The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

summer baking

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rebecca77's picture
rebecca77

summer baking

Hi. I've been lurking for a month or so (and baking for about a year)--what a wonderful community!  I'm excited that I'm going to have significant time this summer to spend baking, and I was wondering if any of you had some advice.  My apartment doesn't have air conditioning, so it is often upwards of 85 F.  I don't mind baking in the heat, but I’d like to figure out how to compensate for such warm ambient conditions. In particular, I was wondering about the best ways to mimic slow "room temperature" rises. Also, is it possible/desirable to cool the dough down before kneading? While I know books say to knead dough until about 77-81 F, my dough is starting out significantly warmer than this even before any kneading.  Thanks!  

susanfnp's picture
susanfnp

Welcome Rebecca!

You may be already doing this, but using colder water will help with dough temperatures. I keep a bottle of water in the fridge, and sometimes cool it even further with ice. Here's some information about how to use water temp to control dough temp.

Is there anywhere in your apartment that stays a little cooler? In a closet or under the bed, perhaps? You could also experiment with reducing the amount of yeast or starter to compensate for the warmer room temperature. And of course there's always the refrigerator, though this gets a little tricky unless you are purposely trying to retard the dough.

Susanfnp

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Susanfnp's comment is on the money.

The strategies I use in the summer to deal with the heat are:

- less yeast, same time.
- same yeast, less time.
- refrigeration to slow the fermentation down.

Also, remember that bakeries are full of hot ovens, so "room temperature" in most recipes is 78-80 degrees, which is not all that much cooler than your apartment.

Welcome to the site!

Cooky's picture
Cooky

If you have an ice chest or something like that, you can put the dough in there with aa cup or two of ice on the side (in a plastic bag or other container that will prevent melting water from getting into the dough), which will cool the air inside the box a bit, without reaching refrigerator temp. (You'll find you need something square to hold the dough, because these things aren't really designed to hold mixing bowls.) If you are so inclined, you can use a remote-read thermometer to keep track of the temp inside the chest, but I haven't found it necessary.

 

"I am not a cook. But I am sorta cooky."

Larry Clark's picture
Larry Clark

 

Usually there isn't enough room in my refrigerator for proofing dough, especially if its been shaped into loaves , so I put some ice in a 9X13  pan and place it on the bottom rack of my oven with the dougn on the rack above.

Larry
rebecca77's picture
rebecca77

Thanks everyone.  These are really helpful suggestions.  I used cold water and a little less yeast with the bread I'm making today, and it had a very nice, relatively slow first rise. . . it's proofing now, so we will see how it comes out. 

Rebecca

L_M's picture
L_M

One tip I learned from the book "Bread Science" is to put the dough to rest  in the freezer for a few minutes during kneading to cool down. With high temperatures from now til October, I also have to find all sorts of tricks to compensate and very often I need to use ice cubes as part of the total water weight when making up the dough. I aim for a kneaded dough temp of around 72F, and use less yeast than the recipe calls for - that way I find it's easier to stay closer to the timings mentioned in recipes.

Good luck - if I think of anything else that hasn't been mentioned already I'll let you know,

L_M