The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How much and when to warm cold dough

  • Pin It
kanewbie's picture
kanewbie

How much and when to warm cold dough

When bread dough has been refrigerated overnight (when the recipe calls for retarding) should it be allowed to reach room temperature before baking?  Should it be allowed to warm somewhat, then be divided, rested, formed and then allowed to warm further during rising.  If dough still feels cold during final forming should the final proof be expected to take considerably longer?  I am not very good at judging by finger poking if dough has proofed enough.  Should I try to take its temperature with instant read?

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Hi kanewbie,

If the dough is ready when it's removed from the cooler, it needs to be baked regardless of the temperature of the dough. Allowing it to warm to room temperature could result in Frisbee bread:  flattish.   Taking it's temperature when it comes out of the fridge will only tell  you the internal temp of the dough, not whether it's ready to be baked. 

I always retard my sourdough breads, but the dough is mixed and allowed to bulk ferment before preshaping, shaping, and refrigeration.  I'm not fond of the finger poke test either, but it's all we  have to give us a general idea of the state of the fermentation.  Handling the dough also provides clues.

While none of the bread books I have suggest mixing the dough, then retarding it immediately (excepting  Reinhart's  pain à l'ancienne) the one time I had to do it because of time constraints, I wasn't happy with the results.  Or handling the dough, for that matter.  But that's just me.

Are you working with a specific recipe that tells you to mix, then retard the dough?

placebo's picture
placebo

If you're retarding during the bulk fermentation, I imagine you'll have to let it warm up a bit just so you can actually work with the dough. That doesn't mean it needs to reach room temperature, however.

Like LindyD, I shape my sourdough loaves before they go into the refrigerator. When I take them out, I allow them to rise for a few hours, and they go into the oven when they feel ready. I don't use the poke test. It's never really worked for me. Instead, I lay my hand flat on the loaf. If it still feels firm or doesn't have much give, it needs to rise more. If the surface feels kind of flabby, it's ready to bake. (This is also how I decide if the bulk fermentation is done.) The internal temperature is usually around 60 F when it's done proofing, so it's still quite a bit lower than room temperature.

kanewbie's picture
kanewbie

LindyD and placebo, Thank you for your responses.  To answer the question about recipe, I was using Hamelman's five-grain bread recipe which calls for "bulk fermentation of 2 hours (or overnight retarding)" and them dividing and shaping.  With limited fridge space it sure is a lot easier to refrigerate a plastic container of bulk dough than it is to find/or clear a shelf for a sheetpan of retarding preformed loaves.  Also Reinhart's book "artisan breads every day" is always calling for overnight refrigeration of bulk dough.  I should add that I do not do sourdough.  Both of you sound experienced in the "feel" of the proofed loaves.  I need to improve in that area.  By the way, with the Hamelman five-grain bread, which was on my pantry board when I first posted the temperature question, came out well--might have been a little over-proofed--but did still show some good ovenspring.  Bulk container sat out of fridge at about 73 degrees for 2 hours, preformed and rested 30 mins, formed into bannetons and allowed to proof for 2 whole hours (because I had fogotten to start the oven).  It probably did OK with all the multi-grains and the KA Sir Lancelot Hi-Gluten flour (thanks to the book & recipe suggestion by OldWoodenSpoon in an earlier post about hi-gluten flour).  Next time, thanks to your responses, I will not worry so much about dough temperature and try to better develop my "feel" for oven ready loaves.   Your helpful comments are really appreciated.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

LOL, when you mentioned Hamelman (his book is my bread bible), I had to immediately search for that recipe and yup, Mr. Hamelman notes that particular dough favors refrigeration overnight during the bulk.  I haven't baked any of his straight dough receipes, except for the  six-fold French bread, and missed that instruction completely.  

BTW, great choice of a bread book and since you have it, reading his comments about baking bread that has been retarded overnight (page 152) should prove  helpful.

And if you haven't already got it covered, following his advice contained in the first paragraph on page five makes a big difference in the process.  It sure did for me.  

Congrats on what sounds like a very tasty bread!

kanewbie's picture
kanewbie

Thanks for page 152 reference to temperature, LindyD.  Every time I read a section in Hamelman's book I learn something.  It is reassuring that cold preformed loaves, if proofed enough, can go right into the oven.