Fermentation and "good keeping qualities"

TimPan

I'm an apprentice in Brisbane. Quoted from this site...

"Fermentation is a key part of making bread flavoursome, digestible and have good keeping qualities."

Can someone explain to me how controlling the fermentation process affects the "good keeping qualities" of a loaf

Thanks: TimPan

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Graham's picture
Graham 2006 March 18

[quote]
Fermentation is a key part of making bread flavoursome, digestible and have good keeping qualities. Attention to fermentation techniques provides one indication of a bakers artisan skill.
[/quote]

My main point here was that fermentation acidifies the dough and makes it more resistant to infection in its baked form. However on another level, fermentation 'ripens' the dough, conditioning proteins and producing an ideal situation where gluten is ready to retain carbon dioxide as it is released from feeding yeasts (fermentation). Technique and timing is critical because excessive fermentation will destroy the membrane forming proteins (gluten). Additionally, yeast will eventually consume the fuel in its immediate vicinity and begin to loose activity (equals less carbon dioxide).

Many bakers would have experienced the satisfaction of having a dough 'hit' the oven at the point where yeast is still active and there is a perfectly conditioned dough ready to support the rapid increase in carbon dioxide as yeast activity increases as the dough warms. The oven spring is something special.

The result is a well risen bread with beautifully developed silky membranes rather than powdery crumb. The silky membranes will hold their integrity and their moisture for days more than the powder crumb. If the membranes are also a little acidic, then they are more resistant to spoilage through infection by airborn/fingerborn bacteria.

Really the comment was made to further the argument that it is an artisan skill to achieve good dough characteristics through fermentation rather than through addition of packet acidifiers and 'improvers'.

Thanks for your query. I hope we get some other perspectives because my explanation is rather intuitive. A view on the role of sugars and how that is revealed in crust characteristics would be very relevant.

Graham

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