The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How do you control temperatures

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OldWoodenSpoon's picture
OldWoodenSpoon

How do you control temperatures

for fermentation, resting and proofing? Or, do you...


I am trying to learn so I read a lot about building bread, but one (well, one at a time) thing I keep seeing, I don't get.  For example, I was just reading about making Scali on SteveB's web site at Bread Cetera. Thank you Steve, that is a great site, and the breads are gorgeous. There are multiple references to rising and resting at different and very specific temperatures for a specified time.  I see resting the biga overnight at 70F.  I see the ferment at 76F for 1 hour and 15 minutes, and I see proofing at 74F for 1 1/2 hours.  I see all this, and I understand it, but how do you do it?


How do you manage to control your temperatures so precisely in order to follow those instructions?  My house has variable and not all that well controlled temperatures.  They rarely, and never predictably, match the requirements of any given recipe at any particular time.  Is it as simple (not to say easy) as learning to vary the times to compensate for the temperatures?  Cooler takes longer, and warmer takes less time?  Those variations have to have an impact on the results though.  Can you compensate for that as well, or do you just take what comes of it?  I need help getting my brain around this so I can start trying to practice it.


OldWoodenSpoon

SteveB's picture
SteveB

Hi 'Spoon,


I control fermentation and proofing temperatures using a homemade proof box, the details of which can be seen here:


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/8947/quick-proofing-box-available-materials#comment-46000


You can also, as you suggest, work at slightly different temperatures as long as a corresponding change in timing is applied.


 


SteveB


www.breadcetera.com


 

OldWoodenSpoon's picture
OldWoodenSpoon

that you don't have to have some high-tech commercial proofing equipment.  Thanks, SteveB, for the prompt response.  That's a very creative solution.  With the thermostat you are able to control temperatures as finely as your formulas describe then.


I have already tried something crudely similar with an old box from a really big CRT monitor and an electric skillet of hot water in the bottom for humidity, and that certainly works when warmer than ambient temperatures are needed, but so far I've had difficulty controlling it to a particular temperature.  I'll just have to try to control the temperature in that rig then, until I can assemble something less crude.


Is anyone doing something as creative and inexpensive to lower temperatures when things are too warm?


OldWoodenSpoon

SteveB's picture
SteveB

'Spoon,


When I get some time, my next project will be the construction of a Peltier-powered cooler-heater, of the type shown here:


http://www.electronickits.com/kit/complete/peltier/ck500.pdf


The parts are relatively inexpensive (the entire Peltier module is said to cost around $30) and the insulated container can be used to either heat or cool its contents.


 


SteveB


www.breadcetera.com


  

Susan's picture
Susan

Maybe not, but I use a foam ice chest.  I put my dough bowl in first, cover it with a plate or whatever, then place a shallow bowl of ice on top.  I use an instant-read thermometer to check it from time to time.


To warm the dough, I quite often boil a cup of water in the microwave, leave the cup there, and put the dough bowl in.  Microwave OFF, of course!


These work-arounds are good for me, but I'm not working with large amounts of dough.


Susan from San Diego

OldWoodenSpoon's picture
OldWoodenSpoon

That's a great idea Susan, and I'm sure even I can figure out how to do it!  Have you found that you can control the temperature this way, or does it just get "cooler".  I'm wondering if you have found that using more or less ice gives you any variation in temperature?  I'm thinking of those days when it is 78F in the kitchen but I need a 74F proof or fermentation temp, and I don't want to turn on the AC for the benefit of the dough.  I'll try it if I have another hot baking day this Fall, but I need to go get a foam cooler first.


Thank you for the easy and, yes, creative ideas.


OldWoodenSpoon

Susan's picture
Susan

That I try not to sweat the small stuff.  Just getting the dough a little cooler works for me.  Probably adding more ice would drop the temp, but a Pyrex cereal-sized bowl half full of ice is what I usually use.  Of course, it depends on the size of your ice chest, too.  Mine's pretty small. 


Nothing's simple, is it?  But I keep trying.



Susan

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Hi Woodenspoon
welcome to TFL some good ideas there on how to maintain your dough temperature during the proving, the other part of your question is arriving at a precise temperature.
In the bakehouse finished temperatures are as important as a train timetable is on the railway.
In my time as the dough maker i would start work at 8pm and would have to have the doughs ready for processing at the height of maturity which was when the rest of the bakers arrived and started work at 2.00 am. and progressivly through the morning the mixing bowls contained 600lbs of flour and i ran two mixers which took 20 minutes to mix bulk fermentation time was 4 hours.
First job was to take the temperature of the flour and using a simple factor scale would determine the temperature of the water required for the mix, remembering that water temp is the easiest thing that you can control to give the desired finished temperature.
Returning to my 40 YEAR OLD hand written tech notes it says
SIMPLE FACTORS: FOR EVERY 2 DIFFERENCE IN THE SIMPLE FACTOR THERE IS A 1 DEGREE FARENHEIGHT RISE OR FALL IN THE FINISHED DOUGH TEMPERATURE
150 = 80 DEGREE FINISH
148 = 79 DEGREE FINISH
146 = 78 DEGREE FINISH
146 = 77 DEGREE FINISH
144 = 76 DEGREE FINISH
142 = 75 DEGREE FINISH
So if my dough was to finish at 78 dgrees and my flour temperature was 75 degrees i would apply the above chart and take the flour temperature away from the the charts 146 telling me the water temperature will need to be 68 degrees.

