I finally got around to testing the idea that you can get a more sough dough by fermenting at a higher temperature. The theory is that because sourdough yeast activity falls off dramatically above 85F or so but the lactic acid bacteria (LAB) donít reach peak activity until about 95F, a higher temp should favor longer fermentations where the LAB are at peak activity. If you go the other way, and ferment cold, both the yeast and LAB activity fall off at about the same rate, so longer cold fermentations donít favor the LAB. I would have preferred to test this with my San Francisco starter, but I was out of town and only had access to Ischia.
All these loaves are:
4.0% Ischia culture
I mixed everything into a shaggy mess and let it sit for an hour. I then worked it into a dough with aggressive slap and folds on a dry counter. During the fermentation time, I would give the dough a few folds every hour or so.
The loaves in the first four pictures were fermented for 8 hours at 95F then formed into free-form loaves. They got an additional hour and a half rise at 75F before they went into the oven at 450F. I poured water directly onto the bottom of the over, a half cup at a time, every couple minutes for the first 15 minutes.
The loaf in the last two pictures was fermented for 8 hours at 95F (the temperature outside) at which point I brought it back into the house. I set it on the counter and sat down for dinner with the intent of forming loaves after dinner. After dinner and too much wine, I went to sleep on the couch and didnít wake up for 3 hours. I got up, folded the dough (which had risen about 2X) a couple times, let it rest for an hour then formed loaves. I let them rise for another hour or so then put them into the oven at 500F. I did the same thing with the water as above, only this time I tuned the temp down to 400F after 15 minutes. I didnít check the oven, but I wouldnít be surprised if it ran a little cooler than it said (or maybe it was just me opening the oven to put in water every couple minutesÖ)
The first couple loaves were clearly sourer than my normal bread which I generally ferment around 77F (with less yeast and for a longer time).They were very good, I would not say that they were particularly remarkable in any way. The last loaf however, was by far the best loaf Iíve ever baked. It had a similar level of sourness, but it also seemed to have an almost ďcreamyĒ flavor. I didnít notice the creaminess when it was hot, but it was pronounced the next morning. I was also very happy with the crumb which was very consistent throughout the loaf.
I think fermenting at 95F deserves further experimentation.