The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

To warm up after retarding or not?

Cooper's picture
Cooper

To warm up after retarding or not?

Here's a question for those of you folks out there who bake sourdough breads and use cold-retardation overnight in a fridge, like I do.

In the past, I always pull my loaf in a banneton out of the fridge and let it sit on a counter for up to an hour, while I am busy with other stuff, oven pre-heats, etc.  It always worked fine for me, although the dough certainly spreads a bit once I remove it from the banneton and start scoring.  The other day, I forgot to remove the dough from the fridge, and remembered only when it was time to put it in the oven.  The dough was obviously cold, felt tight, which made scoring easier, and it held shape better.  It baked just as well as always.

Then I remembered that some people here, while describing their recipes, mentioned that they too bake cold, straight out of the fridge.  And today, on a different site, I found this phrase: "You should score it cold, and DO NOT need to let it come to room temp."  

And so my question to experienced bakers out there is: To let or not to let [the dough to warm up]?  Does it make a difference in the end?  What's your take on this?

Thanks!

Cooper's picture
Cooper

I just baked another loaf - "regular" whole wheat sourdough, nothing fancy - intentionally straight from the fridge.  The scoring was definitely simpler, and it was easier to make more elaborate pattern, because the dough was cold and firm.  The oven spring was just as good.  And I did realize (this should have been obvious, but somehow I didn't think about it) that since the dough starts off much colder, it needs another 2 min or so in the oven to reach the desired core temperature.

The loaf still needs to cool down, so unknown yet how the crumb is. 

HungryShots's picture
HungryShots

I always bake straight from the fridge because it is easy to score and it keeps better its shape. I do not think that dough temperature before the bake has any influence in the oven spring, but I let more experienced bakers argue on this.

I have seen bakers who do not retard their bread but put it however for 2-3 hours in the fridge only to have a smooth scoring. Even more, I recently discovered that some bakers move the retarded bread to the freezer 20 minutes before the scoring and baking. They swore that this trick makes miracles for the bread to avoid spreading after scoring and I've tried it once as well. The bread turned out great but I didn't do a control bread to compare it with the quickly frozen one. I'll need to try it again in my next loaves.

To the extreme, I've seen dough retarded in the freezer, directly baked for 5 minutes then taken out to be scored and continued to be baked as usual. Never tried this one but would be an interesting experience.

Denisa.

Cooper's picture
Cooper

definitely sounds like extreme. :)  I certainly noticed that that scoring was easier with cold dough, it didn't spread, and I could take my time "drawing" something.

Here's today's loaf. One can see that oven spring was good, and the scores didn't open up too much, although there were several.


 

HungryShots's picture
HungryShots

Wow, great loaf you have there!

Cooper's picture
Cooper

Thank you!

gerhard's picture
gerhard

you should be happy with the outcome. 👍

Cooper's picture
Cooper

It is nice, but I feel that the crumb was slightly more dense than usual.  But then again - I never bake 2 loaves at once, so I can't do a "control bake". :)