The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

What is best strategy for retarding yeast breads

  • Pin It
varda's picture

What is best strategy for retarding yeast breads

Hi,  I plan to bring a sesame semolina braid to a lunch and I would like to bake it in the morning.  I won't have time to make it all in the morning, so would like to retard overnight.    I have never retarded a yeast bread before, so don't know the best way to do it.   Any advice?   Thanks!   -Varda

mkelly27's picture

I beleive that Semolina bread requires overnight rising  in its final shape. Even if you don't use his formula, you can still use his technique.


asfolks's picture

I have had good luck shaping as normal, then depending what the bake is, place in a basket or on a sheet pan, cover with plastic and refrigerate. Good luck!

varda's picture

Thanks for both of your suggestions.   I will try refrigerating right after shaping, fairly late in the evening;  then bake in the morning as soon as it seems properly proofed.   i found a long thread on Pane Siciliano on this site, where one concern was overproofing in the refrigerator, but the solution was keeping the retard relatively short.  -Varda

breadsong's picture

Hello Varda,
I'm just looking at Mr. Hamelman's Oatmeal Bread formula (I was planning to make this dough tonight, and refrigerate overnight so I can bake later), and he has some tips for retarding straight dough. In case you are mixing a straight dough, here's what he noted.

Mr. Hamelman recommends, for straight dough, a cold bulk ferment:
- DDT a couple of degrees lower
- 30-60 minute rise at room temp after mixing
- Degas the dough, cover well and refrigerate
- Degas the dough 2-3 times over the next few hours
- Next day divide, shape, proof, bake

I'm wondering if this technique might work for your braid, the advantage of having cold dough to work with for shaping?

from breadsong




varda's picture

Interesting.   This is all about timing.   I will have less than two hours in the morning to get things finished up before I have to leave.   I am worrying that if I do a regular bulk ferment, shape and put in the refrigerator, that even with a relatively short (eight hour) cold proof the dough will overproof in the refrigerator given how fast a yeast bread rises.   On the other hand Hamelman's cold bulk ferment may slow things down too much.   I guess I'll just have to pay my nickel and take my chances.   Thanks for the input and hope your oatmeal bread comes out nicely. -Varda  

Chuck's picture

Folks say "just put it in your refrigerator" as though that means the same thing to everybody. But my experience is it really doesn't. Some folks (cold freaks, spoilage haters?-) keep their refrigerator as cold as they can get it without freezing, say for example 36F. Others (compulsive "sell by" date tossers, energy savers?-) may set their refrigerator fairly warm, say for example 48F. In other words even though all refrigerators "feel cold" some are really colder than others. 

These temperatures bracket the point where yeast "goes to sleep". So your "retard" experiences and times might vary a whole lot depending on the temperature of your refrigerator. (Some more well-heeled serious home bakers keep a small separate refrigerator [often really a "wine cooler", sometimes a "beverage" or "dorm" or "office" refrigerator] just for retarding; they can change the temperature for each bread, and they can set the temperature a little higher than most refrigerators [50F-55F].)

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

...when my wife turned the frig that I use for retarding dough into a "super-cooler" without my knowing.  I had spent awhile seting it to run at 40 F on the nose.  She reports, "Hey, I like my cokes cold". 

I made 2 batches of puglieze with 50% durum flour.  The loaves that I retarded after shap had a much better crumb that those made only with a preferment and no retarding.



RuthieG's picture

Be aware also of the temp range in your own refrigerator, as it can vary by several degrees.  Liquids on my top shelp will get icy if left there long enough so it is the coldest spot while the bottom shelf and drawers are warmer .  I can open the vent for the bottom drawer too and make it extra cold which is great for bagged doughs.

varda's picture

Point well taken on refrigerator temperature.  Mine is cold (39F in the front) but variable.   I'll have to figure out how to manage it.   Thanks.    -Varda

jcking's picture

The more stuff you keep in the fridge will help with temp flux every time the door opens. Same as with the oven, a thermal mass will help recover the temp sooner.


Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

..actually, my uncle Ted keeps his recently departed English bulldog Winston in his fridge.  Holds temps real steady.   


(just kiddin)


varda's picture

That's all I have to say.  -Varda