Retarding dough - in bulk or after shaping?
I've been home sick this week which leaves me plenty of time to wonder about things. I have had sucess with long ferments but had never compared overnight ferment in bulk vs overnight ferment after shaping. I decided to try an experiment so I created a formula for a sourdough and made two loaves, one with each approach. The results are in but to tell you the truth, with the approach to fermentation being the only variable I could not taste a discernable difference in the loaves. Both have a similar crust and crumb, however I got better oven spring out of the one overnight fermented in bulk. That was about the only difference. I'd like to try this experiment again, hey I get to eat the results after all. From what I learned so far with flavors being equal I'd prefer to overnight ferment in bulk to avoid the occasional stuck loaf.
Why I am really posting though is to pose this question to the group. Which approach to retarding do you prefer, and why? Have you done any comparisons and noticed a difference in flavor from loaves from the same formula?
Can't resist posting without a few pics from the results of my experiments: