The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Walk in fridge for overnight ferment

CDFBaker's picture

Walk in fridge for overnight ferment

Hi All, 

Quick query here about using a walk in fridge (cooler) for overnight proof for our sourdough. We've got a small bakery at the minute and are expanding to a new bigger site for wholesale. I'm looking at a walk in fridge so we can do an overnight ferment on the sourdough and bake first thing in the morning. At the moment we do a room temp second proof and bake it straight away (no cold ferment). On to the matter at hand...

We have a double proofer retarder coming for our pastries and I was planning on using a walk in fridge for the loaves (we could be doing hundreds a day). Our equipment supplier said that would be a bad idea to use a walk in fridge but couldn't give me a straight answer as to why. We aren't buying our fridges from them so I'm worried it was an attempt to scaremonger a fridge sale out of me!

So, can we use a walk in fridge to retard our loaves and bake them straight away in the morning or not?

I'm assuming it might be something to do with humidity? Any experience would be much appreciated!


ps: I'm also aware that our product will change and we'll be adapting our recipes to accommodate for the longer ferment

MichaelLily's picture

Tartine Manufactory uses walk in coolers for bread. I would too if I had walk-ins. Tartine has their fridge set at 50F which I find interesting.

not.a.crumb.left's picture

with a SD bakery in the UK, they had moved in what used to be a micro-brewery and were very happy that the building included a fairly large walk in fridge/room. As far as I understood they shaped loaves, put the bannetons on shelved trolleys and wheeled them into the fridge room for overnight retard. It struck me as an amazingly practical set up compared to fridges but I don't know any further details. Good luck! Kat

tracker914's picture

I do it all the time, I make several hundred loaves on some days. I always bulk ferment overnight in my cooler typically around 42-45 degrees F. Then depending if I have enough oven space I prep into proofing baskets, rise and bake. Those that can't fit during the first round go back in the cooler in the proofing baskets at about 47-50 F, make sure its covered really well with plastic otherwise it will dry out and wont properly rise and bake.

I've tried right out of cold and into the oven, it doesn't work for me as well as I like, but then again I haven't really experimented enough with it. 

on a side note, I was freezing my dough in my proofing baskets at one time, got mixed results, some days it worked and other days, not so much. Again more experimenting would probably have worked the Kinks out.


good luck


marseille's picture


Some bakeries opt for bronze coated condenser coils if they are retarding a lot of bread- helps protect against corrosion due to excess humidity. We use a walk-in for all retarding but opted for a coolbot system. It’s a great technology for bakers, as you can fine tune your temps ( ours is usually 46f), you save on energy costs, and repairs are minimal. 

Good luck

Sam Temple 

Fire Dog Breads

Keene NH