The Fresh Loaf

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How to stop or slow proofing bread when things are moving too fast?

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kimemerson's picture
kimemerson

How to stop or slow proofing bread when things are moving too fast?

Hello friends,

I was having friends over for pizza from my WFO, which I was going to bake first, before baking a load of breads. The bread was proofing nicely while the fire was in the oven. Everything was fine and on schedule. That is, except that the friends took their sweet time and arrived two and a half hours late. So I was forced to wait longer. At least the oven was well heat-saturated. But the dough was still proofing away. By the time the delinquents arrived it was past time to get the show on the road. I baked up the pizzas - which were delightful - followed by the breads. But, they were definitely over-proofed and did more spreading out than blooming tall. Tasty, nice cells, but not as tall as I'd like and as I"ve had many times.

So what can I do to delay or slow the proofing once I determine I won't be baking when I planned to? I did read my friends the riot act and did some explaining and threatening a slow down on invitations in the future... But what about that dough? My WFO is 42" in diameter and I bake more than a dozen loaves at a time so there's no just popping them into the 'fridge. I have a baker's rack for the sheet pans so there's no just sticking them in the cooler - but not cold - basement. Is there a trick, a technique, or is there nothing beyond switching the baking order ( a nuisance but doable) and banishing miscreant luncheon guests?

Thanks,

Kim

Faith in Virginia's picture
Faith in Virginia

Do you have a cover for your baking rack?  I wonder if you made a makeshift cooler by taking a bus bucket and filling it with ice and water mix and place that on one of your racks, you will need to play with putting the ice bucket on the upper or lower shelves for best results  then cover with your rack cover. 

I'm looking for a fridge that will accept my sheet pans for a similar reason.  Summer is coming and proofing can run away especially when working with a WFO.  Nothing like have your bread proofed and the oven not ready.

With regards to your late guests.  You could always pull your coals and save them. Bake your bread before the pizza then put your coals back in.  Pain in the behind I know, but nothing like that flat loaf of bread.

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

There is a point of no return when even a refrigerator will not help.  Unless you had a way to flash cool the entire loaf and that is fantasy. 

If it was a sourdough recipe there was nothing that I am aware of that would have saved the bread.  If it was a yeasted reciped, it possible that you could have deflated the loaves and reformed them for an additional proofing.  There are many variables depending on the recipe and the normal proof time.  The short answer is that there is no magic cure unless you can refrigerate the dough very early in the process.

Jeff

kimemerson's picture
kimemerson

Faith: Yes I have a cover and that may be a good idea. I used to place a pot of boiled water in there in order to speed the proofing on cooler days. And I have in the past baked breads first and built a new fire for pizza. A bit inefficient as far as wood and time, but definitely a way to go. There have been times, for example, when we're having people over for pizza dinner and I just don't want to have to bake bread after dinner when I prefer to relax with friends. But this time I kept expecting the wandering fools to be here "any minute... just a little more time...". (People don't phone to say they'll be late anymore?) I have already decided that timing is a judgement call I have to make for myself. So if I need to switch baking order to save the bread, so be it.

 

Jeff:  "... no magic cure..." 'Tis as I'd suspected. The recipe is from Dan Leader's "Local Breads" and is the Genzano. So it's a sourdough biga with an ADY dose in the final dough. What's that make it, a "hybread"? You mention deflating and reshaping for a second proof. Is there not an exhaustion point at which the gasses are spent to a degree where the dough cannot fully proof another time? I don't know. It's just a guess.

 

Thanks to both of you.

Kim

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

"Hybread" made me laugh.  I looked at the recipe and the inclusion of 1% yeast would have made this a candidate for deflating and reforming.  Leader's recipe actually calls for "instant" yeast and not active dry yeast,  so if you used ADY,  you used less yeast than prescribed and this would have slowed the whole process down a bit.   This would have been in your favor given the deplorable nature of your friends and their timing  (I just had to throw that in to criticze these poor friends of yours who have no idea that they are being dragged over the coals in a bread forum).

There is definitely an exhaustion point that comes about for a variety of reason but my guess is that you would have been well ahead of that had you reshaped.  Even so, the final product would have likely suffered a bit and been less than it should have been.  Had your friends had better upbringing, none of this would be an issue.

Jeff

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

drop each loaf into an oiled plastic bag, twist shut & tie on a twisty and throw all of them into an inflatable kiddie pool (or brand new livestock water tank, or bathtub?) with water and a lot of ice.  Throw over a shower curtain and  bean bag chair over the top.   Or spray them all with a fire extinguisher to chill and then cover to insulate.

Have a beer.  

