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I've been making Jim Lahey's no-knead bread pretty much since the recipe first appeared in the New York Times. In the last year or so, I've noticed a strange phenomenon: the recipe says to let the dough rise for 12-18 hrs., but the dough looks ready after 10 hrs, and sometimes as little as 8. Here's today's dough after 10 hrs:

nk_bread

Lahey's advice is: "Dough is ready when it's dotted with small bubbles," and there they are. And that's fine, but I'm wondering why my dough is rising so much more quickly than the recipe specifies. My kitchen isn't unusually warm, so that can't be it, and I'm not using too much yeast. I'm also using active dry yeast, not instant. Here's the recipe for reference:

  • 420g flour
  • 345g water
  • 8g salt
  • 1g yeast

Combine ingredients and mix to form a soft dough. Cover and let rise 12-18 hrs. Turn out onto a floured surface, fold over on itself, and let rest 15 mins. Shape into ball, cover, and let rise 2 hrs. Preheat oven to 450F/220C with cast iron Dutch oven inside. Bake dough in Dutch oven, covered, for 30 mins, then uncover and bake another 15 mins.

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  • Different brand of yeast? Different flour? – Stephie May 22 at 16:28
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    What is the temperature of the location where you let it rise? Has it been stable through all your trials? – moscafj May 22 at 17:38
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    How are you measuring your yeast? That’s a very small amount, maybe your scale is off? – Debbie M. May 22 at 19:23
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    "In the past year or so." There's your answer. In the past year or so, time has ceased having meaning. Once herd immunity is achieved, your bread recipe should gradually start returning to normal. (Whatever normal is anyway.) – csk May 23 at 2:08
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    a 5F difference in kitchen temperature could easily make a 2 hour difference in rising time. – FuzzyChef May 24 at 23:54
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My kitchen isn't unusually warm, so that can't be it

That may be so, but what is the environment of your kitchen like in comparison with Jim Lahey's when he originally produced/tested the recipe? Two major variables in fermentation are temperature and humidity (https://www.polygongroup.com/en-US/blog/the-importance-of-humidity-control-in-bakeries). All other things being equal (e.g. ingredients, technique etc.) these would appear to be the most obvious culprits.

The YouTube baker Bake with Jack (https://youtube.com/c/BakewithjackUk) stresses this point in his training videos to the extent that he states the temperature in his kitchen for all of his recipes, so that people may compensate accordingly. I don't recall any else going as far as actually stating that, but it has certainly helped me achieve more consistent results as a result.

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    That's certainly one of the variables, yes. What makes me hesitate to think it's the major contributor: 1) i think you need 10 C difference to have the growth time (may have to check that number) and 2) the way i read the question, the bread was riding slower in the same kitchen for a long time, the change happened a year ago. – rumtscho May 26 at 6:46
  • I noticed that too, but if the core ingredients and process are the same, it has got to be the environment that @crmdgn is working under. Installation or settings of the air conditioning system possibly? Another factor is the water used - has the hardness or chlorine levels changed? I'd have thought though, that these would be fairly obvious. – Greybeard May 26 at 7:00

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