Aliquot Jar to determine bulk fermentation rise
Can I share a recent trick that I have been using to fine tune my sourdough baking? I am now using an aliquot jar to gauge bulk fermentation. A small piece of dough, about 30 g, removed from the dough after the first set of stretch and folds and placed into a small jar with straight sides. Make sure you pressure the dough firmly into the bottom of the jar trying to eliminate any air pockets. I got this idea originally from an IG post of Kristen’s (Full Proof Baking). This dough will ferment at the same rate as the larger dough mass assuming you keep it in the same conditions as the larger dough. You will mark the starting point and can very accurately measure the volume rise of the large dough by the dough in the aliquot jar.
I’ve always had a very hard time measuring rise because I bulk ferment in a Pyrex 8” x 8” square dish and make one loaf at a time. So when the dough starts out it isn’t even touching the sides of the dish. I’ve started using the aliquot jar in the past 3-4 bakes and now I can really measure the rise so if the end result of the crumb is a bit too tight I can next time let bulk go further with confidence by using the aliquot jar and get a more fully fermented loaf. Or vice versa of course if over fermented I can dial back on the fermentation next time.
I hope someone finds this as helpful as I have. Using this I can learn to judge the visual and tactile features of my dough in a way that I haven’t been able to before.