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We all know that warmer temperatures mean more yeast activity (provided a food source), and that yeast survives freezing, but what is the minimum temperature yeast can perform fermentation?

As I gently warm a dough from freezing, what temperature will it start to rise? 10°? 15°?

Another way of asking this is, how cold does my dough have to be to stop rising?

  • It depends on the yeast. As is mentioned below lager yeast is lively in cold temperatures while Lavlin EC-1118 wants between 50 and 86 F. – Wjdavis5 Sep 28 '14 at 23:40
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It will even rise (very, very slowly) at refrigeration temperatures (4C, 39F). For it to completely stop rising you need to freeze it (or very close). A lot of recipes call for the dough to rise overnight in the refrigerator. Depending on the dough, it may it may in fact completely rise in the refrigerator overnight. Long rises create more flavor than short ones, often speed is not of the essence. Frozen dough will start (slowly) to rise as soon as it starts to thaw.

Never judge readiness by time. Temperature is only one of many factors that will vary from loaf to loaf.

Volume is the main indicator of readiness (usually double the "pre-rise" size). Also, there's the poke test. Stick a couple of fingertips a centimeter or so into the dough. If the indentations remain after your fingers are removed, that's an indication that the dough has risen enough.

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    Lager-type beers are fermented quite cold, as well, in a step often called "lagering". The temperature of the fermenting beer is held in the neighborhood of 34-40°F during this phase and the yeast continues to work on the beer. – sintax Sep 28 '14 at 22:10
  • You mention not to judge readiness by time. How do you judge readiness? @Jolenealaska – aaaidan Sep 30 '14 at 0:46
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    @aaaidan Volume is the main one (usually double the "pre-rise" size). Also, there's the poke test. Stick a couple of fingertips a centimeter or so into the dough. If the indentations remain after your fingers are removed, that's an indication that the dough has risen enough. – Jolenealaska Sep 30 '14 at 1:02
  • @sintax - but those are different strains: S. cerevisia (Baker's yeast), the "older" top-fermenting type vs. S. pastorianus (former: S. carlsbergiensis), the "lager" bottom-fermenting type. The latter actually "prefers" cooler temperatures, afaik. – Stephie Dec 22 '15 at 10:20

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