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Old 10-31-2012, 12:05 PM
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Mesa, AZ
Posts: 237
Default Re: Question about retarding shaped sourdough loaves

You know, a couple years ago chickens were all the rage in my neighborhood. Now you can't find a single one. Folks must have realized the things are dumber than rocks and a lot messier. 35 years later, I still remember cleaning the chicken coop.
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Old 11-05-2012, 05:00 PM
Master Builder
Join Date: May 2011
Location: South Australia
Posts: 621
Default Re: Question about retarding shaped sourdough loaves

Fair go ol' mate, chooks aren't quite as dumb as rocks.
Mind you, I'm questioning my chicken keeping sanity at the moment.
A while ago I was given 5 young roosters, just beginning to crow. I chopped the heads off four and cooked them up, the most recent being a rooster casserole in the WFO.
However, one of them was such a beautiful golden plumaged bird that I couldn't resist keeping him.
Since Angus, our Faveroles rooster, has gotten so fat that he can't do his duty before he loses his balance and falls off his victim, I thought this would be a good way to get some new chicks.
I badly underestimated the ferocity of the inevitable battle for dominance.
Angas is getting on in years, and while he won the first round, the young fellas' youth began to tell and when the blood started to flow I had to separate them. Angas now has a home of his own in the garden because I'm too soft to cut his head off.
So now, every day is a competition to see who can crow the loudest and longest. the neighbours haven't complained. Yet.............
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Old 11-06-2012, 07:16 AM
Il Pizzaiolo
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: So. Orange County, CA. USA
Posts: 1,206
Default Re: Question about retarding shaped sourdough loaves

From one old guy to another, Give em Heck Angus!!

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Old 11-06-2012, 11:29 AM
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Default Re: Question about retarding shaped sourdough loaves

Hi Chris

I store my preshaped pizza balls in a covered plastic container in the fridge. I let them sit out for just a few minutes and then put them directly in the hot oven. I love how my pizza comes out and have never had any problems with it this way.
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Old 11-06-2012, 01:19 PM
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Location: Northridge, CA
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Default Re: Question about retarding shaped sourdough loaves

Thanks for sharing your bread baking experiment Chris. It's very helpful (and quite educational thanks to Jay )

You made them (the 2 loaves) with 100%AP, instead of your 20%WW, you said. How much of a taste difference in general did you notice compared to your normal mix?

And did you say your starter had rye flour in it? Or was it only a very minor part of the starter since you had been building up/refreshing your starter for this bake?

Although I refresh my starter every 2 weeks when not baking, I end up refreshing with Rye Flour every other month or so to "re-charge" it.

Your "experiment" breads look really good, btw.
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Old 11-06-2012, 02:42 PM
Il Pizzaiolo
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Default Re: Question about retarding shaped sourdough loaves

Dino, My most normal bakes are that 20% of the flour is fresh ground, most often about 14% Spelt and 7% Rye and this is a very different bread than the 100% AP. The 100% AP is a nice tangy sourdough with the tangy acid aspect forward. This bread is not as heavily acidic as Boudin SF and it’s a lite good soup accompaniment. The Spelt and Rye puts the bread more in line with a stew or bean dish or even a cheese that has personality..

Ree, regarding the pizza dough, that's the way I do mine as well and I agree it works very well.

Regarding the experiment;
There are home bakers who retard their dough right after final shaping and some who shape, proof, and then retard and I wanted to understand how moving the retard to this part of the bread building affected the final bread. Some of these bakers use this time to target a specific future time for baking and the completion of the bake. Because the loaves come directly from the fridge are then inverted, slashed and immediately baked, the oven hitting its temp is the trigger for the bake, the dough waits for the oven. This is completely the opposite of what I have been doing which is where the shaped loaf becomes mature and then you bake, the oven waits for the dough.

Some of these people are in high temperature locations, often warmer than 80F, and one of the benefits is to slow the process down to accommodate the best range of temperatures for the sourdough leavening community.

