A Stir The Pots Post

Cold winter baking

by | Jan 28, 2011 | Bread

Just today a  friend was asking me how I get such full-blown loaves in the dead of frigid winter. My  response is… long cool rise, some folds, longer rise and bake. It seems my friend's bread was catching a cold and didn't want to move….Here is what I do.


My levain is made before work from stock levain that's fed at least once a week. Before heading for work, I feed the levain in the morning. The dough is mixed in the evening  after I come home from work 14 hours later. Here's a typical schedule for a winter bake.

  1. Mixed dough 11:00 P.M. on mixer to a shaggy dough, minus salt, autolyse 20-60 minutes.
  2. Added salt and finished kneading dough with famed Bertinet method.
  3. Bulk fermented about 2-3 hours gave a couple turns…with a bit of shut-eye in-between.
  4. Pre-shaped dough, let rest about 20 30 minutes… browsed the web till I felt exhausted.
  5. Gave the dough a final shaping, batard…proofed for another 2-4 hours till about 4:30. Woke up and noticed a nice even rise with just a bit of resistance.
  6. Pre-heated creuset pot in a 485 F oven
  7. Baked 20 minutes with lid and 15 minutes without.

Moral of this story? Even a lazy baker has to pay attention to details. In addition, winter provides cooler temps. Unless you're living in an unusually hot apartment, use this method of using the winter chill to slow down the fermentation, as opposed to using a fridge which is often too chilly.

So if it's the dead of winter and your dough just isn't moving, don't use the fridge. Quite often it's a sub-arctic station, too cold. Even if you're like me working a chaotic schedule, you just want a nice loaf. Not a blown-out mess. Use intuition and check your variables list, air, water flour temp. Most of all,take mental notes, don't watch your clock on the wall, and don't use the fridge.



  1. Teresa

    Great post Jeremy, very interesting. I don’t think I have ever been so devoted to my dough as to stay half awake all night long. However, I do have a dedicated fridge set at 46F degrees, and it also gives me excellent results, instead of the below 40F degree temps in a regular refrigerator. Right on! Terrific loaves!

  2. Oliverde

    Now that’s love….I’ve suspended winter bread baking, because a kitchen running at 48 degrees, is just too cold to make my starter wake up. Alas.

  3. Joanna

    Lovely photos ! You get such great results with the pot baking, I must try that more often! Trouble is, my pot takes up all the space in my oven, so I can only do one loaf at a time that way. Terrine looks fabulous too!

  4. azélias kitchen

    What beautiful bread, gorgeous crust! Bumped into you through Dan on twitter!
    Bookmarked! I’m a disciple of bread 🙂


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