The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bulk Fermentation took too long

Fost9508's picture

Bulk Fermentation took too long

I tried to repeat a recipe I did previously which appeared to have under fermentation issues

484 flour

324g water

10g salt

levain:  18/35/35

I did my same process.  Levain for about 6 hours until more than double and good bubbles.  Autolease for 2 hours, then mixed the dough, salt and levain.  I did some folds during the bulk ferment (80F) and checked it after 5 hours and no change, checked again after 10 hours no change, I let it sit over night and still no change.  I decided to see what would happen if I waited for the dough to nearly double which went well into the next day.  Well the dough become unworkable.  So I’m trying to understand why it would take so long to increase in size.  My starter seemed to be very active.

At this point I’m debating if I should just throw away all my starter and start an entire new one.




gavinc's picture

I think your starter needs to be reinvigorated. I would give it a feed or two of whole-grain flour, rye or wheat. Whole grain has a much higher microbial count to re-seed the culture and get it moving again. If that doesn't do it, skip a feeding or two to allow the acidity to build. Also, I don't look for a doubling of dough during bulk fermentation, usually 50 to 60% rise. A dough resting at 80F/27C for too long would break down mainly due to the enzyme protease breaking down the gluten structure.



Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I would be giving my seed culture more food to chomp on.  More like  10/50/50.  If the first dough was so slow in rising, I might have used more starter in the second attempt.  

The 85g levain is not a lot if the culture is slow.  I tend to use more in cooler climate zones. Your blog page doesn't mention your aproximate location.  For comparison, if you take that initial 85g of levain and feed it 484g flour. That is roughly a ratio of 1 to 5.7 of culture to flour.  The levain was fed 1 to 2 ratio and look how long it took to act up.  ?

Another way to go about this recipe (with present conditions) would be to take that levain and feed it more recipe flour & water before adding it to the rest of the flour to make the dough.  Use a two step feeding to boost yeast and have less wear and tear on the dough.  Will also result in a less sour tasting bread.

Meanwhile work on the culture to make it stronger for the third attempt.  It will take a few days.

I think after 10 hours of no activity in the bread dough, I would have worked in some softened instant yeast or put the whole thing into the fridge overnight. If the dough would have tasted sour before adding the yeast, I might have added a teaspoon of baking soda instead to neutralize the acids and get the loaf risen right away.  (Spread out dough, work in soda, short rest, shape, rise half way and bake.  A sour tasting dough would indicate that the bacteria are well over outnumbering the yeast balance.  The culture needs some tender loving care to bring the yeast numbers up.  You can start a new starter at the same time if you like but I wouldn't be too quick to pitch this one before the new one can raise a loaf. You might want to keep them socially distanced too.  :)

If you still have some culture around, give it a much larger flour feeding 1/5/5 to boost yeast numbers.  Watch the starter stirring occasionally while not rising. Mark and time it. It should take half a day to start rising so start early in the morning. Keep the temperature to middle and upper 70's to encourage yeast over bacteria and let the culture tell you when it needs feeding. With repeated discards and feedings, the time it takes to peak should speed up. Discards can be chilled, stored and used too. Depending on the flour being fed, I advise to add less water once the starter is speeding up giving it more the consistency of soft dough than runny starter. This may slow it down at first but after a few repeated feeds, it should pick up pace.