Okay, so I know our winters are mild compared to the North American winters where I grew up. However, we do get very cold nights in the minus range (-6, 21F) and certainly in the low single digits regularly. Having no central heat, this means our house gets cold overnight. And the follow on from this means that my overnight proving of bread method (adapted from Celia’s original method here) needed to be altered.
Here is Celia’s latest adaptation of her overnight method, which incorporates some helpful videos and also adapts the recipe to a higher hydration and uses some spelt flour, but is mostly wheat. She does also have a 100% spelt recipe here, however it uses her normal wheat starter, I believe and mine uses a spelt starter.
Here is my latest adaptation of Celia’s latest overnight method which incorporates more hydration, more whole meal spelt, but is 100% spelt including the starter. I have also changed the timings to allow for the cooler winter temperatures.and the crumb… Confused? Just use my latest method above for a higher hydration loaf that also incorporates more whole meal spelt, creating a more wholesome and flavourful loaf. If you get confused about technique, consult Celia’s blog, she is the expert and has great tutorials. I’m just learning, but my recipe does work, as you can see in the photos. I also want to share with those who bake bread, my secret weapon for those cold nights, which produce quite varied results in the proving stage of the overnight dough. Yes, I have a secret weapon that does not destroy life, but helps it along, especially if you are a little ‘yeastie’ living in sourdough, or if you have cold feet, but that’s another post… I present to you the rice filled heat bag. Not novel, probably been used to help bread raise before too, but it was new to me for this purpose so I thought I would share it.
In the morning if I find the overnight low in the house has prevented the dough from proving to the expansion it does in warmer weather I put the heat bag in the microwave for a minute on high. I then place it under the covered bowl to gently boost the proving activity. Also, I have found that doing the same thing by sandwiching the heat bag between two baking trays with the shaped loaf on the top tray, gently speeds up the raising process that might otherwise be painfully slow if you are waiting to bake due to other pressing things. Just make sure you only heat the bag to the normal temperature you would place it on your skin so the heat is a gentle one. You don’t want the dough to over-prove.
My starter has never had bubbles until today. It was an odd thing and why I didn’t give up on it I don’t know. From my first loaf of bread, I moved through the various steps of bred making based on times because here was no evidence of activity, until after the overnight prove and then it looks like this…I did some reading this week and an experienced baker in Leura NSW says the starter needs to be kept in a plastic container with the lid ajar so that it gets air. This was the first I had heard this, so two days ago I tried it. Today when I needed to feed the starter before going away for a week, there were bubbles!! If you have thoughts on this, please leave them below. As I said, I’m still learning!
Also, please have a read of my friend Francesca’s bread baking adventures here, and my friend Sandra’s extra handy post with a calculation table for various amounts of starter so you will waste less. This incredible community continues to grow and develop much like the starter Celia began it all with. We are all part of a valuable movement that cares about the quality of our food, and those with whom we share it.
Happy baking. xx