The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Fridge Retardation

HKbreadwinner's picture
HKbreadwinner

Fridge Retardation

Hello Accomplished Bakers,

I'm still practicing/experimenting/learning with high-hydration rustic/artisan breads, and ever trying to achieve nice oven spring and open crumbs.  I haven't dared to venture into sourdoughs yet, because I don't want to spend weeks growing a starter then ruining it on the actual bread making.  My yeasted bread results so far are decent, and sometimes awesome, but not totally consistent, especially given the hot steamy weather in HK (currently 20-25C ambient room temp), so recipes calling for 3-4 hour bulk fermentation then >2 hour proof just doesn't work.

Long winded intro leading to my question.  Overnight final proof in the fridge sounds great and I've tried it a few times, but the rise is minimal and the final product is never to my satisfaction when compared to room temp proof at 20-25C.  So the question is, when fridge retarding:

- what should be the fridge temp be if I want to proof 12-14 hours?

- when final proofing in the fridge, do I need to wrap the outside of the banneton completely, cuz surely cold draft from the fridge would enter through the seams of the banneton?  How do people do it?  Or do most of you simply cover the top only with a towel?  Thanks Everyone!

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

is how I do it:

1. My fridge is kept at 37 F.

2. I either use a ziplock where I can put the whole banneton in it or lately, I use bowl covers that look like shower caps. I really like those as they are quick to use, dry fast after being used and take much less space for storage.

Please note that the loaves don' look like they have done much rising when you take them out to bake, but I just put them straight into the hot dutch ovens and it works great!

Eta: Whoops! Just read that you do yeasted breads... I do the above with sourdough. The few times that I did this with a yeasted bread, they were sticky buns. The instructions said to put them in a cold oven to bake and bring the buns and the oven up to baking temperature. You might want to try that.

HKbreadwinner's picture
HKbreadwinner

Thanks for the insight!  So I also often read that fridge retarded breads don't rise well but perform phenomenally well after they go into the dutch oven, but that begs the question: if they didn't rise much in the fridge, aren"t they underproofed?

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

that I find they don’t rise very much. My limited experience with yeasted rolls had the rolls rise quite significantly in the fridge. 

As to under proofing, since I do loaves with some whole grain, it is preferable for them to go into the oven slightly underproofed for best oven spring. 

Howard Wong's picture
Howard Wong

Yes the warm weather can be exasperating. It took me a long time to understand how exactly it affects the proofing time and how to adapt. Can you elaborate a bit on "the final product is never to my satisfaction when compared to room temp proof at 20-25C."? Do you mean a lack of oven spring with a flatter bread than usual?

Rise may be minimal if you put the dough into the fridge straight after final shaping. Usually with sourdoughs we let it proof a little bit (30-60 min) in room temp before cold retardation. But exactly how long depends on the amount of starter and how warm the room temperature is. Much of it is determined by experience, guesswork, and trial and error.

Btw, try using sourdough as early as you can! It's so much better than yeasted doughs in many ways. Do use medium / dark rye flour to build a new starter though, which is much more resilient than with other kinds of flour. I've had a mixed white and whole wheat starter die on me when it gets really hot in the Hong Kong summer.

HKbreadwinner's picture
HKbreadwinner

Ah, the trials and tribulations of making bread in HK!  I bake regular sandwich loaves all the time, and started baking artisan breads a few months ago.  Have a good hang of it, but still need more practice, that's why I haven't started sourdoughs yet.  Want to make sure I first get consistent results with my yeasted (biga starter with just flour, yeast and water) 80% hydrated breads.

When I was talking about my fridge retarded breads not coming out as good when compared to room temp proofed breads.  Not enough spring and final size is smaller, which obviously means smaller and tighter crumbs.  The other day I made an awesome loaf (room temp proofed) but forgot to add salt!  Argh!

so at what temp do you retard your dough at and for how long? 

Howard Wong's picture
Howard Wong

Oh sourdough ferments quite differently from yeasted dough so I'm afraid the experience with yeasted doughs may not translate well when you make the switch.

Yes I suppose the problem with cold retardation is a potential risk of underproofing. For a dough that needs a final proof for 2-4 hours at 26 degrees, I would proof for 1-2 hours at 26 degrees then put it into the fridge (3-4 degrees), for 8-20 hours depending on my own schedule. I guess for my doughs, 8 hours in the fridge would be roughly equivalent to 1 hour in room temperature. They do rise a little more after cold retardation especially if retarded more than 12 hours.