The Fresh Loaf

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Flat cuts when baking straight from refrigerator

cadmus's picture

Flat cuts when baking straight from refrigerator

I've noticed lots of sourdough recipes recommend putting dough straight into the oven after cold proofing. I've found that every time I do this, my cuts don't really open up and split apart like they do when baking room-temperature dough, but instead remain kind of flat. Is this normal or am I doing something wrong? Obviously, it's not a big deal taste-wise, but it does lead to less aesthetically pleasing bread.

I've attached a photo to show what I'm talking about. I followed the Perfect Loaf's 50/50 whole wheat sourdough recipe pretty much exactly. I did pull my doughs out of the refrigerator right before I began preheating my dutch oven, even though the recipe recommends taking them out after preheating. The loaf on the right went in the oven first, after about half an hour on my counter. The cuts pulled apart, but they didn't open or create much topographic variation with the rest of the loaf. The loaf on the left had an extra hour to warm up, and it created more of an open split where I cut it, although it's probably not as open as it would've been if I'd let it warm up longer.

I've had the same thing happen when I cold retard dough following the basic Tartine bread recipe, which also recommends baking straight from the refrigerator.

cadmus's picture

Following up on my issue: I saw another post by someone having a similar issue, but for different reasons. One of the comments alluded to the upper crust setting too soon: Is that what's causing this, that the upper crust sets before the cold dough's yeast gets going? But if so, how is it so many other bakers have no problem throwing dough into the oven straight from the fridge? Would not preheating my dutch oven's lid lengthen the time it takes for the upper crust to set?

UVCat's picture

i usually get more spring and better ears when baking straight from the fridge into a pre-heated dutch oven, so your post did perplex me; and i’m not sure if i can help, but here are some of my first thoughts:

- if it is the case that the dough’s top is setting too fast, increasing the steam in the dutch oven might help. you could spray the loves and maybe an extra spritz into the vessel before putting the lid on. an easy thing to try, anyway.

- my loaves that are slightly overproofed look a lot like yours. is there a chance that by doing the final proof in the fridge you are actually getting more fermentation than you would in a room temp final proof? do you give your shaped loaves some time at room temp before the fridge? how does the fridge time compare to the proof time you would ordinarily do at room temp? 

- can you say more about your final proofing setup? are the loaves in bannetons? lined or unlined? covered in plastic or not in the fridge? i’m wondering if they could be getting dried out or developing a thick skin while in the fridge, which is then decreasing their spring when baked.

anyway, hope this helps!