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Baking in Hot Weather: Preventing Overproofing, Compromising Flavor

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DulceBHbc's picture

Baking in Hot Weather: Preventing Overproofing, Compromising Flavor

Preface: I am a beginner baker. I am trying to understand the chemistry in order to troubleshoot.

Problem: I made successful two batches of Peter Reinhart's bagel recipe. The weather in my kitchen was probably between 70 and 75F when I made them. This week, when my kitchen swayed between 80 and 85F, I made two more batches. 

First batch: Bagels had flavor, but were FLAT. They were also moist in the middle, not hearty/bodied like the crumb should be. After some sleuthing, I determined that I overproofed the sponge and the dough. I left it out for the same amount of time as was recommended in the recipe. Given the difference in temperature, I probably should have halved the proofing time. 

Second batch: Bagels were beautiful, but lacked flavor. Things I did different: halved the proofing time. Didn't allow it to proof outside in ambient kitchen temperature (around 80F) after they were shaped. They immediately went from shaping to the refrigerator. I boiled/baked them approximately 8 to 9 hours after they were placed in the refrigerator.

My Suspicions:

First batch: Obvious overproofing issues

Second batch: Possibly underproofed during the refrigeration stage. I probably should've waited more along the lines of 15–20 hours before boiling/baking them.

What are your diagnoses? I was really excited about this bagel recipe because I had two great batches, but the last two batches are frustrating me.

dabrownman's picture

2nd batch float right out of the oven when placed in near simmering water?

DulceBHbc's picture

What do you mean? I didn't try the float test after I took it out of the oven.

If you meant to ask if it floated after I shaped them and when I boiled them, then yes, I did. They floated immediately, which lead me to suspect that there was too much air. The recipe said it should take about 10 seconds to float from the bottom to the top of the waterline.

dabrownman's picture

was because my normal test for bagels is if they don't float immediately, not 10 seconds later, they are under poofed and need more time.  Normally bagels need more retard time at 38 F, then what you used, to get proper proofing - say 18 hours like wally.  I use a straight dough with SD levain and sometimes let them proof a little too before refrigerating. I make a dough ball the same thickness as the bagel and put it with them and this ball is what I test for floating.

Also, I like to simmer only 30 seconds per side right out of the fridge.  More or less simmering per side gives me worse results when it comes to spring in the oven.

Some of the best bagel makers claim their bagels never float right away, never proof them before or after refrigerating - with no development or fermentation before shaping either and they boil for 1 minute a side or more.   There is more than one way to skin a bagel.

wally's picture

Couple thoughts:

1- In hot weather you may want to retard them immediately after shaping.  In the winter when temps are cooler, I'll give bagels up to 30 minutes proofing time before retarding.

2- I'll retard bagels in refrigeration for 18-24 hours.  I haven't used Reinhart's formula, preferring a straight dough with no preferments. With unprefermented doughs you don't get maximum flavor development for about 24 hours, so they favor a long retardation. Using a sponge, however, almost certainly shortens the period for maximum flavor development.  But even then, I think 8-9 hours is insufficient time, and from my experience most pro bagel makers shape the dough one day and bake the following.

Beyond 24 hours, instead of retarding them after a short room temp proof,  I freeze them, and then the night before I want to bake, move them to refrigeration to allow them to defrost.  Then from refrigerator right into boiling water.

Good luck,


DulceBHbc's picture

Thanks for the thoughts, Larry. Your suspicions corroborate mine. I should've been more patient and let it rest in the refrigerator a bit longer. But I'm glad I learned what I did with the last two batches.

thihal123's picture

If you don't want to retard them in the refrigerator, you can also keep the doughs to proof in the larder (which is what I do), or cupboard, or laundry closet, or walk-in closet.

DulceBHbc's picture

I wish that were an option. It's even hotter in all those areas you mention. (I'm in L.A.!)

baybakin's picture

Another option is to perhaps (if possible) use a sourdough starter instead of yeast, this works much (depending on your starter) slower and would provide more flavor.  This is what I did when I lived in San Diego.