The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

The Ultimate Dough Retarder

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balabusta's picture
balabusta

The Ultimate Dough Retarder

If you would like to shape your dough beforehand and then refrigerate it, consider buying a dough retarder. Your household refrigerator should be set at 41 degrees or colder. The temperature for retarding dough should range between 46 to 50 degrees, depending on the number of hours you want to retard your dough. In addition to my refrigerator being too cold, I have also found little room inside for my expanding doughs.

Of course, a commercial dough retarder, which runs thousands of dollars and takes up huges amounts of space, is not appropriate for the home bread baker.

After a little bit of research, I purchased a small wine cooler - the Cuisinart CWC 900 Private Reserve. I can set the temperature digitally from 45 to 68 degrees. I couldn't be more pleased. When I'm not retarding dough, my husband uses it to cool wine. ;-)

Diane

Susan's picture
Susan

Maybe I can "Tom Sawyer" my husband into buying one for his wine! 

 Susan

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Diane,

Could you tell me the interior dimensions? The product manual on the Cuisinart site doesn't seem to say the interior dimensions.

Bill

balabusta's picture
balabusta

These are the exact dimensions:

14 1/2" depth; 12 1/4" width;  13 3/4" height

There are three wire shelves that are removable.  Sometimes I put loaves on the bottom and the middle shelf; othertimes, I use the entire space for one large loaf.

I've used the dough retarder successfully with sweet dough, artisan dough, and SD loaves in brotforms.

Diane 

jaydean2's picture
jaydean2

Could you please tell me how and why you use a bread retarder?  I understand using it as a way of holding the dough until you can get around to baking it but are there other reasons?  Thank you.  Jay

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Jay,

It is definitely true that cool temperatures can be used to change how long a given stage of your bread making process takes. The other important thing is that at cool temperatures, the relative activity of yeast and lactobacillus are changed in favor of the lactobacillus, which are the organisms that produce various acids and other compounds that contribute to a tangier, sometimes more aromatic character to the dough.

Bill

balabusta's picture
balabusta

Yes, I would definitely agree with Bill's response regarding flavors although I haven't noticed that a sweet dough becomes tangier (Bill: Any explanation for this?)

I also wanted to mention that the racks are half shelves.  I put a cookie sheet that fits the interior of the wine cooler on top of the half shelf when I want to use the bottom and a shelf. 

Knowing how well the wiine cooler works as a dough retarder, I would buy a slightly larger size if I had it to do over.

Diane

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Diane,

I did a little reading in Raymond Calvel's, The Taste of Bread, and it says that whether you use sourdough culture or yeast, both produce "organic acids" during long fermentations. Those organic acids have flavors and aromas that give bread character. A sourdough culture had a somewhat different composition of the various acids in the bread compared to bread made with straight yeast. The most striking difference in the sourdough method was a ten-fold increase in acetic acid. The most common acid in the composition using either sourdough or yeast bread was still acetic acid, which is what would give the bread a tangy flavor. So, all in all, it seems to me the reasons for retarding were about the same for either sourdough or yeast methods. The main difference seems to be that the composition of acids is somewhat different with the sourdough method because of the activity of the lactobacillus.

I am out visiting a cabin (hope not to do too much damage to myself skiing) in Montana, and I didn't bring any sourdough culture with me. My brother is here with me, and he said we just had to make some bread. So, I bought a scale, thermometer, some "Wheat Montana" flours, and some instant yeast. I'm trying to remember how to make bread with yeast. I made a poolish last night and put it in a wine cooling refrigerator that must be very similar though more like an under-the-counter mini refrigerator. I bet the temperature is around 55-60 up on the top shelf, which seems a little warmer. Anyway, after about 6 hours, I took it out, and it had very different smell from just plain flour and water. Meanwhile, I can't remember how long I'm supposed to leave a poolish to rise, but I have a feeling some bread will be made over the next day or so, even if my poolish isn't really done right.

The one thing that I forgot that seems like a big problem is parchment paper. I'm not sure what I'm going to do there, other than have some bread stuck hard to a jelly roll pan.