Your simple factor chart can vary a little from location to location NOW at the end of your mixing take and RECORD the temperature of the dough.
There are influences that can effect the final temp such as friction of the mixer or a tighter or slacker dough.but all things being equall its a good starting point.
The other important thing then is yeast quantities and again consulting the little red book there is a scale of yeast based on the old flour bag containing 150lbs of flour (how ever did i lift those suckers into the bowl as a teenage apprentice they come in 10 kg paper bags now)
DOUGH TIME 8 HOURS = 1LB YEAST PER BAG(150LBS)
" " 7 HOURS = 1.25LBS "
" " 6 HOURS = 1.5LBS "
" " 5 HOURS = 1.75LBS "
" " 4 HOURS = 2LBS "
" " 3 HOURS = 3LBS "
" " 2 HOURS = 4LBS "
" " 1 HOUR = 8LBS "
So if you can control your finished temperature and you can control the amount of yeast you can be reasonably confident at the time it will be ready.
I like to finish my doughs which are much smaller these days at home at 78 degrees so i will use the simple factor scale of 146 (combined temps of flour and water for the finish temp).
So then it is into your controlled proving environment.
hope this is of some assitance and my advice is record everything it is all very usefull data even in a little red book 40 years later.
regards yozza

OldWoodenSpoon's picture
OldWoodenSpoon

Thank you for sharing your vast and clearly hard-earned experience.  That's awesome!  So by use of these simple factors you control the temperature of the dough when finished, and by controlling the amount of yeast proportionately you control the rising "power" in the dough, and through that combination you produce a dough with predictable and repeatable performance in timing...  Did I get all that?


That little red book of yours is priceless!  Thank you!


Old Wooden Spoon

yozzause's picture
yozzause

HI OLD WOODEN SPOON
By George i think you have got it, i just love it when something i say actually seems to make sense to someone else.
I always used to get a bit of a thrill when you had an apprentice learning dough making and the penny dropped, not rocket science but a bit of mystery unraveled.
Yes the hand written notes are now invaluable, and a source of much laughter, when i showed it to one of the lectures at the Technical college where i work as a supply officer.
He read the following extract to a class of new students just starting their careers in the food industry.

HINTS TO APPRENTICES IN THE BAKING TRADE
1. HE MUST BE WILLING AND CONSCIENTIOUS WORKER
2.HE SHOULD BE PUNCTUAL IN ARRIVAL AT HIS WORK AT ALL TIMES
3.HE MUST BE CLEAN IN HIS WORK AND HABITS
4.HE MUST RESPECT AND OBEY THE MAN IN WHOSE CHARGE HE IS PLACED
5. HE MUST BE MENTALY AND PHYSICALLY FIT.

It then gives a lengthy explanation for all those points i will only go into number 4 for fear of boring TFL members
4. The apprentice should remeber that he is placed under a tradesman to gain the latters knowledge an experience. He has undertaked to pass this knowledge onto you but will obviously only do so if he receives your full cooperation.
The man in charge has gained his position by his ability and experience and is entitled to your respect and obedience. If you do this he will show you the right methods and advise you throughout your apprenticeship. if you don't you will only have yourself to blame if you don't learn all you should. The tradesman is responsible for you to the manager or the employer, Don't let him down. REMEBER one of these days you will be a tradesman in his position, and treat him as you would expect your apprentice to treat you!

By the way don't forget the measurements i gave were IMPERIAL not US.
WE use KG'S & GRAMS now so alot of the RED BOOK formulas have to be converted.
REGARD YOZZA

aznana's picture
aznana

Since I am a bit of a math geek, I took the liberty of converting the yeast measurements per 150 lb flour to Bakers %.


8 Hr    .333%


7 Hr    .833%


6 Hr    1%


5 Hr   1.66%


4 Hr   1.33%


3 Hr    2%


2 Hr   2.66%


1 Hr   5.33%


Thanks yozza for this info, I have printed it out for my kitchen reference!

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Many thanks for that i shall print a reference copy myself, it worked well in big batches, i will have to see if it is spot on scaled down.


NOW THE SIMPLE FACTOR TABLE with its rule that for evry 2 difference in the simple factor is a drop or rise of 1 degree, id like to see that one converted from farenheight to centigrade.


Now there is a challeng CHEERS Yozza

yozzause's picture
yozzause

JUST a reminder the yeast table is based on fresh compressed yeast


regards yozza