proofing in the fridge

A couple of nights ago, my wife and I came home from an extended lunch at some friends house, and though I was planning on proofing and baking the bread I had prepared earlier then, I was really exhausted from the tantrums my 6 months old had at my friends house, and the close call in saving their idian rug from the afore mentioned 6 month old's spay. so I put the dough straight into the fridge hoping all would go well.

 

It didn't. the next day, I took the dough out of the fridge, let it come back to room temperature, prooved it again and finally baked it. The bread tastes nice (it's only flour, water and salt so it's not going to taste like rotting meat), but it's mostly flat. So here's my question:

 

is there a way to proof the dough in the fridge and still get a nice spring?

 

Many thanks,

 

Olivier

4 comments

Hello Olivier,

Things don't stop in the fridge, they just slow down.  Your loaf was probably proved when you took it out of the fridge, the extra time just over-proved it.  Some people go straight from the fridge to the oven, others take it out while the oven heats up (an hour).

Whatever you do, don't despair - you will get there in the end.

Farinam

I'm not sure about the proofing but retarding the rising process in the fridge made a major difference in the taste of my bread. It became much more 'earthy' with a thicker, chewier crust. I make up a biga and sometimes leave it in the fridge for 4 or 5 days--the longer the better. Maybe the bread's better because the biga is heading towards sourdough?? Who knows--not me!! Bruce 

I am going to continue experimenting with retardation. I find my bread could do with more sour.

I think for sourness you would be looking at leaving your starter for longer between feeds, more than letting the bread itself prove for a longer time.  The problem with this is the longer the starter is left, the less active it will be when it's used...  I've seen where people who want sourness use two starters, one that's on a long feeding schedule and one more active and on a regular feeding schedule, so that they get the best of both.

Re: the proofing in the fridge, as other people have said it just slows down the proving.  I normally make up the dough and do the bulk prove the night before I want it, then put it in the fridge after shaping.  When I get up in the morning I put it straight in the oven.  This helps in a couple of ways, first it helps the loaf retain it's shape a lot better - great for wet doughs - and anecdotally it seems to get better oven spring.

As other people have said as well, the longer a loaf proves the better it will taste.  I've seen artisan bread recipes where the dough is mixed (with cold water) and then put straight in the fridge for 24 hours, then out, shaped and put back in for another 24 hours, before being baked.

The best thing about retarding in the fridge has to be the convenience factor - especially when you have kids I expect !  And as you found, however it turns out it'll taste ok.