The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Retarded Dough Keeps Fermenting

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Retarded Dough Keeps Fermenting

In ANOTHER POST Will is attempting to help another baker that is concerned about his dough continuing to rise in the refrigerator. It is commonly accepted on TFL that if the fridge is 39F or lower that the dough will not rise significantly or at all. BUT, is there another variable to be considered?

From time to time I would like to have my dough rise a bite during retardation. So much so, that I setup a small retarder that is capable of a complete range of cool/cold temps. At 39F my dough shows no sign of fermentation after 12-16hr in the fridge.

QUESTION -
Is it possible that certain sourdough cultures might have particular microbes that are more tolerant of cooler temps? This could account for some bakers consistently noticing dough rise during retardation.

Abe's picture
Abe

.

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

I think we underestimate how long it takes for the dough to cool down to the temperature of the fridge. It'll take much longer than water of equivalent weight, for example - due to the bubbles heat conductivity of risen dough will be much lower, I expect, and it must take hours for the center of the dough to cool down. And with bigger batches (i.e. during bulk, instead of during the final proof) it will take longer.

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

I had just finished washing dishes so the cold water came out warm. I was in kind of a rush, so I just used the warm water. About an hour later the water was still only 56F! I will report back when I get back to the apartment.

 On a related note. Was I correct in telling Admiral that after a room temperature bulk even a tiny amount of yeast would have multiplied into a much greater number?

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Re yeast: yes, of course, they are multiplying exponentially (until a certain limit), so my guess is however much yeast you start with, in the end you'll end up with the same amount of yeast, just after a different time. I guess at the point where we would end bulk the numbers would be still different though, since there is still plenty of food for the yeast left and they are still growing.

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

The glass of water I put into the refrigerator at let's call it 6 AM at 60, something F. was still at 43 F. at 10:15 AM. It accrued to me to drop the probe into a bottle of water that was already in the refrigerator. That reading is 41F and holding. I cranked the thermostat up to almost full at #8.5. I am inclined to think the trouble is the door seal. I will be opening a work request and submitting for approval a request for a new 21.7 cu. refrigerator. The one I have is over 20 years old and I am not going to mess with a new magnetic seal. 

 Meanwhile, I am going to place the Tray and couch into the freezer then place the couch on ice packs before loading the baguettes. 

AdmiralHip's picture
AdmiralHip

My issue, as I had mentioned in my post, is that no matter how much starter I use it overproofs. From 1% to 20%. I am trying to find an explanation because I really do not think it is my fridge. Even if my fridge is on the warmer side, it wouldn’t explain how a low inoculation dough overproofs when such a dough should be able to proof at room temp over a long period.

AdmiralHip's picture
AdmiralHip

My issue, as I had mentioned in my post, is that no matter how much starter I use it overproofs. From 1% to 20%. I am trying to find an explanation because I really do not think it is my fridge. Even if my fridge is on the warmer side, it wouldn’t explain how a low inoculation dough overproofs when such a dough should be able to proof at room temp over a long period.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

This may interest some of you. This data was logged over a year ago, but it is useful to this conversation. Although dough does take hours to normalize to fridge temps, all doughs are subject to the same. So the question remains as to why some baker’s dough continues to grow in temps at or below 39F. I think we all accept the fact that the dough does ferment, but the growth is in question. My results are the same whether the dough is placed in a banneton or unshaped and flattened out in a rectangular container.

Note - the retarder was set to 52F and is not in a refrigerator set to ~38F in the illustration below. Similar thermal logs show similar results when the temp is set to =<39F.

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Dan, 

three factors:

1. temp, as you say.

2. LAB keeps chugging along faster than yeast at cooler temps (and at higher than room temp, too) 

3. bran (and germ?) enzymes. So any portion of high(er) extraction flour or whole grain will boost fermentation by way of the enzymes continuing to make sugar (food) out of starch.  In my experience, bran-y dough keeps chugging along in the fridge.

And Ilya made a good point about the dough taking time to cool down.

--

As has been discussed occasionally, whatever CO2 is produced at cold temps mostly gets immediately dissolved, so you don't see a noticeable rise, but it's there.

also,  both the starch and the proteins/gluten continue to get broken down by enzymes, which is even more noticeable with fresh-milled flour.

GlennM's picture
GlennM

I make a sourdough pizza dough. I let it sit out for an hour or so and the ball it up and put it in the fridge. I doesn’t do much in 24 hours but by day 3 I will have to degass it or it will blow out of the container

 

pmccool's picture
pmccool

Geometry matters.  A flattish slab of dough will cool faster than the same mass of dough in a ball shape or block shape.  It's a matter of surface area to volume.  The slab can radiate/convect/conduct more of the dough's heat away faster, due to its larger surface area.  And, since it is also thinner, there is less distance from the center of the mass to the surface of the mass for heat to transfer, which allows for more rapid cooling of the entire mass.

So, if the objective is to put the brakes on dough fermentation by refrigeration, a thinner slab of dough is the most effective shape.  That isn't especially helpful who wants to retard shaped loaves but it is useful for retarding during bulk.

