wine fridges for proving?

mesourman

First, what a great site -- beginner's blog, forums, lots more. Since discovering this several weeks ago I have made bread better than I imagined possible. Thanks to you all!

First SD loaf not the prettiest, but meets family approval...

I've found my best approach is to refresh before work, mix and bulk fermentation after work, into the fridge overnight and final proving and baking the next evening. Some loaves have been better than others, and I think the critical factor is getting enough time into the bulk ferment. The fridge is simply too cold, so often I'm not getting enough flavour and texture development. When I go an extra couple of hours before the fridge I'm happier with the results, but I need sleep too.

I can see two possible routes: retard at a higher temp than the fridge, or use a smaller starter percentage so that I can leave the bulk ferment at room temp without going into the fridge. Anyone else solved this problem? I'm thinking of buying a wine fridge (can be set for anywhere from 7 to 18C), or else cutting my starter down from about 36%.

Frank

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davo 2010 March 2

I have no problem with a normal cold fridge and frankly I am usually concerned it's not cold enough, as I can sometimes find that the (shaped loaves) can go too far. I guess it depends on your ratio of levain into the bread dough, temps while you are bulk fermenting, and how big the loaves are (thermal interia).

My method for 4 ~ 900 g loaves is to refresh starter twice over 24 hours (starter out of fridge say on tuesday am, refresh then and again tues pm), make a levain (before work - eg wednesday am) of about 1 kg or so which ferments until I get home from work (I take it to work if it will be hot in the home), then (Wed night) mix in a further 2.5 kg of flour/water that night. I rest and french fold/stretch and fold (during bulk ferment) for typically 2-2.5 hours from mixing (I would do longer if the levain:bread dough ratio was smaller, but I like it being a reasonably rapid process, so I can get to bed!) Then I shape loaves and put in banettons (large oval), which go in plastic shopping bags in the fridge. I usually find that by next evening when I am ready to bake, they have risen quite a lot while in the firdge, and will take about 1 hour out of the fridge (oven-warming time) to be ripe, rarely they are too far gone to warm and I bake straight from fridge, and occasionally it takes up to 1.5 or so hours out of fridge. I am certain that (with my starter and mixes and temps I am typically working at -  if I left them at about 10 celcius or so they'd be overproved by the time I went to bake next night.

If your levain to dough ratio is low you might find that they are sluggish, but you say 36%???. Is your one refresh from the fridge? Maybe you need two - I find it makes a difference.

DO you bag them up - this stops from drying out but perhaps also retains a little heat for a while before it truly cools down - takees a long time to cool 900 g of dough in a nice insulating banetton from 22 celcius to 4 deg, I am pretty sure.

My loaves have (for me) great flavour and are quite sour.

dukegus 2010 March 2

I totally agree with davo in everything he says, I'm always concerned about my fridge being cold enough(it's a [email protected] small fridge) and I get the best results when it's 5-6C and if it's over 10C retardation doesn't work the same way...

 

I too get amazing flavor and quite sour taste.

Could you describe a typical recipe you make from beginning to end(maybe give some room temperature and fridge temperature)?

 

Amazing pic of the boy biting the loaf!!!

mesourman 2010 March 2

Thanks for your comments davo and dukegus. I don't think I was really clear. I normally bulk ferment for about three hours at room temp, then put it into the fridge either before or after shaping loaves, and bake the next day. However, if I have time to bulk ferment longer (say 5 hours), I find I get a more open crumb and more flavour. What I would like to do is instead of doing a few hours at twenty-something C and overnight at 4C, be able to skip the room temp stage altogether and bulk ferment at whatever temp will give the right level of development over say 12 hours, or say 24 hours. Guess I'll have to just try it -- reducing the starter proportion will be the cheaper option.

dukegus 2010 March 14

[quote=mesourman]What I would like to do is instead of doing a few hours at twenty-something C and overnight at 4C, be able to skip the room temp stage altogether and bulk ferment at whatever temp will give the right level of development over say 12 hours, or say 24 hours. Guess I'll have to just try it -- reducing the starter proportion will be the cheaper option.[/quote]

 

I'd like a good analysis on those questions too. From my small experience, if I refridgerate before the dough is somewhere around it's peak activity I don't get max volume when using a fridge(5-7C). I'm takling about shaped loafs in hand made banettone things...

If it's overproofed before going to the fridge and the fridge is cold enough the next day I can have a good loaf if I don't slice before baking. Underproofing is where I get problems because it doesn't rise much in the fridge and the gluten is quite relaxed and I can't do much with it. I get a nice loaf but no big holes etc...

If you bulk ferment in the fridge it's a totally different thing...Anyone more info?

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