I often go through the initial mixing, autolyse, S&F just short of pre-shaping and final shaping and at this point will retard the bulk batch. On the day of the bake, I remove the dough letting it rest for an hour then pre-shape, shape, proof and then bake, so I’m familiar with this process and product.

What I found during this build was that the sourdough activity is changed by the cold, but not all at once, this was known but the extent, the duration, of this transition into and out of the yeast sleeping, was not fully realized and or accepted. For my 600G boules this time to shutdown and go to sleep and then later to wake was something like an hour and a half each way.

At first the yeast slows down at the exterior and this slowing migrates to the interior as the temperatures drop and all of this takes time and the time will vary depending on the shape of the loaf, the basket, sheet or loaf pan that contains the loaf. To me, part of puzzle is how to gain the flavor benefits of the retard and allowing the enzymes to work their magic and somehow balance this with the wild yeast community doing their magic to leaven the bread all wrapped in my real world schedule.

Previously my retards were in bulk and this sourdough yeast community woke up to a sugar rich world all be it slowly. This waking up, getting the yeast activity back up to speed, really takes a while longer than I had embraced. I had not really realized or accepted how overbearing the cold is to my SD yeast community, most likely the great majority of starters react this way. Jay alluded to this several times. This seems to be why Instant Dry Yeast is sometimes added, in very small quantities, to the mix. The IDY seems to wake up in cooler temperatures and it is vigorous with regard to leavening, flavor is of course a whole other story.

Because sourdough starter is a community of differing yeast strains these strains have different temperature and acidity "sweet spots" it seems to me that even if everything else is the same, the transition from 35F to 80F and the duration to make the change, will favor differences in the SD community and therefore affect flavor profiles. How far along the sourdough starter is, how mature, when it's used to build the bread, changes the resulting bread's flavor profile, so this, leaven building, part of the build is a great determiner of the final product. Baking bread, building bread, is an art and I'm no where close to having all the tools understood.

I feel like such a newbie with respect to the nuances of all of this, Oh how I wish I had a week or two at SFBI, San Francisco Baking institute..

Comments and corrections are graciously accepted and embraced. Live to learn and learn to live.


Last edited by SCChris; 11-07-2012 at 07:45 AM.
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Old 02-25-2013, 08:20 AM
Il Pizzaiolo
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Default Re: Question about retarding shaped sourdough loaves

It's been a few months since visiting this thread and I wanted to bring everyone up to speed on where I decided to go relative to retarding dough.

Lately, I've been concentrating on retarding a portion of the final dough rather than trying to build the dough or loaves and retard. My discomfort with these is how it negatively affects my sourdough community. The cold retard really slows these little critters down when I want them running their hardest.

My solution, at present, is to add a presoak to the process. I'm still milling a 15% portion of the flour and I want to make sure that this fresh milled component has time to fully hydrate, so it goes into a presoak. In addition I want some portion of the remaining flour to add more complexity to the flavor of the bread, so a portion goes into the same presoak. Currently this presoak is 40% of the total flour, 15% fresh milled Rye and Kamut, and 25% Central milling Artisan organic AP. These two components are mixed and hydrated at 80%.

This presoak was put into the fridge, at bedtime, for 8 hours and allowed to come to temp for an additional 2 hours in the morning. I don’t think it would hurt anything to increase this time a bit and given the soak was only 10 hours it could have stayed on the counter at room temp. In the morning I added the soak to the levain and the water for the dough and squeezed the two together until fully mixed. At this point the rest of the flour was added and all of this was roughly mixed to hydrate the flour. After a 30 minute autolyse, the whole was lightly worked and brought together into a more homogeneous mass. 2% salt and 5% more water were added and roughly incorporated into the dough. 30 minutes later I did a stretch and fold and two additional, soft handed, stretch and folds were done at 30 minute intervals. At the three hour mark, from the time the salt was added, I portioned the dough and pre-shaped, 30 minutes later I shaped and placed the dough in brotforms to proof. Two of the loaves were baked after 3 hours of proofing at 78F. The remaining two loaves were baked after 4.5 hours at 68F. Regardless of the batch, the loaves were loaded into the 500F preheated cast iron Dutch ovens, covered, and the heat was lowered to 450F. After 20 minutes the covers were removed and the loaves were baked an additional 20 minutes.

