The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bulk retardation vs retarding shaped loaves

  • Pin It
Josh Khoo's picture
Josh Khoo

Bulk retardation vs retarding shaped loaves

Dear All 


I have been working on a simple sourdough recipe based on the following ratio:


100% : 53% : 52% : 1.3%


flour:100% hydrated active starter:water:salt


After initial mixing, autolyse and a further mix I let the dough bulk prove for 2 hrs with 2 folds.  The recipe I'm using then calls for the dough to be divided, pre-shaped, rested and then shaped and then retarded in the fridge in bannetons for about 12 hours.


What would the effect be (if any) on my loaves if I bulk proved the dough straight after folding.  I would bulk retard for the same amount of time (12 hours) and thereafter divide and shape. 


I suppose the question is in short:  "does a piece of dough's size (i.e a "smaller" shaped loaf vs. a "bulk" batch of dough) have any impact on how the dough retards/develops?"


Thanks in advance folks


Josh :-)

Josh Khoo's picture
Josh Khoo

Hey folks - being new to forums, I hope I havent broken some fundamental forum rule...

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Josh!


Welcome to TFL!


If you bulk retard, the dough will be slacker when you form it. This will make it handle differently. Try it and compare the difference it makes.


David

Josh Khoo's picture
Josh Khoo

Thanks David - appreciate the response!


Understand that bulk retarded dough will be slacker when shaping and handle differently, but as best as I can determine, there is not that much change to the baked product.  Both crust and crumb appear to me the same, with same or very similar flavour.


The impetus for this query is that I only have a fixed number of bannetons and what I'm trying to do is double my output with the same number of bannetons in the same period of time.  So whilst a single batch can be retarding already shaped, a second batch can be bulk retarding.


I suppose to get a bit more technical, is it correct to say that the size of a piece of dough doesnt really impact on the retardation process?

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Josh.


I believe I've read that dough size does matter, but this was when the bulk fermentation was of commercial quantities. Perhaps one of the professional bakers can answer this question with more authority. I don't have experience with fermenting more that 4.5 lbs of dough at a time.


David

Davo's picture
Davo

I would suspect that the very large piece of dough will have much more thermal inertia, so the insulated inner part will go on fermenting as it will remain close to room temp for much longer than for split-into-loaf-sizes. But that's a qualitative issue, you can;t really quantify the effect. The other thing is that if in that method the loaves would come out of the retard, close to bake-ready (say with minimal or zero warm-up time), then you are going to be in trouble if you shape the dough at that ready-to-bake stage, and then expect it to prove (after shaping) any further and still bake up OK. So if I were doing that, I'd cut down the levain/starter proportion into the final bread dough so that when it does come out of the frdige it still has a bit of proving potential left in it. Otherwise you will not get any rise after shaping and will get a bit of a brick, I'm guessing. But that's just a guess - it might work out fone with no further tinkering...


 


My 2c

whiskers's picture
whiskers

My attempts of retarding shaped loaves (about 400g each) have not been very successful. They simply overproof in the fridge (6-8 hours) and have very little oven spring. Also I've noticed that the crust formation is not as good. It seems that the shaped loaves are already over proofed as they come out of the fridge. And they rise a bit more while coming up to the room temp. So the loaves are about to collapse when they go into the oven.


So I've been doing bulk retardation - pulling the dough out of the fridge - let it come to room temp - shape - final proof - and bake. Granted, retading the final proof saves a lot of time, but I can't control how much it rises.


One thing I haven't tried, however, is to cut down on the starter proportion, as Davo suggested. That might actually solve my problem of over proofing. This is now on my long list of "to-experiment" list...