Bulk fermentation

A beginners guide to sourdough

Bulk fermentation

A beginners guide to sourdough

This is a part of an in depth 'beginner's guide to sourdough baking' from CooklyBookly founder Freddy May. Click here to see the full collection. Feedback is very welcome, so please send comments to

What is bulk fermentation?

This is the formal term for what is often called the first proof. 'Bulk' refers to the fact that professional bakeries make a huge quantity of dough. Say they would make 50 loaves, then they would mix all the dough together in one batch and ferment in in bulk.

Once the fermentation is over, they then divide and shape the dough ready for the proof.

Ferment well

Many of my disasters were down to the fact that I did not ferment carefully enough. I find that there are just a couple of things to do properly that make all the difference.

  • Ferment in a warm place - if it's too cold, the fermentation will take too long and you tend to get impatient and cut it a little short. I have a Brod and Taylor bread proofer that lets me be consistent. But any spot that is somewhere around 25℃ plus or minus 10% is ideal for me. You can also be outside this range but bear in mind it will ferment quicker or slower depending on the temperature. Having a digital thermometer is a great help to understanding your dough's temperature.
  • Make sure it has risen by 70% - I have occasionally not let it ferment for long enough after the stretch and folds and I've paid the price.

What now?

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