Author Topic: Simple Dough Rising Measurement Trick  (Read 9842 times)

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Offline Pete-zza

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Simple Dough Rising Measurement Trick
« on: July 07, 2008, 09:00:25 PM »
A while back, member November showed me a neat little trick to be able to tell how much a dough ball has risen. It is an extremely simple trick but it does require a calculator or access to a cube and cube root calculator such as the one at http://www.csgnetwork.com/cuberootcubecalc.html. Having used the trick several times recently, I thought that others might like to try it also.

The trick entails putting two small seeds 1" inch apart on the dough ball after the dough ball has been placed in the container in which it is to rise. In my case, I use two poppy seeds. They are small, black (for contrast), uniform in size, and will stick to the dough. Larger seeds can be used, or something similar, but the seeds should be measured on centers. The photo below shows two poppy seeds that I placed on a recent dough ball I made.

The technical part of the trick is that as the dough rises, the spacing between the two seeds will increase. When the spacing increases to a bit more than 1 1/4" (it's actually 1.2599"), the dough should have doubled in volume. To get the actual volume expansion, the number 1.2599 is cubed. So, 1.2599 x 1.2599 x 1.2599 = 2, or double. For most people, just using the 1 1/4" measure should be close enough for a doubling. That is what I did with the dough shown in the photo below. I placed the two poppy seeds as close to the middle of the dough ball as possible.

The math also works for other volume expansions. For example, when the spacing between the seeds increases to almost 1 1/2" (the actual number is the cube root of 3, or 1.44225), the volume of the dough should have just about tripled. At 1 1/8", the dough expansion is 1.125 x 1.125 x 1.125 = 1.42. In some recent dough balls I made, I tracked the volume expansion of the dough balls over time by watching the increase in spacing of the two poppy seeds and cubing the spacing to get the volume expansion numbers.

I understand that there are some limitations to using the trick described above. For example, it perhaps won't work properly if the dough expands and then recedes or collapses because of overfermentation or some other problem. It may also not work if the gluten network is compromised in some way (e.g., the gluten is attacked by enzymes over a long period of fermentation). The trick will work for both room-temperature fermented doughs and cold fermented doughs so long as the dough balls are not overfermented or have compromised gluten structures or other biochemical problems. I can't say that the trick is 100% accurate, but it will produce results that are good approximations for our purposes. I used the method for same-day doughs and for a two-day dough with very good results. I haven't gone beyond two days so I can't say how well the method works over longer periods of time.

I might add that there is no particular magic to using 1" for spacing purposes. One can use 1 cm. just as well and the math still works. 

Peter



Offline verde

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Re: Simple Dough Rising Measurement Trick
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2009, 04:01:50 PM »
That's a pretty interesting way to determine if a dough has doubled, but I'm having a problem accepting that it would be accurate.  If the dough were a cube, and the top surface expanded at the same rate as the other sides, then the distance cubed would be the volume, i.e. cube root of 2 increase would translate to a doubling of volume.  But what if the dough is sitting in a bowl, and the top surface gets to expand more quickly than surfaces that are touching the bowl?  I would assume that the volume calculation would come out low.  I keep meaning to buy some containers with covers and gradations for this purpose.  In the meantime, this is an intriguing alternative.

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Simple Dough Rising Measurement Trick
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2009, 05:12:21 PM »
verde,

I use this method mostly for round dough balls in round storage containers and it seems to work reasonably well for my purposes. I recently tried it with a high-hydration Sicilian style dough in a rectangular pan and it did not work. It seems to work reasonably well for poolish type preferments (again, in round containers) but it is hard to tell visually how accurately because of the high hydration of the preferments and their irregular surfaces and their tendency to collapse once the break point is reached. As I noted, the technique is not intended to be 100% accurate. But it seems to be better than just trying to eyeball the degree of expansion of a dough, especially with the convexity of the dough balls. I have run experiments where I monitored the progress of doughs hourly over periods of several hours and I thought the results were pretty good. The expansion was progressive and not erratic.

I am always happy to get feedback on the technique.

