The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Evaluating cold final proof?

LauraJP's picture
LauraJP

Evaluating cold final proof?

Hello, wise friends. I'm still in early learning stages of my journey. I love to use the cold retard for the final proof, as it allows me flexibility in baking and I prefer the scoring. But I'm struggling to tell when the dough is "done" after a cold proof. 

Last night, for example, I shaped Forkish FWSY Pain de Campagne.  After preshape, rest, then final shape, I popped it in the fridge. 

This morning the loaves still look pretty compact. Will they rise in the fridge? Or should I plan to take them out to puff up on the counter a bit? Is there a science process to this, or is more of an art of deciding if the dough looks puffed enough to bake? And do folks go straight from shape to fridge to oven generally, or are there some bench times in between to allow for more rise? 

Appreciate the guidance of this great community!!

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Laura, many (maybe most) of us bake our dough straight from the fridge into a pre-heated oven. Many don’t do any warm or room temp proofing after retard.

During retard the dough cools. Because the temp drops the CO2 pressure also drops, but the gas is still available to spring once the dough is heated and the gas expands.

Something in THIS POST may help.

Update -

Walter’s experience has not been mine. My doughs often go between 12 - 16 hr in the fridge @ 39F with great oven spring and rise.

LauraJP's picture
LauraJP

I def am not getting that kind of oven spring yet. Awesome video!

Walter D's picture
Walter D

Hi, I also do my final proof in the refrigerator. I have never found a reliable test for the readiness of the loaves. I rely on time. I usually go for about 6 hours at my refrigerator's temperature. I've found that 7 makes an ok loaf, but it looks over-proofed. Five hours seems to give me a lot more splits. You may need to experiment to find the best time for your refrigerator and recipe.

I take the loaves directly from the refrigerator, score them and load them into my clay bakers by putting them on a parchment and using the parchment as a sling to transfer to the bakers. The loaves do not appear to have risen much if at all when I put them in the oven, but they have a nice spring to them by the time I remove the lids from my bakers.

I hope that helps, but others my have better suggestions.

Happy baking!

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Walter, have to tested the temp of your fridge with a thermometer? If your dough seems to over proof in 7 hours or so in fridge, your fridge may well be a little warmer.

To test fridge test, place a glass of water in the same area that you retard your dough. Leave the water in place overnight and take a reading in the morning.

Walter D's picture
Walter D

Great idea! I have set the refrigerator for 39 F, but have never tested it. It's not a great refrigerator with some uneven spots where some things will sometimes freeze. I do not like frozen hard-boiled eggs. Ugh.

AlanG's picture
AlanG

There are a lot of variables to baking bread and the key is to keep things as consistent as possible.  As I only bake sourdough every 10-12 days, I want to make sure things turn out well each time.  I've standardized the recipe somewhat like David Snyder's San Joaquin sourdough with some minor tweaks.  I retard bulk dough in the fridge overnight for about 16 hours at 38F.  There is some rise taking place at this time and I find the length of time in the fridge is not terribly important.. 

I have the dough in a polycarbonate container and it gets divided in two when it comes out of the fridge (500g batards), lightly shaped and left to rest on the counter for 40-50 minutes depending on the warmth of the kitchen.  It then gets final shaping and is allowed to rise for another 30 minutes in a linen couche.  The batards are scored and put into the oven to bake.

My wall oven is too low for me to bake in any type of heavy container (need to be kind to my 74 year old back) and I use a baking steel.  My advice is to come up with a recipe and experiment by changing as few variables as possible until you get the loaf that looks and tastes good.  There is no right or wrong way to do things.

Benito's picture
Benito

Walter, if your fridge is cold enough and your dough is well fermented during bulk, you’d have no problem with even greater than 24 hours of cold retard.  I’ve had dough that I’ve left in cold retard for up to 28 hours and it didn’t overproof.  My fridge is at 3ºC and there is no growth in the fridge, in fact there is often a bit of contraction of the dough.  If you have a look at my most recent bake in my blog, that one was very noticeably contracted but still baked up well.

Benny

LauraJP's picture
LauraJP

Between my cool MN home, and an old and prob inconsistent fridge, I'm guessing I need to push my bulk longer to get to a better place before the CR for final proof. I got some great ideas for the aliquot jar from Benito in another thread, and I like the idea of testing the water temp. Thanks, friends! I switched up my recipe today and the crumb was tighter than I prefer, but such is the journey of learning, yes? Cheers!