The Fresh Loaf

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Adapting recipes for the work day (out of the house)

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melina119's picture

Adapting recipes for the work day (out of the house)

I'm having a fair amount of success baking simple hearth loafs w/poolish but wanted to know if anyone has successfully adapted these recipes for a work-out-of-the-house schedule (ie when is the safest time in the process to refrigerate dough for 8 hours).

I'm at home 6:30-8:30 AM and 6:30-11:00 PM (and then asleep!) What's the best schedule for baking a hearth loaf during these hours?

dmsnyder's picture

Hi, Melina. 

You have what must be a very common problem. And the solution takes some planning. That's why lots of us are "weekend bakers."  

I would say you need 3 days to do what you want optimally. 

Day one: 8-10 pm: Mix poolish/refresh starter (if making sourdough). Let it sit on the counter over night. 

Day two: 7 am: Refrigerate poolish/starter.  6:30 pm: Take out poolish and mix dough. Use warm water to compensate for cold poolish. Let dough ferment. Divide and shape. Cold retard loaves in frig. 

Day three: AM (if weekend) or PM (if workday): Take out loaves. Proof. Bake. 

This is a bare outline, of course. Timing of fermentation and proofing will depend on the formula, especially whether you use baker's yeast of sourdough or a combination. I'm also assuming the bread you make will be one that benefits from cold fermentation.


mcs's picture


Many recipes call for a preferment of 12-16 hours, so this is how I would do it.

6:30 am- mix your biga with ingredients you gathered/weighed the night before-use warmer than normal water to push the rising towards the 12 rather than 16 hour limit

6:30 pm- mix your main dough, adding the preferment from the morning - use warmer water again to push the bulk fermentation a little

8:30 pm- shape your dough after a couple of folds each 45 minutes

9:30 pm- bake

10:30 pm- eat some even though you're not supposed to since it's only been out of the oven for 15 minutes.

Most of Hamelman's recipes call for a similar time schedule.   

That's my 2 cents.


colinwhipple's picture

How about a recipe that would allow for a slow 10 hours primary fermentation?

If for example we used:

4 cups flour,

1.5 cups water, and

1.5 tsp salt, 

At a temperature of around 70F, how much yeast would give you around a 10-11 hour initial rise time?  1/4th tsp?  1/8th, maybe?




pjkobulnicky's picture

I do this all of the time:


Day 1 - AM ... mix the preferment; PM mix the dough timed to shape the loafs about 10:00PM and put in fridge before going to bed.

Day 2 - AM first thing ... put bread directly from fridge to cold start oven and bake (usually a wee bit more time to compensate for the chilled dough) 


Paul Kobulnicky

Baking in Ohio

suave's picture

That's exactly what my schedule is most of the time:

8 am - mix starter

7 pm - mix dough, bulk fermentation

10 pm - short proof

11 pm - retard

Bake first thing next morning.  If your oven has a timer you can set it so that it is hot by the time you get up.