Author Topic: Why has my dough suddenly stopped fermenting?  (Read 1929 times)

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Offline jamieg

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Why has my dough suddenly stopped fermenting?
« on: February 28, 2013, 08:25:42 PM »
So, there I was, after 2 years of trials and tribulations relating to all things dough  - I thought I had entered the fine tuning stage - that is - I had become the doughís master and could predict itís every move - or at least explain unexpected behaviour in hindsight.

Then suddenly, one day, the dough stopped rising.

Of course, Iíve come to accept there is always a little variation in fermentation. Given that the recipe is very exact - and we use a cold fermentation - I usually put this down to variation in kneading technique - which generates slightly different amounts of gluten and oxygen.

But, this week, - having gone several weeks without changing my workflow - the dough fermentation has come to an abrupt halt. It has now been like this for 5 days in a row. Nightmare.

That is, there is very little rise and very few air bubbles in the bulk dough - the subsequent dough balls rise just enough to make them usable - but not much more - and of course the final pizza is flat and boring.

Previously - if anything - the dough was fermented slightly too much - but the dough balls rised quickly and the pizza borders were enormous with good leoparding.

Iím now having to start contemplating weird scenarios like - has the tap water been contaminated? Should I be measuring humidity (how?) as well as temperature? Can instant yeast go off?

If anyone can explain this please jump in...

Hereís my workflow:

Recepie
instant dry yeast - 0.13%
brown sugar - 4.17%
cold water - 66.67%
flour - 100.00%
salt - 3.33%

Workflow:
08 minutes - mix all ingredients (except salt) by hand
25 minutes - autolyse
10 minutes - add salt then - stretch and fold by hand - until smooth
40 hours - bulk ferment in fridge - at 12.5 C - 17 C (54 F - 62.6 F)
3 hours - tightly ball and store in individual in plastic containers - at room temperature

Cook with floor temp 350 C.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2013, 08:28:26 PM by jamieg »


Offline Qarl

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Re: Why has my dough suddenly stopped fermenting?
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2013, 08:28:51 PM »
Do you perhaps have a jar of yeast?  Maybe the yeast has gone bad and is dead?  Or perhaps an old cake of yeast or old packets of yeast?

I wouldn't use tapwater.  Depending on your municipality... there could be chlorine or other things that are used to sterilize the water that are now killing the yeast.  A gallon of purified or spring water is cheap at the grocery store.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2013, 08:32:30 PM by Qarl »

Online norma427

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Re: Why has my dough suddenly stopped fermenting?
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2013, 08:30:46 PM »
Jamie,

I don't really know what is happening, but I did have problems when I purchased two new bags of flour a little while back.  I think it was from changes in temperatures if i recall right.

Norma
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Offline jamieg

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Re: Why has my dough suddenly stopped fermenting?
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2013, 09:14:47 PM »
Well, I didn't think to check the sell by date of the packets of yeast - but yes - they are 4 months out!

I thought instant dry yeast would last for years - esp if the packet was not opened.

Damn how embarressing.

I hope this fixes the problem.

Thank you.

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Why has my dough suddenly stopped fermenting?
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2013, 09:48:42 PM »
jamieg,

To be honest, I am hard pressed to understand how you have been ending up with a functional dough.

To begin, unless it is very warm where you live or your refrigerator is running above average on the warm side, 0.13% IDY is not a lot for a yeast for a dough that is to be cold fermented for 40 hours.

Second, your salt quantity, at 3.33%, is extremely high, especially for a cold fermented dough. In fact, it falls within the range of salinity values for ocean seawater. Once you get above about 1.5% salt, it starts to have an inhibiting effect on yeast performance.

Third, at 4.17% sugar, you are approaching the value--5%--where the sugar has an osmotic effect on the yeast where it, too, can inhibit yeast performance.

Fourth, using cold water will further slow down fermentation of the dough.

I do not believe your IDY has gone bad. If the packet is only four months old and unsealed, it's hard to imagine that it has gone bad.

