The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bulk times in relation to mixing.

Tamedbread's picture

Bulk times in relation to mixing.

Recently I’ve had a lot of time to peruse my baking library, and after reading up on various stages of mixing: short, improved and intensive, it made me wonder what the ramifications of having a longer bulk for intensive mixing would be. For example if a short mix has a 3.5hr bulk, and an intensive mix has a 30min bulk, what would be the ill effects of having a 3.5hr bulk on an intensive mix?  I’ve just always followed the guidelines and would like to know specifically why. Thanks!!!!

idaveindy's picture

The bulk ferment actually works the dough and develops gluten, just sitting there.  The stretch and folds merely help out somewhat for a more consistent crumb structure, and bigger holes.

So.... the mixing action, plus the just-sitting-there-developing action are "additive" becasue both do the same things, "work the dough" and "develop gluten."   That's the main point of "no knead" bread:  _time_ (just sitting, as long as yeast is working) takes the place of mechanical action.

Hence, if either or both or the combination of both goes too long, the dough gets "over worked" and that makes the gluten worse, tearing it apart. 

Anyway, that's my understanding. The more experienced bakers might explain it better. Or know the better reasons.