Made another big batch of Rye Sourdough today (10 loaves for two customers), and it thankfully turned out quite lovely. However, I was so glad I've got enough bread baking under my belt to adjust as I went along, because there were a few things that needed extra attention this time!
One, the recipe comes from Peter Reinhart's "Crust and Crumb". I've used it many times before, but so far haven't gotten around to converting the recipe from cups and ounces to grams. There is a three stage starter build for this bread, spread out over three days, and the effort to figure out how much of each stage I had to make for 10 loaves made me realize that there is a bit of error that compounds over three builds to make a starter of a very different hydration than perhaps he meant in his original recipe. He assumes a cup of water weighs 8 oz., which is generally correct but multiplied by five makes quite a difference. Also, in the second build (the rye sponge) he says half a cup of the 'barm' sponge weighs 4 oz. which also isn't quite correct. I really need to re-calculate all the measurements into grams one of these days.
Second, I was a bit distracted with a lot of other things going on over those three days, so I inadvertently left the starter (the third stage firm starter) on the counter in the kitchen overnight instead of putting it in the fridge after it showed signs of life). Given we're having a bit of a heat wave here right now that probably made some kind of difference in both the 'sour' and the life of the starter. I did put it in the fridge the following morning once I discovered it.
Then I started making the final dough far too late in the day. According to the recipe you're supposed to mix the dough and let it proof for around 3 hours at room temperature, then shape it, let the shaped loaves proof for another 3 hours and then put it in the fridge overnight (in baskets). I finally got around to making the dough around 7:30 or so in the evening and wasn't about to sit around for 6 hours waiting for this to happen! That, combined with a very wet dough (from the compounded miscalculation of hydration in the starters no doubt) led me to let it rise in the big bucket for about 3 hours with a couple of stretch and folds over that time. I then just put the whole thing in the fridge and went to bed.
This morning I shaped the cold dough (so much easier to handle now!) and let it warm up in the couches for about an hour, then baked (pre-heated stones to 475F, steam, down to 450F for a total of about 35 minutes). And it's lovely. It was so much easier to shape and score cold, and still had a lot of push for a nice oven spring, burst and ears.
I think, from now on, the only time I'm going to proof shaped dough in the fridge overnight is when I proof it and bake it in pans and don't have to transfer it from baskets to peels to the oven, or to iron pots.