The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Not Having Much Luck With Overnight Retardation

Janwa's picture

Not Having Much Luck With Overnight Retardation

Hi everyone!  This is my third attempt at making a bread that calls for overnight retardation found in Peter Reinhart's book "Artisan Breads Everyday" and I don't seem to be getting much success with this method.  I made his hoagie rolls yesterday and they turned out really gummy and the top browned too quickly even before the interior was fully baked. I think I'm doing something wrong.  

There are a few things that confuse me about this method and one is regarding degassing the dough during bulk fermentation.  After the initial kneading, the dough becomes a little warm (which I believe is also what PR prefers for this method as he even suggests using warm water for the mix?) so when I put the dough in the fridge, it more than doubles its size even before it becomes completely cool to the core.  Should I degas the dough in this case or just leave it as it is?  PR never mentioned in his book the need for degassing during this stage so I left the dough that way overnight.  Would there be a difference if I had degassed the dough or not at that stage?  I also have Hamelman's book "Bread" and his process for OR is different as he recommends degassing the dough a number of times within a few hours after placing the dough in the fridge.  I also read in his book that leaving the dough without degassing for more that 1.5 hours will affect the metabolism of the yeast but this is for doughs left to bulk ferment at room temperature though.  Also, when it says to degas, do they mean to fold?  Or just to press until the dough collapses?  As you can tell, I'm very confused LOL.  Another thing that confuses me is how the gluten should be prior to overnight retardation.  Should it have full gluten development (windowpane test showing an almost transparent skin) prior to OR? Again, PR never mentioned this in his book and having all of his books, I know he's a big fan of the windowpane test.  Will the gluten develop further during OR or is it only for flavor?  Since there aren't any folds to be done in between, how will the gluten develop?

I also have a few concerns regarding the chewiness of the hoagie rolls I made.  I recently bought unbleached bread flour that I believe has high gluten content (in the range of 12.8-13++) compared to the other flour that I used before that's around 11.7.  Do you think the high gluten flour was the reason for the gumminess of the rolls?  PR doesn't seem too concerned about gluten content of flour but Hamelman suggests a protein content of max 12% unless otherwise stated.    Any theories on why my rolls turned out gummy?  TIA!


Yerffej's picture

Hi Janwa,

The first item of business is the Reinhart/Hamelman difference.  There are endless ways, techniques, ideas, and styles of making bread.  Reinhart has his, and it works........Hamelman has his, and it works.   They are not the same and interjecting the style and technique of one into the recipes of another is not going to work unless you have substantial experience and a full understanding of the process.  So use one or the other but not both simultaneously.

I know with certainty that both of these recipes work and the failure lies not in the recipe or technique of the book author.  I would very carefully double check everything that you are doing and make certain that you are following the recipe exactly.  From measuring the ingredients to the mixing and the timing of that mixing, the waiting phases, temperatures, handling techniques.......absolutely everything.  Then make certain that your oven temperature is correct by using an oven thermometer and also be sure that you are preheating the oven adequately.

As for Reinhart's overnight techniques, do exactly what he says to do and assume nothing.  If he does not mention doing a certain thing then do not do it.

I think that you will find with careful diligence in following the recipe and all of the instructions you will meet with success.

Happy Baking,


isand66's picture

I use Peter's techniques for almost every bake with excellent results.  Do not degas the dough during bulk fermentation.  That is probably the main issue you are having.  You need to also check the temperature of your refrigerator.  It's possible it is too warm which is causing the dough to rise too much.

Depending on which type of dough you are making, it will impact the amount of rise you get in the refrigerator.  If you are using yeast in the recipe, try cutting back on the amount of yeast to see if that will help lessen the amount of rise you get in the refrigerator.

I doubt the flour had anything to do with the gummy texture you are getting.

Are you also making sure you are baking the bread long enough?  It should reach an internal temp. of 200 - 210 degrees.  If you take it out too early that would also effect the gummy nature.

Check out my blog posts here or at and you can read some of my adaptations of his recipes.  I find his method works the best for my time schedule.  I started out using the yeast in my sourdough breads, but now I prefer to use only the starter which I feel gives the bread a better taste profile.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact me and I will be happy to try and help you.  Post some photos of your bakes including the crumb shots so we can help you diagnose your problems easier.

Good luck.