The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

When to retard?

JeremyCherfas's picture
JeremyCherfas

When to retard?

I've got a 100% starter bubbling nicely now, and I want to bake bread tomorrow morning. Thanks to the great advice I've received here, I plan to try feeding strong flour to the starter (done) and a smaller inoculation, 10% instead of 20%, and folding in the bowl to try to avoid a super-sticky unmanageable dough. I know I should do one variable at a time, but right now life's too short.


Anyway, there's no way I can do this without retardation at some point. Bill Wraith's spreadsheet tells me that at 30C, the temperature in my kitchen, my bulk ferment will take 4.4 hours and the proof about 1.5 hours. At 4C, the temperature in my refrigerator, bulk would take 115 hours and proof 41.


I've read lots of threads here, and there seems to be a consensus that retarding the shaped loaves and baking from cold, or cool, is often a good option. To be honest, that would suit me as I can get on with the baking first thing in the morning.


I was wondering, should I allow the shaped loaves any time at room temperature before I put them in the fridge?


No idea how long it will take them to cool fully from 30C to 4C, but my thought was it could easily be as long as an hour or so, in which case the activity during cooling would get me a long way towards the predicted 1.5 hours needed.


Any thoughts on this?


Thanks


Jeremy

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

You may have to do some searching to verify that my memory is correct, but I think that the general practice is to put the shaped loaves directly into the refrigerator without any time on the bench.  (I'm more apt to retard the dough during the bulk fermentation simply because I find it easier to fit one container in my fridge, rather than two loaves.)  It's one of those things that will require some experimentation from you, probably.  Your starter, your kitchen, your temperatures, etc., are unique to you, so other people's experiences can be used as a guideline but won't serve as an absolute referent.  Bill's spreadsheet is an excellent tool but even he would tell you to watch the dough, not the clock.


Paul

JeremyCherfas's picture
JeremyCherfas

but I also need to get a little sleep tonight. So the loaves will go into the fridge immediately after shaping.


Maybe I should dry down some spare starter and send it to you to replace yours?


Jeremy

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

There are a couple of things that I want to try with a new starter, so I'll play with that instead of taking the easy route.  I appreciate your generosity.


Paul

JeremyCherfas's picture
JeremyCherfas

In the end I put the loaves straight into the fridge after shaping and gave them about 30 minutes at room temperature while the oven heated up. The result was not at all bad:



The scoring could have been a lot better, and next time I think I'll give the shaped loaf an hour or so at room temperature before it goes into the fridge.