The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baking in high heat environments

dwfender's picture

Baking in high heat environments

So, I live in NYC and we've hit the peak of the summer and its averaging around 90-95 degrees in my apartment all the time. The humidity has got to be close to 70 percent consistantly and there aren't any cool spots in my apartment. I baked a BBA cinnamon raisin loaf today and I payed close attention to the timing. My dough was fermenting and rising a little faster than 2x it would have taken at an average room temperature according to the recipe. After the bread was finished I tasted it and noticed that, even though it had a good flavor from the enrichments, it was still missing that deep complex bread flavor. I was using quality ingredients and what not so I know it's not the flour. My question is basically, if I know the ambient temperature of a room is going to cause the yeast to go into overdrive, is it appropriate to reduce my yeast amount and allow it to ferment for a longer time to pull out sugars from the starch? I know I can always ferment over night in the fridge but I was skeptical of over fermenting. Thanks guys. 



CanuckJim's picture

I'd keep the amount of yeast constant, but do lower the temperature of the water you use.  That will slow the fermentation to an acceptable speed.  Cold and slow is always better than hot and fast.


BluesmanEP's picture

I also live in NYC, so I'm right there with you (this week is going to be hot!).

I've been experimenting with keeping all the ingredients as cold as possible.  Chill everything in the fridge, even the bowl, before mixing.  I've also noticed that my flour is accepting a LOT less water than it does when it's not so humid.  I've been reducing the water percentage a bit so the dough feels like 68, or 75% or whatever, even if it's actually less.

Hopefully the heat will break soon, and we can get back to normal baking!



Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

if the ferments are too fast.  Most recipes are based on average temperatures, if your temps are warmer and it' not a sweet dough, reduce the yeast a little at a time until you're satisfied.  

Another trick is just leave out the yeast in the beginning and add it hours later after the dough has developed a little flavor.  Use the recipe amount and spread out the dough, mist lightly with a water sprayer and sprinkle the yeast evenly over the dough and roll up the dough, give it a short rest and then knead it lightly to work in the yeast.  Then continue with the recipe.  

Throwing a wet wrung out tea towel over the dough bowl helps to cool the dough too.  

scottsourdough's picture

I would definitely opt to use less yeast rather than reduce water temperature--why fight the heat when you can just use less yeast?

Chuck's picture

if I know the ambient temperature of a room ... is it appropriate to reduce my yeast amount?

Yes. (Although adjusting ingredient temperatures to produce your Desired Dough Temperature despite the ambient temperature, and finding any warmer/cooler nooks around your house are other places to start).

A very rough rule of thumb is each ten degrees Fahrenheit halves/doubles rising time. So if your normal DDT is 80F, and you now have to deal with an ambient temperature of 90F (10F difference), to keep rise times very roughly the same (remember, watch the dough not the clock:-), use only half as much yeast as you usually do.

Write down what you did this time and how it turned out. Next time use the information to make a "better" adjustment.

gary.turner's picture

I recall Reinhart saying 17F for each doubling/halving. That is just under 10C. I haven't tested for myself, but 'feel' the number is somewhere between yours and his, but closer to his. Either number provides a starting point for adjustment.

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

After living in KS for almost 40 years, I know a little about summer heat so I cast my vote with the less yeast crowd. One of my recent blog posts included some chatter about my work on a Molasses Wheat Bread. Before baking, the dough weighed just over 700 g and all it needed was 3/8 teaspoon of ADY. I used a poolish and a soaker for building the flavor as well as an overnight retarded proofing. It's not a herculean task to do that but you do have to pay attention to what the dough is doing and adjust your procedures to fit the situation.