Peter

Offline PizzaPolice

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Re: Simple Dough Rising Measurement Trick
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2009, 06:29:27 PM »
Hey.....  Didn't I spy something like that on the Discovery Channel?  This was, of course, on a slightly larger scale.  Dudes were sticking a boatload of GPS devices all over a bunch of glaciers and using the information to figure out the movement of those floating ice cubes.
Clearly, Red November has found his elusive electron. 

Offline November

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Re: Simple Dough Rising Measurement Trick
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2009, 10:31:51 PM »
That's a pretty interesting way to determine if a dough has doubled, but I'm having a problem accepting that it would be accurate.  If the dough were a cube, and the top surface expanded at the same rate as the other sides, then the distance cubed would be the volume, i.e. cube root of 2 increase would translate to a doubling of volume.  But what if the dough is sitting in a bowl, and the top surface gets to expand more quickly than surfaces that are touching the bowl?  I would assume that the volume calculation would come out low.  I keep meaning to buy some containers with covers and gradations for this purpose.  In the meantime, this is an intriguing alternative.

Of course the dimensional relationship is based on the radius.  So it doesn't matter whether it's a cube, as you state, or a sphere.  Also, the spacing between the two seeds isn't just a measurement of surface expansion.  It's more accurately a reflection of surface expansion and pressure.  Where dough surfaces are not able to expand, pressure simply builds up in those regions and does not typically impact the expansion rate of the surface containing the seeds.  The main problem with the measurement trick is in cases where surface pressure becomes irregular such as in Peter's example of a square pan, or very large (unlikely) temperature gradients causing variable yeast activity throughout the dough.  There can also be cases of irregular expansion where there is only a single surface (e.g. work surface) or the surface of the dough lacks rheological consistency such as having exceedingly dry (inelastic) or wet/oily (slack) regions.  These inconsistencies generally arise from the irregular conditions that also affect pressure, so in a sense they are one in the same problem.

As Peter pointed out, this measurement trick is not meant to be 100% accurate 100% of the time.  No measurement standard short of a displacement test is capable of achieving that kind of success.  This is just meant to save time over a more rigorous measurement, and still provide far better accuracy than non-instrumented visual inspection.

- red.november

Offline verde

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Re: Simple Dough Rising Measurement Trick
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2009, 11:48:34 AM »
Wow!  I wasn't expecting to see such informed discussion on this topic!

Just to follow up a little:  A radius is a characteristic of a circle or sphere, not a cube, and seeds moving away from each other is a measure of surface area, although pressure from the expanding dough is what causes the surface area to increase (if it can).  For a dough ball, the volume of the sphere should increase roughly as the cube of the radius. The volume of the sphere will be 4/3 * PI * R * R *R, where R is the radius, and the surface area will be 4 * PI  * R * R.  In other words, the volume increases at the cube of the radius, and the surface area increases as the square of the radius.  However, those surfaces that are against the container will not expand appreciably, and the carbon dioxide formed near a surface probably would not have an impact on a dough ball surface not in contact with the container.

I think the best we can do is compare seed separation vs volume for the particular dough recipe, weight, temperature, and container.  If the correlation is consistent, then this technique would be a real timesaver.

Offline November

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Re: Simple Dough Rising Measurement Trick
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2009, 12:58:27 PM »
Just to follow up a little:  A radius is a characteristic of a circle or sphere, not a cube, and seeds moving away from each other is a measure of surface area, although pressure from the expanding dough is what causes the surface area to increase (if it can).  For a dough ball, the volume of the sphere should increase roughly as the cube of the radius. The volume of the sphere will be 4/3 * PI * R * R *R, where R is the radius, and the surface area will be 4 * PI  * R * R.  In other words, the volume increases at the cube of the radius, and the surface area increases as the square of the radius.  However, those surfaces that are against the container will not expand appreciably, and the carbon dioxide formed near a surface probably would not have an impact on a dough ball surface not in contact with the container.

All three-dimensional objects, including polyhedrons, have a radius.  It is not an exclusive property of spheres.  Please look it up before discussing it further.

