The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Winter baking

Christina's picture

Winter baking

Usually when I find myself starting a question, "Is it just me, or...", it's just me!  However, my problem I don't think is just me this time.  So my question is this:  While making three batches of bread this past week, I notice it takes much more flour to get a smooth dough.  I knead the dough without adding any extra flour for at least six minutes, but it still is really sticky and for the recipe I am using, it isn't supposed to be that way.  Is it just the weather, do you think?  Or is it just me!

sphealey's picture

> I asked Mum if they adjust the recipes for the

> weather. She looked at me like I was mad?

> There's the best answer. : -)


Two points perhaps: if you weigh flour rather than measure it by volume that is going to compensate somewhat automatically for different moisture levels in the flour as the seasons change.


And in Jeffery Hammelman's Bread (thanks for the review Floyd) he illustrates his section on dough temperature by describing what happend on two successive days when he was an apprentice at the King Arthur Bakery and responsible for getting the dough started on the early shift. The first day followed a warm fall afternoon, and he calculated the temperature of the water at 34 deg.F to achieve the final dough temperature (he had to add ice). That night an autumn cold front moved in, the windows were left open, and the next morning he calculated a 78 deg.F water temperature! 44 deg.F temperature swing in one day for the exact same recipe.


Of course most of us live in heated/air conditioned houses and the temperature does not vary that much, but something to think about.



pumpkinpapa's picture

I have had a 25 deg. swing on a bad morning with the wind from the west and the drafts are bad. And nothing would rise and everything from the fridge took 12 hours to warm up.

Christina's picture

Yeah, that's sort of what I figured about the temp. thing.  I've been making bread for quite a while now, and, like Jim said, I've been making this particular recipe for the past three years.  It's one of the better recipes I've made and since I make it so often, that's how I noticed something was up in the winter (it's been around 10 degrees here, often going below zero).

Thanks for your help.


Noche's picture

A recipe is just a guidline.


I always go by looks, touch, taste, smell and feel. Now that I've had two eye operations I know that diferent people see things differently, are at different altitudes, etc. I will put in more water at 3,700 feet than someone in San Francisco.


I sat here using my Mom's bread recipe for a while in Idaho before I figured out why my dough was not rising high enough in my bread pans - altitude. She was in Texas and moved to Georgia. When I figured out exactly how much water I needed to make full, over the top loaf of bread, I changed my recipe. I had to add quite a bit more water.


I wonder if the pioneers coming West on the Oregon and California trail went nuts when they hit western Wyoming? They had flat bread if they didn't adjust their water.


Large Hint: never change more than one item in a recipe at a time. If you change two or more things at once, you are out of control.


Eating someone else's recipe is like living in someone else's floor plan. An example: the only Frank Lloyd Wright/Wrong house in Idaho has a master bedroom that you have to go out of on a snowy night and up seven steps to get to a cold toilet. If form follows function Frank, then you live in it.

Christina's picture

That's interesting to think about, the pioneer thing. 

And going by touch?  Yeah, I've gotten much better at that.  I still have some ways to go, but I'm not as bad as I was.