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To bathe or not to bathe? | Sourdough Companion

To bathe or not to bathe?

Hi there,


I've just found this website and it's great! I'm a keen amateur baker from the UK. I often use a bathe (cold water) when making SD breads, but I don't know why I do it - other than I've picked up the habit. My typical white SD recipe would be:

500g bakers flour (100%)

50g rye (10%)

130g starter at 100% hydration (26%)

290ml water at 5degC (58%)

90ml bathe (iced water) (18%)

10g sea salt (2%)

I add the bathe at the end of the initial kneading, just as the dough starts to come together. Can anyone explain what the bathe does?







1 comment

The water temperature affects the final dough temperature, which affects the rate of fermentation.
Usually you want the final dough temperature around 72-76F, so using such cold water (5 deg C and 0 deg C) would only be necessary if you're generating a lot of heat during mixing, or have a very warm house. Or I suppose if you are trying to "retard" the dough at the beginning of its fermentation (though usually the retarding instructions I've seen say to let it ferment normally for a portion of fermentation time, then throw it in the fridge).

I mix by hand, so I tend to just use water straight from my filter tap (undersink filter unit) which is around 70F (21C). Sometimes I warm up the water to ~80F (26C) if I'm trying to counteract something else cold in the recipe, like if my starter just came out of the fridge. Machine mixing can generate a lot more heat though.

Here's a really good overview of water & final dough temperatures: http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2007/07/05/water/
(although even better is the source material: Hamelman's book "Bread")

Maybe try using uncooled water for your next batch and see how it turns out? I'd expect the fermentation to go a lot faster...