Sourdough: A Different Rising Schedule

In the context of my recent sourdough attempts I've made a couple observations: 1. I realize a long fermentation is necessary but doing the majority of the fermentation during the third rise using a refrigerator and warming up the dough is inconvenient. Warming it from the fridge takes a long time (ca. 3 hours) and sometimes the warming results in slight condensation and the dough sticks to the linen-lined basket. 2. Rises tend to speed up going from the 1st fermentation to the preshaping to the final proof. It must correspond to rapidly increasing yeast population.

So . . . why not do the really long fermentation first instead of making it the third, retarded fermention? E.g., do the first fermentation over the course of 10 hours or so (work day or during the night) and bake the loaf after a pre-shaping followed by a more brief final proof?

Well, we have a playgroup today and I wanted a two-pounder to be ready for it and wanted to try this new scheme.

Sourdough Boule with a long first rise and no retarding step
1.Dough: Silverton's white starter (200 g), water (300 g, cool), unbleached white flour (500 g), kosher salt (10 g), honey (15 g), butter (1.5 T) and wheat germ (ca. 1/4 C, I enjoy using wheat germ lately by the way).
2. The mixture was machine kneaded for 13 minutes.
3. The resulting firm dough was fermented for 10 hours at an ambient (basement) temperature of 69F; it increased in volume at least 2.5X.
4. The dough was punched down and allowed to rest in the shape of a boule for 30 minutes.
5. The dough was again punched down and shaped into a boule and placed in my linen-lined basket and covered with plastic and allowed to rise at 73F for 1.5 hours.
6. The dough was dumped on a peel (no sticking), docked and baked at 450F first 5 min and then 425F for 40 minutes with initial steam shot on clay tiles.
7. Cooled the loaf for two hours, sliced and ate.

-It was good, darn good. Moist, nice crumb. If I was being picky, the crumb was a bit tight and maybe I could've done the final proof for 2 hours instead of 1.5.

-But, after the long rise, I'm still committed to 3 hours of waiting prior to baking (similar to the refrigerator retarding protocol). What fascinates me is the flexibility when not using added yeast. The doughs seem to be able to tolerate just about any schedule.

-This particular schedule could best be applied in our life by mixing the dough in the morning, letting it rise the entire workday, a pre-shape and final proof at night and, after a cooling period, the loaf would be ready for the next day. Big boules need a long cool down time so it'd be tough to make it for dinner.

-It was an interesting expt, just thought I'd share.

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