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Author Topic: To Bulk Ferment or Not, That Is The Question  (Read 12983 times)

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Offline ESOP

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To Bulk Ferment or Not, That Is The Question
« on: August 19, 2017, 10:17:06 AM »
I always thought any dough ferments at least twice - once in the bowl in a "bulk ferment" and then it was pushed down and shaped, and then fermented a second time.

However, Jeff Varasano's technique is: Make the dough, then cut into balls, cold ferment one time, remove from refrig and wait two hours, then open the skins.  Therefore, he never does a bulk ferment; in fact, he talks about bubble gum and says he wants only small bubbles in his dough.

So, what is the scoop?  Does pizza dough do better with an initial bulk fermentation or should it be fermented one time and then opened?  Does the Dough Doctor or any of you have any thoughts on this?

Thank you

Offline The Dough Doctor

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Re: To Bulk Ferment or Not, That Is The Question
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2017, 01:55:33 PM »
ESOP;
Oh gosh! It all depends upon the type of pizza you are making, the dough formulation and the dough management procedure being employed to process the dough. If you want to have a very consistent performing dough and want to have a 3 to 5-day refrigerated life on the dough it is better to mix, scale, ball, refrigerate (cold ferment) 2 to 5-days) remove from fridge, allow to warm to 50 to 60F and open into skins. For a lot of the other applications it is common to mix, bulk ferment, scale, ball, cold ferment, 1 to 10-days, remove from refrigeration and allow the dough to warm to 50 to 60F and open into skins. I could go on and on, as there are soooo many options for different kinds of fermentation/dough management. In my world one does what works best for them in making the type of pizza they want under the conditions specific to their shop or kitchen.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Offline ESOP

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Re: To Bulk Ferment or Not, That Is The Question
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2017, 03:05:07 PM »
Dough Doctor,

Thank you for your words of wisdom!

Offline Rolls

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Re: To Bulk Ferment or Not, That Is The Question
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2017, 04:39:56 PM »
As the good doctor has noted, there are innumerable approaches to managing the fermentation process of a given dough. In my view, the purpose of a bulk fermentation is not so much to add volume to the dough mass but rather to strengthen the gluten matrix which is necessary for maintaining the shape of the final product. I think this is more important in bread-making compared to pizza-making.

When the ingredients of a dough are initially combined, one of the by-products of the yeast's metabolism is acetic acid which has the effect of strengthening the gluten matrix. The dough becomes more elastic. As time moves forward, the effect of protease enzymes will begin to break down the protein structure of the dough, rendering it more extensible.

For pizza, I generally avoid a bulk fermentation at RT and try to get the dough balls into the fridge to slow down the yeast. For breads, my approach would generally be different.


Rolls
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Offline ESOP

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Re: To Bulk Ferment or Not, That Is The Question
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2017, 07:03:55 PM »
Rolls,

Thank you - your insight made it clear re bulk ferment for breads vs for pizza dough.  Thank you for your help!


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Offline ESOP

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Re: To Bulk Ferment or Not, That Is The Question
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2017, 10:23:37 PM »
Therefore, bulk fermentation is not for pizza dough, and instructions that tell one to first do a bulk fermentation are wrong, nothing good is done to pizza dough by doing a bulk.  Simply mix, knead, then scale and ball and cf to get yummy pizza!  Correct?

Offline Rolls

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Re: To Bulk Ferment or Not, That Is The Question
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2017, 10:45:20 PM »
Therefore, bulk fermentation is not for pizza dough, and instructions that tell one to first do a bulk fermentation are wrong, nothing good is done to pizza dough by doing a bulk.  Simply mix, knead, then scale and ball and cf to get yummy pizza!  Correct?

No, I'd say that's incorrect. As noted before, there are various ways to manage a dough, including a bulk fermentation phase, that will lead to a good pizza. In my opinion, a "good" dough is one that has been fermented properly such that the dough ball has the right balance of elasticity and extensibility when the pizza is shaped, proper oven spring when the pizza is baked,  good visual appeal due to the Maillard reaction and good eating qualities when the pizza is tasted. Many roads will get you there.


