The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Problems with fridge bulk fermentation

Andeee's picture
Andeee

Problems with fridge bulk fermentation

After having a bunch of problems with Peter Reinhart's lean dough which I thought I had traced back to the flour which I'm using (1050 German flour, 12.5% protein, rather than strong bread flour which isn't easily available here in Berlin - equivalent to 812 afaik) I decided to go back to a recipe which I've used many times with great success, although is admittedly very similar to Reinhart's recipe: Richard Bertinett's white dough, although again replacing the strong bread flour with 1050.

  • 1050 Flour: 100%
  • Water: 70%
  • Yeast: 2% fresh (replaced with 0.7% instant)
  • Salt: 2%

 The dough is normally worked, rested for about an hour, shaped, proofed for about an hour then baked (pre-heated at 275 °C  with a tray and stone then turned down to 250 °C and baked for 12 mins  directly on the stone with 1 cup of hot water in the tray, turned, then baked 15 mins more) but I decided to allow the dough to ferment in the fridge.

 I allowed the dough to rise for about 40 mins after working then popped it in the fridge. The next day half of the dough was removed, shaped and left for 2 hours to warm up and rise. The result was very flat and unimpressive.

 I tried again, this time letting the dough rise for 3.5 hours until it seemed properly risen (by feeling and poking the dough every half hour). The result was again very flat and unimpressive:

 

At this point I was becoming somewhat dispirited. I proofed the yeast, which did just fine, and then used that yeast to bake a loaf without the overnight fermentation. Otherwise, the methods used were exactly the same. The results were significantly better:

(could have scored this better i suppose)

 

So what am I doing wrong? I know I've used overnight fermentation successfully before, although it was quite a while ago. I've certainly used the method in 'Artisan Breads in 5 min a day' before.

The dough feels good before it goes into the fridge - stong and elastic. After it comes out it feels weak and wobbly. I've tried pre-shaping a couple of times to give it more strength, but that evaporates during the proving and I all but pour the dough onto the baking stone. The effect was very similar with Reinhart's lean dough, so I have to conclude that something is going wrong during the cold ferment. The fridge is pretty cold (about 3-4 °C) and the dough is kept in a sealed plastic box.

 

Edit: I just had a look at the 'Artisan bread in 5 mins a day' recipe and that calls for about 1.7% instant yeast (although the flour measurements are in cups so it's hard to know exactly). Is it possible that I have to increase the amount of yeast? Reinhard's recipe does specifically call for overnight fermentation in the fridge and that uses 0.9% yeast which is slightly more, but not much more the 0.7% I used.

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

"So what am I doing wrong?"

You're using a high bran flour with a recipe that specifies white flour.

You would have better results if you changed your flour to match the recipe, or switched to a recipe that calls for high bran flour.

1050 flour is 1.05% ash, so it's somewhere between 85% to 90% whole wheat.

White flour (American AP flour, and American bread flour) is .50 to .55% ash.  Whole wheat flour is 1.6% ash.

Whole wheat flour and high bran flour ferment faster than white flour. So if you follow instructions for a white flour recipe, it will over-ferment.

Good luck, amigo. And bon appétit.

Andeee's picture
Andeee

Ok, fair point. Perhaps my question is better put as 'how can I adapt the recipe?' Given that rising it on the counter gives a good bread, using the same times given in the recipe, I assume that the over-fermentation happens in the fridge, so perhaps I should put it in straight after working the dough and/or lower the amount of yeast. Am I heading in the right direction?

Also, where's a good place to start learning about this stuff more deeply?

Rock's picture
Rock

What idaveindy says makes sense, but I can't comment on the flour, since I've never used it. 

I would recommend Jeffrey Hamelman's "Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes " for a clearer understanding of how bread ingredients work together. https://www.amazon.com/Bread-Bakers-Book-Techniques-Recipes/dp/1118132718

Dave

 

Andeee's picture
Andeee

Thanks! I'll take a look

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

"How to adapt?"

When you make such a big change in the ingredients, you're not adapting... you're inventing a whole new recipe.

"Also, where's a good place to start learning about this stuff more deeply?"

I learned some by studying the cookbooks, comparing white flour recipes to high bran recipes. By comparing, you see how white flour is treated differently than flour with more bran.  I also read a lot of posts on this web site, picking up a little bit at a time.

You also learn by experimenting, trial and error. and in that manner you have to learn:

- what is over fermented.

- what is under fermented

- what is too dry.

