The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

French bread not rising: is 64 F too cold for a rise, or will it merely take longer...?

LBKexile's picture
LBKexile

French bread not rising: is 64 F too cold for a rise, or will it merely take longer...?

Hi all,


I did some searches trying to find any previous posts like this but couldn't find any. so forgive me if it has been asked somewhere recently!


I am waiting right now on my first attempt at French bread (from Reinhart's Artisan Breads etc) to rise. We do keep our house rather cool during the winter; it stays at 64 - 65 F. It's been a while since I made bread when it was this cold and I am wondering if my bread is going to fail because of the low room temp? Or will I simply have to wait for it to rise twice as long?The dough sat in the fridge overnight per the recipe, and I took it out and shaped it at 9:40. The recipe predicted that it should have been 1 1/2 times its size at 11:10, and I don't see it even close to that.


Thanks for any help you can give. I suppose barring any responses like "YOU HAVE FAILED" I'll just give it more time and hope that nothing goes wrong for doing that.

Abracaboom's picture
Abracaboom

My thermostat is set at 64º, and my French bread never fails to rise eventually, as long as I don't forget to add the yeast. If I want to help it out, I put my bowl of dough over a plate over another bowl with warm water.

LBKexile's picture
LBKexile

Heh, so by "eventually" you must mean that the rise is usually longer than estimated? Thanks for the warm water tip! I will have to try that with the second piece of dough later in the week (I split this batch into two).


My dough got puffier and spread out a bit (I tried shaping it into a boule) but I don't know if it rose quite enough. I just stuck the bread in the oven because I can't have the oven at 525 all day. I should have waited to preheat it. Oh well. I'm going to check on it before it's supposed to be done and see if it can be salvaged.

jpchisari's picture
jpchisari

Hi LBKexile,


64 deg isn't too cold, but if you take into acount that a normal french dough leavened with approx 2.75% of Fresh Yeast should ferment for 1 1/2 hrs at 80 deg or 2 hrs at 75 deg. Keep in mind that these are dough temperatures, not room temperatures. While extreme ambient temperatures will have an affect on times here, ultimately it is the temp of the dough that is more important. There are formulas to determine water temps need to produce doughs at certain temperatures, but they are more relevant to large scale production. Check your dough temp as soon as it is mixed and do some experimenting to find the correct temp.


John

LBKexile's picture
LBKexile

Thanks John, good to know.


Well, this is how big it got. :-/


bread

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Hi LBKexile,


Looks like your rising problem is solved.  As has been suggested already, using 65 instead of 75 degrees F will slow things considerably, but after a few experiments you can figure out what to expect.  If anything, longer fermentation at a moderate temperature should make for better-tasting bread.  The lactic bacteria will have more time that way to catch up to the yeast and make a contribution.


I think your loaf looks good.  I'm not sure if you'd prefer a browner crust, but if so, then creating much more steam right at the moment you load the loaf into the oven will help a great deal.


It isn't really difficult to do.  If you have an old iron skillet that you can sacrifice, then pre-heating it for an hour along with the oven will enable you to toss a half-cup or so of hot tap water (no need to boil it) into the pan just before you close the door.  Alternatively, if you use a pre-heated baking stone, you can use a large mixing bowl to cover the loaf on the stone, which will hold in the moisture from the loaf long enough to simulate the above process.  You can see that method demonstrated here: http://www.lawrence.com/videos/2010/jan/27/28665/


Just be sure to remove the bowl after 10-15 minutes (carefully!) so the steam can then escape and allow your crust to finish in a dry oven.


--Dan DiMuzio

LBKexile's picture
LBKexile

Thanks very much for the educated tips. That's what I figured about the longer fermentation. I tasted a bit and it is at the very least quite edible!


I have to confess that though I know I should trust "the Master," I was scared about using a steam pan or spraying the inside of the oven because of thermal shock; I think I read on a review for the very baking stone I have that someone was doing this and the stone shattered. Why would that happen? I should trust that Reinhart wouldn't be telling me to do something that normally had such an outcome.