Bill

balabusta's picture
balabusta

Jeffrey Hamelman says that the length of a time for a  poolish depends on two variables: the % yeast (.08% to 1%) and water temperature.  The time can range from 8 to 16 hours.  The only constant with a poolish is that it's same weight for flour and water.

Calvel's explanation about retarding the dough makes sense, that the initial difference in the acetic acid becomes accentuated with SD.

 I never use parchment paper since I usually bake directly on my hearthstone.  Why not try a little bit of oil on the baking sheet? I use grape seed oil, which I'm able to buy at a good price.  It doesn't impart any odor, and it's actually a good oil.

Montana sounds rustic and wonderful.

Diane

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Diane,

I put the poolish in the wine cooler right after mixing last night - not time at room temperature. I put in 1/4 tsp of instant yeast in 20 oz water and 20 oz flour. It had some kind of fairly strong aroma - not like yeast - more like something aromatic a little bit like wet paint when I took it out. Now, I'm leaving it at room temperature, and it's starting to bubble and smell more yeasty. I hope it'll be OK. I didn't try tasting it yet.

I don't have any kind of pizza stone or tiles here, but I guess just putting a little oil in a pan should do. I don't have grape oil, but maybe just some vegetable oil would do. I worry that it will smoke or burn, though. I was thinking maybe just flouring it might be the trick.

Bill

balabusta's picture
balabusta

Well, fresh wet paint is not my idea of an appealing aroma, so I'm glad your poolish has started to acclimate.  You should be okay with oil.  It's butter that has a lower burn temperature.

Another book you might enjoy is Special Decorative Breads by Bilheux, ERscoffier, et al.  It's quite factual with good charts and photos.  I also have the companion book. The only downside is that everything is scaled for a bakery. I either have to use a calculator for each recipe or give up my day job.

Diane

Susan's picture
Susan

Bill, I think I would preheat the pan you are going to bake the loaf on.  Say, maybe 5-10 minutes.  I think it would act just like the hot pan you bake the No-Knead loaf in.  

 At any rate, good luck, and don't break a leg!

Susan

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Diane,

I've been pretty much 100% into sourdough baking for a couple of years. Does non-SD dough also get tangy when you retard? I know retarding of plane yeast doughs is done all the time, and pre-ferments and long cold ferments must contribute to great tasting bread, as those techniques are used in so many of the recipes you find in the most well regarded bread making books. I'm traveling, or I'd be reading the pre-ferment and retarding discussions in one of those books right now trying to figure it out.

Bill

Squid's picture
Squid

My hubby won a wine cooler but since we don't drink wine (yes, we're weird) it's been sitting in our garage collecting dust. I'm glad he didn't listen to me when I suggested giving it away. LOL

Thanks for the idea!

Wanda

EffigyOfFaith's picture
EffigyOfFaith

Since I do not have tiles in my oven currently, I typically bake small boules on the back of my trusty cast iron skillet. I put it in when I start to preheat the oven and dust it durum flour. The cast iron retain heat very well. My oven springs have just been getting mightier since I started doing this. Admittedly this doesn't work well for other bread shapes.

 Cheers

bread4ted's picture
bread4ted

If you're near a Circuit City store and might be interested in a really inexpensive wine cooler to use for retarding dough, take a look at this:

Sunbeam 8-Bottle Wine Cooler

The interior dimensions are approximately 13 7/8" wide x 7 3/4" high x 12 3/4" deep and the bottle racks slide right out. It has a digital thermostat that can be set to any temperature from 44 to 66 degrees fahrenheit.

One caveat I have to mention though is that Sunbeam appears to have gone out of business. Although another company is marketing some small appliances using the Sunbeam name, refrigerators and coolers are no longer part of the line. But for this price I decided to take a chance anyway.... :)

Ted

intelplatoon's picture
intelplatoon

sorry to revive an old thread.....but i got a wine cooler recently and was wondering about the humidity levels


inside of one. is it a dry environment? shold i use a wet towel on the surface of the dough? any suggestions?