The Fresh Loaf

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Adjusting yeast quantity for overnight shaped refrigerator proof to avoid overproofing

venkitac's picture

Adjusting yeast quantity for overnight shaped refrigerator proof to avoid overproofing

Subject kinda said it: I've been trying to use a few recipes from The Bread Bible from Rose Beranbaum (actually, question applies to all bread recipes). Due to my schedule, really the only way I can make bread is by kneading and rising the day before, and refrigerate the shaped loaf (which I believe is good for flavor anyway) and then dechilling the loaf in the morning for 45 mins and then baking. Using the quantities of yeast supplied in recipes results in overproofing, so I'm wondering how much I should reduce the yeast in the recipes by. (I saw this pure awesome converstion chart for yeast that said "if you're proofing at temparature X, reduce yeast by Y" and so on, but I can't find it after an hour of searching). Help!

Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

I don't have a direct answer to your question, but I can tell you what works for me (and I'm in the same boat with you).

For commercial yeasted breads which rise very quickly, I do the first rise (the bulk) on the counter for about an hour to an hour and a half, depending on temperature. I punch down, cover and retire to the fridge overnight. The next morning, I allow it to come to a reasonable temperature to work with and shape the dough. After working with it to do the shaping, it is now fairly close to room temperature, so I allow the shape to final proof and into the oven with it. No yeast adjustment is necessary. The only thing you need to do is take a little time off of the bulk fermentation on the counter, if anything, maybe 15-30 mins less.

For sourdoughs, I usually do the bulk on the counter as well. I use small amounts of a firm starter to begin with, so the bulk fermentation is going to take a good 8 or more hours on the counter. I then shape. Why? Well, most of my sourdoughs are rather hydrated and require support during final proof, ie., a banneton or similar. I retire the banneton to the fridge at that point. Since plastic wrap will not stick to or seal my bannetons, I enclose them in oven bags. I remove from the fridge the next morning, throw them in a cold oven for about an hour, then to the counter for 1 to 3 more hours depending on temp, then turn out to my baking surface and into the oven. Whether or not I final on the counter right after bulk, or refrigerate the final, the yeast amount remains the same.

Expect a few surprises, if not flat out failures, while you experiment with your most trusted recipes. It's all part of it... : )

- Keith

gcook17's picture

In his book, Advanced Bread and Pastry, Michel Suas gives the following amounts of yeast to put in poolish for the desired fermentation time (of the poolish).  They are just meant to be starting points.  Also, I realize you're asking about amount of yeast in the final dough, but maybe this will give an idea of where to begin experimenting.  Percentages are weight of yeast as percentage of flour weight.

3 hours: 1.5%; 7-8 hours: 0.7%; 12-15 hours: 0.1%.  He says these guidelines are for starting water temp of 60 and room temp of 80-85 but I find 0.1% works well for me overnight (12-15 hrs.) when temps range from 60-70.


For refrigerating overnight maybe Reinhart's Sicilian bread gives a good indication.  He has about 0.75% instant yeast in the total dough and tells the baker to refrigerate overnight.  This formula has worked well for me.  I don't know if the prefermented dough it contains makes it ferment faster in the fridge...??

Neil C's picture
Neil C


Thanks for the reference to Suas' guideline for Poolish.

I've been using 0.2% yeast based on Hamelman's Poolish Baguette recipe, but retard at between 56 to 59 degrees which takes between 15 to 18 hours to mature. 

After reading your reference to Suas, I reread Advanced Bread and Pastry (pg. 85) and lowered my poolish Instant Yeast amount to a a heaping 'smidge' (1/32 tsp) with far better results. 

My wife Lyda and I originally intended to attend the Suas' SFBI two day Introduction to Baguettes workshop starting today, but had to reschedule for February 6th and 7th. 

Again, thanks for the reference to Suas' yeast reductions,

Neil in Denver Co