I had my first disappointment in a while yesterday. :( My starter seemed to be pretty sluggish and didn't respond as I have been growing accoustomed to. I followed my usual formula but this time devided the dough into two loads instead of a single loaf. After 14 hours in the fridge I baked and had no spring, rubbery bread (if you can call it that) as a result. As I prepped my starter for try number two I remembered a post re temp and proofing. This time I cranked up the oven to 450 and turned it off when it buzzed. I then put the starter bowl on the oven top and opened the door. I also did the same a couple times between folds and bench proofing before retarding over night. My dough seemed to respond very well to this and I had great spring in the oven... Almost to much even! So today I have kept my starter warm and have been keeping my dough equally as warm.(some where around 75 - 80 degrees F or so.) We'll see how loaf number two does in the am. As it's winter and the weather outside is frightful I can't now rely on ambient temp to proof in... What would you say is the best temp to work in, and how do you maintain it in a home like ours where we tend to keep it on the cool side?
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LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2010 December 21

 I personally like to proof my dough at 60°F.  It takes a lot longer before it is ready to bake but you get a lot more flavor.  The other nice benefit is that it doesn't go from under proofed to over proofed in 30 minutes.  The window of opportunity to bake the bread and get a good loaf is hours long.  You don't have to keep a close eye on the dough you can just check it every couple of hours.  Check this post out to see pictures of the out come.

Jigsaw 2010 December 23

D**m the pictures didn't come through on the post you directed me to.  :(


So if I understand you right you don't retard in the fridge when it's colder like now, but bulk ferment on the counter instead...

In another post of yours I think I read that you like to let your dough sit out and warm up for a hours prior to baking if you retard it.  I've been taking mine right out of the fridge and putting it into the oven.

As far as your starter goes, when your getting ready to bake do you like to keep it warm(er)?  I think part of the problem I had last week was that my starter was cold, not quite as cold as in the fridge, but still cooler than it should have been.  The last three loafs I made turned out pretty good, but that was after I started to really watch the temperature of the starter and then the dough after I mixed it together and started folding. 

With it being cold I kept feeding based on the fall time table I've grown accustomed to, and I think that all I was really doing was diluting the starter with fresh flour and the yeast wasn't gobbling it up as quickly.

I now have it out for this weekends baking, warm and well fed.  It seems to be responding nicely.  I'll feed again in the AM and then tomorrow evening, and one more time Friday AM before I mix up my dough Friday night.

I didn't add any flour today as it was well fed right before putting it in the fridge last weekend.  I've checked on it a couple times and it seems to be bubbling and rising just as a good starter should.

I don't think we keep it quite cold enough in the house to bulk ferment for to long with out the risk of over proofing; though I could take it down into the basement...

So I think I'll try keeping it and my starter warm and then letting the dough warm up after taking it out of the fridge and see what happens.  :)


Thanks for the thoughts!



LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2010 December 23

 Photos are gone and I don't know what happened to them.  I also deleted the pictures from my camera since I knew they would be here.

Here is last years post along the same line.  Yes when it gets cold I get brave and do really long ferments on the counter.  Yes sometimes I pull the dough out of the fridge and let it warm up before I bake it but that is normally because I don't shape the loaf and put it in the fridge.

My starter is currently stored on top of the fridge to keep it warm and is fed my special blend of home milled flours once a day.  When I store the starter in the fridge I make the preferment in two builds to help make it a very active starter.

Just keep trying different ideas you will find something that works for you.

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