Author Topic: Effects of Longer Fermentation?  (Read 2254 times)

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Offline Count Crustulus

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Effects of Longer Fermentation?
« on: May 21, 2008, 03:44:41 PM »
Hi All.

I just threw a pizza party for my family, who were in town for graduation. I made two pies following the Lehmann NY Style recipe. I've made this recipe twice in the past using a 24 hour cold rise. Changing nothing, I let the dough rise for 72 hours this time around. The pizzas I've made in the past have been good, but this one was way better. The dough was just much more flavorful. My questions are:

- Is this the result of the longer rise or improved technique?
- What, in general, are the effects of a longer ferment?

Your help is always much appreciated.

Count Crustulus

Offline scott r

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Re: Effects of Longer Fermentation?
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2008, 03:25:31 AM »
- Is this the result of the longer rise or improved technique?

Count, 24 hours of fermentation is a short enough amount of time that even in the fridge you should see a decent expansion of the dough before you use it.  If you did not at least see the dough double I would say that your first attempt was under proofed.   It gets a bit tricky with longer fridge fermentations because there comes a point where you can no longer use the physical amount of rise as an indication of how far into proofing your dough is. Your 72 hour fridge dough, depending on how much yeast was used, was more than likely closer to the peak of proper proofing.   Say that 5 times fast! If you want to give us some numbers we can let you know if your recipe was better suited to shorter or longer runs in the fridge.

- What, in general, are the effects of a longer ferment?

A long proofed dough can be less able to trap air bubbles made by the yeast in it's weakened gluten mesh resulting in less rise and oven spring than a dough that is used at its peak. At the end of a doughs usability it is often hard to get good crust coloration.  Along with this comes more flavor. 

In my opinion a dough at it's peak would be used a point where the gluten mesh has broken down just enough to leave the dough nice and tender, but still able to gain maximum height from oven spring and have plenty of available sugars left to give a nice crunch and color to the crust. Hopefully the dough has also had sufficient time to develop a decent amount of flavor from fermentation.

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Effects of Longer Fermentation?
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2008, 08:17:15 AM »
Count Crustulus,

What you experienced was the effects of increased byproducts of fermentation due to the long period (3 days) of fermentation. Those byproducts of fermentation affect not only crust flavor but also the texture, color and aroma of the finished crust. The basic Lehmann dough formulation will usually make it out to three days without any difficulty, although the dough may become quite extensible (stretchy) at that point, especially if the hydration is on the high side, say, 63% or better. After about three days, the basic Lehmann dough is also prone to depletion of natural sugars. As a result, Tom Lehmann often recommends that some sugar be added to the original dough when the dough is intended to go beyond about three days. That way, the yeast will continue to be fed and there will be sufficient residual sugar in the dough to contribute to crust coloration but not so much as to cause the bottom of the crust to brown prematurely or excessively when baked on a stone surface, as in a deck oven or on a home pizza stone.

After about three days with a basic Lehmann dough, the gluten structure of the dough will start to degrade as a result of enzymes that attack and weaken the gluten structure. Often, water is released into the dough, making it damp and a bit slack. This latter condition can appear as soon as three days but it is usually a few days later under normal circumstances (in which you have followed the basic instructions for making the Lehmann dough). Trying to get a good crust at that point becomes problematic. The dough can be difficult to handle, thin spots and tears can occur during shaping and stretching, and the finished crust can be flat and lack color, and be almost cracker-like in texture. The crust flavors will be much enhanced, because of all the flavor-enhancing byproducts of fermentation, but at the expense of the other qualities that you want in the finished crust. Once the dough reaches this point, it is for all intents and purposes "dead" and cannot be resurrected.

What you might try sometime as a simple experiment is to make a basic Lehmann dough as you have been making it and let the dough ferment in the refrigerator for around 6 or 7 days. If your schedule permits, you should watch the changes in the dough over that time, in terms of its volume expansion and the way the dough expands. I use a glass storage container such as a 1-qt. Pyrex glass bowl to view the dough, and I also look at the bottom of the dough to see when bubbles start to form there. Then, after about 6-7 days, let the dough warm up on your kitchen counter for about an hour or so and try to form a skin out of it. The purpose of doing this is not to necessarily make a pizza out of the dough, which may or may not be possible, but to teach you to recognize the signs of a dough that is past its prime or at least headed in that direction. I have made and killed several doughs just to learn these lessons. But once you learn them, they will always be with you. If you decide to conduct an experiment along the above lines, I hope you will return to the forum and describe your results.


Offline Bryan S

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Re: Effects of Longer Fermentation?
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2008, 03:42:41 PM »
I go 5-11 days cold ferment with my dough. Never had any problems stretching it out. But I use it cold/straight from the fridge, no warming up on the counter.  :D
Making great pizza and learning new things everyday.