The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Retardation and Misting

CountryBoy's picture

Retardation and Misting

I have finished reading the Reinhold (BBA)and Beranbaum books on bread and would like to know what the resident pros such as: FloydM, SourdoLady, Mountaindog, Jim, Jeffrey, et. al. actually normally do when it comes to retardation and misting.

With retardation: do you put it in the frig after the first or second proofing or not at all? And with misting: do you do pans and the spraying? For just a simple home baker with an electric stove it seems very risky re: blowing out the coils and cracking the front window. I am a novice and you folks are the real pros so I am trying to separate the ideal world of the books from the real world that you folks actually bake in.  Thanks... 

Srishti's picture

I am just a starter, have only baked just a few loaves.... But I have found that if you bake your bread in the covered clay pot...etc etc.... as discussed in the NYT no-knead method... even with a normal traditional kneaded recipe...... It comes out beautifully and it was quite steamy midway through when I took the lid off. The lid on my clay "roaster" is not even tightly fitting!

So it seems you really don't need to go through the adventure of steming methods if you bake in a covered pot... anyone expert here to throw some steam on this theory?


Wayne's picture

I do not consider myself an expert by any means, but I have been baking in the same household electric oven for several years and have yet to ruin a coil, bust a lightbulb, or crack the oven door glass.  As far as misting goes,  I put my stone on the second shelf from the bottom and put an 8 or 10 inch cast iron skillet with lava rocks in it on the bottom shelf.  Heat the oven with the stone and the skillet to arouind 475 degress for an hour.  Put in your shaped loaves and pour 1 cup of boiling water into the skillet (careful !!) and shut the door.  No need to open it again until the baking time is up.  AS far a retarding goes,  I generally start mine after the last turn and let sit for 24 hours or so.  Bring it out of the fridge and let warm up a couple of hours and do final shaping and final proof.  This seems to work for me and my oven but I am sure others have different methods also.


SourdoLady's picture

Every baker is going to have their own favorite methods of doing things. That doesn't mean any one is better than the other. In the end it is what gets you the results you are happy with.


In my experience, it doesn't much matter if you retard the dough right after mixing or if you let it proof once, shape and then retard. I have done it both ways and the end result seems the same. I prefer to retard before shaping because I worry about someone in my family accidentally smooshing my shaped loaf in the fridge if I shape first. It also is easier to find room in the fridge for a dough blob.


For steam I put a shallow pan of hot water on the bottom rack of the oven about 15 minutes prior to baking the bread. I do spray the oven walls three or four times about 1 minute apart immediately after loading the bread into the oven. I also mist the shaped loaves lightly with water after I slash them and just before I put them in the oven. I don't spray directly on the loaves after they are in the oven--just the oven walls. I adjust my sprayer to a coarse spray rather than a mist when I spray the walls and I am careful to avoid the coil and light.

mountaindog's picture

As usual, SourDoLady's advice is right-on. There are many ways of doing things, and as Peter Reinhart states in the BBA, sometimes great new things are discovered by accident, even by less experienced bakers, so don't be afraid to experiment.


That said, my technique is exactly the same as SourDoLady's, with the minor exceptions that I do not use the shallow pan of water and do not mist the loaves before going in the oven, I just mist the oven walls. I retard the dough for about 12 hours in the fridge after about an hour and two folds at room temp. into the first fermentation. I have used that method for many years for rustic breads made with commercial yeast with good results as well. If you want to read more detail, the Leonard loaf instructions I use are here.

Jeffrey's picture

As often as pots boil over and splash all over the coils on the stove top, i wouldn't worry to much about that.  Just don't ever set pans or anything ontop the oven coil, being suspended like it is, it'll surely break.


I'm pretty new at this and havent decided which way i like to do the retardation thing, sometimes i form it, and sometimes i don't.   Most of the time i just let it rise, folding it every hour or so, then bake it.  It's just practice at this time, then from time to time i make a special loaf to bring to people.


My wife likes it when i make a litle loaf for our bed time snack.



CountryBoy's picture

For your ongoing responses.......