Since I started bread baking last year I've been aiming mainly at sourdough and have made some reasonably good loaves at the weekend but it has been a challenge to fit it into the week's work schedule. The comparatively long rise of approx. 4 hours means I'd be baking at 22:50 if I made the loaf on getting home from work. Letting it rise in the fridge while I'm at work seems a pretty good solution to this, and here's how I've worked it so far.
08:00 Tuesday: mixed 50g starter with 50g wholemeal rye flour and 50g water (the starter is 50% hydrated wholemeal rye and lives in the fridge all the time. It's pretty active despite this). Left it at room temperature, went to work.
18:00 Tuesday: home from work; added 50g strong white organic flour and 50g water. Still at room temperature.
22:00 Tuesday: added 100g white flour and 100g water, still at room temperature.
07:00 Wednesday: added 300g strong white flour, 100g water, 11g salt, a glug of olive oil; mixed, a little bit of folding and stretching, formed a round, left whilst showering, dressing, breakfasting.
07:50 Wednesday: a bit more stretching, folding, gentle kneading and it's looking good. Shaped into a stubby cylinder, into the banneton, bagged, in the fridge. Off to work.
17:30 Wednesday: home from work, dough looks ready. Oven on, 230°C, baking stone in. Oven ready, baking stone out, turned loaf onto stone, dusted with wholemeal rye, slashed, into the oven, 300g boiling water into a hot baking tray for steam. Baked for 20 min at 230°C then 25 min at 190°C. It needs longer baking due to going into the oven fridge-cold.
Result: pretty good. Nice, crunchy crust; moderately airy, moist crumb; reasonably good sourdough tang. For such a relatively small amount of wholemeal rye, it has a surprising amount of wholemeal flavour. I'm not sure where to take it next to get a lighter, airier crumb, but I think I might experiment with leaving it out of the fridge a bit longer before baking in order to let it warm up a bit and do some more rising.
The overall hydration is about 62%. The starter came from a training day at e5 Bakehouse with a reputed 200 year trans-European pedigree and seemed better than my own home-grown starter. I always feed it with equal amounts of wholemeal rye and filtered water and keep it in the fridge.