Maybe you can negate what I have said. However, as additional background on what I have presented above, you might want to read the article at http://www.theartisan.net/The_Artisan_Yeast_Treatise_Section_One.htm#Osmotic%20Pressure. Note, especially, the section on Osmotic Pressure.

Peter

« Last Edit: February 28, 2013, 09:50:42 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline jamieg

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Re: Why has my dough suddenly stopped fermenting?
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2013, 11:13:15 PM »
I don't doubt what you say... I can only go on my personal experience.

I live in Colombia, South America - it can get quite hot.

The fridge is barely running. It is set to maintain 12.5 C - 17 C (54 F - 62.6 F). I have 2 thermometers to verify this is always the case.

I also find it strange that the yeast quantity is so low compared to other recepies I have seen - that said - the dough has been fermenting very well for a long time - sometimes too much.

I cannot put the salt in until after the autolyse - if I do so - the dough does not ferment well at all. So, for a very long time - I simply add it after the autolyse - and that hasn't cause a problem. The resulting dough has never had an overly salty taste.

I've been adding sugar for a few months - hoping to get a little more crunch and a little more browning on the borders.

I also find it hard to believe that all the yeast has suddenly died within a 24 hour period - presumably - I would have seen a slow decrease in the amount of fermentation over a period of time - as opposed to a dramatic stop - so maybe this is a red herring - I won't know for at least another 24 hours.

In conclusion - I appreciate there might be some oddities in my workflow - but my immediate concern is to ascertain the very sudden loss of fermentation.

The link is fantastic - though I'm going to have to read it several times over.

:-)

Offline jamieg

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Re: Why has my dough suddenly stopped fermenting?
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2013, 11:18:33 PM »
Do you perhaps have a jar of yeast?  Maybe the yeast has gone bad and is dead?  Or perhaps an old cake of yeast or old packets of yeast?

I wouldn't use tapwater.  Depending on your municipality... there could be chlorine or other things that are used to sterilize the water that are now killing the yeast.  A gallon of purified or spring water is cheap at the grocery store.


I've often wondered about this - it's mainly a logistical issue for me - I would need to buy about 15,000 litres per day. But, it looks like I will have to test bottled water to see if that's the problem.

Offline jamieg

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Re: Why has my dough suddenly stopped fermenting?
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2013, 11:21:38 PM »
Jamie,

I don't really know what is happening, but I did have problems when I purchased two new bags of flour a little while back.  I think it was from changes in temperatures if i recall right.

Norma

What problems did you experience? I can't be sure that the flour I have is not damaged in some way - but I would't expect to see such dramatic changes in fermenation purely based on flour.

Online norma427

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Re: Why has my dough suddenly stopped fermenting?
« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2013, 05:19:07 AM »
What problems did you experience? I can't be sure that the flour I have is not damaged in some way - but I would't expect to see such dramatic changes in fermenation purely based on flour.


Jamie,

I really donít think all your problems of such dramatic changes in fermentation are your flour either.  I didnít know you lived in Colombia, South America.

I think Peter can help you better with your problems than I can, but if you are interested at Reply 565 http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,18407.msg214254.html#msg214254 is where I started having problems with the flour.  You can see Peter Reply at 572 http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,18407.msg214547.html#msg214547  Peter also gave other members and links that had problems with flour at Reply 575 http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,18407.msg214604.html#msg214604  and the next post of Peterís.  Peter also replied at 585 http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,18407.msg215870.html#msg215870 and gave a link to what Tom Lehmann said about changing seasons and flours. 

I have seen Tom Lehmann post at PMQ Think Tank about flours that have high damaged starch in other countries and then what those difficulties are with those flours.  This is also a subject about dough not rising over at PMQ Think Tank, but not in another country.  http://thinktank.pmq.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=13735&p=84494&hilit=dough+no+rising#p84494

I am not really good about searching over at PMQ Think Tank, but hope you get your problems with your dough not fermenting resolved. 

Norma
Always working and looking for new information!

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Why has my dough suddenly stopped fermenting?
« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2013, 12:28:20 PM »
I don't doubt what you say... I can only go on my personal experience.

I live in Colombia, South America - it can get quite hot.