Seeds moving away from each other is not simply a measure of total dough surface area.  The surface area of the dough doesn't have to change just for the seeds to separate, although that is generally the cause.  The geometry and mechanics you are using to characterize the effect are oversimplified.  Dough is a multicellular matrix and your explanation treats it as a single cell, like a balloon for instance.  Dough isn't like a balloon.  It's more like millions of balloons tethered to each other in a viscous solution.  Localized pressure can push the seeds away without changing the surface area at all.  Obviously the region of the dough with the seeds needs to be able to elastically expand, but it doesn't mean the surface area has changed.  That's what makes the measurement trick "tricky."

- red.november

Offline PizzaPolice

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Re: Simple Dough Rising Measurement Trick
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2009, 02:32:05 PM »
THIS is getting good! 

Offline verde

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Re: Simple Dough Rising Measurement Trick
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2009, 03:01:20 PM »
OK, I stand corrected on the definition of radius, but I've never in all my years heard of a radius of a cube.  I haven't given much thought prior to now about the physics of dough, but I think it is reasonable to consider it to be a uniform liquid, and to consider properties of the whole object.  There will be localized differences, especially if the dough were not completely mixed, or if there were multiple yeast strains which had different characteristics.  Even if we assume that the properties of the dough are constant, there will be differences, for example, the dough at the bottom of the ball has greater gravity exerted on it than dough at the top, so the rate of the fermentation reaction at the bottom should be slower because production of carbon dioxide would be inhibited by the (slightly) greater pressure, and dough that is abutting a hard surface will likewise be inhibited from developing CO2.  I am, however having a hard time understanding how two seeds could move apart if the surface area did not increase.  The only way I can think of is that the very localized surface area between the two points behaved differently than the the rest of the surface in that vicinity.

I am always willing to learn more, and so appreciate the discussion: especially when the end result (pizza) is so gratifying.

Offline November

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Re: Simple Dough Rising Measurement Trick
« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2009, 03:31:35 PM »
I haven't given much thought prior to now about the physics of dough, but I think it is reasonable to consider it to be a uniform liquid, and to consider properties of the whole object.

You should read a few articles or books (if you have time) on dough rheology.  Dough is not a liquid.  It is a viscoelastic material.

I am, however having a hard time understanding how two seeds could move apart if the surface area did not increase.  The only way I can think of is that the very localized surface area between the two points behaved differently than the the rest of the surface in that vicinity.

You and I can physically move apart from each other while on this planet without the planet's surface area changing.  It comes down to forces.  Lateral expansion forces can move the seeds apart from each other while the topography remains the same.  That's why treating the dough as a monolithic cell isn't an accurate physical model.  The surface area does have to increase for the trick to have any validity, but characterizing the increase as simply an effect on the total surface area of the dough is incomplete and will lead to other false assumptions.

- red.november


Offline verde

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Re: Simple Dough Rising Measurement Trick
« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2009, 03:48:03 PM »
This topic has no doubt reached a point where value to the process of pizza-making is not being advanced.  However, there are only four states of matter in this universe: solids, liquids, gases, and plasma.  If you want to further characterize dough  that's fine, but it's physical properties are that of a liquid.  If you and I are attached to the surface of the earth, and the distance between us increases, the surface area between us must have increased, unless we were separated from the surface and re-attached. If two seeds on the surface of a dough ball increases, it is because the surface area has increased: the only question is the relationship of these two numbers, and how reproducible they are. If there is a meaningful relationship, then we can use the the change in distance as a good approximation of the volume of the dough.

Offline November

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Re: Simple Dough Rising Measurement Trick
« Reply #11 on: June 10, 2009, 03:59:25 PM »
This topic has no doubt reached a point where value to the process of pizza-making is not being advanced.  However, there are only four states of matter in this universe: solids, liquids, gases, and plasma.  If you want to further characterize dough  that's fine, but it's physical properties are that of a liquid.  If you and I are attached to the surface of the earth, and the distance between us increases, the surface area between us must have increased, unless we were separated from the surface and re-attached. If two seeds on the surface of a dough ball increases, it is because the surface area has increased: the only question is the relationship of these two numbers, and how reproducible they are. If there is a meaningful relationship, then we can use the the change in distance as a good approximation of the volume of the dough.

