The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Summer baking/dough raising?

butterflygrooves's picture

Summer baking/dough raising?

I know a lot of bakers take time off from baking in the summer because it's so hot but I refuse to eat store bought bread and will need to bake occasionally.  This brings me to a question: If you bake during the hot months, how do you deal with raising your dough?

Our typical summer day is anywhere from 95-110F.  We don't have an AC, only a swamp cooler that slightly cools but mostly humidifes the house.

I'm concerned that this will lead to very quickly risen breads and a bland taste.  I will retard in the fridge overnight when possible but does anyone forsee me having a huge problem with breadmaking in the summer?

Any tips are much appreciated!

Syd's picture

Here are some things you can do to slow the process down under warm temperatures:

  • store all your flour in the freezer
  • use chilled water and add ice, if necessary
  • chill your equipment
  • use glass bowls instead of stainless steel ones: glass transfers the outside temperature at a much slower rate than stainless steel
  • if using a natural yeast starter feed at a much higher ratio (for instance, if you feed at a rate of 1:2:2 - starter/flour/water- in winter, feed at a rate of 1:4:4 or even 1:5:5 in summer)
  • add a bit of salt (up to 2%) to your starter
  • if using a poolish, experiment and try to find the smallest amount of yeast that will do the job in the allotted time
  • avoid overmixing of dough: friction from the mixer and heat transferred from the hands will all raise the temp of the dough.  Instead, opt for stretch and folds at set intervals to strengthen the dough.  Put it into the fridge for short periods to lower its temp, if necessary
  • retard your doughs either before or after shaping (I prefer after shaping)

If I think of any more I will come back and add to the list.

All the best,


Janetcook's picture

Syd's list is very comprehensive. 

I have a basement that is cooler than the rest of our house.  If necessary, I use it  to ferment and proof my loaves.

flournwater's picture

Placing the dough in a covered lightly oiled pan and allowing the pan to sit inside a large cooler (with one of these resting on top of the pan's cover should give you pretty good control

GeraldC's picture

Might be too eleborate, but also might be fun and interesting to make up something along the lines of the Zeer Pot, the celebrated development for food cooling, primarily in Africa. In fact, you might have to use only a simplified version to make a cooled rising chamber. But after looking at the number on how effectively it preserved food and what sort of things crowd the refrigerator, maybe it's worth doing anyway and downsizing the fridge. 

It doesn't have to be this big.

Zeer Pot