Dough does not rise as expected while bulk fermenting


Hi all this is my first post I like this site and community a lot, thanks for the so many tips I learnt over time!

i am looking for advice as I feel my dough does not rise quicky enough during bulk fermentation. The context is this:

- 2 months old sd, 100% hyd, refreshed 1:1:1 with 45gr apf and 15gr rye flour

- sd kept in the fridge, refreshed mid week and then fri morning and evening to be ready for saturday morning baking

- sd looks healthy, smells good, bubbly, doubles in 3-4  hours after feeding

I am now baking the 1.2.3 recipe, where for x grams of sd I add 2x water and 3x flour. 

When bulk fermenting for 2-3 hours I see NO rising or very limited rising, it somehow improves during the final proofing. At the end the bread is good and the oven spring is very good so I could not complain after all, but since I read in many recipes that dough should double in size when bulk fermenting for 2-3 hours I am worried because my sd may be not effective enough...

kitchen temp is now 21 celsius

Thanks in advance for any advice you may offer!



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farinam's picture
farinam 2013 February 24

Hi Aldo,

You don't mention what you might be doing during your bulk ferment stage but if, for instance, you are using the stretch and fold method or staged kneading then the working of the dough that is going on will affect the volume that is achieved.  One of the main reasons for the bulk ferment stage is to give the time necessary for the dough to be properly developed so that you have the correct structure and enough nascent gas bubbles distributed in a manner that you would like so that a loaf can be shaped that will be stable for final proving.  The fact that it is rising during proving and that you seem to be getting good oven spring is what really matters.

The other thing that you could try is to find somewhere a little warmer.  If there is not a room in the house that has a higher temp then you could try your oven with just the light turned on or heat the oven for a few minutes until it feel comfortably warm inside or put a couple of inches of hot water in your kitchen sink with a rack or upturned container to keep the bowl above the water level and cover the lot with a towel.

The possibility is however that you will exchange early rising for reduced later rising and/or oven spring and end up with a similar result overall and, if the whole process is shortened as a result of working at a higher temperature, some loss in flavour

Hope this helps and good luck with your projects.



Aldox62 2013 February 24

Hi Farinam thanks for the comments first of all...

While bulk fermentation is ongoing I do hourly stretch and folds and it is at that moments that I notice the dough not starting to rise as it does when I bake with cake yeast

as for thr temperature, will try the oven approach.


However, you' re right if the result is ok why should I worry??

Well I would just like to understand why some recipes tell you that a couple of bulk fermentation hours should be enough for the dough to double in size. And, as a matter of fact, this is exactly what my sd does in its glass jar after feeding. i was thinking that behavior should have been translated to the full mass of dough





farinam's picture
farinam 2013 February 24

Hi Aldo,

Why don't you try something like doing a standard knead at the start to develop the strength of your dough and then leave it undisturbed for the rest of the time and see what happens.

The other thing to keep in mind is that with your starter you are dealing with maybe a couple of hundred grams at 100% hydration whereas with your dough you have maybe a kilogram at 75% hydration.  There are all sorts of factors such as reagent concentration, mass transfer, thermal mass, temperature etc that will affect the rate of reaction.

The time lines that people publish are those that work for their particular starter and conditions and should be considered to be a guide only.  You should work to what works for you so don't be afraid to experiment with your timing and get to learn what happens if you take it a bit further or even too far.  The experience will stand you in good stead in the long run.

Good luck with your projects.


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