Colder months - if starter takes 4 times as long to rise .. shouldn't the bread making take 4 times as long


The room temperature has dropped to about 15 degrees and I am struggling with my starter. At first I thought it had given up the ghost as there was no movement for about 8 hours. Then it would start to rise and reach it's peak at about 22 hours. This is happening every day now that the temperature has dropped.


As my loaves are not nearly as good as in summer, I am wondering if the breadmaking should also be taking alot longer during the fermentation period. Instead of folding every half hour, perhaps I should be folding every hour?


Would love some feedback!



126 users have voted.


panfresca 2011 April 26

 Hi Jeanette

Yes, at 15 degrees the whole process slows down considerably, including the fermentation. There are usually warm spots somewhere in the kitchen or house, such as the top of the fridge, which will get the process back up to speed - or you can just enjoy the freedom longer fermentation times gives you. There's no reason the bread can't be just as good in the cooler months.


mlucas 2011 April 27

Also you can try using warmer water, maybe 85-90 deg F (29-32 C)*. This will work especially well if you also give your starter / dough some "outerwear" -- i.e. wrap the bowl in a towel or two, and make sure there is a towel or cloth between the bowl and the counter or whatever surface it's resting on. Plastic bowls also provide a lot of insulation compared to metal.

Eventually though, with all the folds and especially during bench rest & shaping, the dough will cool off, so you're right the later stages of fermentation / proofing the loaves will be take more time. This is where the 'warm spot' can really help.
If you have a big enough microwave, a good technique is to heat up a small glass of water to just boiling in the microwave, and leave it in there along with your proving loaves, with the door closed. This even provides enough humidity that you don't have to cover the loaves!
Otherwise, just sit back and enjoy the long proofing, which will give you more depth of flavour anyway. I actually think 12-15 C for many hours is probably optimum for flavour development in bread dough!

* I'm assuming you're hand mixing, use lower temps if you have an electric mixer which adds its own heat. You're aiming for a dough temp of around 80F which will then drop due to the lower room temp.

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