The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How frigid is your fridge?

donenright's picture

How frigid is your fridge?


I've been trying a few baguette methods that call for a retardation in the refrigerator, and what confuses me is that many people say they get a bit of a rise out of their dough while it's in there. I get nada. The dough comes out pretty much exactly as it went in. Which leads me to ask, what's the point of the cold retardation? If yeast activity slows to the point of pretty much total inaction, the process isn't doing me much good, is it? 

My fridge seems to be at 3.5 degrees Celsius. (That's 38.3F for you old-school types.) I like it that way as my milk never goes off. Is your fridge warmer? Is a professional baker's fridge warmer?

Thanks, I really do appreciate everyone's expertise on this site. 

lionofdharma's picture

I have the same issue.  I bake a lot from ABED and think my fridge is way colder than the book expects.



Optionparty's picture
wally's picture

I have the same problem.  With yeasted doughs, refrigeration at around 40 degrees F works fine.  However, if you're using a levain or even a preferment, you'll get very little rise. Typically, if I retard doughs at that temp it's for a bulk fermentation, with shaping the next day after the dough has warmed, and then proofing.  But I've had very poor results with, say, poolish baguettes that were shaped and then retarded overnight.  Same with levain-based doughs I've shaped and tried to retard.

Bottom line: most home refrigerators are too cold to act as good retarders.


copyu's picture

I have a different problem, though. Very unusually (for Japan) I have the space for two fridges in my Living/Dining/Kitchen area. The main fridge is a "Sharp" and it's perfect for food, milk, beer, champagne, veges...what have you, but (very typically for Japan) it's not big enough for us

The second fridge is an "Electrolux" (made here by "Toshiba" Corporation) which is half-fridge/half-freezer. I respect both of these manufacturers very much. The freezer section is a true champ, but the fridge section has a really lousy thermostat! I can't turn the thermostat down any more, because everything freezes when I do so, but at the present setting, a beer or champagne is not quite cold enough to enjoy

I just recorded the temp after 15min on the top shelf, with a regular mercury lab thermometer...11°C, which is near enough to 52°F! Normally, I'd say that was a bit of a problem. However, it's not bad for storing cheeses, mayo, chocolate, creamy salads, etc...In addition, it seems perfect for starters and levains

I'm still surprised by how much rise I get from a starter or levain over 8-12's generally not warm enough to OVER-proof a dough, even at 18 hours, but it doesn't retard the dough quite as much as I'd like, know, when the bake schedule is suddenly interrupted...



donenright's picture

Carl, thanks for the link. I tried to search for the topic before posting but I didn't come across that thread.

Alas, no room for a wine cooler in this wee apartment- but I am going to take my dough out of the fridge and put it on the balcony for tonight. The temps will be a little better out there.