Best dough retarder fridge for home-based commercial bakery
Myself and a friend have started a small side business making sourdough bagels, and have started selling at a local market to a decent reception! We have taken our first delivery orders and are getting a little more traction so looking at improving our workflow.
A big part of that is equipment. We currently just use our home fridges (moving everything out on nights we need to retard) and home ovens.
Eventually we'd probably want to get something along the lines of the Rofco (as we'll still be home-based and have no plans to move into a professional kitchen yet) and so don't have 3 phase electricity to wire a proper deck. Let alone the space.
Inititally though we'd like to get something better than our normal fridges to retard. Does anyone have any suggestions for models in the uk that would be best at this? Ideally it would take multiple trays and not be frost free to keep some humidity inside.
I was thinking about rigging something up like Maurizio's post in The Perfect Loaf, but I can't seem to find that model of fridge in the UK
Any and all suggestions welcome!
I don't have specific refrigerator suggestions, but you may have some luck looking at homebrewing sites (HomeBrewTalk, for expample) for guidance/suggestions. Homebrewers use setups (just like Maurizio) called fermentation chambers for maintaining fermentation temptations... some prefer chest freezers, while others prefer refrigerators. They also have lots of examples for temperature controllers as well and techniques for maintaining temp. I no longer brew beer, but I used a very inexpensive controller found on eBay (~$15) and a upright freezer I found on classified site for $50.
Bagels got me into baking bread... I have to dust off my bagel recipe. Would you mind sharing yours?
If you're buying something anyway, try looking at wine refrigerators instead of something you have to rig (and void the warrenty). Wine fridges can be adjusted in a much wider temperature range, configured with more shelves to maximize wine bottle storage, and many sizes, built-in or free-standing. If you shop around, you'll probably find something that fits all your needs.
I run a small bakery out of my basement and built a small walk-in fridge using a coolbot from here:
It is one of the better moves I made, saving a ton of money, and allowing me to make it to my own size specs...you can do mobile versions too
Great company too, with excellent support.
It's been working perfectly for two years now for me...
Thanks for your share. I am looking to build my own dough retarder as you have done and wondering about humidity.
Do you have any issues with your retarded bread dough being dried out by the air-conditioner?
I threw baguettes in a freezer that was converted to a dough retarder (no fan, so normally evaporation isnt an issue) (mold is if I dont keep it clean and dry when not using). However the baguette dough was tough for this recipe so even though the retarder isnt evaporating moisture from the dough, there is still moisture loss from the dough itself.
I am thinking I need a humidifier to assist but not sure how to ensure the proper humidity throughout the slow retard.
Its a new business and have been making small orders getting more busy all the time and now need a room to manage production and figured I'd need to control humidity especially with a mounted air-conditioned.
I looked on youtube and couldnt find any DIY retarder with humidifier.
I'm hoping you have some advice for this.
I built a retarder along the lines of Maurizio’s unit. I recommend an appropriate size freezer and a digital controller. Mine maintains outstanding aaccuracy (+/- 1 degree). And didn’t cost too much. Here is a link to my controller and freezer. NOTE - I went with a small chest freezer for efficiency, but an upright would be easier to load and unload.
Oh! The exact model of Frig or Freezer doesn’t matter. The controller is the important factor. If you go with a frig to are limited to 38F or above. Using a freezer allows you the option of any temperature you choose. I’ve run mine from freezing to 50F.
If I can be of help, let me know.
I have heard some people have had good success with a wine fridge. Good sizes, no rigging (warrantey etc) , quiet, energy efficient.
Peter, you can place a damp towel over the dough container. If this is not possible you can place a damp sponge inside the retarder. A computer type fan is also nice when placed inside to circulate the air.