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.