In a bakery, maintaining the correct temperatures for preferments—generally cool—and proof boxes for dough rising are critical for consistency of flavor and an efficient daily baking routine. The ideal dough temperature is around 75 degrees, and to keep it at this temperature requires an ambient temperature of the same. However, our own house is generally cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer. In the winter I rest the dough on top of the refrigerator where there is more heat. And I always cover with a large trash bag to prevent air from blowing on the dough and drying out the surface. Unless the house or kitchen is extremely cold or drafty, I wouldn’t worry about temperature too much. Colder dough requires more patience that site.
Mixing the Dough
For many home bakers kneading the dough and bread baking have become synonymous. There is something fun, sensual, physical and complete about folding dough on a board over and over again, until the arms give out, or until some ideal texture—I was told like the lobe of an ear—is achieved. Professional bakers, for the most part, attempt to maximize the amount of water in the bread, because more moisture means better aromas and longer shelf life.