The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Professional bakeries not covering during retard

scoop1618's picture

Professional bakeries not covering during retard


I've noticed most pics of professional bakeries don't seem to cover their loaves when they go in for retarding onite. I imagine covering every loaf would be insanely time intensive, but how do they keep them from drying out?

Humidifier in the cold room?

wally's picture

as a retired pro baker I can assure you most bakeries DO cover their bread when retarding. Otherwise you get a skin that will never rise in an oven, no matter how much steam. Bread is covered in couche or on boards under rack covers. Don’t know what pics you’ve been looking at.

MichaelLily's picture

I do not cover my loaves in the fridge at home or at work. They develop a little of a skin on the bottoms, but the tops stay soft against the basket liner. I use 80% hydration dough.

Tartine also does not cover bread in the fridge. They run their fridge a little warmer (~50F). The bread just doesn’t dry out much.

dabrownman's picture

and fridges that also control the humidity to what ever they set 80- 90% so now worries.  Otherwise refrigeration just sicks the moisture out of the air and the product.  Just like they have steam injected ovens that most of us don't have:-)

albacore's picture

I've been giving this some thought lately, too. I used to cover the bannetons with a plastic shower cap overnight, but in the morning I found that the underneath of the shower cap was wet - and so was the dough surface.

I decided that this wasn't really a good thing; I have a theory that the dough should be dry and even very slightly skinned; when the loaf is inverted onto the peel and subsequent bake stone, it might just reduce sideways spread a little.

For the moment, I have gone halfway and am covering the bannetons with a piece of light cotton jersey, though it's probably not needed.

Commercially, I can't imagine any bakers putting shower caps on every loaf! And I think it's counterproductive, as outlined above. If you search for pictures of retarders with loaves in, I don't think you will see any with covered loaves....

BTW, as I understand it, retarders do not not have humidity control, proofers usually do.


ds99303's picture

I think it probably has to do with how the refrigeration unit works.  Our old retarder just used refrigerator coils to cool the air.  We never had to cover the bread dough.  The new one has a fan that blows the air around.  If we don't cover the dough, it dries out.

gary.turner's picture

... the racks extant, but the ones I have seen had clear plastic side curtains, which I imagine maintain plenty of humidity.