The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Bread Rising Mystery

Breeze's picture

Bread Rising Mystery

I have this mystery and hope to get some help in solving it. (This is my first post, BTW.)

My wife and I live in the Chicago area and own a vacation home in Door County, Wisconsin (250 miles North). I make a loaf of bread twice a week; about every 5 days. But there is a mystery ...

The mystery:

When I make my bread at home, it always turns out approximately the same size (i.e. height) When I make the same recipe at our vacation home (250 miles north), it always turns out about 20% larger. And, after the second rise, it has many more and larger bubbles, compared to the results at home; and about 20% more volume.

The facts:

1. Identical recipe ingredients - Same Red Star Active Dry yeast, same Morton iodized salt, same King Arthurs AP flour. The exception is the water, but I have even brought water from Door County to our home, thinking "Maybe it's something about the water," as it's well water, rather than "city water" (from Lake Michigan). Nope ... same smaller loaf.
2. Recipe is prepared exactly in the same way (for several years). I weigh the flour on a digital scale; heat my water to 90 degrees F., go through exactly the same motions, and bake it at 500 deg. F for 35 minutes and then lower the heat to 465 deg. F for about 10-15 minutes.
3. The oven at home is an electric Kitchenaid. The oven at the vacation home is an electric Bosch.
4. I proof for 18 hours in an identical stainless steel bowl, covered with aluminum foil, at room temperature (72-74 F during the day and 66-68 F at night). Then I fold it and let it sit, covered, for another 2 hours. Then I fire up the oven (~20 min. before it reaches 500), place the dough into a dutch oven, cover it and put it in the oven.

The clues: I can't think of any, but one possibility: We are 3.1 miles from Lake Michigan at our home, but we're only about 100 feet feet from Lake Michigan in our Door County vacation home. It's sometimes more humid at the vacation home, but that doesn't appear to make any difference.

I simply can't fathom why the loaves don't turn out the same in both locations. Any insights are welcome and thanks for your help!

HeiHei29er's picture

Buy an oven thermometer and take it with you to both locations.  Betting there’s a difference in oven temp even though they are set to the same temperature.

EDIT:  Although that wouldn’t explain the difference in 2nd rise observations.

happycat's picture

Identical ingredients means... out of same containers? or same brands but different containers? Humidity certainly affects flour.

Also measuring implements for water and salt.. same ones or different ones? There are variations in implements.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

proximity to music, type of music, placement of speakers and any external noises. There are also theories about positive ions in the air coming from breaking waves and wind direction.  But most likely it is the oven temps, the time the DO takes to reach the same temp.  One oven most likely preheats faster than the other. My bet is the oven that takes the longest gives the higher loaf. So try this ..keep everything the same but add 15 minutes to the waiting time after closing the DO before sticking it into the home oven in Chicago.  See if it makes a higher rise.