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Author Topic: What's the purpose of bulk fermenting followed by balling then fermenting again?  (Read 778 times)

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Offline 9slicePie

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Why do some people do another bulk of the individual dough balls after doing a bulk ferment?

Why not just do one bulk ferment?  OR  Why not make the dough balls and let those ferment once?


EDIT: Just looking to see how to minimize as many steps as possible and yet still achieve good results.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2021, 10:16:12 AM by 9slicePie »

Offline Pizza_Not_War

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I bulk ferment cold, ball 2-3 hours before use and let warm on countertop. I find it to be the simplest method for me.

Offline Pete-zza

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9slicePie,

You might want to take a look at this recent thread:

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=69410.msg668822#msg668822

Peter


Offline 9slicePie

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Offline snoissea

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I'm fairly new to pizza making. I had been doing a bulk ferment for 24 hours, then balling and fermenting for less than 24 hours, then warming the dough balls to room temp for 2 hours before cooking the pies. Recently, I've switched to a 48 hr bulk ferment, and balling the dough a couple of hours before making the pies.

For me, balling two hours before works best. If you ball the dough, and it gets away from you during ferment, (blows up) then you have a problem. That's happened to me a couple of times. I find I can get consistently better pies balling the dough two to three hours before I make the pies.


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Offline Heikjo

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«Bulk» in this situation actually means the dough when it is in one single, large mass. Once you divide the dough it is technically not bulk anymore. In baking, the term «bulk» is often used for the fermentation period after mixing, and can be applied to a single dough if you only make one. The stage of fermentation in balls is therefore not strictly bulk, but in baking it usually refer to the early fermentation stage rather than the size of the dough.

There are two primary reasons for fermenting in bulk when it comes to pizza:

1. Space. One mass of dough takes up less space than a number of balls. Space may not be a problem for amateurs making 1-5 pies at home, but some make larger amounts and some have limited space. This is primarily a pizzeria reason.

2. Dough elasticity. This is the most important reason for why those of us fermenting doughs for 12-48+ hours do it in two stages. In the bulk stage, the fermentation is slow any maybe only 5-10% of the final rise happens in bulk. At some point during the fermentation the dough is divided and made into individual balls. At this stage the dough is reasonably relaxed and should easily let you make balls. Then you let it ferment the remaining time in balls until opening. This can happen in the same ambient temperature as bulk, or a different one.

If I made a dough meant to ferment for 24 hours and divided it into individual balls once the dough was done mixing and kneading, the balls would sit for 24 hours, and this would make them very relaxed and have little, if any, elasticity, which can make opening, dressing and launching difficult. I have done it, so it is possible, but not the preferred method for me. This is especially true for balls that ferment in RT of 15° C and higher, which are more relaxed than ones fermented in a fridge at 0-4° C.

You could also make them straight into balls after mixing and re-ball them at the same point in time as you would end bulk and divide. That would achieve the same effect by firming up the balls and allowing them to become as relaxed as you like them when opening.

Balling later or re-balling becomes increasingly more necessary the longer you ferment. For shorter fermentation, like 4-8 hours, there may not be a need to bulk and ball, or re-ball since the total hours makes them appropriately relaxed.

If you normally bulk in one single mass, switching to balling after mix and re-balling may call for extra yeast since a large mass ferment faster and will take longer to reach ambient temperature.
Heine
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Offline Cnjr5544

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2. Dough elasticity. This is the most important reason for why those of us fermenting doughs for 12-48+ hours do it in two stages. In the bulk stage, the fermentation is slow any maybe only 5-10% of the final rise happens in bulk. At some point during the fermentation the dough is divided and made into individual balls. At this stage the dough is reasonably relaxed and should easily let you make balls. Then you let it ferment the remaining time in balls until opening. This can happen in the same ambient temperature as bulk, or a different one.

If I made a dough meant to ferment for 24 hours and divided it into individual balls once the dough was done mixing and kneading, the balls would sit for 24 hours, and this would make them very relaxed and have little, if any, elasticity, which can make opening, dressing and launching difficult. I have done it, so it is possible, but not the preferred method for me. This is especially true for balls that ferment in RT of 15° C and higher, which are more relaxed than ones fermented in a fridge at 0-4° C.


Thanks for the explanation!  Let's say I'm making only two dough balls and using 520g flour total.  Is fermenting in bulk really going to slow down the fermentation that much vs dividing and balling right after the mixing and then doing a counter top rise?

When you say a dough ball is too relaxed, that means when you stretch it, it does not spring back to its original smaller shape?  If so, isn't that a good thing as I usually have the opposite problem where I'm stretching a ball and it keeps resisting getting bigger and collapses back. 

Offline Heikjo

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Thanks for the explanation!  Let's say I'm making only two dough balls and using 520g flour total.  Is fermenting in bulk really going to slow down the fermentation that much vs dividing and balling right after the mixing and then doing a counter top rise?
I didn't mean that bulk is slower than balls. Just that the amount of rise in bulk is typically not very much. There is of course a lot of activity in the dough and the later parts wouldn't ferment as quickly without the early hours. For two balls, fermenting in bulk or balls has little influence on the rate of fermentation. If the desired fermentation temperature is significantly lower than the final dough temperature, a dough in bulk may be a little faster since it will take longer to cool down, but for two balls I doubt you'll notice much. Especially if they ferment in RT. If the temperature is 15C/59F or lower, it might make a difference.

When you say a dough ball is too relaxed, that means when you stretch it, it does not spring back to its original smaller shape?  If so, isn't that a good thing as I usually have the opposite problem where I'm stretching a ball and it keeps resisting getting bigger and collapses back. 
That is correct. If it's a good thing or not depends. It's all relative. For someone who struggle with a ball that's too elastic, a more relaxed dough is desirable. A dough that is too relaxed opens too easily with little resistance and can be difficult to manage. In that situation, more elasticity is a good thing.

Each has to find the process that fits them and their doughs. How and how long you mix and knead influence how the dough behaves. Type(s) of flour, type of yeast, handling, fermentation temperature; there are many factors that contribute to the properties the dough end up with, and how many hours you want the dough in balls. Each just has to start somewhere and experiment.
Heine
Oven: Effeuno P134H

Offline amolapizza

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I was taught from the Italians that the bulk phase is tradition, because a long time ago they didn't have the strong flours that we have nowadays. It helped the pizzaiolo to leave the dough for an hour or so which develops the gluten better so that it's easier to make the balls.  Nowadays you can probably make the balls straight away without any problems.

Personally I like to knead very little, leave it in bulk for an hour, and when I form the balls they are really smooth.  I still have to verify, but I have the feeling that this results in a dough that's less chewy.
Jack

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