you went with a different method?  The hamelman Bread book is good.  The no knead lahey method is nice. Good luck! 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Several situations can lead to bad yeast but you can help eliminate some of the problems if the yeast and storage is kept cool.  Avoid buying yeast that's displayed in a window or near a heat source.  After purchasing keep it on your person close or make sure it's protected with the cooler purchases and not where sun can shine on it or with the dry goods.  A car can get very hot fast when the sun shines.  It can get hot enough to kill yeast or make it rancid.  

I treat yeast packages like I would butter.  

What's happening with the dough that rises only a little bit?  

TheDrunkenBaker's picture
TheDrunkenBaker

Thank you for the prompt responses, my screen name may say otherwise but I was of sound mind during all attempts.

Both were new packets from the supermarket, but here in Florida could very well have been subjected to heat.  I'll start storing in the fridge, just ordered a package of SAF Instant Yeast as I've seen that brand recommended frequently. 

I left both doughs for a few hours longer out of curiosity, and both rose slightly more and presented with larger bubbles and the strong smell of alcohol.  I'm planning on trying a few other books for different techniques.  I guess what was wondering was about the autolyse technique, do most bread bakers utilize it and is it considered necessary in the baking community to make the best possible bread?  

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Yes.  I like the feel of the dough after it has hydrated and the dough feels like it's ready for me to do something with it.    Do  always autolyse?  No, but more often than not.

David R's picture
David R

Compared with the extremely long history of bread, autolyse is a very new invention. There are probably still people in the business who don't do it simply because it wasn't part of their early education.

Of course you can work without it. But usually it helps, and the proper instruction for a successful autolyse is "Go away for a while and then come back". 🙂 I believe that most bakers, upon learning that dough often turns out better if you simply wait a while, would enthusiastically embrace the method. 🙂

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I disagree.  It's just a new name given to the "wait a while" or "stop and come back" method of mixing.  

I was doing that instinctively as a young mother, being often interrupted while in the kitchen, and it became part of my routine due mostly to the positive results.  It only got the name "autolyse" when I came to TFL many years ago and learned how the method could be improved as well.

David R's picture
David R

It may be thousands of years old in a way, but wasn't identified and understood until quite recently. Something that hasn't been identified and understood can't really be considered part of the picture, in a discussion like this one.

David R's picture
David R

There's no escape, is there? 😁 (Red Star yeast is made by SAF anyway. 🙂 But it IS a big brand with a good reputation, so I don't think you have anything to worry about really.)

TheDrunkenBaker's picture
TheDrunkenBaker

From your suggestions I’ll continue to stick with the Autolyse technique and keep experiementing, had no idea about Red Star and SAF being a part of the same company but nowadays feels like a trend with a lot of brands.  For me I always get frustrated with not being able to successfully follow a recipe if it appears to be well established in the case of a published book, so will be giving it another try again today with the new yeast.  

The one thing I did just realize I was doing that has been different than in the past with other recipes was that I’ve utilized the Cambro food tubs as suggested in the book, where as before I was using large bowls that I marked with measurements and covered loosely with plastic wrap.  When using the new tubs, I would fully seal the lid on top after mixing and for the duration of bulk fermentation, could this be the culprit of the lack of proper bulk fermentation rise due to the airtight natur of the containers?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Well, you can "burp" up one corner of the tub so gas pressure can escape and see if it makes a difference.  The escaping gas is the air above the dough, between the dough surface and the lid that is being compacted from the rising dough.  Seldom is it the gas from the dough itself, ok maybe a little tiny bit from the surface of the dough.  Look at the gas bubbles forming in the dough.  That's where to watch.  How are this bubbles behaving?  All different sizes or lots of tiny ones or are they moving upward?  Round or irregular?   

Getting away from a spere/bowl shape certainly helps in evaluating/eye-balling volume.  Seeing thru the sides of the container can help evaluate the bulk ferment.