So many times you get the notion that your loaf, which you expended a long time nourishing with care and love, has to be put aside for a bit of slow time in the fridge retarding. Of course you expect all the buttons of perfection have been pressed. Which means you expect it to come out perfectly. All to say that it's a painful blow when, in the end, it turns out less than a perfect God-like creation and more of a "B" movie monster, say of the power a distorted giant turtle head popping out it's head. (For inspiration on such imagery, let's blame it on the over abundance of bad religious movies on television this weekend).
Soooo, frustrated by the lack of a perfect loaf, (specimen above), I sought sage advice and a few pointers from a fellow home baker. With both patient mentoring and skills of one of those elementary school teachers who tried to teach a stubborn student like me, she has taken mercy on this "lazy baker", and offered a few hints that I possibly forgot during my bread baking classes.
1.) Put in retarder (50F) at room temp immediately after shaping for 16 hours, then 2 hours at room temp, then bake.
2.) After shaping proof 3 hours at room temperature and put overnight in cooler (not retarder), then bake right away.
*Just remember those times are specific for a miche formula and size; your times might vary depending on your formula and size of your loaf
Retarding dough is a process I am still trying to work out, at least what works best for my schedule and for the best bread.There are several sources you can find varying methods, it seems everyone has an opinion or variant.
Moral of the story? Spend a couple minutes of your time jotting down notes. Maybe insert a thermometer in your dough. And check the flour and water temp. Capisca? All these simple steps can make for a better loaf, even better then the ones you consider your best!
Proofing Sheet: A simple tool for a better bake.