The fridge is barely running. It is set to maintain 12.5 C - 17 C (54 F - 62.6 F). I have 2 thermometers to verify this is always the case.

I also find it strange that the yeast quantity is so low compared to other recipes I have seen - that said - the dough has been fermenting very well for a long time - sometimes too much.

I cannot put the salt in until after the autolyse - if I do so - the dough does not ferment well at all. So, for a very long time - I simply add it after the autolyse - and that hasn't cause a problem. The resulting dough has never had an overly salty taste.

I've been adding sugar for a few months - hoping to get a little more crunch and a little more browning on the borders.

I also find it hard to believe that all the yeast has suddenly died within a 24 hour period - presumably - I would have seen a slow decrease in the amount of fermentation over a period of time - as opposed to a dramatic stop - so maybe this is a red herring - I won't know for at least another 24 hours.

In conclusion - I appreciate there might be some oddities in my workflow - but my immediate concern is to ascertain the very sudden loss of fermentation.

The link is fantastic - though I'm going to have to read it several times over.

:-)

jamieg,

I took a look at the average temperatures in Colombia, using Bogota as a proxy for the entire country (http://weatherspark.com/averages/33556/Bogota-Bogota-Colombia), and do not see any major temperature changes that would suggest that it is the time of year that has been responsible for the results you have been getting recently, although I do note that December to March tend to be the cooler months in Bogota. That said, I would think that with a refrigerator operating in the range of 54-62.4 degrees F, that range would support faster fermentation, even at 0.13% IDY. In a sense, your dough isn't quite a cold fermented dough, which typically calls for a refrigerator or cooler temperature that is around 37-42 degrees F. You are somewhere between a room temperature fermentation environment and a cold fermentation environment.

Under the circumstances, and including what might be a somewhat cooler setting, I think I would be inclined to increase the amount of IDY and/or lower the amount of salt and see if that improves matters. You can perhaps keep the amount of sugar, or maybe reduce it somewhat while still getting contribution to crust color development. However, you may want to know that sugar actually makes the crumb of the crust more tender and soft. That is because sugar is a hygroscopic ingredient and, as such, will retain moisture in the crust. To get increased crispiness or crunch, you would normally bake the pizza longer, usually at a lower bake temperature than you would normally use. As an aside and as you may know, and noting that you posted on the Neapolitan dough board, Neapolitan doughs do not use any sugar. However, the pizzas are baked at very high oven temperatures.

I do not believe that your flour is the problem unless you somehow got a bad batch. But from what I can tell from my research, I don't recall an association between a bad batch of flour and the function of fermentation. Fermentation is largely a function of yeast quantity and temperatures, although salt and sugar levels and hydration values will have an effect on the fermentation function. In your case, the roughly 67% hydration should actually speed up the fermentation process.

Please keep us updated on your progress in resolving the problems that you have been experiencing. This is all rather puzzling to me and I'd like to get a better grasp as to what is happening in your case.

Peter


Offline kramer73

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Re: Why has my dough suddenly stopped fermenting?
« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2013, 12:53:04 PM »
Given that you haven't had problems before, I would maybe consider trying again with new stuff (flour, yeast, etc.).

I don't see changing your amounts if it has worked.  It just seems like something else is going on.

Offline jamieg

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Re: Why has my dough suddenly stopped fermenting?
« Reply #11 on: March 04, 2013, 02:50:47 PM »
It never ceases to amaze me how people go out of their way to help on this forum - thank you so much.

I will try to answer all the points raised so far one by one.

The current news is that - weíve opened a new 50kg bag of flour - and bought a new supply of yeast. I doubt the yeast is sold outside South America - but hereís the link if anyone is interested: http://www.levapan.com/es-co/alimentosparaelhogar/l%C3%ADneadeproductos/reposter%C3%ADacasera/levaduralevapan.aspx

The dough has exploded - so much so - it creeps out of the sealed plastic containers like some kind of sea monster. Normally when I have overly fermented dough - it is sticky and wet in places - difficult to make compact balls and the pizza often rises and then falls a little in the oven.

However, this time the borders rise quickly and do not fall. They are enormous. Itís ridiculous.

