Growth of Baking Yeast

Kenneth Sole sole at
Sat Sep 6 16:04:07 EST 1997

On the baking newsgroup I said "This may really belong on a
molecular biology group..."

Well, here it is...

I am learning how to make a variety of French breads which
require several stages of "refreshment." That is, they start with
a small bit of dough which then ferments naturally (from the
yeast in the flour and in the air.) To this is added more flour
and water in stages.

I have noticed that if the first starter takes, say, 28 hours to
double, all the following stages will take (pretty close to) that
same amount of time.

This conflicts with my intuition about the growth of yeast. I
would assume that the starter takes a (long) period of time
because it consists of a large volume of flour and water relative
to a tiny amount of yeast. The yeast then starts (slowly) to work
on the flour, growing in its own happy way. Eventually, I
reasoned, the culture becomes strong enough that it starts
throwing off significant amounts of carbon dioxide and then the
dough starts to rise, until the point that it is double its
original volume.

At that point (and here's the catch) I add to this roaring
culture some more flour and water. I would think that the culture
would then go to work rather quickly, but it does not.

And so my question:


If you choose to respond, please remember that I am not a
molecular biologist, though I know a few (fine people all). I am
a civilian.

Thanks for any comments!

Please respond here, and also via email (after removing "SPAMLESS.")


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