The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Ideal temp for retarding final rise of sourdough

lahm's picture

Ideal temp for retarding final rise of sourdough


I operate a small bakery that supplies several restaurants/bars with bread. I typically retard the final rise overnight in a commercial refrigerator that sits around 40-41F. However, said unit kicked it yesterday. As a temporary solution I do have a wine cooler that sits at 50-51F. I am hoping to use the wine cooler (so that I don't have to cart all of this shaped dough home with me), but fear I will compromise my product.

So, my question is: What is the ideal temperature to retard the final rise overnight? Are any of you able to predict what changes I might anticipate? I am located in Toronto, if that helps.

Thank you for your help!


dmsnyder's picture

Hi, lahm.

It is my impression that the ideal temperature for retarding formed loaves is 50-55 dF. At least that seems to be the temperature recommended by the SFBI.

Comparing 40 dF to 50 dF, you will have more fermentation at the higher temperature and also more activity of all metabolic activities - more free sugar, more proteolysis, etc.

This is all theoretical on my part. I've never done an actual product comparison. I hope you get responses from some with real experience in situations like yours.


lahm's picture

Thanks David!

I will be conducting the experiment tonight and baking both tomorrow. I will be sure to post my results.


Doc.Dough's picture


There are lots of variables (like % of flour in the preferment, all of the ingredients temperatures, circulation in the retarder, etc.) but for me, I have found that if I mix at 2100 and retard at 57°F for 8.5 hr, it is ready for a stretch and fold followed by 2 hr of out time before dividing and another hour of proofing before oven entry.  So if you are retarding at 50°F (10°C) a doubling time is about 30 hrs while at 40°F (4°C), a doubling time is about 120 hrs (4X longer - or shorter depending on your view).  But you have to account for activity during cool down so things will go faster than this.  If you give 2 hrs for cool down, you will be ready in the AM but earlier than you were when using the colder retardation.  If you mix with cold water or ice to keep it cool then you may have a little more time.  I think I would try to accomodate the higher temperature by mixing later and planning to retard for a shorter period.