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How to make sourdough bread in the Winter

Baking bread in colder weather can pose challenges due to the lower temperatures affecting the fermentation process.

Here are some tips to improve bread making in colder weather:

bread food fresh hands

1. Warm Ingredients:

  • Ensure that your ingredients, especially water and flour, are at a slightly warmer temperature than usual. This helps activate the yeast and promotes better fermentation.

2. Pre-warm Bowls and Utensils:

  • Warm your mixing bowls and utensils before use. Cold surfaces can absorb heat from the dough, affecting fermentation.

3. Use Warmer Water:

  • Adjust the water temperature in your recipe to be warmer. Be cautious not to make it too hot, as it can harm the yeast. Aim for a temperature around 75–80°F (24–27°C).

4. Extended Bulk Fermentation:

  • Allow for a longer bulk fermentation. Cold temperatures slow down yeast activity, so give the dough more time to rise and develop flavor.

5. Use a Proofing Box or Warm Environment:

  • Create a warm environment for proofing by placing the dough in a proofing box or in a turned-off oven with a bowl of warm water. This helps maintain a consistent temperature.

6. Sourdough Starters:

  • If using a sourdough starter, consider maintaining it at a slightly higher hydration or feeding it with warmer water to boost yeast activity.

7. Autolyse:

  • Extend the autolyse period (resting the flour and water before adding the culture and salt) to improve dough hydration and gluten development.

8. Use a Thermometer:

  • Monitor the temperature of the dough during fermentation. Adjust the environment or the dough’s placement to maintain the desired temperature.

9. Shape Carefully:

  • Be gentle when shaping the dough, especially if it’s colder, as it can be less extensible. A longer resting period during shaping may be necessary.

10. Consider Overnight Proofing:

  • Allow the dough to proof overnight in the refrigerator. This extended time can enhance flavor and texture.

11. Experiment with Warming Techniques:

  • Explore methods like using a warm water bath underneath the proofing bowl or placing a towel soaked in warm water around the bowl to create a warm microenvironment.

12. Adjust Hydration Levels:

  • Consider adjusting the hydration level of your dough. Slightly higher hydration can make the dough more extensible.

13. Patience is Key:

  • Embrace the slower process in colder weather. Patience is crucial for achieving a well-fermented and flavorful bread.

By implementing these adjustments and being attentive to the temperature and fermentation process, you can enhance your bread making in colder weather and achieve excellent results.