The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

New windows = better bread

yam's picture

New windows = better bread

We've recently replaced the windows in our house (built in 1937) with brand new ones.  We've also insulated, so now our house is considerably less drafty and cool.  My loaves proof so much better!   I'm amazed at how much better at baking I've become in only a week...

This is going to be a good winter for baking, I'm quite excited.  I finally succeeded in making Reinhart's wild rice and onion bread for Thanksgiving and I was a hit.

For those in cool, drafty houses like mine, what are suggestions to avoid bad proofing.  I tried it in the oven with the light on, but that didn't help as much as I thought.

ehanner's picture

A few Months ago I received my home Folding Proofer from Brod and Taylor and it changed everything for me. I posted an evaluation of the product expressing my joy at being able to control my fermenting and proofing temperatures, for the first time. I didn't want to sound like I was shilling for the company so I curbed my enthusiasm slightly, but this well designed device has improved my breads markedly.

I'm sure your new windows and insulation were a long needed update that set you back a pretty penny. For those with a cool or drafty house, making or buying a proof box is an inexpensive way to dramatically improve your dough control and overall quality. A person doesn't really understand how beneficial temperature and humidity control are for baking, until you have it. It's 34F and snowing with gusty winds here today. The house is set to 66F where sourdough yeasts would be very slow and inactive. My levain for today's Pain au Levain is happily fermenting away at 74F in my proofer. It seems like such a small thing when I look at it in print, but what a difference a few degrees make.


LindyD's picture

In additon to Eric's excellent advice (and I happily concur with his opinion about the Brod and Taylor folding proofer; it's a fabulous tool) another factor to consider is dough temperature

A temperature between 75F and 78F benefits both fermentation and flavor for wheat breads, so you want the dough to come off the mixer (be it by hand or machine) in that zone and continue fermenting at that temperature.  If you haven't done the calculation before, here's a link explaining the basics, which is a page out of Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread, a Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes.

If you've been using room temp or refrigerated water for your bread, give the DDT calculation a try.  It makes a difference and is just as important for the home baker as for the pro.

RobynNZ's picture

+1 on DDT.

I use WildYeast Susan's handy calculator to determine how to get the required quantity of water to the desired temperature. The downloadable excel spreadsheet is at the bottom of her post. I mix by hand, and find a mix factor of '5' works for me.