The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

The risks of pushing bulk too far on brioche?

barrymccain's picture

The risks of pushing bulk too far on brioche?

I've been making yeasted brioche doughnuts in small batches (20) and they come out great. I got my hands on a bigger mixer to make a larger batch (75) and they didn't come out as well. When frying they didn't inflate as much, had a habit of forming a large air bubble on one side of 'the ring' causing them to tilt in the oil, and generally weren't as light and fluffy as I'd expect -- that classic brioche texture.

Part of the process is an overnight retard. I bulk proofed for an hour after mixing, in which time the dough about doubled in size. I fully knocked back, deflated, covered and refrigerated overnight at 3 degrees Celsius. The next morning the dough has proofed again to 3-4 times it's original size. 

I knocked back, divided, shaped and proofed for frying. When shaping, the dough wasn't as 'glossy' as usual and the final texture of my balls was more raggedy. Then when proofing for the fry the balls didn't retain their shape as much and there was almost visible 'strands' in the dough.

I know there are things to trip you up when scaling up a recipe, but I was wondering if anyone could help with the science or pitfalls from overproofing the initial bulk before dividing and shaping.


tpassin's picture

A larger amount of dough will cool down in the refrigerator more slowly than a small amount.  The interior will continue to ferment while the outside has mostly stopped.  The warm interior will also let heat move toward the exterior, which will slow down the cooling of those parts too.

I don't know if that happened to you but it sounds likely.  One easy remedy would be to divide the dough into smaller pieces for retardation.


barrymccain's picture

Thanks Tom. I did think that. Definitely going to either divide or do a few folds to redistribute heat next time.

Do you know the risks or results of over proofing at this stage?

tpassin's picture

Not with specifically respect to making doughnuts but generally speaking, here are some things that can happen with too much fermentation -

- Stretch the gluten too far so that the cell walls of large gas bubbles get too thin and weak;

- Allow too much attack on the gluten by various enzymes.

- Use up too much of the available food for the yeast and organisms.  This could show up in poor expansion during proof or bake, and also in a pale color after baking;

- Produce a very acidic dough.  This might not matter for your application, but it could produce more sourness in the flavor.  In extreme cases it might weaken the gluten;

pmccool's picture

dividing the larger dough mass into two or three pieces would get you closer to your prior results.

First, the individual pieces, being more nearly the size of your 20-doughnut batch, would chill in a similar time frame.  That means less fermentation during the cold retard time.

Second, smaller pieces would allow you to pull just one at a time from the refrigerator so that they get less bench time before frying.  Again, their characteristics would be closer to those of your original batch.

One other factor to consider is that yeast quantities don't scale linearly with, say, flour quantities.  Larger batches of dough generally require a lower percentage of yeast than do smaller batches.  Sorry I can't suggest a specific adjustment but you may wish to do some experimenting with yeast quantities.