I’ve included a photo of one of the loaves from the second batch. I feel that this second batch of bread is the best batch to date.. The crust was where I wanted it and the crumb was open to the degree that I wanted. For me, the crumb has been the most difficult aspect of baking. The consistency of loaves is what I shoot for and the open crumb is the culmination of so many things. I’ve been a bit heavy handed with my Stretching and Folding and later with my shaping.


1500G Flour total -
110g fresh milled Rye
110g fresh milled Kamut
1280g AP flour
1075g of filtered water
30g salt
220g - All of the fresh milled flour
380g – of AP
480g of water
500g of Levain at 100% hydration
520g of filtered water
900g of AP flour

Mix the Soaker, and the levain, add and mix the flour and autolyse for 30 minutes.
Mix the mass to dough, add;
30g of salt
75g of filtered water to the dough and incorporate until the water and salt are mostly absorbed.

Rest the dough 30 minutes and S&F, repeat until the gluten is sufficiently developed and then proof, pre-shape, shape, proof, bake.
Attached Thumbnails
Question about retarding shaped sourdough loaves-sundays-bake.jpg   Question about retarding shaped sourdough loaves-saturdays-find.jpg   Question about retarding shaped sourdough loaves-crumb-1.jpg   Question about retarding shaped sourdough loaves-crumb-2.jpg  

Last edited by SCChris; 02-27-2013 at 07:40 AM.
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Old 02-26-2013, 07:59 PM
WJW WJW is offline
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Default Re: Question about retarding shaped sourdough loaves

Great thread.
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Old 02-28-2013, 06:20 AM
Il Pizzaiolo
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: San Antonio
Posts: 1,719
Default Re: Question about retarding shaped sourdough loaves

Hi Chris!

I really like how you describe "cold" affecting your "SD community". Exactly how I feel though I arrive at a different personal answer which is that I don't retard once I begin the process unless absolutely mandatory due to a surprise schedule shift.

Retarding a portion of the dough is a good alternative. The downside - as you well know - is that the process once you do start remains pretty long. As you allude, adding a dash of IDY can do a lot to help one make very good bread on a shorter schedule. That way the retarded dough can be fairly ripe - adding lots of flavor - and the process can still be manageable for those with time constraints.

While I find my starters store fine in the fridge and wake up well with one or two feedings, it is hard to describe how painfully slowly I find the yeast wakes up in a fully refrigerated, retarded loaf. A brief retard to slow the loaf can be useful (and is something we did at SFBI when our timing got off (even by 15 minutes! because the ovens were loaded and we needed to hold the next batch back a bit). I don't often do that with loaves because, well, who has enough refrigerator space to hold a set of proofing boules in baskets! But the idea should work well for those doing smaller batches with only a loaf or two.

Good thread with lots of good info/ideas!
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Old 02-28-2013, 07:35 AM
Il Pizzaiolo
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Default Re: Question about retarding shaped sourdough loaves

Thanks Bill and Jay!
Jay, if I had a "Man Cave" I'd fit the thing out with an additional fridge or two and use them as proofing cabinets. To stagger the two bakes, the first batch was placed in a Brod and Taylor proofing box, the second batch of bread was placed in a cool closet. I use the box more often than I initially thought that I would. If the house is cold the starter gets the royal treatment in the box receiving two or three feeds before building the levain. Then the levain stays in the box and then during the dough building process the bowl of dough goes into it between S&F and of course, two shaped loaves will fit as long as I stagger the brotforms vertically. It has a small receptacle to add water for humidity. I had a unit that failed and the company sent a replacement right away. It’s going to be a bit small for larger batches of dough but during the process of going from starter to levain, I’ll still use it.. I guess the main point is controlling the temperature is very helpful.

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