A Stir The Pots Post

Blow out – a few mournful sighs and then suggestions on getting your baking right

by | Apr 13, 2009 | Bread


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.



  1. Susan

    Well you can’t even see that turtle’s head from this angle. It looks like a tasty loaf. But if I may be permitted a suggestion: make sure your big loaf is not too crowded in the oven, especially if you will be baking it cold!

  2. Jeremy

    Aloha Susan,
    Even though it was a slightly defective loaf, it tastes damned good, I will take your final bit of advice and use it for my next set of loaves!(you can be sure I will be bothering you, regularly!).
    Happy Baking!

  3. Captain Batard

    looks really nice….ummmm…

  4. Kathy

    I don’t know Jeremy, it looks pretty good to me. Did the inside burst through the crust? I always thought that had to do with steaming. Could be wrong, its been awhile. Why baking cold? Time?

  5. Jeremy

    Hey Kathy,
    Yeah on one side of the bread a head popped out and, and I was baking cold from the fridge,but the loaf itself was actually pretty nice and tasted good! Schedule is totally off, work, bake, work bake, that sort of thing.

  6. Kathy

    When the crust starts to form/harden before the inside is finished expanding, it ends up bursting through the crust, instead of everything expanding together and then crusting over. Making good bread takes a lot of time and its hard to work it out a schedule if you have to work at the same time. It stil looks good, throw me on a slice. I like my grilled and rubbed with garlic with a few avacado slices. Yum!

  7. Jeremy

    I was told I should perhaps allow for a longer rise, minus 45 minutes and pop it into the fridge, in the morning bake straight from the fridge. Lots of differing opinions, I will figure it out!

  8. Jude

    Great tips! I much prefer retarding immediately after shaping and letting it warm up to room temp the next day before baking.


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