Retarding dough is a standard procedure used in baking – usually in commercial and professional bakery settings. It can be performed on freshly made and frozen dough alike, and is essential to know if you are looking to store your dough for long periods of time. Keep reading to find out what exactly retarding dough is, and how you can retard bread dough.
What is retarding dough?
In baking, retarding dough is the process of slowing down leavening activity (final rising) in bread dough. It requires a cold environment and is often done overnight. Retarding can have many beneficial effects on dough – including deepening its flavour as well as prolonging its longevity (bakers can use it at a later time).
Retarding is usually performed during the second proofing stage of dough containing leavening (such as yeast or sourdough starter). It can be performed in a refrigerator, whereby instead of the dough rising in two hours, the process will be slowed so that you can delay the baking of your dough. It is best to perform retarding on your dough if you can only make your dough at the end of your working hours (to save it for the next day), or you are delivered frozen dough and require more time the previous day to thaw and handle it.
How do you retard bread dough?
Retarding dough is a relatively simple process. Before retarding your dough, make sure that you have followed your dough making instructions to the T and have shaped the dough correctly. Once you are in the second rise or proofing stage, you can start to retard your dough.
First, place your dough in a bowl or on a cookie sheet and cover it with a clean towel. If your dough is already located in a pan, you can simply place your towel over it as well.
Next, place your dough into the refrigerator and allow it to retard overnight. Your dough can be retarding for anywhere between 12 to 18 hours – however, make sure that your dough (as per its recipe) is suitable for retarding for long periods of time before doing so. Although most bread dough may benefit from retarding due to its enhancing of flavours, it may not be ideal for some types of bread dough. On the other hand, there are doughs which require days of retarding – it all depends on the recipe and how you like your dough to rise.
As the final step, once your dough has finished retarding, take it out of the fridge and allow it to warm to room temperature before baking. During this time, you can preheat your oven so that you can bake straight away after your dough is ready.
Retarding is an important process and technique in baking. Although it is usually performed in commercial settings, you can certainly retard your dough from home as well! Retarding greatly improves the flavours in bread so if you are looking for some rich flavours, make sure you retard your dough correctly!