The Fresh Loaf

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Cold rise with poor results

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tc's picture
tc

Cold rise with poor results

Hey guys. I've been making Bouabsa's baguettes but having a problem with the loaves not rising well. The yeast is added the first day, then it's supposed to rise in the fridge. My dough does not rise, and when I shape it it also does not rise. I get minimal oven spring as well. The final baguette is rather squarish in circumference, instead of a roundish shape. I get awesome open crumb and crunchy crust, tastes great, but it's the lack of rising that I've been wrestling with lately. It seems like the yeast dies in the fridge. Any thoughts?

ps, also have a hard time scoring, which others on this forum say might be due to over proofing. So if I let it rise longer out of the fridge might make the scoring problem worse?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

so the yeast are slowed down too much.   Could try mixing a warmer dough or letting the dough stand out longer before chilling or for one hour every 6 hours, tucking it back into the fridge  (use a timer.)  

Scoring, got to be more specific.   Is the surface tension is too loose?  knife drag?  Does scoring flatten the loaves instead of rounding them?  How soon before the loaves go into the oven are they scored?   Have you seen the videos here on scoring?

Chuck's picture
Chuck

The current recipes that say "just put it in the refrigerator" assume all home refrigerators are pretty much the same. They're not. That dial refrigerators offer to adjust the coldness is critical, especially as it ranges from "slow" yeast down to "dormant" yeast. If your refrigerator is 45-50F, all will be well. But if you've got a "cold freak" (or "I can beat the sell by date" freak) in your house who's dialed your refrigerator down to around 35F, your refrigerator will stop yeast cold so your dough won't rise hardly at all.

We bakers often shell out a few dollars for an oven thermometer to see exactly what temperature our oven really is. Shelling out a few more dollars for a refrigerator thermometer too is another good idea.

What some really serious home bakers do is have a second small fridge just for bread. Repurposing an old office or dorm refrigerator works pretty well (especially if it was discarded because it "didnt get cold enough"  ...which probably means it's just right for bread). Folks that need to buy new usually find the cheapest thing that works is shopping around for an inexpensive "wine cooler" (remember, what retards your bread dough does not need to make ice:-). [Be sure to avoid the very common "snob pricing" though. Fortunately the ridiculous premium doesn't affect all prices; it pays to shop around:-]

One person here on TFL spent weeks getting his refrigerator just right. Then later all of a sudden everything he put in that refrigerator just stopped cold. It turned out his wife liked her Coke really cold, and without consuiting him at all had dialed down the adjustment to just above freezing. Mystery solved?check A second fridge might aid that relationship?check

jcking's picture
jcking

Hey buddy; I've got one of those dorm coolers yet the lowest setting still gives me 40°F. Do you know of a way to raise it up a little?

Thanks ~ Jim

Chuck's picture
Chuck

Being an inveterate DIYer, the first thing I'd try is to open the control and see if there's some sort of "adjustment". Then I'd purposely set it way wrong (so for example the range of the regular knob is now 35-55F rather than 20-40F).  [Of course, if you weren't born with a silver screwdriver in your mouth, that may not be for you:-]

Another thing I'd try is cut a piece of cardboard exactly the right shape and size to lay on the top shelf and separate (i.e. block almost all the air flow between) the colder (freezer?) area (above?) from the warmer area (below?).

The third thing I'd try is finding the temperature sensor (connected to the control, probably by a small tube, probably looks something like a silver pencil), and moving it closer to the coldest part of the fridge so it sends colder signals to the control. This will fool the control into thinking it doesn't need to turn on the compressor motor so much. (If in doubt though, stop where you are -- if you go ahead anyway and bend the small tube connecting the temperature sensor to the control too much and cause it to break open, you will kill the refrigerator completely.)

 

(One thing I'm quite dubious about is purposely messing up the seal around the door. Doing so will probably raise the temperature significantly, but at a very high cost. The mutilated refrigerator will 1] use a lot more electricity, and probably also 2] very quickly clog up with frost requiring very frequent [troublesome] defrosts. Another thing I'm dubious about is anything that involves unscrewing or crimping or bending or rerouting the tube with refrigerant inside it. If anything went the least bit wrong, you could wind up not only completely destroying the refrigerator but also hosting a hazardous material spill.)

jcking's picture
jcking

I'm a fairly good DIY guy I just never played played around with fridges. Yeah I looked inside the tiny control unit, it's sealed. The ice section is so tiny, I'll see if I can seal it up. I did move the sensor closer to the ice section and it did raise it to 42°F don't know if I can stretch it any closer. What if I ran a short alligator clipped wire between the two sensor wires? I'll try that tomorrow.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Another idea...  get one of those plug in do-dads that turns lights (or whatever is plugged into it) on and off on a 24 hour timer.  In combination with a fridge thermometer, set it to go on and off keeping it warmer.  Works great for a fridge with a broken thermostat too!

jcking's picture
jcking

If the other ideas fail I'll try that. Thanks

Jim

Chuck's picture
Chuck

If the thermosensor is connected to the control by wires, you should be able to extend those wires as much as you need to. (Just do something so the wires don't short out, maybe wrap them with tape   ...and beware that in the super-moist and cold refrigerator environment many tapes don't stick nearly as well as they otherwise would.)