Paul

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

I was just thinking that. Or retarding during bulk in a bundt pan, with a hole?

AdmiralHip's picture
AdmiralHip

(Not a he by the way) but this is an interesting question. I still think it’s a problem with my starter. How could someone have a 1% inoculation bread dough and leave it on their counter overnight while the same dough with my starter would overproof in the fridge? It does take time for dough to cool down, which makes sense that it would continue to rise, although none of my loaves have ever risen in the fridge. They produce bubbles but don’t grow. 

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

Re: 

"Retarded Dough Keeps Fermenting"

Calling your dough derogatory names is so twentieth century! Smile...

All joking aside, why do we retard our dough in the first place? That is correct, to build flavor over time with a long slow ferment. That being said, how can we unfortunates with weak refrigeration take part in the method? I have an idea! (Ha, what else is new!)

 Close your eyes and imagine a 1/2 sheet pan, on which lay, a set of six  Couched 18" baguettes that are covered with a damp cloth. Now, we slide the tray into the freezer compartment, after 1 1/2 hours in the deep freeze, the tray is moved to the refrigerator for a nice slow retarded proof of, oh let's say 12 hrs.  I call this the Will Falzon method of retarded dough techniques. You're very welcome.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Will, the main reason I retard dough overnight is for scheduling. Secondary reasons is dissolved CO2 in the dough, and ease of scoring. The increase in flavor is a distant third.

Your idea of using the freezer initially is interesting. But 1 1/2hr is probably way too long. The dough temp will drop quite a bit in 20 minutes and in 90 minutes the dough might freeze. You might also think about placing a few cubes of ice in the bottom of the bagged dough. Or maybe plan for the expected rise during refrigeration.

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

I do it with my pizza dough regularly. We are talking rock-solid frozen now. Once defrosted the yeast shows no ill effects. I am quite sure after 90 min. the dough would be frozen, not sure that is a bad thing? 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

I have no experience with frozen dough, but the thought of doing it makes me cringe. Let us know how it works.

gerhard's picture
gerhard

Ice crystals will destroy the structure of the dough, when it is done commercially they use a flash freezer that freezes the dough so quick that very few ice crystals form. A pizza dough in your freezer probably works fine since your expectations of rising are different from a bread.

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

I concur, pizza is a different animal and in fact, is over-fermented by its very nature. As we dough historians know, pizza was born of the baker-mans waste. But that is a yarn for another day. I will test the freeze & proof method, however, I will follow Danny's original advice and shot for shy of actually freezing the fledgling baguette. 20 minutes in the deep freeze sounds like a good starting point. Just so I have this straight in my own head, the aim here is to lower the raw baguette temperature quickly and enough to allow a slow refrigerated warm-up and proof of around 12 hrs. I will report back. Today, for reference I will attempt a single 560 g batch of fatty baguette/long batard, cold proofed to 80% of double. (watching the dough, not the clock) Thanks for reminding me about ice crystals and their detrimental effect on a leavened dough. 

 edited to add

My original freezer batch pizza dough was 100% naturally leavened, while I did have some success with that formulation, I found the C.Y. is much more tolerant of freeze and thaw. 

Benito's picture
Benito

Will I have used the freezer when I was concerned that my dough was overproofed.  I will put the shaped dough into the freezer for 20 mins immediately before baking to help reduce the flattening spread that occurs with overproofing. This has seemed to work for me on the few occasions that I have done this.

Benny

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

So you used the freezer after the fact that the dough had gone a bit too far. That's also not a bad idea to keep in mind. I bet it made the scoring much less troublesome? How close to frozen was the dough after the 20 minutes?

Benito's picture
Benito

So it would have been a batard of about 900 g so keep in mind for baguettes the surface to mass ratio is higher so would drop in temperature more quickly.  Also my dough was starting from fridge temperature after an overnight cold retard of 2 *C.  The dough would be fairly frozen on the outside and pretty stiff.  There would be crystals of ice on the banneton at the edges.

I have also put the just shaped dough in banneton into the freezer for 20 mins when I thought I had over proofed to try to get the temperature down faster to stop fermentation.  In that case room temperature or warmer dough didn't appear frozen at all at 20 mins from what I recall.

Benny

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

Thank you.

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

Hello, friends.

What I learned so far, yesterday I confirmed my refrigerator struggles to maintain 40F. Today, my baseline test showed me that, my raw baguettes are reaching full proof before they ever have a chance to reach arrest/delay temperature. The attached photo is after exactly one hour of cool proofing. The procedure was as follows.

1. Mechanical mix ( It would have behooved me to take a temperature reading at this point) 

2. bulk ferment to approximately 25%

3. Preshape

4. 30 minutes covered bench rest. 

5. final shaping

6. Cold delay/arrest

Next steps:

1. preheat oven (1hour underway, the test subject is back in the cooler)

2. score

3. bake

Benito's picture
Benito

Well that explains why your baguettes were frequently overproofed Will, good thing you tested it.  Now that you know, you can deal with it.

Benny

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

I would have been better off with an oven preheated and ready, benchtop proof of 20 Minutes! After only a total of two hours, the dough was deflated. I promise the bulk was on point.