The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

retarding temps

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bobm1's picture
bobm1

retarding temps

is there a general consenus regarding the optimal temperatures for retarding doughs? i have found recommendations ranging from 38F to 65F. i currently retard at about 40F which i feel is too cold. doughs take much too long to rebound before they are ready to bake. the results still produce very good spring in the oven and excellent bread qualities but the process from mother to firm start to bulk ferment to shape, retard and bake is somewhat exhausting. 

flournwater's picture
flournwater

For developing a full roundness in flavor for the finished loaf, I prefer a 40 degree retard, but I have a lot of time so the rebound time isn't an issue in my kitchen. 

wally's picture
wally

Forty degrees is a good retarding temperature. Have you considered retarding shaped loaves that are just about fully proofed?  In that event, you don't have to wait for the dough to reach room temperature - once the oven's up to heat you can bake immediately.


Larry

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I don't think there is a consensus, at least not for home bakers.  Most of us retard at whatever temperature our fridge is where the "optimal dough retarding temperature" usually has to take a backseat to "not so cold that the milk freezes, not so warm that everything spoils and we get in huge trouble with the spouse."


That said, we have a room in our house that is very poorly insulated.  In the winter it dips down to around 45-50 degrees in there.  I love retarding my dough in there.  It isn't cold enough that it'll totally stop fermentation, but it slows it down enough that I get a really nice long slow fermentation that results in incredible flavor.  And, as you suggest, at that temperature it isn't so inactive that I have wait for hours for the chill to come off before I want to bake.


I believe the bakery I worked in retarded down to under 40 degrees.  As Larry suggests, we would shape the loaves, let them get about 3/4ths of the way risen, and then retard them in the walk-in cooler.  The next day we'd pull them out of the walk-in and bake them immediately.

bobm1's picture
bobm1

flournwater, in the intrest of flavor, where do you think the point of diminishing returns is with regarde to retarding. could dough be kept longer than 24hrs and still have a succesful bake?


Floyd, 40F is happy news! i would pay dearly for altering the temp of my wife's milk and cookie experience. i allow the dough a bulk ferment of about 4hrs. then shape and immediately retard, usually over night. in the morning i remove it from the fridge and let it continue to proof at room temp as much as 4 hrs. more.


Larry. i didn't realize the dough could be baked directly from the fridge? is oven spring affected baking cold dough? I'll definitly give that a try, though i think i may allow a longer proof period prior to retarding rather than after.


thank you all, for your comments.


it's a strange dichotomy, this bread thing. ingredients and adjustments are measured in grams, yet when it comes to methods and variations it's the wild west!  it makes for a very ineresting playgound.


thanks again,


bob

flournwater's picture
flournwater

I have retarded the dough, with a hunk of starter in the mix, for as much as 72 hours, sans yeast mixture, and added the yeast for the final rise/proof processes.  I think the longer controlled ferment offers better flavor but that's just my opinion.  Note that such an approach really isn't much different, as I see it, as simply setting aside a well fed batch of starter for several days prior to using it as the major portion of the final batch of dough.  Nothing scientific there  -  just novice ramblings.  But I have fun and folks stuff down the bread I make so it's a win/win for me.

bobm1's picture
bobm1

so, these longer ferments are in bulk, and then your remixing a yeast mixture into your dough? i've been tempted to spike some doughs yeast to see how the crumb characteristics are affected but i haven't exausted proof time and temp manipulations, yet. what percentage of yeast do use. i'm curious, too, when you say mixture. is that a part of your final dough?

wally's picture
wally

Bob,


If your bread is already shaped and nearly fully proofed, you can bake directly from the refrigerator and still get good oven spring.  Allowing it to reach room temperature before baking isn't necessary, and may even result in over-proofed dough. 


Remember, the temperature difference between the dough coming right from the refrigerator and room temperature is probably only 30 degrees or so.  But you're putting the loaves into an oven that may be anywhere from 375 to 480 degrees or higher.  So the 30 degree delta between the dough and room temperature is a drop in the bucket by comparison.


Larry

bobm1's picture
bobm1

cooking cold goes against the grain, generally speaking, but this makes good sense and should really streamline the process on bake day. thanks, Wally.

ryeaskrye's picture
ryeaskrye

I have delved into retarding most of my breads, mostly to fit baking more conveniently to an irregular schedule. I find the type of bread, starter and flour involved affect my retarding efforts significantly. 


Rye breads (mine are a 53% rye, bastardized "pumpernickel") do not seem to let me go as long without losing some oven spring. Their sour develops at a faster rate than my white breads.


I use Ed Woods' South African whole wheat starter for whole wheat breads and they rise quickly even at 40°F. This starter also doubles very quickly in the fridge when refreshed. I rarely leave it out at room temp. I also have a Desem WW starter that proofs quickly at low temperatures...where my SF starter would take more than a day. Makes me think whole wheat starters may be more robust and faster than white flour starters.


Having recently experimented with Susan's Simple Sourdough recipe using a SF starter, I have retarded at 40° ranging from 10 hours all the way to 30 hours without much of a change between the two extremes.


Being stuck with either the 40°F or a 62°-70° range, the easiest variable for me to manipulate is time, so I'm not sure I can give you much help on temperature itself.


Over winter, we do have a small room that we do not heat and that gets colder than the rest of the house. I think I'll try using a small space heater to control the temp and try some retardation experiments.


 

bobm1's picture
bobm1

after considering Wally's comments regarding temps my first thought is that they are of minimal concern, which is a bit of a relief because, like you, i don't have to many options in that area. the primary objective seems to be to slow the bacterial process enough to allow the dough to develope more fully. (nothing sciencetific here, either:)


with that in mind, the next question for me is what temp does that most effectively without killing the wee beasties and how long they can be kept in this state before they exhast themselves.


i do a rye (20% chops or course in the starter, sifted from my medium rye flour) and a multi-grain in the same way and they do seem to develope more quickly than the straight flour mothers do. there is much less difference in growth in the firm start. in either form, growth rate not with standing, they all achieve the same volume. this all occures at room temp over a period of about 4hrs. i like make the firm start just as the mother begins to recede. or even a little sooner, if i'm paying attention, and i retard the firm start at about the same point.