The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bread doesn't rise as well in the winter. Is it the lack of humidity?

coreyjan's picture
coreyjan

Bread doesn't rise as well in the winter. Is it the lack of humidity?

I've noticed that during the winter weather, my whole grain bread doesn't rise as well as it does in the warmer months. Could it have something to do with the relative humidity (or lack thereof) in my house and kitchen? It gets VERY dry in the winter here. 


If so, what's the solution? Should I put a pan of water in the oven? Change my baking temperature? Change the ratio of any of my ingredients? Something else?


I welcome any and all input. Thanks!


 


Corey-Jan

proth5's picture
proth5

you are controlling your temperatures very carefully, you may wish to consider that it is simply colder in winter.


So, when you mix your bread, even if you use water that is the same temperature summer and winter, your flour is colder, your bowl is colder, and so on.


Even if you take this dough and put it in a place that has the same temperature, it started out colder, so it will take longer to rise.


I bake in a very dry climate and generally see no need to adjust ingredients over the seasons. I do, however, control my dough temperature pretty carefully.


Hope this helps.

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

But my solution will also help humidity-wise.


Use your microwave as a "proofing" box.  Heat a cup of water to boiling in the microwave and then place your rising dough next to the cup of just boiled water in the microwave.  The hot water will keep the dough warmer for rising AND provide some humidity in the closed microwave.  If someone needs to use the microwave, simply reheat the water and put everything back in when done. 


It won't answer the question about which is causing the problem, but it should help your dough to rise higher. 

smiledi's picture
smiledi

Hey--I actually had the same problem this winter. Here are some things I did (but I am NOT a professional so I don't know if they'd work for you!):


-make sure you're using hard wheat (soft wheat will not develop as much gluten, which gives the loaf the ability to rise)


-add a little extra water, and make sure your dough is on the moist side when you put it to rise. Seems like if the dough is bone dry, it doesn't rise as well.


-add a little vital wheat gluten. The healthfulness of extra gluten can be debated since many people say it's overused and can cause sensitivities, but it will definitely give your loaves more rise!


-substitute some white flour for part of the wheat flour. In a loaf with 3 cups of flour, I'd substitute 1 cup white flour. That way you're still getting the heartiness of whole wheat, but maybe not quite as dense. (If you do this, you may not need the extra gluten.)


Again, I'm no expert, but those suggestions have helped me this winter!

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Control your dough temperature.  Makes a big difference in any season.


Here's more info on that topic


Give it a try - I think you'll be pleased.

mimifix's picture
mimifix

Greetings!


Temperature is the main issue with bread dough. For bakeries, this usually means a longer proof time during colder weather and a struggle during hot weather to control the rise. I remember during heat waves when we added ice water after the sponge. For home baking, there are several remedies. The above suggestion about using a microwave as a proof box is great. You can also turn your oven on for a few minutes, turn it off, and put your bowl inside the oven; or set your bread bowl on a heating pad; or set the bowl near a heat source such as a vent or refrigerator compressor.


Hope these help, Mimi