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SCChris 10-25-2012 05:03 PM

Question about retarding shaped sourdough loaves
Some people shape the loaves and then retard in the fridge and then put these cold loaves directly into the hot oven. Some let these shaped loaves come to temp and then bake. What is the down side of going direct to the oven? and how would the temp need to be adjusted if it is?


Faith In Virginia 10-25-2012 06:16 PM

Re: Question about retarding shaped sourdough loaves
Hay Chris,

I'll give that a go. You can do a slow final ferment at about 50 degrees. You ferment all the way to when the dough is ready for the oven. Then it can go straight from the fridge to the oven.

Now a true retard all your doing is adjusting your time to bake so you ferment/retard at about 40 degrees so the next day you can pull it from the fridge and warm up and finish fermenting. Then it goes into the oven

Both methods you need to consider that your dough can loose some strength and the cold refrigerator air can dry out your dough and greatly affect your crust so you need good humidity in the fridge.

Hope that helps.

texassourdough 10-25-2012 06:28 PM

Re: Question about retarding shaped sourdough loaves
I don't retard loaves very often so I am not a great source on this! My main sourdough simply doesn't like cold and once cold is really slow to get going again...

An important key to the concept of baking straight out of the fridge is that CO2 is MORE soluble in cold dough than in warm. Thus directionally cold dough will hold more CO2 in solution (and not in bubbles or crumb holes) than a warm dough. It is my impression that baking direct from the fridge increases the "freckle" bubbles that some people seem to lust after. And that makes sense for the CO2 (especially at the crust) can't migrate far before it has to come out of solution and create a bubble.

However there are other effects. I believe that the crumb is a bit weird as the dough takes quite a bit longer to heat at the center than it would if the dough were warm.

When I retard I typically bring the loaves back to room temp - about two hours before baking. The impacts are mostly subtle but...the loaves are not IMO "normal".

As Faith points out, there are other issues. The enzymes are not as temp sensitive as the yeast and thus the dough degrades faster than the proof, and refrigerators are dry so it tends to dry out the loaf. I think it is important to retard in plastic bags that can be sealed to protect the loaf.

Try it! You may like it...and you may not... It is good experience!
Bake on!

Faith In Virginia 10-25-2012 06:49 PM

Re: Question about retarding shaped sourdough loaves
Hay Jay....There you go getting all technical on us... :-) I'm with you I don't do a lot of cold retardation on final doughs myself. The dehydration of the skin makes a crust that I don't prefer and as you mentioned it does something not "normal" to the final bread. I'm thinking of trying a small humidifier in my retarding fridge and see if that takes out some of the strangeness. At times it would be nice to have some flexibility on bake times without compromising the finished quality.

Hope things are well with you.


SCChris 10-25-2012 06:49 PM

Re: Question about retarding shaped sourdough loaves
I've never shaped the loaves and held them in the fridge to bake later, so I'm trying to understand the timeline, and the up side and down side.. Many times of the year we're too warm to shape and walk away for any great number of hours. Maybe this winter I can Shape, Sleep and then Bake in the morning.. It's worth a bit of experimentation.

Thank you both!


texassourdough 10-26-2012 05:45 AM

Re: Question about retarding shaped sourdough loaves
Hi Chris!

It is a good experiment!

You can retard for up to two days with minimal problems. Around three the dough starts really deteriorating in my opinion (just like pizza!). And the flexibility is great. One thing I forgot to mention is that fresh from the oven the dough is stiffer than when it warms up. Cold loaves (in my limited experience) tend to explode and warmed loaves show more natural oven spring as the dough is more flexible. But... all of this is rather variable.

You will probably find that you want an X hour ferment before retarding for one night/day and a shorter Y hour ferment when retarding for two. OTOH, you may want to use one time but warm the one day loaves to room temp and bake the two/three day retarded loaves straight from the fridge. (Warming up lets the yeast get going again on the shorter loaves..)

I will be interested in what works for you!

Bake On!

SCChris 10-26-2012 06:54 AM

Re: Question about retarding shaped sourdough loaves
I hope to do a build this afternoon and evening. The timeline I'll be following is the norm up to the point of putting the pre shaped loaves into the fridge.

My starter has been fed a few times, so if it's not past it's prime when I get home, I'll take 200G and build the dough.
Give the dough 3 or 4 hours to come up to speed and shape.

Place one shaped loaf, loaf "A", directly into the fridge without proofing at temp. Give the other, loaf "B", a couple of hours to proof and pop it into the fridge.

My expectation is that the loaves are going to need a bit of time proofing before going to sleep to be ideal.

In the morning I'll preheat the oven and move the loaves directly from the fridge to the preheated cloche with a short detour to slash.

Ideally the same process will be used with the change being to pull the loaves during the 90 minute oven pre heat period.
and one more time without the intervention of the fridge.


SCChris 10-26-2012 02:53 PM

Re: Question about retarding shaped sourdough loaves
5 Attachment(s)
I arrived home early enough to harvest 200g of starter and start a couple of loaves.
200g of starter at 72F
400g of water at 72F
600g of KA AP flour
12g sea salt
24g of water to slurry the salt

The combined temp of the starter, water and flour at the beginning of autolyse is 75F.
I'll add in the salt slurry at 30 minutes and S&F every 30 minutes to 2.5 hours.
At 3 hours I'll portion, pre-shape and shape and let them proof for 90 minutes.

At this point both loaves will go directly into the fridge. This is a bit of a process change from the previous posts process. I'll try differing the post shape proofing another time.

Tomorrow morning I'll pull loaf A and let it rest while the oven preheats for 90 minutes.
After preheating, I'll invert the loaf onto parchment slash and place it in a cloche to bake.
I'll pull the loaf B, invert onto parchment slash and place it in a cloche to bake.
I have 2 cloches in the oven so the only difference will be the resting period of the first loaf.

Pictures to follow.


PS Straight AP dough sure feels different when you're use to 20% whole grain flour mixed in..

SCChris 10-26-2012 07:44 PM

Re: Question about retarding shaped sourdough loaves
2 Attachment(s)
Shaped dough after 90 Minutes. I'll include at pulling loaf "A" and compair loaf "B" at 90 minutes just before loading them in the oven and post bake.


Faith In Virginia 10-27-2012 05:56 AM

Re: Question about retarding shaped sourdough loaves
Did you put them in plastic bags before you put them in the fridge? Be sure to check for dehydration of the skin.

enjoying your experiment, thanks for sharing

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