Rolls
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Offline TXCraig1

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Re: To Bulk Ferment or Not, That Is The Question
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2017, 11:30:38 PM »
Too long in balls leads to dough that is too extensible, pulls too thin, tears easily. The bulk step lets you control the elasticity of a dough fermented >12 hours.
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, baker's yeast when we must, but always great pizza."  
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Offline ESOP

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Re: To Bulk Ferment or Not, That Is The Question
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2017, 05:14:18 PM »
Craig,

Wow, I never heard that before, it is very good to know.  Thank you for the min "lesson."  By the way, I found your cf vs rf lesson incredible, a well researched and assembled argument instead of blindly posting what someone said with no proof.  I look forward to learning much from you!

Offline Giggliato

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Re: To Bulk Ferment or Not, That Is The Question
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2017, 06:31:22 PM »
I like to cold ferment for two days but I needed some doughballs to be ready in one day, so I bulk fermented for about an hour before balling and placing in the fridge. That should have given the yeast some time to start working.

Some people use ice water to really slow down the yeast.

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Offline norcoscia

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Re: To Bulk Ferment or Not, That Is The Question
« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2017, 11:18:03 AM »
I'm very interested in this topic - is a better way to ask the question (does a second re-ball help). I don't do bulk fermentation. I usually mix, rest, then stretch fold two or three times and then do my final mix. My dough stays in my kitchenaid mixing bowl the whole time and is kept in the refrigerator for rest periods between stretch and folds. Since I'm making a small batch (home setting) usually around 1500 grams, a bulk fermentation does not seem to make much sense (due to the size of a bulk ~1500 grams versus making individual dough balls immediately, usually 350 grams) or if it does -- the difference is insignificant to me.

As I think the Dough Doctor has mentioned - in a commercial setting - the mass of a 50 pound bulk dough ball would behave much differently compared to individual pizza sized dough balls -- so depending on your workflow / dough management process -  maybe a bulk period makes sense if it gets you to a better finished product.

But, like Craig mentioned, after a long period in balls the dough does get much more extensible - sometimes, depending on the H2O level and recipe - too extensible. So a re-ball does / could make  opening the dough less challenging.

My issue / question is - how to do a re-ball without compromising the finished dough ball. What I have experienced is a higher probability of holes on final opening if the oil used on the original ball interferes with adhesion of the dough ball surfaces after the re-ball.

Wondering how others cope with this or if others have noticed the same thing. I could see how a bulk dough ball would not have this problem since the larger ball would require less oil to keep it from drying out so less chance of it interfering with adhesion when the dough is finally balled.

Anyway good question - just goes to prove -- everything you do (or don't do) has some affect on what pops out of the oven....
Norm
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Offline Rolls

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Re: To Bulk Ferment or Not, That Is The Question
« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2017, 01:51:44 PM »
Norm,

According to Michel Suas, of the San Francisco Baking Institute, the "mass effect" in baking refers to the faster chemical reactions which take place in a larger batch of dough compared to a smaller one, which has the effect of making the dough stronger. He claims that this becomes a factor in doughs weighing 6 pounds and up, which probably excludes most doughs for home use. Consequently, there are often differences in recipes and work flows for home and commercial applications due to the "mass effect".

As for reballing the dough balls, I don't do it. Through much trial and error, I've learned to get the right balance of elasticity/extensibility based on the flour I'm using and the type of pizza I want to make.


Rolls
Parmigiano-Reggiano doesn't come in a green box!   - Chef Jean-Pierre

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: To Bulk Ferment or Not, That Is The Question
« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2017, 02:17:50 PM »
Here is a link to the SFBI article that discusses the mass effect, at page 5:

http://www.sfbi.com/pdfs/NewsF04a.pdf#search=%22autolyse%20time%20period%22

Peter

EDIT (6/19/21): For the Wayback Machine version of the above operative link, see https://web.archive.org/web/20150807023618/http://www.sfbi.com/pdfs/NewsF04a.pdf

Offline norcoscia

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Re: To Bulk Ferment or Not, That Is The Question
« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2017, 03:32:37 PM »
Thanks Peter - lots of good info and I just started to give it a read...

Thanks Rolls, I'm not sure it qualifies as a problem - but for me - I'm always changing things in an attempt to improve my understanding of how all the baking interdependencies relate and change the final outcome.

I can generally get the dough to behave the way I want (within reason) but I think I'm always trying to make my pizza a little better. I don't know if I will make a better pie in the future or if I have already made the best pizza I will ever make  ???