What I'm leery about is if the thermosensor is connected to the control by a small diameter pressure tube, as crimping or breaking that tube can really screw things up and I don't know of any way to recover simply. But it sounds like you don't have that situation, so you can just ignore my worries.

jcking's picture
jcking

Using Chucks' idea to block the ice section I stuffed two old T-shirts into the ice section. Voila, 49°F and holding! Chuck's the man, I owe you one buddy.

Jim

Mary Clare's picture
Mary Clare

I wonder if those little fridges they sell for wine keep the temp a little more hospitable?  I keep milk in our home fridge and keep it as cold as I can without  freezing.

Mary Clare

jcking's picture
jcking

I tried the wine cooler and returned it. What they don't tell you... They operate more like a heat exchanger, no compressor, so unless you keep them in a room where the temp is below 77°F they'll only get down to around 55°F. I'm trying to get between 45~50°F. It's more practical for me to keep the extra fridge in my walk out basement were the temp gets as high as 90°F in the summer. So buyer beware!

Jim

Chuck's picture
Chuck

Many wine coolers (and a few small refrigerators) operate on either a "solid state" principal or a "thermoelectric" principle, and so don't have the traditional compressor/motor. That may actually be a good thing; these alternate technologies take up less room and won't shimmy off the counter. (For some unfathomable reason, these tend to be marketed ridiculously short on specifications. You may have to rely on clues like the terms "solid state", "thermoelectric", or "noiseless". Another even less specific clue is no mention anywhere of the ability to make ice  ...because these alternate technologies don't get that cold.)

But these coolers can easily be underpowered, just like a compressor could be too small. Because of the way they're sold and the purpose they're intended for, it's much more likely they're underpowered than what you're used to. So do check before you buy:

  1. make sure they'll continue to work for you even with the highest possible ambient temperature (90F in your kitchen?-)
  2. make sure there's a thermostat - ones without a thermostat tend to just keep the same temperature differential between inside and outside no matter what, for example 50F if it's 70F in your kitchen, but 60F if it's 80F in your kitchen

If it worked at first but stopped getting cold after only a few months, clean the air filter etc. thoroughly. Some wine coolers are very sensitive to just a little bit of dust.

On the other end of the spectrum from "will it work for me?", beware the common (but fortunately not universal) practice of "snob pricing" (i.e. anybody that stores wine must live very well, so jack up the price).

Wine coolers come in a bewildering variety of configurations, sizes, and prices. And as pointed out, it's all too easy to buy an inappropriate one that won't work.


There's even another variety of "cooler" these days. They plug into the cigarette lighter in a vehicle and keep a picnic lunch cold. They're probably inappropriate for bread dough though, for several reasons:

  1. they use the wrong kind of electricity (unless you've got cigarette lighters in your kitchen:-)
  2. they waste a lot of electricity
  3. they're usually too small for bread dough
  4. they're ridiculously underpowered - most of them will "keep it cold if it's already cold", but won't chill something that starts out warm - in fact many won't do any more than "keep the lettuce from wilting"
tc's picture
tc

As for the fridge, I checked the temp and you got it right: 37 degrees because someone here likes cold soda. I wonder if you could improvise with a cheap styrafoam cooler and ice overnight...wonder what kind of temp changes that thing would go through.

jcking's picture
jcking

Great idea for a short term solution.

Jim

tc's picture
tc

Hey guys, after reading your tech oriented solutions, I thought about how I could achieve a pocket of higher temp in my 37 degree fridge. The styrofoam cooler idea wasn't feasible because I'd have to change the ice too much. So if you're broke like me, bundle your bowl of dough up in kitchen towels and cover it with oven mits. The dough is rising! I don't know what temp it is but it's got to be in the optimal range.

I couldn't help but laugh as I was doing it though.

Mira's picture
Mira

Thanks Chuck, for your reply..my refrigerator - programmed for 38 degrees - could be part of my problem too:( I don't bake enough dough to justify purchasing a new cooler so I'll take tc's solutoin of bundling my bowl up in kitchen towels/oven mitts/ maybe with a plastic bag over it.