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I'm following one Paul Hollywood's recipe for the "Basic White Tin Bread" from his book " How To Bake".

In the recipe it states to prove

for about 1 hour, until the dough is at least doubled in size and springs back quickly if you prod it slightly with your finger.

I followed the recipe and all seemed to go well until baking. The rise in the oven was poor at best. The crumb appears okay but it's very dense as you get to the bottom of the loaf.

I've been googling and it appears the problem may be that I have over proven.

Paul Hollywood is located in the UK and his book is aimed at locals (evidenced by comments about ideal kitchen temp of 20C to 22C, 68f to 71.6f). I live in Brisbane, Queensland. The ambient temperature yesterday was 28.5C (83f). He also states in the recipe to use water that is cool (around 15C / 77f) so I use water from the fridge mixed with tap water.

So my questions are:

  • Does the ambient temperature of the kitchen affect the prove time? If so how?
  • Does the water temperature have an impact on just the rise or on the proving as well?
  • Should I shorten the prove time and if so how to I judge how much?

They really boil down to, how do I factor in the sub tropical climate when using a bread recipe written for the UK and north America?

Btw, I'm not keen on continually poking the dough while proving as I'm concerned that this may affect the prove.

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The poke test is pretty important. It will tell you when the dough is ready. Professional bakers use it all the time. It does not affect the proofing of the dough as you're poking it and leaving an indentation, not poking a hole through the dough. –  derivative May 4 at 23:23

3 Answers 3

A higher water and ambient temperature definitely speed up proving and rising. The consequence is poorer flavour and dense bread. Generally the slower the rise the better the bread.

If you don't have somewhere cool in the house, try proving at room temperature for, say, 20 mins to get the yeast going, then finishing in the fridge. Or if you can wait, just put it straight in the fridge and wait overnight. Take it out an hour or two before baking to take the chill off.

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It could be the proving time or the oven temperature or both.

In hotter climates, bread dough will rise faster. Poking the dough will not harm the dough in any way, so don't be afraid to poke the dough. The best way to test if the bread dough has risen enough is by poking it.

As for the oven, if the temperature is too low, it can take longer to get additional rise in the oven. What I do, as do many other bread bakers, is to bake the bread at the hottest temperature it can reach for the first ten minutes, then turn it down to the regular temperature for the remainder of the time needed to bake the bread. The hotter temperature initially can result in more oven spring for the bread.

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A higher ambient temperature, up to the point of killing the yeast, will definitely accelerate the proofing process. The temperature of the water, similarly, will speed up the process, unless the water is hot enough to kill the yeast.

The size of expansion is your best clue; when the dough has doubled, however long that takes, that's when you proceed. Many bread recipes benefit from a slower rise, which allows the yeast to produce more flavorful compounds. You can always refrigerate your dough overnight to get your proofing done.

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