Now your argument seems to boil down to a single inaccuracy: you think distance is the same as surface area.  The distance between two objects says absolutely nothing about surface area (a multidimensional concept) as it is only the length of one dimension.  Unless you can resolve the issues you're having with spatiality, I don't believe there is anything more to discuss.

Offline smarttowers

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Re: Simple Dough Rising Measurement Trick
« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2009, 04:26:04 PM »
This topic has no doubt reached a point where value to the process of pizza-making is not being advanced.  However, there are only four states of matter in this universe: solids, liquids, gases, and plasma.  If you want to further characterize dough  that's fine, but it's physical properties are that of a liquid.  If you and I are attached to the surface of the earth, and the distance between us increases, the surface area between us must have increased, unless we were separated from the surface and re-attached. If two seeds on the surface of a dough ball increases, it is because the surface area has increased: the only question is the relationship of these two numbers, and how reproducible they are. If there is a meaningful relationship, then we can use the the change in distance as a good approximation of the volume of the dough.

Your thinking kinda "inside" the box on the statement that the surface area MUST increase to have people move apart. One other solution I can think of off the top of my head is if the object changes shape then the surface area could be the same but still have the items move apart.

Offline sourdough girl

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Re: Simple Dough Rising Measurement Trick
« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2009, 05:11:44 PM »
red.november,

I have read and re-read this discussion and there is apparently something fundamental here that I am not able to visualize and it seems (to me, at least) to be key to the issue.  I hope you will enlighten me and possibly verde in the process.

The key is that the poppy seeds are attached to the dough.  People on the face of the planet are not attached to the surface.  Yes, people can physically walk apart without increasing the surface area of the planet, but if peoples' feet were attached to the planet's surface, how would the distance between them increase without the planet expanding... assuming of course, that the properties of the planet are the same as the dough... in other words, dough will not have an "earthquake" with a chasm suddenly appearing to pull them apart.

So,since the seeds are attached, they are not going to "walk" apart, nor be blown apart by a fan circulating air in the refrigerator.  So, if the attached seeds move apart, how can the surface of the dough between them remain static?  I thought this was the whole point of the seeds being attached to the dough... to get a general calculation of how much the surface area has grown in order to get another general calculation of how much the dough (the planet the seeds are attached to, as it were) has expanded.  Doesn't this expansion cause an increase in surface area and therefore an increase in distance between the seeds?  What am I missing here?

Your thinking kinda "inside" the box on the statement that the surface area MUST increase to have people move apart. One other solution I can think of off the top of my head is if the object changes shape then the surface area could be the same but still have the items move apart.
I can see how this might be true for something like a smashed milk carton or tin can where the shape has changed, but the only real shape-changing (other than expansion, which is not a true SHAPE change, per se) that will take place is possibly a slump, but then the poppy seed test is over because the dough is over-proofed.  The dough is not suddenly going to become pyramidal or trapezoidal, for instance.

~sd

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Offline November

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Re: Simple Dough Rising Measurement Trick
« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2009, 05:32:38 PM »
I have read and re-read this discussion and there is apparently something fundamental here that I am not able to visualize and it seems (to me, at least) to be key to the issue.  I hope you will enlighten me and possibly verde in the process.

The key is that the poppy seeds are attached to the dough.  People on the face of the planet are not attached to the surface.  Yes, people can physically walk apart without increasing the surface area of the planet, but if peoples' feet were attached to the planet's surface, how would the distance between them increase without the planet expanding... assuming of course, that the properties of the planet are the same as the dough... in other words, dough will not have an "earthquake" with a chasm suddenly appearing to pull them apart.

I merely used the example of people and planets to address the issue of geometry, not the issue of mechanics; but if you can't imagine continental drift moving two people apart while their feet are planted in firm ground, I'm sorry.  Dough doesn't have sudden anything.  The pressures that build up in vitro cause subtle forces to arise in many directions.  One such force is lateral.

What am I missing here?

