The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Retarding the dough overnight.. How long do you wait after taking the dough out of the fridge?

elcouisto's picture

Retarding the dough overnight.. How long do you wait after taking the dough out of the fridge?

I've got a question abiout retarding a dough in the fridge and the time it supposedly saves..

How long do you wait before baking once you take your dough out of the fridge? Most of the time I have to let it cool down and benching and proofind requires more time, so the "time saving" really isn't there..

Anything I'm missing?

suave's picture

If your bread has already been shaped you don't wait at all and bake it immediately.  In any case, retarding has nothing to do with saving time, it is used for flavor development, and to a certain degree, for scheduling.

latida's picture

I agree ... bake it right out of the fridge. There are some real advantages to going from the fridge to the oven.

  1. The cold loaf maintains it's shape nicely even if it is highly hydrated (I love high hydration breads with big holes in the final loaf).
  2. It is easy to score.
  3. My experience is that it improves oven spring, probably because it takes longer for the yeast to die and dough to set.

I take this one step further, I cover the loaf, which has been placed on a preheated stone, with a stainless steel bowl, the interior of which has been sprayed with cold water, for the first 10 to 15 minutes of the bake.

In my exoerience this works as well as the many home oven steaming techniques discussed here.


Dillbert's picture

perhaps indirectly - as mentioned the primary purpose of retarding a dough is not too often cited as "saving time"

however . . . . I have read in my surfing where folks make up one gigantic batch of dough, shape multiple loaves, put in the fridge, remove one at a time and bake throughout the week.

in that sense it could 'save time' as one is only batching the dough once.

personally I've not gone more than 48 hrs on a dough.

richawatt's picture

I retatrd all of my baguette dough over night, and I can bake it straight from the fridge if it is already shaped, but I like to divide it, round it, then retard it.  When I take it out in the morning, I will round it again, bench it for about 20 minutes then shape it.  after that it only needs a short proof.  When I bake it, ity seems underproofed, but it gets a wonderful oven spring.  As far as my formula when making the dough to be retarted, I use less yeast then usual and slightly more salt.  and I use iced water to mix with.  The yeast will still be actve in the fridge, even though only slightly, so I dont want it going out of control.  When I mix, I stop the mix before it has reached full gluten development, the overnight in the refer will further develop gluten and if it were to go to the chill fully developed, when it came out it would be over.  I use this method every day in the bakery and it produces beautiful bread, with a deep red crust, great oven spring, and a crumb structure like sourdough.  The flavor is very complex from the chill as well. 

liming's picture

hi Richawatt, your cold retarding method sounds great! I have been cold retarding my dough similarly but could never get a good (if any) oven spring, I wonder if I've overproofed my dough (I need to shape the dough and let it have the second rise after refrigeration, for about 1-1.5 hours).  But when I checked the crumb, I thought there were dense areas or areas of tiny holes beside relatively big holes, which i suspected to be a sign of under not over proofing. 

How long do you second proof your dough after you shape it?




amauer's picture

I take things quite literally at times and have been frustrated about the retarding of the dough when I want to spend the day baking bread, not the weekend! I did not know you could bake right out of the frig if shaped. Does that go for sourdough as well? With all the feed the starter, make the dough, stretch and fold and in the frig and out and shape and rise and bake, I am about ready to kill my starters. LOL! Andrea

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

...first and then refigerate, or will the rise while the loaves are cooling suffice?



rsherr's picture

Interesting thread.  I always let my French bread rise in the fridge but not shaped as I don't usually have room for two shaped loaves.  I take it out in the morning, shape it and bake it a couple of hours later after it's risen again.  But I wonder if I can put it in the oven earlier, perhaps an hour after shaping it and get the additional rise by way of the oven spring there.  I think I'll try that.  I have some loaves to bake this morning. 


elcouisto's picture

How long between the time you take it out the fridge and baking?

rsherr's picture

Well, this morning I took the bread out of the fridge and formed two loaves and turned the oven on.  It takes about 45 minutes for my oven to reach 550 so I put the loaves in about an hour after taking them out of the fridge.   Sprayed them with water twice (when I put them in and at two minutes - I'm baking them on an oven stone), dropped the temperature to 450 and baked them for 10 more minutes switching the oven to convection mode for the last 10 minutes.  Came out great. 


caraway's picture

I believe the short answer to Freq. Flyer's question would be (per Hammelman's book) to put it in the fridge right after shaping and leave it for 16 hours, +/-. 

He mentions conditions which may change that rule - retarder temp and ambient cold temps among them but generally, for the home baker this would work.

Happy baking, good luck!


Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

I've got to get Hammelman's book.


Davo's picture

There is no special time. It will depend on so many things that you can;t be certain. I bake this way often (shaped loaves in banettons stright into fridge for typically 20 hrs, so I can bake the next night midweek). BTW the time "saving" is that I can go to bed at 10.30 pm instead of waiting a further 4 or so hours, then nbake, and go to bed at about 3 pm, that's all!.

Anyway, it can vary between the loaves being ripe right out of the fridge, in whcih case leave them in while the oven heats, to needing about an hour, in which case, take them out while the oven warms. Occasionally they are really quite tight and small when I check, so then I will take them out, give them an hour, warm the oven while they get another hour warming and then bake. It's always, always a matter of poke test (and to some extent size of loaf in the banetton, which I know pretty well for my mix). 

Just like proving at room temp, bake when ready, not at a pre-determined time!

elcouisto's picture

I did just that yesterday.. I prepared my loaves the day before and cooked them yesterday. It works just fine. I had to let the bread rise at room temperature for a while, otherwise they would be slightly underproofed and the cool loaf pans would result in slightly undercooked bread at the bottom. Once I had that right, they were perfect.

Plus, I can prepare bread one evening and cook it the next, and I can go to bed at a reasonable hour... How wonderful!

Now I have to try this with bread like Ciabatta...