The Fresh Loaf

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when to retard dough--before or after shaping?

autopi's picture

when to retard dough--before or after shaping?

i have been baking loaves out of BBA for a couple months now with good to very good results. i have one question which i haven't been able to figure out, and would appreciate thoughts on. sometimes reinhart says to mix up the dough and then stick it in the fridge overnight, and then let it rise, shape, proof & bake the next day. for instance, i believe his poolish baguette formula is like this.

on the other hand, sometimes he says to mix up the dough, let it bulk ferment & shape it, then stick it in the fridge, baking it the following day. for instance, the pane siciliano is like this.

my question is: does it matter when in the process you retard the dough? i have followed his recipes fairly closely, but i'd prefer to put the dough in the fridge immediately after mixing. it takes up less space, and i've also found that when i let my shaped doughs sit for any length of time, they spread out and become pretty flat w/o too much oven spring. (most of the doughs i make are wettish.)

i assume there is some kind of difference to doing it one way or the other, since reinhart is specific about it. but i'm not sure what the difference is, or how much of a difference it makes. i tried searching the forums, my apologies if this has been discussed and i missed it.

if it makes any difference, i tend to make all my loaves with a 100% hydration sourdough starter + a little bit of commercial yeast (usu. 1/4 tsp or so).