The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

retarding bulk-fermentation, when stretch-and-fold?

nasv's picture

retarding bulk-fermentation, when stretch-and-fold?

Hi everyone... I recently picked up the Tartine Bread book, country artisan bread is my favorite and I'm working on working the process to my schedule.  Very simplified, with an active starter, this is how I breakdown the major steps in Chad Robertson's process:

  1. Create leaven from starter
  2. Mix dough and rest/autolyse, then add salt + some water
  3. Bulk fermentation (3-4 hours at warm ambient temperature); during bulk fermentation do stretch-and-fold about ever 30 minutes for the first 2-3 hours
  4. Divide, form into rounds, bench rest
  5. Form final loaf shapes, proofing/final-rise (3-4 hours)
  6. Bake, rest, eat

In trying to tailor this to my schedule, I understand that I can retard the final-rise in the fridge, then take it out of the fridge to warm up a little bit, and then into the oven for baking... but the book also suggests retarding during bulk fermentation.

I think in my ideal schedule, I'd like to mix the leaven on day-1 morning, and then begin bulk fermentation during the evening and let it go the night (to be followed with day-2 final-rise/proofing and baking).  I understand I can bulk-ferment with cooler water, or even stick the dough in the fridge to retard the process (what I'd likely do).  My question is where/when does the S&F fit into this?  Especially if I should do this every 30 minutes for a few hours... is the need minimized with the longer fermentation?  Do I need to do this just a few times before setting aside for colder longer fermentation?  S&F a few times, instead, before dividing into rounds and bench rest?





Gunnersbury's picture

Davo, I have no comparable place in my home, but you gave me an idea: May not be original but here goes: What about one of those wine chiller refrigerators? Maybe I could pick up a used one. Should be nice and cool but not too cold.  Anyone else use one?

Chuck's picture

The right "wine cooler" can indeed be just the right thing for bread dough, and in fact quite a few are used for exactly that purpose. They seem to be the best option for retarding dough if the refrigerator in your house is (or might become:-) "too cold". Since these types of wine coolers have only become available quite recently, I don't know of any discussion of them in any book yet.

Unfortunately, wine coolers come in a bewildering variety (some of which are not suitable for bread dough), are generally sold with a very generous helping of smoke and mirrors, and at prices that vary all the way from cheap to ridiculous. Your shopping might be helped by my comments at  node/23730/cold-rise-poor-results#comment-171630 .

Gunnersbury's picture

Thanks, Chuck. Informative link. A picnic ice chest may be the way to go. As for the home refrigerator: I hope most of us have the temp set so it is in fact to cold for cool rise, otherwise there is danger of food spoilage in a very short time. I keep my refrigerator and freezer really cold to protect the food. 

davidg618's picture

I've bought two wine coolers second hand through, a local online classified ad website. I'm sure such websites are common throughout the USA, and perhaps other countries as well.  Each holds about thirty bottles of wine, has removable shelves, and controls temperature in the 45°F to 65°F range. Recently, I built a wine celler (converted a closet) for long time storage, but still use one of the two coolers for its convenience in the dining room. The other cooler has become at differing times my lager beer fermenter (54°F), white wine fermenter (65°F, bread dough retarder (55°F) and I'm about to use it as a drying chamber for dry-cured sausages (60°F).  It's become a real work-horse. Both units which retailed for $400 to $500 new I purchased used for $100 each.

David G