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Handling Changes in Humidity

Humidity levels will affect:

  1. The amount of water you add to your recipes, and
  2. First and second rising times.

High Humidity

If it’s very humid in your kitchen, such as during a summer heat wave, you probably will have to reduce the amount of water you use by as much as 10 percent. If you don’t decrease it, your dough will be very sticky and will require a lot more flour to make it manageable. Humidity in the air is one thing, but your flour will absorb humidity as well. Hot, humid weather will mean your rise times will be shortened.

Doubling Dough Volumes

  • With the exception of No-Knead Bread, don’t let your dough more than double, because it will be over fermented and deflate the moment you try to load it into your oven.
  • Judging when your dough has actually doubled can be challenging. One way to be certain is to pull off a small portion of your dough, and put it in a straight walled, oiled glass beaker. Mark the level with tape if the beaker is not graduated, then mark it again at the doubling point. There are also plastic tubs with pre-marked measurements or glass batter bowls with measurement markings made for this purpose.

Low Humidity

Low humidity is another problem, and it will slow down your rising times. In winter, if the air in your kitchen is very dry, you might want to set a large pot of water on your stove and leave it just at the simmer while your dough is rising.

A simple, and cheap, analog humidity gauge can be had at most hardware stores, so you’ll have a rough idea of what the level actually is, then take steps accordingly.

Air Temperature

For most bread, the optimum air temperature during the first and second rising is about 72 – 75ºF. This isn’t always possible to maintain, though.

  • Lower temperatures are fine; the dough will simply take longer to double.
  • A lot higher temperature is not, because the dough will rise much too quickly, resulting in bread with a yeasty flavor.


Next, we will cover the important baking topic: Creating Steam in your brick oven.

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