The Fresh Loaf

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Professional bakeries not covering during retard

thebagelguys's picture

Professional bakeries not covering during retard


I've noticed most pics of professional bakeries don't seem to cover their loaves when they go in for retarding onite. I imagine covering every loaf would be insanely time intensive, but how do they keep them from drying out?

Humidifier in the cold room?

wally's picture

as a retired pro baker I can assure you most bakeries DO cover their bread when retarding. Otherwise you get a skin that will never rise in an oven, no matter how much steam. Bread is covered in couche or on boards under rack covers. Don’t know what pics you’ve been looking at.

MichaelLily's picture

I do not cover my loaves in the fridge at home or at work. They develop a little of a skin on the bottoms, but the tops stay soft against the basket liner. I use 80% hydration dough.

Tartine also does not cover bread in the fridge. They run their fridge a little warmer (~50F). The bread just doesn’t dry out much.

dabrownman's picture

and fridges that also control the humidity to what ever they set 80- 90% so now worries.  Otherwise refrigeration just sicks the moisture out of the air and the product.  Just like they have steam injected ovens that most of us don't have:-)

albacore's picture

I've been giving this some thought lately, too. I used to cover the bannetons with a plastic shower cap overnight, but in the morning I found that the underneath of the shower cap was wet - and so was the dough surface.

I decided that this wasn't really a good thing; I have a theory that the dough should be dry and even very slightly skinned; when the loaf is inverted onto the peel and subsequent bake stone, it might just reduce sideways spread a little.

For the moment, I have gone halfway and am covering the bannetons with a piece of light cotton jersey, though it's probably not needed.

Commercially, I can't imagine any bakers putting shower caps on every loaf! And I think it's counterproductive, as outlined above. If you search for pictures of retarders with loaves in, I don't think you will see any with covered loaves....

BTW, as I understand it, retarders do not not have humidity control, proofers usually do.


gary.turner's picture

... the racks extant, but the ones I have seen had clear plastic side curtains, which I imagine maintain plenty of humidity.

wally's picture

Two things:

1- If Tartine is retarding at 50 degrees, I suspect it’s probably only retarding for about 8 hrs. Longer than that and the loaves would overproof. In 8 hrs using bannetons there should not be any problems with an undesirable skin developing.

2- To retard anywhere from 12-36 hrs, you need a lower temp of close to 38 degrees, and without cover your loaves will dry out and develop a skin that will adversely affect oven spring. Bakers who usually retard overnight (or longer) will often give the loaves a short covered proofing time at room temp (30-45 min), then roll the racks with covers UP into the retarder and leave covers UP for a hour or so, to enable the heat generated by the proofing loaves to dissipate. Then zip DOWN covers for the duration of retardation. This protects the loaves against developing a skin and also keeps the rack covers dry. Otherwise you quickly get mold build-up on the inside of your rack covers.

barlowpark's picture