The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Fridge Temperature

TheFreeman's picture
TheFreeman

Fridge Temperature

Hi all,

 

So basically I consider myself new to baking but I am getting quite consistent results with good rise and taste. 

What I was wondering last time was regarding fridge temperature. I am trying to figure out how people manage to get their final "proofing" done in the fridge. Do these people have a higher temperature fridge? I keep mine around 2/3c(38f) and I barely observe any rise if any at all. I do however notice the huge difference in taste the longer it is left in the fridge.

So basically what I have been doing lately is finishing my proofing (bulk+shaping) outside, then once I want to stop fermentation I am putting my loafs in the fridge. Is this a good approach or may I be overproofing?

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

The dough still ferments in the fridge.  Cool temps favor the acetic-acid-forming bacteria over the yeast, but both slow down.  The yeast is still active, just a bit slower.  The lower temp also keeps the gas bubbles a bit smaller.

Yeast/LAB in a starter in the fridge still eat, and need to be fed, or else they will form a hooch.  I have to feed my  starter in the fridge every 4 to 6 days,

Same processes happen in dough, just not as concentrated as a starter.

Putting in the fridge does NOT stop the fermentation.  It slows the yeast a lot, and slows the other bacteria somewhat.  

This common misnderstanding sometimes leads to beginners over-proofing their dough, because they wrongly think everything "stops" in the fridge.

And even being in the fridge, there is still  the degradation of the proteins by the acids and enzymes.

BernardH's picture
BernardH

200200506I too would appreciate some guidance on this topic. Recently I tried placing two loaves in brotforms (dough temp about 23C, 72F) to proof overnight (=15 hours) in the fridge. They rose nicely, see picture, but were overproofed - when I removed the plastic film they collapsed down to just above the top of the brotform. Nevertheless I got good oven spring and two presentable loaves. Before doing this I put some play-dough in a brotform in the fridge to see how quiickly it cooled - see my post here: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/comment/454251#comment-454251

As I see it this means that in my fridge this dough proves too much before it has cooled enough for the yeast to stop working. So, yes, I can use my fridge to retard the ferment, but I still need to remove the loaves to bake them when they are correctly proofed: I can't simply leave the dough overnight. Am I missing a trick here?

Benito's picture
Benito

Have you checked the temperature of your fridge?  Put a glass of water on the shelf you will use overnight in the fridge and take its temperature the next morning.  You can check in various parts of your fridge to check the temperatures out higher and lower in the fridge.  Your fridge might be warmer than you think.  I haven’t had a dough, so far, over proof in my fridge.

Benny

albacore's picture
albacore

Woodpulp brotforms are a special case. They have very thick walls of lightweight insulating woodpulp and it seems to me that the contained dough will cool down a fair bit slower than in a cane or plastic banneton.

Lance

BernardH's picture
BernardH

Thank-you both for your suggestions. My fridge was running  at 3C, so I think the insulating effect of the brotforms explains what's going on here. If I chill the brotforms in the fridge before baking that should overcome the insulating effect so I'll give it a try. If it retards the proof too much I can always allow the loaves to warm up before baking.

TheFreeman's picture
TheFreeman

I am really surprised that the activity still occurs at 2/3c, because I am sure I have read that yeast is inactive at those temperatures (dorment).

I understand that flavor develops since existing gas will incorporate better with the surrounding dough. Regarding the other post, I have never seen that many rise if any at all in my fridge. You must have some hot spots or very bad circulation. I have tested my fridge with a probe and its almost constantly at 2/3c. 

But I will keep what you said in mind and make sure to put my dough in the fridge before the RT proof is ready.

Meat5000's picture
Meat5000 (not verified)

Yeast produces heat also. If it goes in active and is well covered it can be quite a while before it goes dormant.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Freeman, if your fridge is 39F or lower the dough shouldn’t rise much if at all during an overnight retard. BUT at 40F a slight rise can be expected. The dough is very sensitive to slight temperature changes in that temp range. See Benny’s suggestion HERE.

Lance mentioned pulp baskets being more insulated. Two thoughts.

  1. Place them in the freezer for a while before placing dough
  2. Place the banneton with the dough in the freezer for 15-20 minutes or so before refrigerating

Thermal data logs show that it takes ~5 hours for a bread dough to normalize to refrigerator temps. During this time of temperature reduction the dough is continuing to ferment. Most over proofed doughs that have been retarded spent too much time fermenting before the bannetons were placed in the fridge.