The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baking in hot weather

goodforbusiness's picture
goodforbusiness

Baking in hot weather

I just baked two loaves of Dan Lepard's potato bread (one of my favorites!), substituting 20% rye flour for some of the wheat. Right now, my apartment is very hot (some might say it's like an oven... haha!), so I monitored the loaves very closely after shaping. After about 45 minutes of proofing, the "poke" test told me that my loaves were ready to go into the oven, but they've definitely come out somewhat undersized compared to how they normally look. Can anyone offer any advice about how to best go about telling when a loaf is ready to bake when it's ~90 degrees F inside? I'm not sure I trust the poke test anymore, though I fully accept that it might not be possible to achieve loaves that are as beautiful when it's high summer. Any and all advice appreciated! :)

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

"Can anyone offer any advice about how to best go about telling when a loaf is ready to bake..."

This is at best, tricky.  Especially in hot weather when things happen not only faster but also differently.  The poke test is still your most reliable indicator.  I do not "poke" but rather lay the underside of my entire middle finger on the loaf and push gently.  My finger is parallel with the loaf as opposed to perpendicular when poking.  Pay close attention to the feel of the dough under the surface.  Is it light and airy, then it is ready.  Is it dense and dull, not ready.  Does the finger impression return slowly, ready.  Does it return rapidly, not ready.  You may get conflicting signals like a light airy loaf that returns the impression rapidly.  Such a loaf is almost ready but needs a few more minutes.

Experience is the best teacher and remember that slightly underproofed is much more desirable than slightly overproofed.  You may have to let a loaf overproof so that you know exactly what an overproofed loaf feels like.   It can be a very fine line, timing wise, between the two.

I work with a great many loaves on a weekly basis and proper proofing is often a bit of a challenge especially in rapidly changing weather such as hot and humid going to cool and dry for example.

Happy Baking,   Jeff

goodforbusiness's picture
goodforbusiness

Thank you, Jeff! I really appreciate the detail in which you've described the process. I'll definitely try this out with my next bake. Cheers!