What is my bread baking strategy for this weekend?
May 12, 2022 9:52 AM   Subscribe

I have committed to bringing two loaves of fresh-baked bread to a baby shower early Sunday afternoon. I am also taking my daughter camping with the Girl Scouts from Friday evening until Sunday morning. Please help me figure out the best way to not make everyone mad at me.

I generally bake bread from Ken Forkish's book, which calls for a maximum cold proofing of "overnight" in the fridge, which isn't long enough for me to prep loaves on Friday and then pull them out and bake them late Sunday morning.

Would 36 hours in the fridge fuck the loaves up beyond repair? I've never tried that before, although I'll let pizza dough go in the fridge for up to 72...

Should I try to prep them today, bake them tomorrow, then refrigerate or even freeze them from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning?

Do you know an AMAZING, vegan bread recipe that actually specifically calls for proofing/bulk fermentation in the fridge of longer than 24 hours?

What do I do to avoid serving trash bread at a baby shower?
posted by saladin to Food & Drink (14 answers total)
You say it has to be fresh-baked bread but that doesn't mean YOU have to bake it. Go find thyself a vegan bakery that is open Sundays and buy two loaves of bread.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:54 AM on May 12, 2022 [13 favorites]

Best answer: I've done no knead for up to a week cold proofing in the fridge. The taste actually improves. You can google it, there's several sources of info.
posted by j810c at 9:59 AM on May 12, 2022 [3 favorites]

Here's a recipe from serious eats
posted by j810c at 10:02 AM on May 12, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: In my experience fridge proofing slows things down so much that 36 hours will be fine. Much less effect than putting the bread in the fridge or freezer for that long.
posted by hermanubis at 10:05 AM on May 12, 2022

The only way that you can make the bread ahead of time is to par-bake it, freeze it, and then finish baking it on sunday morning. I’m sure you could also find a vegan loaf at a bakery the day of, just in case you need a back-up to simplify things!
posted by Champagne Supernova at 10:19 AM on May 12, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: 36 hours is totally fine. It's maybe not totally ideal, but it will still be good bread. I've done it many times. It's possible that the loaf will be slightly denser and a little stronger flavoured, but that's fine. If you want, you could reduce the time for the bulk fermentation a little to compensate. Make sure you get it cooled down quickly as soon as it is shaped (consider keeping whatever you proof it in at fridge temperature beforehand).

You don't need a special recipe, just use whichever recipe you normally use.
posted by ssg at 10:30 AM on May 12, 2022

Best answer: Yes, 36hrs is fine - a King Arthur recipe I make regularly (their no-knead sourdough) calls for a cold proof of btw 8-48hrs. You'll be fine - it might turn out slightly differently than usual, but only slightly.
posted by coffeecat at 10:49 AM on May 12, 2022

Response by poster: Thanks gang, based on y'all's answers I'm gonna try to proof it in the fridge for the whole weekend. Wish me luck!
posted by saladin at 10:52 AM on May 12, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I don't remember if that book's formula called for any significant room temperature fermentation before retardation in the fridge, and/or whether you bring the dough up to room temperature before baking, but timing is totally a variable you can play with. I wouldn't expect 36 hour retardation to ruin your bread at all. Once you put room temperature dough in the fridge it will still be pretty active for the first couple hours as it cools, but once it's cold all the way through the yeast and bacterial activity both slow way down. You may get a bit more effect from autolysis (which gives you more nutty flavors) and the total volume will increase over what you're used to, because even though it's cold the yeast will still have some activity.

For a first whack I'd reduce the total room temperature fermentation time and bake straight out of the fridge, if you're not doing that already. Note that more rise generally means less oven spring, so consider doing your shaping in advance and retard the dough in proofing baskets. That way you won't have to shape it when it comes out of the fridge, which will preserve your best chance of oven spring.

Report back!
posted by fedward at 11:20 AM on May 12, 2022

I sometimes proof for 48-72 hours with sourdough, and that comes out pretty fermented / sour. If you want to compensate a bit (and a very long proof does make a difference both for flavor and consistency / rise / crumb), you can use less sourdough starter or yeast to begin with. Another option is to use a larger preferment and have that done in the fridge while you are gone, so that when you come sunday morning, you mix in some more flour, water and salt, let it rise a bit and bake. I would try both!
posted by melamakarona at 11:21 AM on May 12, 2022

No knead with long fridge proofing is the method that Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day uses. I've followed their recipes and used the dough over the course of a week - it gets more sourdoughy, but I like it that way.
posted by momus_window at 11:22 AM on May 12, 2022

Make three loaves of Dutch oven bread while camping, and let the the Girl Scouts eat one of them.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:14 PM on May 12, 2022 [1 favorite]

Cheat. On your way home buy a couple of loaves of sourdough, when you get home, run them under cold water for a few seconds and then re-bake them for 15 mins in a hot oven.
posted by essexjan at 11:10 PM on May 12, 2022 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Shaped the loaves and popped them in the fridge on Friday afternoon and baked them as soon as we got home on Sunday. They were great! Slightly denser than usual but with an excellent flavor and the crust was perfect, almost bagel-like in the way it was covered in tiny airy blisters. A huge hit at the shower. Thanks again, y'all!
posted by saladin at 3:55 AM on May 16, 2022 [3 favorites]

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