Over the numerous years I’ve baked bread, and the countless nights my dough has proofed overnight in the family fridge, there have been (so many) times where I yearned for the luxury, and sometimes a necessity, of a dedicated space for my dough. An open, expansive space where I could control the temperature and didn’t have to fight with those items that spoil at warmer temperatures. Oh, that precious fridge real estate, something highly wrestled for in a family with two kids. I finally decided it was time to remove my dough as a contender for that sought-after space and construct it: a place just for dough. Let’s go into how to build your dough retarder.
This may seem like an extravagance. But when you bake as often as I do, and in ever-increasing quantity, this dough retarder1 has gradually elevated to necessity. The actual physical space was one motivator but I’ve also yearned for the ability to experiment with warmer proof temperatures (45ºF and above) to test the effect on the resting dough overnight. If you’ve read my posts for a while now you’ll know that I typically push bulk fermentation pretty far and/or I’ll leave the dough out, in shape, for some period of time before retarding in the fridge at 39ºF. This, in effect, helps further the fermentation in the dough but in a different way due to the warm ambient temperature, whereas proofing at a cooler temperature, say 50ºF, has the effect of slowing yeast activity in relation to bacteria activity (more on this below). These varying proof temperatures, warmer than a typical household fridge but cooler than ambient temperatures, are something I’ve wanted to test and experiment with for some time now.
I like to colloquially call it a fretarder (freezer + retarder)↩