The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Temperature before proofing

Clark's picture

Temperature before proofing

In artisan bread baking, temperature control is one of the most important factors and all the book I read mention to desired dough temperature, room temperature (~20-21*C), oven temperature...

My problem is I live in a tropical country where the temperature is around 27-29*C all year round. I know how to calculate water temperature to have desire dough temperature but as you know, the dough temperature will soon be saturated by room temperature.

This problem is the same for my bulk fermentation. The result is my bread is a bit too sour. 

I think that the temperature in fridge is too cold (1-4*C) for these steps, and it is only suitable for overnight proofing. 

Can you suggest what is the best solution for me?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Draping the covered rising dough with light damp cloths can also cool using evaporation.

Bread1965's picture

Is there anything bread related that you don't know!! You truly are a remarkable source of information AND wisdom!

A pot in a pot.. who knew!! It's a nice trick!

Clark's picture

This is the first time I heard of pot in pot refrigerator, I have checked some video on youtube, the result looks promising for my case. I am thinking how to build that one for testing. In the meantime, I should try your second suggestion first. Thank you a lot.


albacore's picture

I think that 28C is perfectly fine for bulk fermentation. It's the temperature I aim for, though in Northern England I need a proving box to achieve it!


Clark's picture

Here in Vietnam, the temperature is around 28*C and 75-85% humidity, when I reading bread books, most of the authors do not live in such high temperature like me, their room temperature is often around 20*C, that makes me a bit worry and wonder if I can make a good bread at such high ambient temperature. You make me less worried now :).  Thank you, Lance.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

bread... I'm over in Laos.  There are tricks to slowing fermentation, cooling being one of them.  Right now with the high humidity, just about every open wood surface, table tops, cook spoons, chop sticks, cutting boards, knife handles, baskets is a fight against mould.  I am constantly dipping and spraying wood surfaces with vinegar and setting them into the sunshine when I can.  

I'm looking to sell my WFO, imported fire bricks, slabs and all as I can no longer stay after January.  Anyone nearby northern Laos with a truck?


Clark's picture

Oh, Mini, I don’t know that you’re in a tropical country, Laos, how about your times there. I’m here in Hochiminh city, and we are coming to dry season. 

North Laos is in winter now, like the Central North of Vietnam, during this time, the humidity sometimes reaches 100%, sound crazy isn’t it? 

In Vietnam, there’s no artisan bakery at this time, thus there’s only way to enjoy it is to make it at home. How about artisan baking in Laos? How do you feel the quality of bread flour there? In my place, the best bread flour I can find is Bob Red Mill, but it is imported and expensive. I move to local flour with lower quality.

Having a WFO like a dream for some baker, but I don’t see this type of oven popular here in South East Asia. Hopefully you will find someone.


Here’s my latest baking, your advice on cooling comes in the middle of this baking process thus I leave it for the next time.

My steps:


Making levain: 

25 gr starter (100% hydration)

75 gr bread flour

75 gr water.  

Leave it in 11 hours, room temperature 27*C.



160 gr levain

800 gr flour

510 gr water

autolyse in 30 minutes.


Add 50 gr water

16 gr salt


Total weight 1536 gr

All are hand mixing, 70% hydration 

Bulk fermentation in 3.5 hours at 27*C, 

Bench rest 15 minutes

Proofing 1 hour at room temperature.

Baking 45 minute

20 first minute at 240*C

25 last minute at 215*C

Here are some photos:

As you can see, I score the bread but cannot get the ear, everytime I score, it will be "filled" and look flat that way in the oven spring. 

This time, the skin is even torn out. 

I feel the crumb is too dense and too many big hole.

Can you all advise and correct me to improve next time?



Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

under-proofing.  The bulk fermentations need to be longer.  I would give it at least another hour, maybe two,  but stretch the dough and fold it onto itself and give it a reshape on the hour.  The dough in the iron pan doesn't look ready to bake yet.   

A good way to check on the bulk rise is to slice the dough (divide) with a sharp knife and look at the bubbles forming in the dough... if the bubbles look like your crumb shot above, with large bubbles and lots of dense areas, slap the dough back together and give it a reshape and some more time in the bulk rise.  

You want to see some pretty good distribution of gas bubbles and all sizes everywhere before degassing (however gentle you like to be) and going into the final proof.  With sourdoughs at warm temperatures, keep your final proof short so it doesn't loose the shape you gave it.  I normally turn on my electric mini oven after doing the final shaping.

The top crust is also setting too soon and the middle could look more done... lets see...  Try turning down the heat to 225°C for the first part of the bake and later 200°C letting it bake longer, for 55 minutes or a little more than an hour instead.  I would have difficulty with that size of loaf in my mini oven, it would be getting too close to the coils.   How big is the oven?

Good night,  Mini     

Clark's picture

Many thanks for your judgment Mini, I stuck with this crumb and don't how to improve it. A lot of room for me to improve it and the first will be your suggestion in those steps. 

It's true that the top crust seems setting too soon, and that may be the reason the gas "crack" the bottom. Some of my previous baking, I even set the heat to 250*C, like I read somewhere that "increase the heat as high as you can"to avoid thick crust. My home oven is not hot enough, just around 180-190*C. The above bread was baked in a deck oven, from my friend's bakery.