Warming up shaped retarded loaves: standard timetables?
After trying a few bakes of shaped, retarded loaves of Reinhart's French Bread from ABED, I've yet to find a way to ensure consistent results, and I think warm-up time is part of the problem.
My batches were for all practical purposes identical--total weight, flour type, mix/knead time and technique, etc.
I've started tracking desired dough temperature and have been very happy with my improved consistency with non-retarded loaves. However, I like to bake first thing in the morning sometimes--especially when I want to bring something fresh into the office to share. I thought shaped loaves retarded in the fridge would be great, but so far I'm only batting about .300.
The main problem is crumb (sorry, no pics, coworkers ate the loaf too fast), though the taste has been a bit less consistent than I'd like, too. Regarding the former, I realize variation in shaping may be to blame, but I've been very careful to shape with a target surface tension in mind.
So, I guess what I'm looking for is a way to predict (or tell) when a shaped loaf is ready for the oven. The finger-poke test doesn't seem so reliable when dealing with retarded dough. I have a feeling I'm baking it too soon, for what it's worth.
And as I type this, I realize I should just do an experiment where I make one big batch and take four loaves out of the fridge at, say, 15 minute intervals and then bake them all at the same time.
Any insights, friends? And is consistency not the greatest challenge in bread?