I get to enjoy that freedom (or maybe it is a curse) since I'm baking at home -- I also understand a shop must maintain good quality and consistency. That is why I like this board - lots of folks just like me, just trying to improve their skills. Sharing info and experiences along with great input from professionals - pretty cool place to hang out....
Norm
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Focus is NY style but do others too
Preferred Flour (for NY pies) is All Trumps BB
Preferred temperature for NY is 550F, for NP 900+F
Preferred type of yeast IDY

Offline Essen1

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Re: To Bulk Ferment or Not, That Is The Question
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2017, 07:14:30 PM »
Too long in balls leads to dough that is too extensible, pulls too thin, tears easily. The bulk step lets you control the elasticity of a dough fermented >12 hours.

Agreed.

I've seen it time and time again. 24hrs, maybe 36hrs, is the cut off time for me when it comes to individual fermentation. Bulk...48hrs to 72hrs.
Mike

ďAll styles of pizza are valid. I make the best Iím capable of; you should make the best youíre capable of. I donít want to make somebody elseís pizza.Ē ~ Chris Bianco

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Offline mgcain12

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Re: To Bulk Ferment or Not, That Is The Question
« Reply #15 on: August 23, 2017, 09:08:58 AM »
Very interesting thread.  I have friends in the business that swear by a "double rise" - bulk ferment then punch down and ball the dough.  I've not tried that yet as I have been sticking pretty close to Tom's method, but I have been having difficulty opening the skins - Too thick at the edge and too thin in the middle, with holes and the dough refuses to hold its shape and snaps back to a small circle.  I'm going to try the bulk ferment on the next batch and see what difference that makes. 

Offline invertedisdead

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Re: To Bulk Ferment or Not, That Is The Question
« Reply #16 on: August 23, 2017, 05:33:12 PM »
Very interesting thread.  I have friends in the business that swear by a "double rise" - bulk ferment then punch down and ball the dough.  I've not tried that yet as I have been sticking pretty close to Tom's method, but I have been having difficulty opening the skins - Too thick at the edge and too thin in the middle, with holes and the dough refuses to hold its shape and snaps back to a small circle.  I'm going to try the bulk ferment on the next batch and see what difference that makes.

Sounds like a mix of overfermented dough and an opening technique that could be improved. You want to leave the middle thicker when opening the dough as it will thin further when doing a knuckle stretch or toss.
the proof is in the pizza

Offline ESOP

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Re: To Bulk Ferment or Not, That Is The Question
« Reply #17 on: August 24, 2017, 10:16:09 AM »
I make a batch of dough 72% hydration (50% 00 flour and 50% KA bread flour) for home use - 750 g; I scale it and make 3 balls of 250 g each which I refrigerate immediately for about 72 hours for cold fermentation.  Then it is pizza time, so 3 hours before pizza time I remove the containers from the refrig, it is a lot less sticky and I re-ball each ball, place back in a closed container and let the sit/rise for 3 hours at room temp, then I open the balls with no issues.  I also have great crumb when I fire up my Blackstone.  My issue was whether I should initially bulk ferment instead of doing balls, which I now think makes no difference.  My other issue was whether I should omit re-balling and open the initial skins after they sit to room temp, which does not probably matter either.

Offline Rolls

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Re: To Bulk Ferment or Not, That Is The Question
« Reply #18 on: August 25, 2017, 10:38:46 AM »
ESOP,

At the risk of sounding too philosophical, we each find our own path to great pizza and hopefully our journey is guided by the general principles and knowledge of those who learned the craft before us. Ultimately, there are too many variables to list in the whole pizza-making process that, inevitably, we all do things a little/ lot differently. With my own materials and workflow, it would be too difficult to open the dough balls 3 hours after reballing. My dough has too much elasticity at that point. This method seems to work for you, given your circumstances, and that is all that really counts. If the pizza is good, it doesn't really matter what road you take to get there - il fine giustifica i mezzi.


Rolls
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Offline ESOP

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Re: To Bulk Ferment or Not, That Is The Question
« Reply #19 on: August 25, 2017, 05:32:59 PM »
Rolls,

I have read some of your posts, and I value your comments and wisdom, you have both experience and knowledge.

You point is often said in different ways, and I agree - even though the ingredients are basically the same the results can be so very different; what matters in the end is f the one making the pizza likes it!

I am happy with my pizza and happy to learn so many different tips on this forum!!!

: )

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