Also, why do you say an old skillet that I "can sacrifice?" Does boiling water in it hurt the seasoning? I do have the perfect little skillet for that. It sounds a little safter for a klutz than putting a mixing bowl over the loaf, though that is very creative.


-Laura

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

The water will cause the skillet to lose its seasoning, and probably rust a bit afterwards.  But you can get a replacement, pre-seasoned, at any WalMart for less than 10 bucks.  Keep the older rusted one around just as a dedicated steam generator, the same way you keep an oven stone around just for baking.


But I will say that, if round or batard-shaped loaves are what you usually make, then the LARGE mixing bowl works very well.  You can use a hamburger spatula to pry up the edge after the 10-15 minutes of steaming is up -- no risk of burns that way.  It's really very easy, and the bowl can still be used for other things.


I use the skillet method when I'm making very long loaves like baguettes, or anything that won't fit under the bowl during baking.


With regard to the stone breaking, there are a few I've seen that crack quite easily just because they aren't very durable.  But most that are at least 1/2 inch thick survive pretty reliably.  Don't spray water on them directly, though.


The problem with spraying is that it doesn't really generate steam vapor in enough quantity & quickly enough to create significant condensation on the loaves.  You could use a dedicated garden sprayer, but in a home oven that's overkill, and you might damage electrical connections or warp the metal in some ovens, based on my experience.  You want a large burst of steam that's an even, enveloping vapor.  Not a pressure wash.


Try the inverted bowl first, and see what you think.  There are no risks if you proceed as directed.  I think you'll like the crust a lot more.


--Dan DiMuzio

LBKexile's picture
LBKexile

I have the perfect little skillet for that. I couldn't get the last of the rust off the bottom (it's at least 60 years old) and it's too small for 99% of my needs, so it's just been sitting around. I do think I'll make baguettes with the next round of dough, so I'll try this then.


Thanks for explaining the breaking stone problem, though that's not good news for me. My new stone is 1/4" thick. ... Grr.

Crider's picture
Crider

that showed how much extra time to add to your rise depending on dough temperature and ambient temperature. There must be statistics around somewhere.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Crider.


Bill Wraith provided us with such a chart some time ago. It may be more than you bargained for. Click on this link: Rise Time Table


Hmmm ... Might ought to put this in the TFL "Tools" list, Floyd.


David

Abracaboom's picture
Abracaboom

That bread looks good and chubby! Where did you say you live? :)

If you fermented your dough overnight in the fridge, which I hear is a good idea, by the time you're done shaping it it's going to be at around 50ºF, and adjustments with water temperature won't apply. Preheating your oven is very important, especially if you're using a stone, and if your oven has vents on top (and a range), you can place your forms on the range top while the oven heats up. That should place your forms at around 80ºF for an hour, time enough for them to double in size.

LBKexile's picture
LBKexile

Thanks. I live in the Atlanta area.


I have a glass cooktop so that tip might not work, but I can apply the general spirit---put it in a sunny window to rise or something. Or use the warm water tip you gave earlier. (I only incidentally noticed the names were the same on your two posts; the font sizes here are killer and I have young, sufficiently bespectacled eyes!)

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

keep our house at 67 and I put my dough into the oven with the light on. It produces wonderful warmth for the dough to rise nicely.


Anna

CJtheDeuce's picture
CJtheDeuce

with my wifes electric heating pads, put my bowl on them & cover them with a towl. I check the dough temp a couple of times during the rise & turn the heat pad down if temps are to high.


Charlie

LBKexile's picture
LBKexile

bread


 


Today I made an attempt at shaping batards with the same dough. I allowed about 2 1/2 hrs before putting them in the oven, and helped them along by proofing them in the laundry room where the washer and dryer were creating warmth. They didn't rise up so much as out, and I put them on a baking sheet rather than my stone, but despite the flatness (I suppose I needed to create more surface tension when pressing the seams together? or use molds?) this bread tastes GREAT. I spritzed them with water right before baking and the crust is super crunchy. Thanks Peter Reinhart and the experts here with your tips and reassurance!