...another TFLer--one we all recognize and trust--recommending (indirectly) retarding doughs at temperatures above typical home refrigerator temperatures wherein yeast essentially goes dormant, after some unpredictable time.
I retard dough's at 55°F in my wine storage routinely. Furthermore, I use ice water (ala Reinhart) to cool my dough to 55°F from first mixing. I autolyse, and bulk ferment at 55*F, removing the dough only to perform S&F in the early hours.
I've found this approach reliably consistent; i.e., I can reproduce the desired results, especially crumb and flavors, every time. For example, my "Overnight baguettes" are prepared as described above; total retardation is 15 hours. I mix at 4PM, and preshape the following morning at 7AM; let warm at room temperature for 1 hour, shape, final proof and bake.
Me too David, 55F seems to be just the right temperature for fermenting my levain loaves overnight. Yeasted doughs rise in the regular fridge at 42 okay, but my levain doughs just shut down. Even at 55, I need to let shaped loaves proof at room temp for 30-60 minutes before tucking them away for the night, but they are ready to bake when I am, after pre-heating the oven in the morning.
It's liberating that the wine cooler allows me to refresh my starter in the morning, mix dough in late afternoon and tend to the stretch and folds while I'm home in the evening. Then form the loaves before bed, and bake off in the morning. My days are free to come and go, and do the things I need to do. I wouldn't get to bake much bread otherwise.
I have a small counter-top model that I keep in my laundry room. I got it almost ten years ago when I was playing with desem---great for that too BTW. And I dial it down to refrigerator temp to use for bulky produce, or overflow food at the holidays. Don't know what I'd do without it.
It's nice to hear how other people use theirs. -dw
...is yet another of my hobbies; I make 24 or 30 gallon each year. Consequently, storage was becoming a problem. Four years ago, before I started baking obsessively, we converted a clothes closet into a wine closet. I can store 168 bottles (14 cases) and still have a wee space to bulk ferment or proof doughs. While researching commercial bakeries retarding practices, and also sourdough culture behavior I found 54°F a common retardation temperature, and, additionally, yeast growth data that showed commercial bread yeast, and SF sourdough cultures are nearly dormant at 40°F. Since I store my wines at 55°F, it didn't take much brain power to realize I already owned a dough retarder.
Your comment about your natural levains shutting down at 55°F is interesting, vis-a-vis the data I've looked at, and at variance with my own experience with two purchased starters (KA, and SD International's Ischia Island). Both remain active in doughs, albeit slower, at 55°F, and, at least in 100% hydration, the Ischia Island starter remains active for two or three days in the refrigerator (40°F) before shutting down, which may be caused by other variables than temperature. I discontinued using the KA starter about six months ago, and don't recall how it behaved in the refrigerator.
Actually, my mother starter does show good activity at 40-42ºF, albeit a bit slower than room temp. That's the interesting thing. But, I like formulas like Hamelman's sourdough seed bread, inoculated at 15% prefermented flour. I generally refresh my mother starter at a higher rate than that. And then there's the salt, which is another hurdle in the dough. I think my culture gets the wind knocked out temporarily by that. So, after overcoming the salt, and getting back on its feet, the low temperature knocks it back down. It's a double whammy. The seed bread lists "up to 8 hours at 50ºF," but mine would take hours longer. If I just give it a 30-60 minute running start before retarding a little less cold, all is well.
I'm sure a good part of it is just plain physics. I make smaller loaves, and only two at a time, because that's all I can load at a time with my oven set-up, and expect to get good oven spring. Those two little loaves don't get the benefit of huddling with a whole herd of larger loaves under a tent in the retarder. So they lose heat and become hypothermic much quicker. But also, starters are as different as their keepers, and that seems to be the nature of mine. We don't, any of us home bakers, know exactly what species are growing in our starters. That's a variable in itself, and not all will behave the same under the same conditions.
Thanks for the discussion :-)dw
I think three significant factors effecting the rate a dough mass cools, and therefore effecting yeast growth, is obviously its initial temperature and its mass, but also its surface-to-volume ratio. A home baker can't do more than guess how any particular dough will act in a retarder. It's because of that I intentionally manipulate the dough's temperture from the very beginning with ice water. When I intentionally retard dough development, I begin with mixed ingredients as close to the retarding temperature as possible. Consequently, I only have to deal with retarding time, warming time, and final proof time and temperature.
Using my "Overnight baguettes" again for example, over the first three or four batches I made I mixed, manipulated and retarded the doughs at 55°F, while varying the retarding time between 12 and 24 hours. I've settle on 15 hours giving me the crumb and flavor we like.
So far, I've only used retarding sourdoughs for scheduling convenience. I think their primary flavors develop in the preferemented flour, and their crumb with careful handling during S&F, i.e., handling the dough more gently with each progressing S&F. Nonetheless, I still only retard at 55°F. Their yeasts never shutdown completely, and I warm them by pre-shaping, and letting them rest for 1 hour before final shaping. By doing that my final proof times--2 to 2-1/2 hours--are equivalent to what I experience when I don't retard the dough, i.e., working throughout at ~76°F.
I think i speak for all TFlers when i wish that you contribute your usuall rich info and bakes regularly. Happy Xmas, Debrah
A big thank you to you, Khalid. I've had a crazy-busy fall, and an unexpected death in the family. Just when I thought things were slowing down and I'd have more time to participate here, I was given a pretty exciting writing assignment that I need to concentrate on this month. After that, I hope to be able to post more.
But I do hope you'll continue sharing your bakes. I enjoy seeing how far you've come in a relatively short time. You are turning out some really nice looking breads with the ingredients available. I'm guessing that must be a challenge where you are located.
