The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Optimum Proof Temperature

John Ambrose's picture
John Ambrose

Optimum Proof Temperature

My starter will celebrate his first birthday next month. It seems to be very robust, however two issues have plagued the process since starting. These issues are flavor and proofing, which may be related.

Process overview:

Flour (KA Bread) 100%

Water 65%

Starter 20% (have varied the hydration levels from 50% to 150%)

Salt 2%

Autolyse 20 min, add salt, first rise 2hrs, strech and fold, another 2hr rise, strech and fold, preshape, overnight in refrigerator, warm up then shape with final proof up to 3hrs.

The kitchen is typically ~70 F for the proof. Loaves look good, but oven kick can be as much as 50% as displayed in the attached pics. Minimal SD tanginess.

Any suggestions?


John Ambrose

droidman's picture

In the Bread Baker's Apprentice, Reinhart suggests heating a cup of water to boiling in the microwave and then setting your loafs in the closed microwave without removing the water. I've tried this, and it holds steady at a humid 80 degrees for a good long time. You have to watch it, though. I've tried to hurry things along this way and have had my loaves get out of control.

This won't help your sourness, though. There are many conversations on this site about sourness. I've had my own troubles with this, but I've found that a really low hydration starter has helped mine. And the older my hard starter gets, the more sour I get out of it.

Chode's picture

You have to watch it, though. I've tried to hurry things along this way and have had my loaves get out of control.

What exactly do you mean by out of control? If the dough rises > double on the initial proof, will that make a weaker loaf in general later? I've used this microwave technique and watched as my loaf got 3-4x larger than the initial dough, and even rose well in the final proof but had no oven spring.

droidman's picture

I've found that if my loaves rise too much, they tend to be a bit dry.

GabrielLeung1's picture

The optimal proof temperature for any dough with yeast in it is going to be around 30 C (I think thats around 90 F). That's just the temperature yeast prefer to grow at. Generally I try to bring my oven up to 85-95 F with its warmer setting, and open and close the oven door as the temperature goes up and down to stay within this range. 

In terms of sourdough flavor, longer fermentations are where you'll have to go to get stronger flavor. 

edit: bear in mind that sourdough flavor comes in large part from bacterial cultures. What's optimal for yeast isn't necessarily optimal for bacteria.