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Many people say you have to slow ferment your bread after shaping to give it better flavor, but I can never understand that. Why not just slow ferment the whole batch then shape it when it is done fermenting?

This way is way safer as you can't ruin the proofing if you forget it a bit longer than intended and it has been giving me the desirable results I am after.

Are there any advantages in slow fermenting individual breads instead of the whole batch?

I am talking about crusted white bread. After the slow fermentation for the whole batch, I will just shape the bread, put it in a dutch oven and let it proof for 10-20 minutes, slash it then pop it in the oven to bake. For the other method (which I don't use) they just get it out of the fridge, slash it and pop it into the oven.

  • After the slow fermentation for the whole batch, I will just shape the bread, put it in a dutch oven and let it proof for 10-20 minutes, slash it then pop it in the oven to bake. For the other method (which I don't use) they just get it out of the fridge, slash it and pop it into the oven. – Maliohammad Jaafar Dec 7 '18 at 12:16
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For the other method (which I don't use) they just get it out of the fridge, slash it and pop it into the oven.

I suspect this is a large part of the answer; maybe it's the entire answer. It's very convenient to be able to take your proofed loaf out of the refrigerator and put it right into the oven.

I don't typically do this, but I appreciate the value. I usually don't ferment in the refrigerator, but just at room temperature, using a small amount of yeast or starter. If you wanted to retard the bulk fermentation (putting it in the refrigerator), you might need to let the dough come up to room temperature before proofing. That would definitely take longer and be harder to time.

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Your first batch is used for building gluten strength in the dough for shaping and giving the yeast time to wake up and do their job. After shaping, you are letting the dough rise to its final form while still adding flavor from the yeast.

  • Still didn't answer my question, as you say we use the first batch to develop the gluten. As for the rise it doesn't matter if it rises in 10 minutes or 10 hours, the only variable here is the flavor. So why wouldn't cold fermenting the whole batch "after" developing the gluten give the desired flavor? – Maliohammad Jaafar Dec 7 '18 at 15:15
  • If you mean putting the dough into a refrigerator and let it sit there for a while, will develop more flavor because the yeast is still actively growing but more slowly. Many bakers do exactly that same thing for timing reasons. For instance, I had a loaf I had just finished shaping but had to leave the house for an undetermined amount of time so I put it in the fridge. This slowed down the fermentation--but did not stop it--and I pulled it out later, let it warm up, and let it rise to where I wanted it before baking. @MaliohammadJaafar – Rob Dec 7 '18 at 15:55
  • So basically the same result but with different time management methods? – Maliohammad Jaafar Dec 7 '18 at 20:39
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    @MaliohammadJaafar You go it! It's even more flexible when you are using a sourdough starter. It is way more forgiving than dry yeast because it's slow growth let's you play with time and temperature. My kitchen can get too cool when the temperature outside gets below 30F and proofing and rising will stretch out for hours more so I'll turn on the light in my oven and put my dough in there while it's rising. Unless I want it to take its time. Then I might put it in the refrigerator which will make it take longer. Some people add colder water to the mix but longer wait gives you sourdough taste – Rob Dec 7 '18 at 23:16

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