The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

no rise in fridge

AndyPanda's picture
AndyPanda

no rise in fridge

So ... I've been making extremely tasty sourdough bread for the past few weeks but I've had to kind of go my own way as I either don't understand what I'm reading or my starter is different from what others are using.

I've used some other starters that did rise in the fridge ... but I bought some San Francisco starter that has exactly the flavor I prefer. And while it does develop a lovely sourness if I leave it in the fridge for long periods, it does not rise one bit in the fridge, even if I leave it for days it doesn't rise.

So ... what I've been doing (and having good luck so far) is after doing my stretches, I go ahead and shape my loaf (I'm using bread pans) and put it in the bread pan with a second pan upside down over the top. I leave it at room temp (room temp is cool here, about 60-65F) for an hour or two or three and then put in the fridge overnight - next morning it hasn't risen at all so I leave it out at room temp for about 4 hours, depending on how warm it is that day, and then bake it. Or if I'm in a hurry I put it in an 85F oven to rise and it's ready to bake much sooner.

Alternatively, I have put a cold pack on top of the inverted breadpan and leave it out overnight - that keeps it cool most of the night and the dough is fully risen and ready to go in the oven when I wake up next morning.

Quesion: Would I be better served to let it rise more the evening before and then put in the fridge nearly fully risen? Then straight into the oven from the fridge? Or is it better to do the fridge before it rises and then let the rise happen in the morning before baking? One thing I find is that I mangle the top when I try to slash it after letting it warm up in the morning (dough sticks to razor) - but if it is still cool after rising (like when I do the cold pack instead of fridge) it slashes cleanly.

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Some starters shut down at 3°C and some shut down above and below that temperature.  If you look at Hamelman (Bread) the lowest temperature he recommends for retarding is (as I remember) 42°F.  If your refrigerator is at 40°F (4.5°C) you are on the upper edge of safe food storage temperatures so you should not really go higher.  If you are at 38F (3.3C) you are well below the minimum recommended retarding temperature.  If you are at 36°F (2.2°C) you are likely to be below the shutdown temperature for your starter and you won't get any CO2 production (actually you will, but it will diffuse to the surface and dissipate faster than it will expand loaf volume).  Another thing that is working against you is the increased solubility of CO2 at lower temperatures.  As the temperature goes down, the water in your dough can (and thus will) hold more CO2 in solution before any of it diffuses into the cells of the dough (of course it will come out when you put it into the oven which is one reason why you get such a nice oven spring from refrigerated/retarded dough).  So your choices seem to be to use a starter with a lower cutoff temperature for the yeast, or retard at a higher temperature.

AndyPanda's picture
AndyPanda

Thanks so much for that answer. My fridge is set to 4C and two of the starters I had used before would both rise slowly in the fridge but neither of those starters had the tangy flavor I like. The starter I'm using now has a lovely smell to it but it seems to like a little warmer temp. So I think I'll go with a cold pack and maybe a place a styrofoam box over it to ferment overnight on the counter. I've got some ready to start the overnight retard now - we'll see what I have in the morning. :)
Thanks again!