Wishing you more great baking,dw
That, or similar products, were what I first thought when I saw "wine cooler". But I guess that would have been more of a baker retarder.
:-))) I love that. Paul, one of these days we'll have to do that KC-Columbia get-together thing you talked about a while back.
Happy Holiday Baking!dw
We'll have to wait until I move back from Africa next year but I'll look forward to it in the meantime.
Wow..I would never had thought of a wine cooler! I have been avoiding the fridge since I killed my starter by using the fridge and not allowing it to revive before using...eventually it just gave up on me :(
From other posts/suggestions I have been using my basement floor which (at this time of year) is a consistant 63 degrees and my starter it thriving - it really seems to like the low 60's... I was trying to think of where I can get a mid 50 temp for starter storage/overnight retarding..trying to extend feeding from the 36 hours I get now. Thanks for this! I'm sure they must sell wine coolers in Canada - we do drink and make wine here :)
Is there that much of a difference between the two for retarding dough, except the price?
I've been contemplating buying a small refrigerator because if I mix bagels on Friday night, I can't mix bread as there's only enough room in the bottom of my fridge for two trays.
> Is there that much of a difference between the two for
> retarding dough, except the price?
Wine coolers can generally be set to and will hold specific temperatures higher than the standard refrigeration temperature. 63 deg.F and 53 deg.F are two typical dough retarding temperatures, and home refrigerators generally won't hold those temps even if they can be set that high (now I do have a catalog of laboratory refrigerators with precision temperature and humidity control...).
Also, wine coolers that use thermoelectric cooling instead of compressors will be essentially vibration-free (especially compared to dorm refrigerators which vibrate like crazy), which might have some advantages for overnight retarded proofing of shaped loaves.
Maybe 3-4 years ago now at KBIS (the kitchen and bath industry trade convention) I asked a sales rep for a very high-end wine cooler mfgr if their products had ever been used for doughmaking. That set off a round of Blackberry messages with their Engineering and Marketing depts back home, but they didn't come up with an answer before I had to get back to work. I had hoped to see that company start marketing to breadmakers but AFAIK they never did.
Yep, often a compact refrigerator -particularly a "good" one or an "older" one- has the same issues as the main house refrigerator: difficulty setting temperature high enough, serious additional vibration.
But now (just within the last couple of years?-) some compact refrigerators seem to use the same thermolectric technology as wine coolers. They're sometimes advertised as either vibration-free or noiseless or no compressor. They don't get as cold (they never have a "freezer compartment"), nor are they as robust, as we're used to expecting from refrigerators, so some stores still simply refuse to carry them at all.
Even though the guts are the same, they seem to be quite a bit cheaper than wine coolers (maybe because of "economies of scale"). Much of the advertising is misleading at best, and the relevant sales people probably aren't very knowledgeable, so you have to be a careful shopper. Thermoelectric (as opposed to compressor) technology compact refrigerators are available though. And maybe (anybody have experience to report?-) they work just as well for dough retarders as wine coolers ...and they're quite a bit cheaper.
Thanks so much for the idea. As it turns out, I don't need to buy a wine cooler, as I live in a very old (read cold) house. The hallway is routinely in the 50's so for the past two nights i have retarded my dough there and am very pleased with the results. Not only do I get a great rise, but the crust has lots of nice blisters/bubbles on it after the bake.
I had been spending all my time trying to come up with a warm place for the dough; so the idea of retarding it in a cool place was a revelation.
Thanks again, and Merry Christmas.
Jackie: Yay for wine! I'm sure there are wine refrigerators in Canada... there just have to be ;-)
Lindy: The difference is that wine refrigerators have a wider temperature range. They can be maintained at higher temperature settings than regular refrigerators, which is handy for bread dough. Most can also double as a regular refrigerator on the "Beverage" setting for beer and soda. If you're shopping, you may want to look for one with some flat shelves, and the flexibility to set the temperature anywhere you want, up to at least 60ºF or so.
Janice: There you go! Way to think outside the (proof) box. Now you're problem-solving :-)
Happy Holidays, everyone!dw
Thanks, Debbie. I just caught this post in time. I have been looking, without much luck for a thermo electric, and found just what I wanted - thanks to this post. I just bought their small 8 bottle WC-08.
Have a great and safe holiday... ;-)
This won't apply to everyone, but many communities, especially cities, run a website that offers just about anything you can imagine for sale, used and new. For example, 0cala4sale.com and gainesville4sale.com are my search grounds. When we first moved here, we found and purchased two cabinet-size wine coolers (thirty bottles room in each), and paid only $100 each. (They sell for about $400 new.)
If you want a retarding proof box that holds more than a few loaves, buy a second hand refrigerator, and an external temperature controller. Most homebrew suppliers sell one for about $70. They simply control the temperature by monitoring a thermomenter probe you tape inside the refrigerator, and turning the electric power on or off as needed. I used one for years to ferment lager beers (54°F). Now I use one of the two wine coolers abandoned when we built our wine closet. There are a lot of homebrew suppliers online; williamsbrewing.com, in San Leandro, CA is a reliable source. As with wine coolers, I've purchased two second hand refrigerators in the past eight years, both for $100 each through ocala4sale.com. Incidentally, old refrigerators also convert readily into large-volume smoker boxes too, if you're into authentic BBQ and/or curing/smoking fresh hams and sausage.
Sorry to hear about that, my condolences to you and yours. Thank you for helping me out when i first joined this site, and thanks for all the great info you've shared with us.
You're very welcome Khalid, and thank you for your thoughtfulness. It is much appreciated. I hope you enjoy a happy Xmas too. -Debbie