The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Retarding at shaping stage?

badmajon's picture

Retarding at shaping stage?

I noticed that a few sourdough recipes suggest retarding at the final shaping stage. Is there any particular reason for this? It seems to me that this would be a bad time to do it, because keeping it from drying out in the fridge using oiled plastic wrap etc would be a pain and it seems if you are not watching it could easily overproof.

If all is equal, could I simply retard on the second bulk rise and shape/ rise at room temperature?

shastaflour's picture

Retarding at the final shaping stage has actually worked really well for me. Granted, it's mostly sourdough whole wheat sandwich dough and not a boule, but it has been successful nonetheless. I usually mix the dough the night before baking day, shape and place it into Pyrex loaf pans, grease plastic wrap to loosely cover each pan and let everything sit overnight in the refrigerator. Early the next morning I pull them out and let them rise in a warmer environment, and it usually takes about 4 hours to reach the right amount of rise for baking.

The loaves have never overproofed in that amount of time. They will have risen a bit, but never ever to the tops of the pans. (Our fridge is set to about 37 degrees F.) The plastic wrap is a bit of a pain, but really it's not that much work. (I try to leave a "gusset" in it that can expand if necessary.)

Eager to hear what others say, as I'm still very much a learner!


tn gabe's picture
tn gabe

If you shape and then retard, you'll probably get more volume & more irregular holes in the final loaf. There are lots of ways to cover the loaves, but this is also the approach used by bakers in bakeries who have retarders, etc rather than a home fridge. To keep the home fridge from drying out bread, trash bags are a popular choice (though some think this could be a health issue).

The bulk retard is the approach in Artisan Bread Everyday and works great. You can adapt most any recipe to the technique you want to use, it just might take some practice.