The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Summer baking - aaaarrrggghhhh!!

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Summer baking - aaaarrrggghhhh!!

Okay, I'm ready for autumn and cooler weather (at least for baking purposes). I'm sooooo tired of everything being overproofed, over-hydrated, sticky and impossible to handle. I bet if you reviewed posts on this site over the years you could draw a correlation between the weather in the poster's location and the posts that are along the lines of "Help - normally reliable bread isn't working anymore!"

Of course, I have recently done large batches of things like Tartine Sunflower Flaxseed Levain (sticky soaked flax seeds) and Deli Rye sourdough (sticky rye flour), which doesn't help. Maybe I should just make some low-hydration bagels or something.

nmygarden's picture

Summer's heat advances the timing, but your loaf looks great! When I have one that is overproofed or otherwise spreads during baking, I modify the angle as I slice it, Can be quite skewed, but still come up with a cross section that works however needed.



kendalm's picture

So sorry it the worst - I finally dialed in yeast amounts and timing - here's an example of 'normal' for me and and regular bake vs summer adjustments

Normal (kitchen at about 72f) and summer temps around 76f

Yeast typical .8% (fresh) adjusted down to .6%
Initial proof 1.5 hours down to about 1.25 hours
Resting time from 20-25 mins to 15-20
Final proof 40-45 minutes down to 30-35

Considering all the steps a little time here and little time there all adds up and next thing you pull flat dead loaves and want to launch them at the wall - bit nice thing is once you figure it out you can produce just as good a summer bake as a fall or winter

Don't forget the failures are all part of it but of course tts no fun regardless but, you just became a little better baker believe it or not ;)

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

But that is one heck of a lovely looking loaf. Such a rich colour in that crust. Bon Appetit.

I fed my starter just a couple of hours ago. It's been sitting in the fridge for a week so wanted to feed it, allow it to bubble up by half and then return it to the fridge. Except in just two hours it's tripled and peaked. Was too fast for me and now it's gone back in the fridge a tad further fermented then what I wanted. Never mind it'll still last a week I reckon. 

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Yes, the bread has been turning out okay, but the handling has been driving me crazy. I wash about 10 grams of dough down the drain every time I wash my hands; it builds up like mud on a gum boot! Timings are all off and ingredients have to be adjusted. I was just venting because I knew you guys would understand. :)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Hey, could that be a lovely eclipse bread?  

So what if the moon got pulled and squished and is a bit longish... looks more like ... hey wait, an eye!   A dinosaur eye!

A lovely dinoreye!  :)   Must be the warm temps...  :)  just ignore me.

ejm's picture

I agree with the others. That loaf looks pretty wonderful to me!

Until this summer, I've had a terrible time with dough and/or shaped loaves over-proofing. Then I re-read several of our bread books, including "Tartine Bread" by Chad Robertson.

Have you tried this method of preventing over-proofed dough?

  1. kneading: after adding the salt, put the dough onto an unfloured board (you don't want to add more flour) and use Richard Bertinet's "slap and fold" method until it forms a smoothish ball. Put the dough back into the bowl, cover with a plate and leave to rest for about 30 minutes.
  2. stretching and folding: About 30 minutes after slapping and folding the dough, stretch and fold in the bowl (as Chad Robertson suggests in Tartine Bread).
  3. Repeat the above step 3 or 4 times (Robertson says to do this 4 times in all). In Tartine Bread, Robertson writes
    [N]otice how the dough starts to get billowy, soft, and aerated with gas. At this later stage, you should turn the dough more gently to avoid pressing gas out of the dough. […] A well-developed dough is more cohesive and releases from the sides of the bowl when you do the turns. The ridges left by the turn will hold their shape for a few minutes. You will see a 20 to 30 percent increase in volume. More air bubbles will form along the sides of the container. These are all signs that the dough is ready to be […] shaped
  4. shape the bread: Scatter a dusting of wheat flour on the board and gently place the dough on the flour. Using wet hands, stretch the dough into a longish rectangle, then fold it like a letter, gently patting off any extra flour that might be there. Continue folding until the dough is shaped in a ball. Place it seam side UP in the well floured (rice) brot-form. Loosely wrap the basket and bread with a clean tea towel and enclose the whole thing inside a plastic bag and leave on the counter for 1 hour. Then refrigerate it for about 12 hours (or overnight).
  5. baking: First thing the next morning, take the shaped bread out of the fridge. Unwrap it and gently but firmly press your finger on the side of the bread. If the dough springs back immediately, recover it with the plastic bag and leave it on the counter. If the dough gradually returns back after being pressed, preheat the oven and bake... it doesn't matter if the shaped loaf is cold.

Since introducing it in our house  - that is NOT air-conditioned, this method has been working brilliantly, even when the outdoor (and alas, indoor) temperature has been well above 25C and quite humid.

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Thanks for the reminder; sometimes it's a good idea to go back to the books (and I do own probably too many bread books!) and get back to the techniques. Given the amount of baking I do, I probably have evolved my own ways of doing things.

For one thing, I usually use a mixer (an Ankarsrum and a 30 liter planetary commercial mixer) because I rarely make fewer than four of any one kind of bread at a time, and sometimes ten or more in a batch. There's no way I'm going to be able to mix that much dough by hand (small arthritic hands). For another thing, I've tried the slap and fold method and don't really like it. And given the way the dough has been behaving lately (very sticky) I would waste an awful lot of it scraping it off my hands, the counter and probably the walls!

I almost always stretch and fold my dough (in the bowl or other container), and sometimes combine this method with my own version of Trevor Wilson's method from Breadwerx. Normally this does result in lovely dough but with some doughs recently (lots of soaked flax seeds, coarse rye flour, etc.) even the stretch and fold method has been overly sticky. And I also almost always bulk ferment my dough in the fridge overnight (at least), though sometimes I do the final shaped proof in the fridge. I find that in the summer weather it's a bit trickier judging when to put the dough in the fridge and how long to let it sit (before or after fermenting / proofing) at room temperature in between stages. Some Tartine breads ferment at 'cellar temperature' overnight; in the cooler weather that works fine for me if I leave it in my cool basement, but now the basement is warmer than 'cellar temperature' so do I leave it there overnight or put it in the fridge after a few hours at room temperature?

Anyway, that was the gist of my rant - that things are different during summer weather and I'm sure many folks are feeling the same frustration.

IceDemeter's picture

I am sooo with you, even though I haven't had the temerity to tackle the big stickies in the heat!  I have been often torn between laughing and swearing at just what a difference a few degrees in temp, a couple of % humidity, and a tick or two of pressure changes can make.

The only good thing about it is that the resulting breads still TASTE marvelous, so the frustration is more in the making than the eating.

Relief is coming soon, right?!