The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Retard the ferment ... or the proof?

ndechenne's picture

Retard the ferment ... or the proof?

Ok, I've been debating a cold retard of my sourdough, but getting all kinds of conflicting info on which to retard... the bulk ferment or the final proof. Anyone have any opinions on which is better (or not) and the effects of the final product based upon which step it's retarded?

cranbo's picture

You can do either, both will change the flavor character and texture.I personally haven't noticed a huge flavor or texture difference between bulk ferment retard or proof retard.

I personally use proof retard more, because it works best with my schedule: I can knead + bulk ferment in the evening, shape loaves, then proof retard in the fridge overnight and bake in the morning or I get home from work in the evening, with little delay. 

Here's another TFL thread with more discussion

Yerffej's picture

I think that the primary cause of the conflicting information is the fact that there is not one answer for all breads on this issue.  Try it both ways for each bread that you are making and note the results.


ndechenne's picture

Thanks all. I have a mothers Day event on Sunday, I'm gonna try a long soak and let you know how it goes!

dabrownman's picture

things in the bread that require a soaker too?  Soakers / scalds, autolyse, retards of levain and dough all make for flavorful, different and interesting breads.

Happy baking

Nickisafoodie's picture

As Cranbo says, overnight with morning bake works well.  Another consideration is there are many schools of thought on how long you leave it out of the refrigerator before baking. 

I have tested baking one to three hours after taking the dough out of the fridge and all come out great.  However my favorite approach now is directly from refrigerator to oven.  Saves time and the final bake for me has been a slighly better rise.  

I think I read this somewhere in Hammelman's "Bread" [ or could have been other books, but yes from an authorizative source - the analogy being the difference in going from into oven with a dough at 40° from fridge vs. 70° at room temp a few hours later - is largely irrelevant in a 425°/hot oven.  I think the chill keeps the dough from spreading as much giving a slightly higher rise and moreover saves time bake day.

Happy baking