February 12, 2012 - 8:33am
Brod & Taylor Proof Temps
I'm curious to know what temperature is ideal for proofing in the B & T proof box. Some of my bread baking cookbooks specify a particular proofing temperature or range of temperatures, others mention proofing at room temperature, and others simply say to proof until doubled. I don't own the proof box yet but what are the recommended temperature settings? Or are we simply looking to create a constant temperature and can gauge by a doubling of the dough and not by time or temperature.
I think you will need to experiment. Traditionally when I am doing basic white sourdough bulk-ferments+final-ferments at 'room temp', the dough and my ambient room temp is usually in the low to mid-70'sF. Bulk-ferments for me are in the 3-4 hour range, final ferments in the 45-90 min range.
But I also have a B+T. Once, I tried a bulk ferment of 4 hrs at 85F, then the final ferment at same 85F, and the bread came out of the oven very pale in color and was bland-tasting, which I think is a sign of over-fermenting -- the yeast had consumed most/all of the available sugar. So, be careful with it. On the other hand, I find the B+T wonderful for warming up chilled doughs. Yesterday's dough was chilled at 50F, and after two hrs in the B+T at 85F, the dough was 75F. Perfect. So I did the final ferment outside of the B+T, it retained it temp OK simply sitting out on the countertop. Came out great.
I agree with gvz, being able to adjust ferment and proof temps is a good thing. And it does require experimenting to find the sweet spots for each type of loaf. Recipes can give a starting point to times yet the skill of the baker is the final decider. I find an 85°F proof of my sourdoughs gives the best results I've ever obtained. Still playing with the yeasted ones. Yet I'm sure others may find other temps work better for them. As with any bread; take a lot of notes and make small changes each time and compare results. Don't forget the B&T is good for yogurt making and helps with making a sourdough starter. I believe if you bake 3 to 4 loaves a week it's worth the investment.
Yes, you are right Jim. Much depends on the type of bread being made. In general, I think the higher the fermentation temperature, the less starting amount of preferment or baker's yeast one should use, in order to give it a decently-long overall fermentation duration. But then, for the high-percentage rye breads, most of the formula's I've seen call for fairly short bulk-ferments at higher temperatures (mid 80's F), and a larger portion of a preferment than, say a normal white bread. So it all depends on the situation.
All of the above. I think the beauty of the proofer is that it allows you to follow the recommended proofing method no matter what it is. Even recipes that gauge the proof by doubling usually recommend a temp range, if not a time range. As mentioned above, the ideal time and temp will vary by bread, but once you’ve found that ideal you can repeat it much more reliably because you are no longer at the mercy of “room temp”. That’s a huge advantage, particularly when trying to fit baking into an already busy schedule.
Per Hamelman, those are the ideal temps for fermenting wheat based bread. Rye is at least five degrees higher.
He does note that for gas production only, maximum yeast activity will occur at over 80F+. But that's gas - we want good flavor, too. The lower temps (75F-78F) encourage flavor development.
I program my Brod & Taylor for 76F in most cases, since that's the temp of my (wheat) sourdough after it's mixed, whether by hand or by mixer.
Determining the water temperature needed for the mix is as important as the proofing temp. If a formula calls for a dough temp of 78F, that's also the temp I'll use for the B&T.
The Brod & Taylor is truly a wonderful baker's tool.
All really good information!
Full disclosure: I work for B&T.
I'll jump in with a few thoughts and things I've learned from testing recipes in the proofer, though much of this will be old news to many of you expert bakers:
-Sourdough starters often do well at 81F or thereabouts, in order to give the wild yeast in the culture a boost. This is the temp that Calvel specifies.
-Similarly, sourdough breads can often use a little boost with a higher temp, 80-85F, especially if the starter was only moderately active.
-Commercial yeast doesn't need the same kind of boost that wild yeast does, and so is often fermented at a lower temp- as Hammelman and LindyD point out, 75-78F, in order to allow lactic acid bacteria and enzymes time to work before the yeast has fully fermented the dough. You can also reduce the yeast amount to achieve a similar result.
-Mixing a dough with ice water, as Reinhart does with Pain a la Ancienne, puts the yeast on hold and favors enzymatic activity so that there is a little more sugar available in the dough. I've found that I really like the ice water start with the proofer, as it results in a more caramelized (darker) crust color, and as the dough warms in the proofer it spends a controlled amount of time in the 50-60F range so you get just a touch of acetic acid before moving into lactic acid temps. I must admit that my personal taste in bread does not favor a lot of acetic acid, I like it richer and sweeter. But a little is great! An ice water start (or retarded dough) will lengthen the bulk ferment time considerably. We found when testing our pizza crust recipe that dough from the refrigerator required almost double the amount of time to ferment (2 hrs 10min) as the same dough mixed with lukewarm (100F) water (1 hr 10 min) with both fermenting at 85F.
- Still learning to use rye, but it generally has a higher enzymatic activity and weaker gluten, so higher temps are appropriate to shorten fermentation time and keep the enzymes from degrading the dough too quickly.
-Avoid temps that are too warm (this can happen with proof settings on ovens), as the yeast produce off flavors when dough temps exceed 90F.
-In the proofer, if you like to ferment in glass or ceramic containers (as opposed to plastic), they will build up heat during very long ferments (like an overnight poolish or biga). You can either start out at a lower temp, or turn down the temp after a couple of hours. This is most noticeable with small amounts of pre-ferment. Plastic doesn't build up heat in the same way.
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