Just curious


I wonder sometime whether there is a reason - and what that reasoun could be - that most non-German sourdough bread-baking recipes call for a "rise," a "punch-down," and another "rise," whereas all German sourdough bread-baking instructions I know don't go for a "punch-down" and a second 'rise." or even and "overnight proving in the fridge," except for some high-fat-content dough.

Just curious.

197 users have voted.


lily 2010 November 29

Leaving aside the inevitable cultural differences in baking across the world, bakers have developed certain processes to make the most of the available ingredients for a desired result.

This question may be explained when the primary flours used in the recipes are known, ie high percentage rye breads don't usually require a bulk fermentation then proof as such ('rise then second rise') as there is very little gluten present to form a complex network of gas cells held together with glossy protein walls as in high percentage wheat/white flour bread.  This takes time to form and time also contributes greatly to flavour profiles.  I think most high percentage rye breads are shaped into the loaf form after a relatively short rest and then fermented/risen/proofed in one long timespan.  But I think German sours are built in more stages before the final mix.

The 'punch-down' also refers simply to a fold and turn, a much more gentle redistribution of nutrients for the fermentative yeasts and bacteria, as well as temperature from the exterior to the interior of the dough and vice versa.

Overnight proving in the fridge contributes further to this time factor, as well as allowing more flexibility in the baking schedule.  Cool fermentation alters the flavour profile by favouring different bacteria activity to those fermenting at higher temps. (Lactic vs acetic bacteria)

I haven't answered your query directly as I don't know enough about German formulae and am wondering if the differences are much more complex than the provenance of recipes.  However there are very knowledgable bakers on this forum who are experienced in German breads (do a search for Jeremy's German breads threads).

esbkk 2010 November 29

I fully agree with the "leaving aside the inevitable cultural differences in baking across the world ..."

Yet, some time ago I came across two recipes of nearly an identical sourdough bread, one on a German website, and the other on an American site (I think), using the same ingredients's, but so very different in the preparation.

Unfortunately, I have no longer the references, otherwise I could easily have carried out some tests.

Perhaps I should accept that there are many ways to achieve the same ... 

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