Faith in Virginia's picture
Faith in Virginia

Let me know how the ice tub works for you.  It was something I considered but I don't have a cover yet for my speed rack.  I hope to get that new fridge next week if all works out.  I have been in that spot more then once waiting for the WFO to stabilize and the loaf is progressing faster then expected.  A simple 10 degree difference of room temp makes a huge difference in my proofing times.  12 loaves or more are difficult to stuff in a household fridge for sure.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

extinguisher would flash freeze a bag of dough...     In winter, in cold temps, it would be easy just to move the rack holding the loaves farther into the garden away from the WFO to slow down fermentation.  

I know what it's like to wait and wait and wait with no idea of when what will happen.  The best solution is just to go ahead and do what you planned to do and then set the pizza's (or just baked crusts) aside to freeze and enjoy one or more while you watch the bake.  Should anyone show up now or later, they can wait also if the oven is occupied.  They should also be ready to eat a re-heated or cold pizza.  If they don't show up, they owe you big time!  

One time I threw a cold meal to the neighbor's goats (they loved it) and when the guests did show up many hours late, all I had was cheese and crackers.    Always wished I had done something differently, they never complained and it never happened again.  I didn't waste a sermon about it.  I also didn't have a refrigerator.  I only had a cool box with an ice block and very happy goats next door.  

Mini

Ford's picture
Ford

With friends such as those, you do not need enemies!  Friends do NOT keep friends waiting without notice!

Ford

fancy4baking's picture
fancy4baking

The same happened to me two days, but not because of friend late to showing up, but for other reasons.

So what i did is, i tightly wrapped my proofing laof which was in banneton with cling film, placed in in side a zip-lock plastic bag (luckely i had a big one), and threw some ice cubes around the banneton, and over its surface too which was covered with cling film now. The amount of ice cubed was sure to slow action down pretty well. Then i threw the whole thing inside the fridge in the lower rack.

Yesterday i pulled the banneton out, it was pretty cold. I let it acclemitize for 2 hours, then put it in a hot oven.

The result was really satisfactory, nice oven spring, very nice mild sourness. 

So you may want to consider this way if you face the same awkward situation in future---hope you won't---good luck.

Izzat

kimemerson's picture
kimemerson

An interesting discussion on manners (of friends) and manner (of dough).

On the friends: I have to say I was brought up in such a way that one made phone calls to say they were going to be late. I was taught to make it a point of being punctual.  I was taught to follow up after the gathering with a thank-you note (mailed in an envelope) and/or a thank you call. A simple e-mail would do just fine today. But I have also learned that to a very large and disturbing extent these and other courtesies are no longer as common as they once were, that there is a too casual appraoch to life's interactions with others and a general disregard for what once passed as expected manners. So that now I'm the freak when I hold a door open for anyone, not just females. That I'm the freak when I do such simple and once de riguer things as 'thank-you", "please" , "may I"... And I'm left with, "Oh well..."

On the dough: I had never even noticed the call for instant yeast. I always use ADY and buy it in two pound packages so all I saw was the word "yeast" and used ADY. And while I think it's a good idea to have a way, a plan for dealing with the issue of mis-timed proofing dough vs. the as yet ready oven and the interference of inconsiderate slackers, I feel it's just wisest to be on top of it all from the start and not allow oneself to get painted into that corner. I can generally nail the timing of my oven's readiness, winter or summer (and it does vary accordingly) and I'd rather rake out a fire to leap ahead of the baking schedule and bake breads before pizza and just start another fire. Of course, I could also cook the pizza, eat my share, give the rest to the neighbors as a thanks letting their cats use my yard as a litter box and just tell my friends they blew it and better luck next time. I will also be more pro-active in telling them ahead of time that times and baking schedules are etched in stone and that it is their rsponsibility to make it happen for themselves if they want in. In the long haul, I built that oven for me and my family. Everyone else comes second. If they're lucky and polite.

 

Thanks for all the great responses. How can you not love a community such as this?

The "Hybread" is, of course, yours to use.

Mangiamo tutti.

Kim

fancy4baking's picture
fancy4baking

Well said Kim, obviously you belong to the so called "Ladies & Gentlemen" era with all it's characteristic etiquettes that made such an era maybe look; to some extent and to some people; as being freaky, or least to say out-of-date. Well i don't know shall we blame somebody or something for that or shall we just say that each time has it's own unique features that go with the progress of time & pace of life?

However, and personally for me there's not reason whatsoever not to be curtious in calling and saying: hey sorry i'm going to be a bit late.

Izzat

kimemerson's picture
kimemerson

Izzat, I don't know which era I come from but I was a military brat and courtesy has no era with that crowd. My father was a USMC drill instructor and many times he told me that his job was not just to make lean mean killing machines, but to make those same killers into gentlemen (in their off hours, I assume). And while I did not follow in his footsteps - never wore the uniform - I am left the legacy of a general respect for courtesy, responsibility and respect, even for those with whom I disagree. And it's what I teach my kids.