The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Autolyse and Bulk Ferment Times AND overfermenting

texasbakerdad's picture

Autolyse and Bulk Ferment Times AND overfermenting

I am hoping to become more knowledgeable about proper times for Autolyse and Bulk Fermenting. In my quest to reduce baking steps, I often want to do overnight bulk ferments or overnight autolyses. This often gets me into trouble. Either, I overferment and my dough becomes a sloppy mess, or I get the dough too cold when I stick it in the fridge and I don't achieve the goal of the autolyse or the bulk ferment.

Don't get me wrong, many times, everything works out fine. And, there are plenty of good recipes with 12 hr bulk ferments and 12 hr autolyses (even some with longer), so I know it is a reasonable thing to do.

So... here I am, I realize, I have a gap in my knowledge about why sometimes my dough falls apart after 12 hours. Is anyone aware of a good book or paper on this topic? Things like... experiments on extended ferments with different types of grains, would be really cool.

mourner's picture

One tip from Trevor J Wilson's book I remember is putting the autolyze mix in the fridge for a few hours, and then taking it out before leaving it for the night at room temp — while it's warming up to room temp again during the night, it will slow enzyme activity enough to avoid issues with gluten breaking down before you wake up.

Another variable here is the flour — e.g. strong bread flour is much more resilient to long soaking; I only have access to weak all-purpose (~10.5g protein) so decided not to try overnight autolyze until I do.

Regarding overnight bulk ferment, the disadvantage to it is that you can't build dough strength (stretch & folds, etc.) during bulk, so the dough will be much weaker by the time of shaping.

Benito's picture

Another thing that Trevor does for an overnight autolyse is to put the salt in with the autolyse to slow down the enzymatic activity since the autolyse would be so long.  I call that saltolyse.