- what is too wet.

Fermentation is controlled by: a) how much yeast or levain, b) time, c) temperature.

dry/wet is controlled by: a) more or less water,  b) more or less flour.

--

In the US, we do not have variable levels (gradations) of bran in our grocery store flour.  (The exception is specialty millers.)  We only have "white" (AP/Bread) and "whole wheat" at the grocery store.

 So the cookbook authors create blends by saying "40% white, 60% whole wheat" or "70% white, 30% whole wheat."

--

So if  you can find a book-recipe or Internet-recipe that calls for 80% to 90% whole wheat (10 to 20% white flour), that could maybe get you close to 1050 flour.

That kind of recipe can then be adapted/adjusted to your specific flour and your local conditions.

--

ALL recipes need to be adjusted/adapted to local conditions: specific flour, water, temperature, humidty, etc.  Because we can almost never use the exact same flour and water that the recipe author used. and our local ambient temp/humidity is usually different.

It just takes experience. Good books like Hamelman's mentioned above really help.

 I think you just took a path you were not prepared for, and need to find a recipe that you can stick to, with only _minor_ adjustments.

 --

It just ocurred to me that I'm involved in too many posts/threads at once. :-)  

I hope I have not confused you. But I think I'll leave specific recommendations to others, with the hope that my general recommendations above help point you to an easier path.

Keep at it!  Good bread is worth the learning curve.

Andeee's picture
Andeee

Thanks! I used to be more deeply into bread baking but apparently I've forgotten a lot. It surprised me because on my memory I've done overnight cold fermentation with 1050 before and it's worked just fine. Maybe I'm mixing things up.

Thanks for the info, it's given me some things to think about. Especially with regard to the differences between available flours. I keep thinking about using German baking books, but so far I've not found much which I can use as 'daily' breads. I'll attempt to arm myself with more info before I go messing with well tested recipes 😃

semolina_man's picture
semolina_man

Yes, too much fermentation in the first photo.  Zu viel Dauerzeit im Kühlschrank. 

Andeee's picture
Andeee

I think I'm going to have an experiment this week, try varying yeast amounts and fermentation times.

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Andeee: if you like Kindle books, this might interest you:

https://www.amazon.de/Sourdough-School-ground-breaking-gut-friendly-English-ebook/dp/B07BFXZYHH?tag=froglallabout-20

It's only .99 euro. Normally goes for $6.99 US in Kindle format. It is a professionally done book, on sale; not a junk book.

It's about sourdough, not commercial yeast, but it is a good tutorial for when you are ready for sourdough.

Andeee's picture
Andeee

I keep thinking about trying sourdough. The thing is that it's everywhere in Germany. The bread that one buys in the supermarket is sourdough and, to be honest, I don't much like it. It might be that be homemade will taste better and that it's a problem with 'commercial' sourdough, but so far I've been unwilling to invest a week or two to find out and have been more interested in French and Italian rustic breads.

I'll check it out, but I noticed that the author is British (like myself). Won't I have the same flour problems, having to mix flours to approximate strong bread flour?

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Kimbell's "Sourdough School" is not as comprehensive as Hamelman's "Bread", but I mention it because it is only 1 euro (in ebook format) whereas Hamelman's is 30 to 40 euros in both ebook and hardcover.

There is _some_ talk and explanation about flour in Sourdough School, and it is probably worth at least 1 euro just for that.   You could spend at least that much in gasoline or bus fare going to your public library and back.

--

A free online treatise on flour is here: http://www.theartisan.net/Flours_One.htm

But it is very technical. However, if you can slog through it, some of it is understandable. Just skip over the paragraphs that are too esoteric.

 

Andeee's picture
Andeee

Very interesting, thanks!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

or there abouts for your strong flour.   Try also using a W 550 or a blend of both.  All purpose usually contains enough gluten.  All purpose german flour W 450 to 550 is often too strong for cakes and needs to be cut with starch by at least a third.  

Mini

Andeee's picture
Andeee

I don't think I've ever seen 700 flour here either. To be honest, it can be hard to get 550 at times. 405 seems to be the norm. I wasn't aware of the problem of 450/550 with cakes. It's not something I've noticed, but then again, I've only ever made most of the recipes with 405!

Andeee's picture
Andeee

Is it dependent on the amount of protein in the flour?

I've now started paying attention to how much protein is in the flour and I'm quite surprised by there differences! 550 with only 9% and 'cake' flour with 12%!