Iíve already halved the amount of yeast for the next batch - and the bulk dough - which still has 24 hours of fermentation to go - is already at the point of being too much.

So, Iím inclined to think - the problem was my previous batch of yeast and not the flour or anything else. I certainly wonít be buying yeast in big quantities ever again.

That said, maybe it was the flour. If this ever happens again - I will immediately change all the ingredients - and run some small tests in the background to source the problem.

Some responses to the points made so far...

Yes, itís misleading to say I do a cold ferment - I use the fridge to control the temperature - but at 12.5 C - 17 C (54 F - 62.6 F) - itís not very cold.

I need to stress that my recipe and workflow have been working very well for sometime - so I find it difficult to accept that changing it now is the solution to my problem.

Actually, Iím in Medellin - which is quite a bit warmer than Bogota. But, itís slightly irrelevant - as itís certainly not cold at the moment - and weíve always dealt with cold weather by taking the dough out of the fridge a few hours earlier than normal.

What I have experienced this week - is a sudden dramatic change - so drastic that I had to take the bulk dough out of the fridge 13 hours earlier than normal - and it still didn't rise in time - not even close.

I added sugar to the recipe a few months ago - because somebody told me it would give me a little more crunch - though admittedly I couldnít never be sure if that happened in reality - so maybe you have a point - I will lower it.

We cook the pizza for 3 or 4 minutes. Itís basically a hybrid concept between Neapolitan and American style. For the first 2 minutes - we cook in the hottest part of the oven - in order to get maximum rise in the borders and good colouring, leoparding, etc. For the last 1 or 2 minutes I move the pizza to the coolest part of the oven - in order to crisp the borders - sometimes I have to take the pizza out earlier - if see the sauce and cheese drying out.

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Why has my dough suddenly stopped fermenting?
« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2013, 04:09:53 PM »
jamieg,

To be sure I understand, you used fresh flour and new yeast, at half the original 0.13% (IDY), and a refrigerator/cooler temperature of 54 degrees F to 62.6 degrees F, and the dough is still rising too fast? If so, and assuming that you are looking for a doubling in dough volume after 40 hours, I calculated an amount of IDY of 0.0135% to 0.025%, which define the two end points of your fermentation temperature range. Remember also that a dough in bulk will ferment faster because of the "mass effect". See Reply 490 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,576.msg30150/topicseen.html#msg30150.

For your information, I based the yeast calculations mentioned above on the experiment I described at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,7225.msg62332.html#msg62332 where I used only 0.012% IDY. My fermentation temperature was higher than yours and my duration was shorter than yours, but I adjusted my numbers to reflect your particular fermentation temperature and duration and a doubling of the dough after 40 hours. The methodology I used is described at Reply 6 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,5028.msg42572.html#msg42572 and elsewhere in the same thread.

Peter

« Last Edit: March 05, 2013, 04:25:53 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline jamieg

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Re: Why has my dough suddenly stopped fermenting?
« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2013, 10:34:19 PM »
Thanks Peter... this is great information.

It's nice to get some feedback from somebody that isn't shocked by my very low quantity of yeast.

I've tweaked my recepie - but won't know until tomorrow if the dough over ferments. I'll let you know.


Offline jamieg

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Re: Why has my dough suddenly stopped fermenting?
« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2013, 06:15:13 PM »
So, after a little playing around, Iíve arrived at the following recepie:

flour 2400gr (100%)
active dry yeast 1.5gr (0.06%)
brown sugar 50gr (2.08%)
water 1625gr (67.71%)
salt 80gr (3.33%)

The fridge temperature is maintained at 10c to 14c (50f to 57.2f)

The bulk dough ferments for 50 hours - is balled - and the balls are ready in about 2 to 3 hours.

If I lower the fridge temp to 8c to 12c - the difference is big - the dough will not be ready at all.

I'm trying to dedicate a fridge to store the balls so that they are in a usable state for 8 hours - because sometimes the room temperature is too hot and we have to refrigerate the balls once they have risen too much - which I don't like.

;-)
« Last Edit: March 23, 2013, 06:16:49 PM by jamieg »


 

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