Suucess and temprature


Well after a couple of failed attempts managed to turn out a couple decent looking and tasting loaves.I really enjoying the whole sourdough process but the amount of information out there is overwhelming.


My main question  is about  tempreture.  My starter is active but the dough seems to take a long time to prove, a lot longer than some of the recipes. Wondered whether dough temp is wrong, water temp is wrong or room temp. I live in perth and wondered what was did or where put there bread to prove ?


thanks in advance

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Midnite Baker's picture
Midnite Baker 2010 August 18

Hi Jerome,

My 1st rule in bread baking is Everything close to room temp.  I have found freezer temp flour

takes double rising time. So..... if that is the case with flour, how about the other ingredients?

I always add 1/4 to 3/4 teaspoon yeast to my bread recipe for 2 loaves. I microwave my

filtered water for 30 to 60 seconds depending on the amount, then add the yeast to dissolve

and proof, then add starter & flour and let this proof for 6 to 24 hours to develop sourdough

flavor.  The next day, I then add the rest of the ingredients, proof for a couple hours, divide

and shape, proof again then bake. I find even with the addition of yeast, the last proof takes

1 1/2 to 2 hours in a closed area.   

I have not tried this for the last rise but am told it really shortens the last rise time.  Place a

2 cup Pyrex measuring cup filled with 1 cup water in the microwave. Cook on high for

4 minutes, until the microwave interior is warm and steamy.  Put the uncovered loaf pans in

the microwave with the hot water and close the door. Do NOT turn the microwave on.

Just let the dough rise in the steamy oven. The steam keeps the loaves moist.   When the

bread has risen, take a clean cloth and wipe out the microwave oven.  A great way to keep

your microwave clean. 

I'm enjoying summer in the USA right now but have to use air conditioning.  My sourdough

bread does not like it.  So, I use either my oven or the microwave, as a box or container

to control the air temp around my dough.  Have found even wrapping a heavy terry towel

around my dough helps in the spring, fall and winter seasons. 

I, sometimes, take a yeasted bread recipe and use my starter in it by adding 1 cup sourdough

starter, then subtracting 1/2 cup flour And 1/2 cup water or other liquid. I do not change

anything else.  Hope this helps. 



's picture 2010 August 18

Hey Jerome B,



Your loaves look great and I bet they tasted great too.  I completely agree with Midnite Baker and his/her advice.  I also agree with you in that there is loads of info out there and it is overwhelming.  Bread, sourdough bread in particular, is just like anything else:  there are plenty of ways to skin a cat.  Some professional sourdough bakers often "fold" their dough every 30 mins for 6 hours to get the perfect loaf.  Others let it rest for 30 minutes before shaping it into baskets and leaving it until it's done.  ("done"!).  Others do a primary rise with a pre dough...The main point is that most professional bakers have proofing cupboards where the dough is kept at a constant humidity and temperature.  This may be a but much for the home kitchen! 

I happen to be a baker but I spend a lot of my time experimenting wtih sourdough and deliberately trying to fail.  I do this to counter all of the advice that is so presciptive and scary.  I have let dough rise in the fridge, I have let it over rise and then simply added more flour to it and let it rise again, I have folded, blobbed, kneaded, not kneaded, rested, not name it I have tried it.  The only thing that will kill it is too much heat whilst it is rising.  Sourdough has a mind of its own but you cannot kill it as long as you don't cook it before it is ready to go in the oven!  I am sure my more experimental loaves are not going to win prizes, but they tasted good.  Without a proofing room you just need to be mindful of the ambient temperature in your kitchen and adjust your expectations accordingly.  In general, at 20 degrees, my dough takes 12 hours but that's my kitchen!  As a final note - the more rye you add the quicker it will proof.  Rye is livlier than wheat or spelt.

You are not doing anything wrong!  On the contrary - you are baking at home and that is terrific.  Well done.

jeromeb 2010 August 18

Thankyou midnitebaker and virtousbread for you helpful advice and encouragement. I will be giving it all a try! 


Virtous I have been reading about the folding and will be giving a try on my next loaf. Let you know how I get on. And I'm going to take a few temp readings to get agood idea of the ambient temp in the kitchen.





rossnroller 2010 August 19

Hi jerome,

I think virtuousbread makes a good point about SD being forgiving. Like vb, I've tried all sorts of different stuff with SD (and I mean pure SD - I never spike with yeast), and for all the prescriptive rules, most of the time you'll end up with pretty nice bread. HOWEVER, under or over proofing does affect your bread, and not in good ways!

Ambient temperature is a real factor in proofing times. It's winter where we are, and unless you have heating in your house while you're doing your proofs, your ambient temps will be as mine are - between 15C on cold nights up to around 21C in the milder times. Every degree drop in ambient temperature will increase your proof times. On the very cold nights, I leave my bulk proofing dough out on the counter all night, with it having already had 3 or 4 hours proofing earlier in the evening, during the stretch and fold period.

Also, your dough mix and flours have an influence.

When proofing, it's best not to go by the clock. Instead, go by the state of your dough (apply a poke test to assess when the final proof is complete). Recipe proof times do not take into account different ambient temperatures and should only be used as a guide. In cold conditions, proofing times may be far longer than specified, as you are finding.

I have to say, I disagree with the two posters above about adding yeast to sourdough. That really isn't necessary if you've got a good ripe starter. In fact, yeast spiking messes with the SD process and diminishes the quality of SD bread, detracting from the depth and complexity of flavour by hastening the fermentation. Slow fermentation = full development of flavour.

SD yeast is different from dry or compressed yeast, and the strains are not all that compatible. I have read explanations of the chemistry at play, but don't retain stuff like that. I can say from experience, though, that in the past I have spiked my SD bread with yeast on occasions (when the recipe called for it), and have never found the flavour of the bread as good as when it is pure SD. I stopped spiking my SD after realising that, regardless of the recipe directions.

Spiking with yeast can alter the crumb texture in ways that some might consider desirable, but for me, flavour is everything. I don't understand, therefore, why people spike their SD bread - unless there's some urgency to finish the bake. Otherwise, there is no good reason for it that I can see.

Of course, there is a place for non-SD yeasted breads...but that's another conversation.


jeromeb 2010 August 22

Thanks for your help and gidance Ross. I am learning that lots of paitence is required with sour dough baking . But will keep trying figuring out what works and what doesn't :)

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