The Fresh Loaf

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Baking Twenty Loaves With Wild Yeast Only

kajol33's picture

Baking Twenty Loaves With Wild Yeast Only

Hello everyone, I've been successfully baking bread with just sourdough starter and freshly milled wheat flour. However, I've only been baking single loaves. How do I mix and proof dough for bulk fermentation please? And does this take several days with just wild yeast? Currently with just one loave I can leave it in the fridge to ferment for a maximum of 18 hour

Fausto's picture


with greater amount of dough fermentation should be faster.

Not sure how you'll fit 20 loafs in your fridge but...

good bakings

bikeprof's picture

It depends on what you are scaling each loaf at...but I regularly do 18, 825g loaves in a batch that get fermented in standard polyethylene bus tubs with lids...which is a pretty common container.  I like them better than the Cambro poly rounds.  There are sturdier and larger rectangular poly containers with lids made by Cambro and others that are really great, but they cost more.

Go check out, which is where most of the bakers I know order from...

As for is the same, but what is called the "mass effect" will result in a bit faster fermentation when doing larger batches of dough.

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

I bake for customers and for my little shop (very little!), and sometimes do a batch of up to 14 loaves of a single type of bread. These are scaled at 750 grams wet dough. I mix the larger batches in my 30 litre mixer and just put the whole bucket of dough in the 'bread fridge' (an extra fridge that lives in my garage. I don't change the percentage of any of the ingredients (that is, the baker's percentage remains the same, including the ripe starter and the amount of 'wild yeast') but just scale the batches up or down depending on how many I want to make.

As others have said, the larger batches may ferment more quickly (I say 'may', because of course it depends on the dough type, the ambient temperature, and a whole lot of other factors), but the biggest difference is that it will take much longer for the temperature of the mass of dough to change, so if you put it in the fridge it will stay at room temperature (or whatever the dough temperature was before you put it in there) for quite a while, and continue to ferment. It will also take longer for the dough to come to room temperature after you take it out of the fridge, unless you divide it and let it rest in loaf-sized chunks for a while.

For 20 loaves I would be tempted to divide it into two batches or maybe even four. Depends how big your fridge is and how many you can bake at a time. If you can only fit four into your oven at once, then divide it into batches of four loaves and keep them in the fridge until you are ready to scale and shape them. If you ferment the batch of 20 at room temperature (which will of course be shorter time than 18 hours!), by the time you get the last batch baked it will probably be over-fermented.

kajol33's picture

Thanks guys, you are all amazing to take the time to help me out with this query. Your answers are so helpful. I do have a question though. For eg. I normally mix 1500 gm flour with 900 gm water and 160 - 170 gm starter. This is for one loaf. So bikeprof and LazyLoafer, how would you adjust your measurements like this for 20 loaves? Do you repeat this same measurement 20 x

MichaelLily's picture

Yes you multiply it by 20.  Those are pretty big loaves. Do you bulk in the fridge, or final proof in the fridge? As lazy loafer says, a bigger mass in the fridge will take a lot less time to ferment, as it takes a lot longer to cool.

if you bulk at room temp and final proof in the fridge, it will still be shorter in the fridge since a fridge loaded with 20 large loaves of dough will take a while to cool down.

Your dough is a lot stiffer than mine (mine is 80% hydration), but I mix 10 kg of dough in my 20qt mixer and then bulk ferment that in a 3.5 gallon foodservice tub. Bulk is about 4 hours, then I divide and shape, and final proof in the fridge for about 9-11 hours.

kajol33's picture

Hi MichaelLilly, yes, the loaves are large. You mentioned 80% hydration, do you use plain white flour or baker's flour? I freshly grind my grains and therefore use all of the germ, endosperm and bran of the flour. I have heard that it will make the bread hard like a rock but I just use more water and my bread turns out well. Just curious if your ratio is such because of the flour you use, perhaps?

I was told by an artisan baker once that he uses only a tablespoon of his "Mother" starter and then ferments that bulk and he just keeps adding flour and water to "grow" that into a mass dough to make about 50 loaves a day. I don't use only one tablespoon but 160 gm of starter as I mentioned earlier but then again he also uses instant yeast. I don't.

CarlThePigFarmer's picture

These questions are overshadowed by the magnitude of managing 20 loaves in a non commercial environment. How will you bake 20 loaves at once when they are done proofing? Do you have room to preshape 20 loaves?

But if all that is covered or hypothetical then moving on,

The difference between one loaf and twenty is a matter of scale. The process shouldn't change dramatically. If I am using 10% starter to make one loaf I will just use twenty times that to make twenty. Twenty times the water, Twenty times the flour. Etc.
Assuming you can manage all the variables in the same way then for the most part things continue as normal. There are differences, like Lazy Loafer said, the dough will be more stable in a higher quantity and take longer to change temperature. Sometimes that's a good thing, sometimes it's not.




kajol33's picture

 Thank you CarlThePigFar. Exactly what I was looking for.

kajol33's picture

Thank you bikeprof for the link to


tourer's picture

I run a little roadside stall each Friday & I know typically bake around 45-56 loaves of bread. As has been mentioned by others you need a lot of fridge space to retard their proofing. I have to jars of starter that I feed about 100g of flour & 100g water each day & the bits I tip off each day go into the fridge to make make flatbread, Lavosh crackers & naan bread for the same stall. On wednesday afternoon I feed both starters around 200g of flour & water & just before I go to bed I use 2 big basins add 450g of starter to each & 1900g flour & ~2200g water depending on flour mix one is normally a 80%white to 20% wholemeal the other bowl is a 50:50 mix. With these 2 containers gives me enough mix to make 12 loaves that weigh over 1200g when they go in the oven. After using the starter I feed them both again with 200g Fl + water. Next morning I do the same with the next batch, feed starter again, couple of hours later I repeat the process until I have the desired number of bread. The biggest problem I have is stacking in the fridges, I use one fully & the other one 3 shelves of & I can fit ~45 loaves in depending on how creative I get. On the Thursday night I get another batch ready & let it proof whilst a I sleep for about 4 hours & then get up around 3.30am & start baking at which time I put the proofed loaves in the now created space in the fridge. I then have all the bread baked by about 9am. This week however I did 58 loaves but 3/4 baked a doz 1200g loaves & 8 650g fruit loaves on the Thursday day. Then Friday morning I did my normal bake of full loaves & whilst I was up the top at my little stall my husband finished off the par baked ones as needed so we had more hot bread coming out all day which was nice. Couldn't see any difference in the par baked breads they looked great & tasted good! I bake a mix of breads the 50:50, 80:20 as 1200g loaves & then do 650g walnut,fennel & apricot, Fig & blue cheese, Olive,, feta & vintage cheese & cinnamon fruit loaf.

Best of luck with your baking!

Flea's picture

I need to look into par baking.

Can I ask how you mix your dough to get enough gluten strength? How many loaves at a time in each bowl? 7.2kg each bowl? 2 bowls at 14.4kg. I am currently trying to do 9 loaves at 1kg each and I was a bit lost at how to manage the mixing and stretching.

I am also trying to imagine how to fit 45 loaves in a fridge. I can barely fit 12.

I think I'll try to digest your post for a while. My head is exploding a bit. I would love to up my game to that many loaves.