The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Adapting recipes for the work day (out of the house)

melina119's picture

Adapting recipes for the work day (out of the house)

I'm having a fair amount of success baking simple hearth loafs w/poolish but wanted to know if anyone has successfully adapted these recipes for a work-out-of-the-house schedule (ie when is the safest time in the process to refrigerate dough for 8 hours).

I'm at home 6:30-8:30 AM and 6:30-11:00 PM (and then asleep!) What's the best schedule for baking a hearth loaf during these hours?

dmsnyder's picture

Hi, Melina. 

You have what must be a very common problem. And the solution takes some planning. That's why lots of us are "weekend bakers."  

I would say you need 3 days to do what you want optimally. 

Day one: 8-10 pm: Mix poolish/refresh starter (if making sourdough). Let it sit on the counter over night. 

Day two: 7 am: Refrigerate poolish/starter.  6:30 pm: Take out poolish and mix dough. Use warm water to compensate for cold poolish. Let dough ferment. Divide and shape. Cold retard loaves in frig. 

Day three: AM (if weekend) or PM (if workday): Take out loaves. Proof. Bake. 

This is a bare outline, of course. Timing of fermentation and proofing will depend on the formula, especially whether you use baker's yeast of sourdough or a combination. I'm also assuming the bread you make will be one that benefits from cold fermentation.


mcs's picture


Many recipes call for a preferment of 12-16 hours, so this is how I would do it.

6:30 am- mix your biga with ingredients you gathered/weighed the night before-use warmer than normal water to push the rising towards the 12 rather than 16 hour limit

6:30 pm- mix your main dough, adding the preferment from the morning - use warmer water again to push the bulk fermentation a little

8:30 pm- shape your dough after a couple of folds each 45 minutes

9:30 pm- bake

10:30 pm- eat some even though you're not supposed to since it's only been out of the oven for 15 minutes.

Most of Hamelman's recipes call for a similar time schedule.   

That's my 2 cents.


colinwhipple's picture

How about a recipe that would allow for a slow 10 hours primary fermentation?

If for example we used:

4 cups flour,

1.5 cups water, and

1.5 tsp salt, 

At a temperature of around 70F, how much yeast would give you around a 10-11 hour initial rise time?  1/4th tsp?  1/8th, maybe?




pjkobulnicky's picture

I do this all of the time:


Day 1 - AM ... mix the preferment; PM mix the dough timed to shape the loafs about 10:00PM and put in fridge before going to bed.

Day 2 - AM first thing ... put bread directly from fridge to cold start oven and bake (usually a wee bit more time to compensate for the chilled dough) 


Paul Kobulnicky

Baking in Ohio

suave's picture

That's exactly what my schedule is most of the time:

8 am - mix starter

7 pm - mix dough, bulk fermentation

10 pm - short proof

11 pm - retard

Bake first thing next morning.  If your oven has a timer you can set it so that it is hot by the time you get up.