The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Greetings from Philly

AlanPr's picture

Greetings from Philly

Hello everyone,

I'm a longtime browser and first time poster to this site, from which I've learned a great deal. 

I'm wondering if anyone has any insights into how cold fermentation affects (if it indeed does) the traditional doubling "rule."  I started experimenting with cold ferment when I came across  Reinhart's account in Artisan Breads Every Day.  Most of his recipes call for an overnight rise in the fridge, although he adds in his discussion that the dough will be fine for "a number of days," four at most. He doesn't mentioning doubling anywhere in connection with the cold ferment.  My experience with most recipes is usually that the dough has in fact doubled by day 2, by day 3 often exceeding the doubling point and expanding to pretty much fill the bowl.  And I don't notice much of a difference in these cases with the finished product.  Still, if doubling is the ideal, why does he not mention it in connection with cold rise? He does say that his methods "challenge conventional baking wisdom," and the doubling rule, I suppose, falls into that category.  Still, I'm puzzled about it.  I guess the question is simply how much attention needs to be given to doubling when using cold fermentation.  Any insights?



Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Nice to have you on board.

I understand doubling to be one guide, out of many, to gauge when the bulk ferment is done. However I don't think all recipes rely on this as it depends on the results you want, which flour you're using, how far you extend the bulk ferment etc. Mostly I'd do the final proof in the fridge. I think it's easier and more of a fail safe stage. The Bulk Ferment done this way I think is more difficult to get right. If I were to bulk ferment in the fridge then I would only do so once the gluten formation has been fully formed and the yeast has clearly started to do it's job, allowing it to finish off in the fridge. When judging the dough has finished the bulk ferment stage I look for extensibility of the dough, if its aerated and billowy. And the feel of the dough goes through a subtle change when the BF is done and it's ready for the shape and final proof. Doesn't always mean it has doubled.

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

I make several of the breads in "Artisan Breads Every Day", and really like the cold ferment. I will make the crusty cheese bread (I have tweaked the recipe a bit over time, but the dough itself is pretty much the same as the original recipe) a couple of days ahead of when I want to bake it and put it straight into the fridge after mixing. This dough has sourdough starter as well as dry yeast in it and it rises fine in the fridge, and bakes up lovely. I find an overnight cold final proof to be much more problematic as I can't see what the dough is doing and there is limited opportunity to correct anything after the final proof (if it's overproofed, for example).

Sourdoughs I will let rise for two to five hours (depending on the percentage of starter in the dough) before going into the fridge, and some doughs made with a pre-ferment with just a tiny bit of yeast I will also leave at room temperature to make sure there is some rise before putting them in the fridge, but yeasted doughs often go straight into the fridge for an overnight (or longer) bulk ferment.