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Novice here,not able to understand why second rises are neccessary.

Some says that second proof can make the bubbles distribute more evenly but ,say,if I knead the dough properly and it has a nice gluten structure to hold the bubbles,would the proof still be necessary to make a well aired bread?

Also,won’t the bread taste less ‘sweet’ if the yeast eat up most of the sugar in the flour?I ‘ve tried searching and as far as I could find,article s explaining this are scarce but on the other hand many recipes state that second rise can largely enhance the flavor and taste.

I know there are possibly a lot of misconceptions above, (and I will keep learning,)so any related fact or material is strongly welcomed .Thanks a lot!!!!!!

edit:in this sense then Let us assume that we knead and shaped the bread before the first rise

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    Make a batch of dough. Split it 2 or 3 ways; form one into a loaf immediately and bake when risen. Give the next one a second rise. If you do 3, give the third a 3rd rise. Taste, feel, etc. for yourself. They will all be bread. There will be some differences. You can decide which you like better, or what matters to you, based on your own experience. There is, IMHO, an excess of "The One True Way" dogma in bread books (websites, videos, whatever...)
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented May 14 at 11:37
  • Thanks a lot!!But I‘m still wondering if there is any special mechanism behind this mysterious second rise technique..I saw a lot of experienced bakers use it with those big-air-holes french loaves but can't see why…By the way,as for the experiment,I failed,it is hard to tell if there is any perceptible change at all …indeed my baking skills need urgent improvement;)
    – Rita
    Commented May 19 at 12:50
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    That's not a failure. That's an indication that not worrying about it is fine. The differences are slight enough that you're noT noticing any, so it doesn't matter. Indeed, having made the experiment, take some pictures of the cut loaves and post an answer.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented May 19 at 20:30

2 Answers 2

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My understanding of yeast mysteries comes from baking, brewing beer and running a craft distillery. All these involve maximizing flavor from yeast fermentation.

Yeast has 3 completely different metabolic states:

1) Dormant. The dried yeast in your fridge is dormant. No metabolism happening.

2) Growth. If yeast is put under good conditions of temperature, moisture and nutrients, it reproduces as fast as it can to take advantage of the nutrients before competing bacteria get the upper hand. Basically, yeast takes sugar and turns it into more yeast. Yeast divides every 2 hours, whereas bacteria divide every 20 minutes, so yeast needs to really work at keeping ahead of the bacteria. This growth phase is when yeast makes all those flavorful chemicals which bakers, brewers and distillers seek. For instance, one of the chemicals yeast makes is Isoamyl Acetate which gives bananas their aroma.

3) Fermentation. Once yeast has reproduced, it switches to turning sugar in its environment into ethanol (booze-type alcohol) and CO2. This strategy accomplishes two things: it denies sugar to competing bacteria and it poisons the bacteria (which are less resistant to ethanol than yeast are). Once the alcohol level has risen to around 7%, the bacteria can no longer grow. The yeast can then leisurely metabolize the ethanol as food, with the end product being water and CO2.

To make flavorful bread, you want your yeast to spend as long as possible in the growth phase so it makes yummy chemicals. There are a number of ways to encourage this:

  1. Use a recipe that relies on a poolish. This is a little bit of yeast, allowed to grow overnight. 16 hours (8 doubling times) will allow each yeast cell to become 256 yeast cells.
  2. Add 1/2 tsp of olive oil to the poolish. Yeast requires oil to make cell membranes when growing. Oil is often the rate-limiting nutrient.
  3. Let your dough do its first rise overnight in the fridge rather than for a shorter time at room temperature.
  4. After the first rise, punch the dough down and let it rise again. More time, more growth phase, more flavor.

To make bread fluffy, you then allow the yeast to ferment remaining sugar and the ethanol it has created itself. This produces CO2 which is necessary to make light bread. Thus the rational for punching down the first rise: it gives more time for the yeast to grow and increase flavor.

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After cutting into shapes the CO2 gas produced during the fermentation process bleeds out, which will make a significant crumb crush in size, so some time is given to the cut portions to rise in volume again so that we get more openness to the crumb.

The simple logic behind this is that gas needs to accumulate in between the gluten strands which force the mesh structure to leaven, so we get a eye catching finished product otherwise in some cases breads become cakey!

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