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I used to bake a lot but since I've switch jobs, I do not have enough time in the evening anymore. But I work really close from home so I can go home for lunch if needed.

My idea is to start the bread in the morning before work, then return for the second kneading during lunch, then I can bake it at night. I know that I need to lower the temperature during the proofing, so I though of putting the dough in the refrigerator.

Will this work? Is there other ways to achieve what I'd like?

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    In short: yes, you can use the refrigerator. For better answers, posting your current recipe would be helpful, especially as far as ratios are concerned. Please edit your question, if possible. – Stephie Mar 2 '17 at 17:03
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Aside from (or even instead of) lowering the temperature, you can drastically reduce the yeast; it will take time for the smaller initial yeast population to multiply to a similar population as the larger amount of yeast to start with, and this will reduce the activity of the dough.

As a generally salt-avoiding person, I hesitate to say, but will, that additional salt also slows things down, ferment-wise. It will impact flavor, of course, and at some point become effectively inedible, so don't overdo that.

If your recipe uses any sugar, you can reduce or remove it...but that will also affect browning and flavor.

You may find that the refrigerator slows things down too much to get a loaf risen in the course of a day - or you may need to go the opposite direction on the various yeast-retarding things I just mentioned to overcome the refrigerator temperature on your timescale. Or you can extend your timescale to suit, as needed.

  • I've tried that yesterday. The bread turned ok-ish. I am not sure why though. Maybe the flour change or the amount of yeast. I'll try other recipes to find out. – A.D. Mar 22 '17 at 15:20
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I suggest checking out the bread books by Francois and Hertzberg starting with Artisan Breads in 5 Minutes a Day. Their techniques are designed to do things like over the weekend mix up several loafs worth of dough and proof it. Then, when ready to use, take part of it out for a final rise of about 20 minutes and bake which seems to be what you are after.

ETA: I suggest this because they have already done the experimenting. I am notoriously bad with bread that if I do one thing slightly wrong I get a brick instead of a loaf. All other cooking I treat recipes as a good starting point. But bread, I want someone else to get it right first, then I try to duplicate what they did.

  • By the way, the general idea of how they achieve this in their recipes is to make a wetter dough that most of us are used to. The also work it less. The initial proofing is then normal, but the dough is more prepared for slower aging and mellowing under cold storage. To me, the loafs actually turn out better after a few days that if you use it right away. – dlb Mar 3 '17 at 15:40
  • I have recipes with wetter dough. They require more time for proofing, which match what you're describing. But the thing is I don't want to make wetter dough. Thanks anyway! – A.D. Mar 6 '17 at 9:46
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Yes. You could buy a used refrigerator for the purpose of bread proofing, ferments, preferment's, sponges, sourdoughs etc.

keep the temp between 50f and 60f and adjust your formulas, timing or temps to accommodate your schedule. Once you establish a routine you will find it very efficient.

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    A separate fridge (even if set "warmer") sounds a bit like overkill - I do overnight raises in my regular fridge and it works just fine. – Stephie Mar 3 '17 at 19:07
  • @Stephie of coarse, i have done this as well but the recommended temp for keeping food safe in fridge are not optimal for proofing. In fact you can freeze loaves if you want to. If you use a separate fridge you can adjust the temp so that the proof times work with your schedule. It takes less or no time to let the loaves acclimate to room temp before baking. They can be cool but not cold going into the oven. I want to be able to control the proofing environment to suit my schedule and not have to adapt my schedule around the fixed temp of my fridge. It is not overkill for me. YMMV. – Alaska Man Mar 5 '17 at 2:45

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