The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Impact of accelerating fermentation/proofing?

soupcxan's picture

Impact of accelerating fermentation/proofing?

I'm relatively new to baking and I wonder what the conventional wisdom is on acceerating fermentation or proofing by using a warmed space (usually an oven that has been briefly warmed or an oven with a pot of steaming water beneath the fermentation vessel). Now, there is no doubt that this speeds up the rise, but I wonder what am I really losing by speeding this process up? So far, my bread recipies have used instant yeast and a fermentation time of 2-3 hours (no poolish or overnight refridgerator rising, I don't have the patience) - by adding some hot water to my oven, I can cut that down to about an hour. Most of the articles I've found so far state that a longer rise will result in more flavorful bread - but could accelerated rising cause other problems as well? Such as the texture, crumb, or ovenspring? Whether I speed up the fermentation/proofing or not, my biggest problem is getting enough ovenspring so that the loaf comes out light and fluffy. I don't get bricks, but the results are sometimes more dense than I think sandwich bread shoud be.

I'm still learning how all this works so I appreciate your comments. Here's a basic recipe that I've been using for a sandwich loaf, courtesy of Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything". Usually after combining the ingredients, kneading, there's a 2-3 hour rise, then a punch down, 15 minute rest, then another 1-2 hour rise, then baking at 350 for 45 minutes.

16 oz. bread flour

2 tbsp butter, room temperature

2 tsp kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp instant yeast

1 1/3 c. 2% milk, room temperature

1 tbsp honey


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Yor recipe strikes me as low in yeast.  Try adding another teaspoon.  If you're at sea level add one and a half.   Mini Oven

chiaoapple's picture

When I first began baking bread, I was anxious to have the bread rise faster. I would put the dough in unnaturally warm places, and the result was -- a very unpleasant, yeasty tasting bread, as well as some other problems (but for me, taste will always be the greatest measure of bread).

Patience pays!

bwraith's picture

Autolyse, kneading technique and stretching/folding technique during the bulk fermentation are important to gluten development. Focusing on these might help.

I doubt there is much other than the above related to waiting, other than acid levels rising from fermentation, that would affect gluten development, which in turn would affect the crumb texture you are getting. So, maybe you could try adding some ascorbic acid to your dough to speed up the gluten development, if all you want is quick results.

However, it seems to me that even with simple white yeast breads, there is a lot to be said for retarding and longer fermentations for flavor development. A simple white bread can vary in flavor a great deal from 3 hour yeast risen, to multiple stage preferments, to no-knead, to sourdough. If you want to include both flavor and convenience in your objectives, you might want to consider no-knead, pain a l'ancienne, retarding in the refrigerator or other techniques that allow you to lengthen the fermentation. If you get into a routine with a "daily bread", you can have convenience and good flavor at the same time, i.e. the total time invested can be very small, and you can have bread every day, but the time from the first to the last step might be more like 24 hours.

soupcxan's picture

Thanks for everyone's advice; I made some changes:

  • Yeast increased to 2.5 tsp
  • Eliminated the food processor, mixed by hand
  • Pre-mixed wet and dry ingredients separately, then combine (muffin method?)
  • Rise time cut down to an hour for fermentation and proofing

My shaping was a little sloppy and you can see this in the top of the loaf, the crumb is a little inconsistent, but I'm still developing the "iron fist in the velvet glove".

Sandwich bread