The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Summer baking and oven spring

Banker's picture

Summer baking and oven spring

I am an experienced baker but I am having some difficulty in achieving  a decent oven spring during the Midwestern summer months. I am baking with primarily white whole wheat flour and using sourdough and yeasted formulas that have been successful. Flour and water are both fresh.  The doughs are slacker than typical even though I have increased the flour.  My house has AC and I have been using a proofing box that has produced good results. First rise is good, second rise is decent but not great.   Any advice is appreciated

Davo's picture

Oven spring decrease for me (I make SD only) is usually a sign of overproofing. Try shortening up your times or reducing temps. In summer, when kitchen temps tend to be a bit higher, I sometimes cycle my bulk-fermenting SD in and out of the fridge, to keep it cool. Shouldnt really affect you with AC, but maybe despite that the ambient temp is still a little higher than in winter? WIth SD, I always get a feel for ripeness using the poke test and, because I know exactly what my loaves weigh and can judge their size increase based on their height in the banetton, I use that as a guide as well.

Sometimes with SD loaves, the skin can get a little slack if it's gotten to a certain stage of proof that's just past optimum, and while you can't wind back the clock in terms of gluten de-naturing or how much food the bugs have eaten, I find that whacking the banettons in the fridge for a short period uncovered (like 10 mins) can "tighten" up the skin, and stop the loaves slumping quite so much as they otherwiese might do when they hit the stone in the oven. They slump intially anyway for the first few minutes before coming back to rise as the heat blows up the bubbles in the dough, but that little bit of extra intial skin tightness seems to help a little bit.

When you talk about (good) first rise versus (less impressive) second rise, well, i guess that will depend on where you draw the line (ie shape the loaves) - those bugs don't know what number you are attributing to them. So maybe if you shorten that initial rise and shape earlier, some of that "good" initial rise will end up being "good" in the second rise... Then bake a little earlier in that matruation cycle and the loaves may still have a bit of oomph in them at the oven. I was always told you want the best overall rise, not the biggest rise you can get before the loaves hit theoven, because at that point the bread is way way overproved.

grind's picture

What if you skip the bulk altogether and move right into a very short bench rest, shaping, proofing and then the oven?  Never tried that myself, but it has crossed my mind more then once ...