The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

If you retard, at what stage do you retard?

Syd's picture

If you retard, at what stage do you retard?

I almost always retard after final shaping.  If it is a yeasted dough, then I put it in the refridgerator immediately after shaping lest it overprove.  However, if it is a sourdough, I usually let it three quarter prove then retard.  The following morning, I will often bake straight from the refridgerator.  I like this method because if it is a wet dough, it firms up nicely in the fridge and doesn't slump on the peel.  Scoring is easier, too.  However, if the dough has not sufficiently proved, I will let it warm up to room temp and complete its proving.  Sometimes this can take up to three hours. 


I was wondering what other folk out there do and what their reasoning behind retarding at different stages.


cranbo's picture

You can retard your bulk (first) fermentation too. That's what I usually do, very common for pizza. 

Reasons? Timelines & flavor. Slower bulk ferment can let you adjust your baking timelines to suit your schedule. Fairly common knowledge that long cool fermentation helps with flavor development. 

I believe shaped fermentation has some effect on the crust, but I haven't done enough tests to confirm this and to explain the effects. Sources/tests anyone?

MichaelH's picture

I don't use yeast much anymore, except for enriched loaves like cinnamon raisin and such, which I don't retard. My sourdough loaves all get retarded. I have tried retarding the bulk fermentation, but prefer your choice to retard after shaping. I usually let the loaves retard for 30-60 minutes while I clean up the kitchen, then into the referigerator overnight. I take them out in the morning when I turn on the oven, so they usually get about an hour at room temp before baking.


caraway's picture

Prefer shaping before retarding because I find it easier to 'feel' the gluten cloak while shaping a soft and pliable dough.  Last time I tried bulk retarding I ripped the cloak trying to make a boule because the dough was stiff.

At least that works the best for me presently, but I find I'm constantly changing...