The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


E R-berg's picture
E R-berg


Hi, Esti here.  I have been baking bread (actually, mostly challah bread, egg based) pretty regularly for several years but I am just now branching out (whole wheat sandwich breads, sourdough breads, rolls, eggless challahs).

The more I read, the more I find that proper bread baking requires more sustained hours than a person who works a 40+ hour work week can find. Poolishes, long rise times, multiple rises, overnight rises (bake it in the morning, or bake it in the afternoon) are out of the realm of my schedule. 

I feel as though I need to take all my vacation time just to stay home and bake bread. 

Does anyone have advice for the over-employed home bread baker?


jimbtv's picture

Hi Esti and welcome aboard! You will find a lot of really good advice here, along with a very gentle group of posters.

If I can make a suggestion, the refrigerator is your friend. It is true that some of us take the soup-to-nuts approach with baking, nursing our starters into levains, then ferments into proofs, and finally into the oven after a continuous 16 - 48 hours. Many of us interrupt that process by chilling either the starter, the bulk ferment, or the final proof - sometimes for days in-between.

Yeasts and bacteria are happy to either march at a fast pace (80 F) or do the slow dance (40 F) and the end result is pretty much the same. It all comes down to planning and timing.

Many here will say, "Watch the dough, not the clock", and after doing this a while you will get to understand the adage better. After some practice you will be able to see, touch and smell the development and decide whether you need to get moving, or if you can slow thing back down for a while.

I truly think you can make peace between your job and your baking interests. The dough will probably be much more forgiving than your boss!



Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Hi, and welcome! I think you'll find that, if you try some of these techniques, they are actually a lot less work! You can make a poolish in the morning (5 minutes to measure and mix), then when you get home (sometime in the early evening) mix up the dough (15 minutes to measure and mix). Give it a stretch and fold (30 seconds) every now and then for a couple of hours, then put the dough in the fridge. If you get the proportion of yeast right (probably about 1/8 tsp or less per loaf) you can then shape the bread (maybe 20 minutes) the next evening after you get home and bake it (30 minutes). Total working time is probably only about 45 minutes over a couple of days, and you'll get awesome bread!

Just a tip - make the poolish with beer and it'll taste even better. :)

dabrownman's picture

reasons.  First, Slow is always better when it comes to bread for flavor especially sourdough.  Retarding dough slows it down but it also allows you to fit any kind of bread making into a a busy work week.  I used to make a the levain the morning and leave it on the counter all day till I got home.  I would mix the dough, do 4 slap and folds or stretch and folds  on 30 minute intervals then let it sit for 30 minutes shape it and put it in a rice floured basket and then inside a trash can liner, or other plastic bag, and straight into the fridge.  I could then bake it the next morning but usually the the next evening when I got home.  Worked great - just use 10% pre-fermented flour for the levain.  If it fully proofed in the fridge I would bake it cold but, if it wasn't fully proofed, I would let warm up on the counter while the oven was pre-heating.

Happy baking while you work!