The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Retarding Dough How-To

PeterPiper's picture
PeterPiper

Retarding Dough How-To

I had great success with overnight retarding of my ciabatta dough.  The flavor was sweet and nutty, the crust turned to a beautiful golden brown, and I got great big holes.  I thought that trying an overnight stay in the fridge for my rustic bread would yield similar results.  But I tried it this Saturday and my dough ended up with small uniform air pockets, and lacked in the rich develoepd taste of the ciabatta.

So I'm wondering what's the secret to overnight retarding of dough?  How long does it need to warm back up?  Should you knead once then put in the fridge, or knead twice and form?  Should you use a poolish, as I did, or just mix all the ingredients and then retard the dough?

I think this method has a lot of promise, but I'm wondering how everyone else does it.  Many thanks!

 

-Peter

Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

Hi Peter -

So I'm wondering what's the secret to overnight retarding of dough?  How long does it need to warm back up?

How long it takes depends on individual factors for each recipe. Rich doughs and lean doughs come up to tempertaure at different rates, but the biggest factor is the amount of dough you're dealing with. One small boule will come up to temp much faster than a 1.2 kg batch. You have to experiment...

- Keith

PeterPiper's picture
PeterPiper

Hi Keith,

Thanks for the response.  Yes, I understand that dough size and type will affect the length of time it takes to warm up.  Should I wait until the dough is 60 degrees, 70, 72?  If I've let it rise once, then punched down and put into the fridge, should I let it rise again as it warms, then punch down and do a third rise?  Is the goal to have it come to room temperature?  Experimenting is great, but with a three-day build for my rustic bread, I can only try something twice a week.

For the purposes of this discussion, assume a 1kg rustic bread, lean dough, 70% hydration.

 

-Peter

davidg618's picture
davidg618

Recently I baked a favorite bread: D. DiMuzio's SF-like SD, firm levain version. As close as possible I duplicated my previous process steps, temperatures, etc. I did make one significant temperature change building this baking's fresh starter, but I am certain it had negligent influence over the outcome of this anecdote, probably none.

It was only during bulk fermentation I made a significant change.

A couple of years ago I converted a clothes closet into a wine closet--it's too small to call a wine cellar--that is maintained at 55°F. Instead of putting the dough into my refrigerator (~42°F) were I retarded all previous bakings of this formula, I put it into my wine closet, and monitored it closely. Normally, as the 1700g of dough cools down CO2 production continues, and I get about 1.5x volume increase before the cooling dough reaches near dormant activity; i.e., no further significant volume increase. I allow the dough to warm for about 3 hours before turning it out for shaping and final proofing. However, at 55°F the dough had doubled in volume after 7 hours. I removed it from the wine closet and transferred it to the refrigerator. Minutes after I transferred it I decided to bake a small loaf immediately, and let the balance of the dough rest overnight. I reasoned that if the dough continued to change, for the worst, I would at least salvage one loaf. I removed 730g of dough, and preshaped it immediatly, let it rest for 30 minutes, and final shaped it and placed it in a round brotform to proof. Final proofing took three hours--I test proof completion by poke-testing the dough. Interestingly, the remaining refrigerated dough showed little or no further expansion during the time I was still monitoring it. I baked the loaf using the usual procedures and temperatures. The loaf exhibited the same oven spring, and crust as previous bakings, although it had taken five more minutes to reach an internal 205°F temperature; I think the loaf's core temperature was still lower than room temperature after final proofing.  i went to bed.

The next morning the dough had expanded slightly more overnight, but only slightly. I ferment my doughs in a vertically sided clear-plastic container, so estimating dough expansiion is quite easy. I let it warm the usual thee hours, finding many large--plum-size--gas bubbles on the surface of the now approximately 2.5x expanded dough. I gently deflated the dough, preshaped, rested, and shaped it into a boule. Final proofing took only 1.5 hours. Baking resulted in a loaf with oven spring, crust, and crumb (this one we are eating the last of today) essentially the same as all previous bakings, including its flavor.

I think a reasonable conclusion is there isn't any magic time or temperature to de-chill the dough so long as you pay attention to how the dough is behaving, especially, in this case, in final proofing. In fact, I think what occured reinforces the guidance heard from many bakers, pros and amateurs, to learn the smell and feel and look of your dough along its journey from bits and parts to the flnal loaf.

You also asked about kneading. After initial mixing, usually five to eight minutes on low, I let the dough rest (autolyse) for 30 minutes, then stretch-and-fold it once, and put it in the proof box, and if Im going to retard the fermentation, the refrigerator. Thereafter, I check its extensibility and "feel" every 45 minutes, and perform, or not, another S&F depending on my judgement of its gluten development. This dough--10% whole wheat flour, 68% hydration, retarded--has always required three S&F's before I'm satisfied. Another dough I'm learning--classic baguettes--all white bread flour, 72% hydration--seems to do well on a single stretch-and-fold, bulk fermenting at room temperature. The obvious conclusion: different doughs behave differently. Smell, touch, and look again. We have to learn the idiosyncrasies of each dough. I haven't, for example, worked up the courage yet to tackle sour rye:-)

Good baking to you,

David G

 

 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

There is no "secret." Or, if there is one, I don't know it.