You're missing the reason for my first reply.  Movement of the seeds is not simply a result of surface expansion.  Hence my statement that this measurement trick is "tricky."  I think this discussion is being overanalyzed.  The geometry and the mechanics are both simple enough.  What's tripping people up is that this is not a monolithic cell like a balloon or a ball.  It is a viscoelastic material matrix.

Offline sourdough girl

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Re: Simple Dough Rising Measurement Trick
« Reply #15 on: June 10, 2009, 06:46:22 PM »
I merely used the example of people and planets to address the issue of geometry, not the issue of mechanics; but if you can't imagine continental drift moving two people apart while their feet are planted in firm ground, I'm sorry.  Dough doesn't have sudden anything.  The pressures that build up in vitro cause subtle forces to arise in many directions.  One such force is lateral.

You're missing the reason for my first reply.  Movement of the seeds is not simply a result of surface expansion.  Hence my statement that this measurement trick is "tricky."  I think this discussion is being overanalyzed.  The geometry and the mechanics are both simple enough.  What's tripping people up is that this is not a monolithic cell like a balloon or a ball.  It is a viscoelastic material matrix.

Thank you.  I can easily imagine continental drift (you needn't be sorry) even as compared to dough balls, but hadn't considered it because, from my limited understanding of the planet and its behavior, continental drift is a very slow process, so it seems the two people would be long dead (and the poppy seeds rotted) before any change in their distance from each other would be noticeable.  I was thinking more in terms of the dough time-frame, i.e. two people standing firm for as long as the dough is in the fridge.  My error.

You're right: it's being overanalyzed.  We mere "science mortals" can more easily visualize something less complex, (the geometry and mechanics may be simple enough for you, but lack such simplicity for us) hence the monolithic cell or balloon, ergo our confusion.  It's an interesting and useful "trick" no matter the reasoning or science behind it.

~sd
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Offline NY pizzastriver

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Re: Simple Dough Rising Measurement Trick
« Reply #16 on: June 11, 2009, 12:12:43 PM »
Lol sd. Love the "dead people / rotting poppy seed" analogy.  :-D

The continental drift comment was sort of snide (as who would actually imagine that in relation to this) and a desperate attempt to validate a point. That said I do agree with the real point made by November, that lateral is only one possible direction of expansion. In the case of a slumping dough on a 5 day cold ferment the seeds could actually get closer while the dough indeed expanded. 

That about sums it up, no need to get planetary and continental.

Meanwhile this is Novembers' trick in origin, so...  ???

« Last Edit: June 11, 2009, 12:15:54 PM by NY pizzastriver »
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Offline November

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Re: Simple Dough Rising Measurement Trick
« Reply #17 on: June 11, 2009, 12:31:59 PM »
The continental drift comment was sort of snide (as who would actually imagine that in relation to this) and a desperate attempt to validate a point.

There was nothing snide or desperate about it.  Neither sourdough girl nor verde asked for a time-dependent example, and it wouldn't make sense that they would.  This whole discussion was about geometry and mechanics, not temporal influence.  If it really takes such an enormous imagination to scale up the time factor for continental drift, how is it nobody had anything to say about scaling down the size factor of the planet?  Either someone's imagination is lopsided, or they're just looking for something negative to say.

Offline NY pizzastriver

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Re: Simple Dough Rising Measurement Trick
« Reply #18 on: June 11, 2009, 12:44:41 PM »
Ok my bad maybe, but I read this as pretty sarcastic.

if you can't imagine continental drift moving two people apart while their feet are planted in firm ground, I'm sorry.

Ya know, like 'I'm sorry you're too dim to imagine', just sounded that way to me.

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Offline November

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Re: Simple Dough Rising Measurement Trick
« Reply #19 on: June 11, 2009, 12:52:34 PM »
Ok my bad maybe, but I read this as pretty sarcastic.

Ya know, like 'I'm sorry you're too dim to imagine', just sounded that way to me.

I think it would be far more productive to discuss the measurement trick itself than to analyze the analysis of the analysis.  For the record, when I say I'm sorry like that, it usually means I'm sorry we're even having this discussion.  That's not snide.  That's just an expression of my disappointment.  You can interpret my disappointment however you want, but that's what it is.