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Author Topic: Fermentation, air bubbles, and gluten strength  (Read 480 times)

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Offline Samson

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Fermentation, air bubbles, and gluten strength
« on: October 25, 2022, 03:21:13 PM »
I made a batch of dough last week with 0.25% IDY. I intended to do a 24 bulk ferment in the fridge, and then ball and let rise in the fridge for another 2 days. I have had good results with this process in the past. I had to change plans and I had to use the dough a day early, so I took it out of the fridge and let it proof for around 6 hours out of the fridge.

I was surprised by the dough characteristics. My understanding that the fermentation process would both create air bubbles, as well as "break down" the gluten and allow it to be shaped more easily. What I found though was that while the dough had plenty of air bubbles, to the point that I had to pop many of them around the cornicione, the gluten was still very strong/rigid and I found it difficult to open and stretch out. Normally when I ferment it over 3 days I get both bubbles and a dough easy to stretch.

So my question is which characteristics indicate proper fermentation? Is it the creation of CO2 bubbles, the gluten break down? both? Do these processes not always work at the same rate? Would the dough I used be considered properly fermented? Just trying to better understand exactly what I'm looking for in properly fermented dough.

Thanks!

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Fermentation, air bubbles, and gluten strength
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2022, 03:35:45 PM »
Extensibility/elasticity is more about giving the gluten time to relax vs breaking it down, AOTBE. That being said, all gluten is not the same. Two different flours with the same amount of gluten can produce doughs with very different elastic properties.
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Offline Samson

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Re: Fermentation, air bubbles, and gluten strength
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2022, 07:10:05 AM »
Okay so gluten relaxing is a distinct process from fermentation, interesting.

Are the bubbles produced a good measure of proper fermentation? For instance can a dough with very little yeast and no bubbles be considered properly fermented? If so, then how to you measure proper fermentation if not from the CO2 produced and the gluten relaxing?


Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Fermentation, air bubbles, and gluten strength
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2022, 10:50:02 AM »
Bubble structure and rise (typically expressed as a volume increase - for example 1.7X or 2X) are often used to estimate when a dough is ready and to some extent it does always work. That being said, it's not always going to make the best dough because it's not the only thing going on.

There are 2 processes happening: fermentation and maturation. the bubbles are the result of fermentation. Maturation is all the other biochemical activity going on as a result of the enzymes and microflora in the dough. It speaks to aroma, flavor, and texture. Ideally a dough reaches proper fermentation and maturation at the same time. Unfortunately maturation is not something you can see. Maybe you can get a sense of it from smell. Really you have to bake the dough and eat the pizza to know for sure.

You can put a bunch of yeast in the dough and reach a properly fermented state quickly but be completely lacking flavor because the dough is not matured. The opposite is harder to do but it's still possible - too little yeast and too much time can lead to poor gluten structure and poor texture. Likewise, with sourdough in particular, it can lead to excess sourness.

The is a very overly simplistic explanation, but hopefully it help you think about fermentation in a broader scope. Really, the answer is to experiment.

Here is a post that will go into a lot more detail on aspects of fermentation/maturation: https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=41039.0
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, baker's yeast when we must, but always great pizza."  
Craig's Neapolitan Garage

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