I've made several different breads where the recipes calls for cold retardation during bulk fermentation. The methods differ though.

Nury's Light Rye is allowed to double before retarding.

Bouabsa's baguettes (and my San Joaquin Sourdough) are fermented on the bench with repeated folds for an hour or more but not allowed to fully expand before retarding.

Gosselin's baguettes (the original method, not Reinhart's) is mixed (with ice water at that) and immediately retarded.

Some methods which have a long cold retardation in bulk call for completing fermentation (to doubling) on the bench before dividing (Gosselin). Some call for dividing immediately after the dough is taken out of the fridge and then "resting" the pre-shaped pieces for an hour before shaping and proofing (Bouabsa). Other methods call for allowing the dough to come to room temperature, then immediately dividing and baking without any further shaping or proofing (Nury).

The darn thing is, all of these make outstanding breads.

One generalization I can make is that retarding in bulk results in a looser, more extensible dough. I assume this is because of gluten degradation due to protease action. But the gluten is not so degraded that the crumb structure is hurt.

Please note that my examples are all of breads that are retarded in bulk. Retardation of formed loaves is another story, in my experience.

David

Yippee's picture
Yippee

Retardation of formed loaves is another story, in my experience.

David:

Could you please elaborate? Thanks.

Yippee

 

davidg618's picture
davidg618

David,

I've found a lot of retarded bulk fermentation information and advice here and elsewhere online, but very little on final proof retarding. Like Yippee, I'd like to know more.

Thanks,

David G

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Hi David G. and Yippee,

Many of Jeffrey Hamelman's sourdough recipes include an option to retard the shaped loaves overnight in the fridge. This allows the bacteria to "catch up" with the yeast and generally intensifies the sourness of these loaves.

There has been a lot of discussion on TFL (search the archives!) about how long such dough requires at room temperature, after removal from the fridge, before baking. Hamelman himself suggests that less is more in this case (i.e. he doesn't favor letting the dough come to room temp, as the chance is greater the dough won't spring up in the oven, or worse, a flat loaf will result). Others say the colder dough in the center of the loaf will need more bake time and this may adversely affect the crust.

Having used this technique to good effect on many occasions, I recommend it, so if you haven't tried it, by all means do. N.B. with wetter doughs I tend to underproof at room temp and let the final proof-rising happen in the fridge. Also, use of a "magic bowl" or roaster pan lid during the initial baking period cancels the possibly adverse crust effect mentioned earlier, in my estimation.

HTH!

David

davidg618's picture
davidg618

David,

I knew asking you would get me a good answer. I'm baking baguettes next, so I won't try it there, but next SF-like SD boule get's the treatment.

David G

Yippee's picture
Yippee

 David. 

In Hamelman's recipes calling for retardation of shaped loaves at final proof, is the dough also retarded at bulk fermentation as well? 

Do people normally retard their dough during one or the other stage but not at both? Any additional benefits you can think of if it's done at both stages?

By the way, what do N.B. and HTH stand for? There is so much to learn here, including acronyms. 

Yippee

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Hope this helps

Nota bene

Yippee's picture
Yippee

Pamela.

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Hi Yippee,

You'll get the hang of all this stuff, it just takes time and a little patience.

As Pamela rightly says, N.B. stands for "Nota Bene" which is Latin for "note well" or "listen up!". HTH is much newer and stands for Hope This Helps. HTH!

Now to the substance of your post... no, Hamelman does not retard both the bulk fermentation and the proof stage as well, and I have never tried that combination either. I would think that so much fermentation might make a very sour loaf, and I wonder too about the enzyme and acid actions on the gluten. But we love experimentation around here. Let us know what results you get!

Keep baking!

David

Yippee's picture
Yippee

David.

Keep baking!

I sure will!

Yippee

PeterPiper's picture
PeterPiper

I made ciabatta and rustic bread this weekend.  I retarded both overnight, and have come to some conclusions:

- ciabatta dough is so wet that it benefits from little/no handling and will form huge air pockets on its own

- the overnight retardation of ciabatta dough helps the flavor because the dough is so wet

- the rustic dough had huge bubbles in the morning, but reforming it and giving it a second rise resulted in a bread with a fairly uniform structure (evidently I wasn't gentle enough!)

- ciabatta is thin enough that it doesn't take too long (around 1.5 hours) to warm up enough so that it'll bake through and have good oven spring

- a batard of less hydrated dough will take a l...o...n...g time to warm back up

- the flavor of the rustic bread didn't get any more developed after an overnight stay

- the rustic bread DID have a great eggshell crust:  thin and crispy

Conclusion: I'm going to continue to retard the ciabatta overnight, but will go back to a 2-day build for the rustic:  poolish on the first day, dough and bake on the second.  Incidentally, I found that I've been baking my bread before it doubles, so the bread springs too much and doesn't form an ear.  Patience, dear boy, I told myself.  The ear was much better when I waited!

 

-Peter