The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Creating surface tension

SallyBR's picture

Creating surface tension

I cannot remember exactly in which thread this youtube was shown, but after watching it I have a question...  EDITED TO INCLUDE THE CORRECT LINK!!!!!


When you create surface tension in the final shaping, the shaped bread will still rise for its final proofing - perhaps for only one hour, maybe a maximum of two.  I can see how the generated tension would still be there by the time the bread gets into the oven..


Now - what happens if I shape the dough, creating all the surface tension I need - and then refrigerate it overnight, then remove from the fridge and let it at room temperature for 2 hours - would the tension be compromised, or significantly reduced?  Would it be better to do a bulk fermentation in the fridge and only later, at room temperature, do the final shaping and proofing?







SallyBR's picture

Ok, maybe I should explain why I'm asking that question.


Last weekend I made small sourdough "batards", and they were slightly flat, did not have as much uprising in the oven as I expected.   I thought I gave the dough enough foldings, and felt good gluten structure after the last one, and later, watching the youtube, I suspect that my problem was in the shaping.


I would like to repeat the exact recipe changing only the shaping - but, wonder if I can still form the loaves the day before and refrigerate them, without compromising the surface tension....

LindyD's picture

I enjoy his videos - and Jeffrey Hamelman's as well.

Those are some lovely batards, Sally!

I retard all of my sourdoughs overnight.  Do the bulk ferment, then shape, move to a linen couche, and refrigerate.  I've never found the surface tension to be compromised through the retardation, except in those instances when I didn't shape as well as I should have.  

I guess I should note that I normally don't wait for a set amount of time after removing the loaves from the cooler to let them "warm" up.  I try to follow JH's advice to bake the bread when it's ready, and in most instances for me, that's within an hour (or less) of being brought out after 12 hours in the fridge.

I've also tried it the other way, retarding the dough then removing it to be shaped and proofed.  It's not my favorite method.

SallyBR's picture

Great, exactly what I needed to hear (read...)


I will do a new batch this weekend, using the EXACT same recipe, and I look forward to the results  - it would be pretty cool to see a major difference in their behavior just from the shaping.


Of course, the phase of the moon is not the exact same, and we all know how finicky the sourdough can be... ;-)



will report back

patnx2's picture

I'd be happy with those loafs. Very nice bake. Patrick

K.C.'s picture

The dough will relax some of the surface tension when you put it in the fridge. The question is how much.

I'd say you're going to have to test it by popping one in the oven without the overnight retarding and compare it to see.

I'd bet they taste different too.

SallyBR's picture

I am sure they will taste different, and actually I have done this comparison once in the past, but not with this recipe.


Depending on my schedule this weekend, I might try to bake one right away, and two next morning -


I don't know how many times I've watchedd the shapig video, making movements with  my hands over a clean table - my husband is starting to get worried....



flournwater's picture

From my most recent experience,

I'd say that there is no reason to fear compromising the surface tension under the circumstance you describe.

SallyBR's picture

I failed miserably this time....   Not only my breads were still flattish, but the crumb suffered a lot.


Thinking back, I think I deflated the dough too much when trying to shape it according to the video - the guy makes it seem soooo easy, but it definitely requires some practice


Back to the drawing board on this..... (sigh)