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Jan 4, 2013 06:10 AM

Over-proofed Bread Question

I put out a loaf of bread to rise last night and just plain forgot about it. The final rise time should have been about 40 minutes. It sat for at least double that time, if not longer. When I baked it you could see that it had risen much more than usual. When I had a slice this morning I was surprised to find that the taste was still very good. The texture was a little more airy or lighter than it usually is but did not resemble Swiss cheese in any way. The bread is a dense artisan-style couronne but ended up a little more American-textured in style. If you hadn't had it before, you probably wouldn't have known there was a difference.

So my long-winded question is this: How is it that bread that had over-proofed for so long still came out pretty well? Is it just that this dough is very forgiving? I've been taken apart for over-proofed bread in competition before and have developed a dread fear of over-proofing now. Should I just get over it and not worry so much?

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  1. proof time also affects browning and oven spring. IME yeast doughs are much more forgiving than sourdoughs. It sounds like just what you said--you happened to choose to make your "mistake" with a forgiving type of bread.
    I would always expect it to taste good--it takes a super duper long retard--like more than a week--for most yeast doughs to get noticeably off. Almost without exception, retarding improves flavor and texture. The trick is to balance flavor against the other acts of leaveners I mentioned initially.

    Everything about bread baking is a lesson, no?
    I don't think there should be any dread fear! It's a labor of love. Enjoy yourself and learn. You ended up with something quite edible, which I consider the bonus round of mistake making.

    1. Proofing time seems to be my current baking nemesis. A couple times I let it way over proof, and now I'm gun shy and not letting it go long enough.

      1 Reply
      1. re: kengk

        Do you do the poke test for proofing?

      2. Cook and bake how you like and what tastes good to you. If people want to complain they can bloody well tie an apron on and do it themselves has always been my motto.

        Obviously competitions are a different story, but we're not really talking about that here.

        1. When I've overproofed I just punch it back down and let it rise again briefly, seems fine.

          1. Whether over-proofed bread will be good, bad, or better really depends on the type of bread you are making.

            It usually comes down to a balancing act between flavor (from fermentation) versus texture (gluten formation).