Long fermentation in refrigeration


 Hi, I am writing from Greece. I am starting a new bakery in Thessaloniki and I need some of your help. I want to go with long fermentation in order to get better taste and more aromas. I am thinking of using a walk-in refrigerator 3–4 C degrees.

Which process do you think is the best:

A.     1.  Put the dough in the refrigeration right after the mixer in a plastic bin and form it afterwards.

B.     2.  Put the dough in the refrigeration after is cut and formed in loaves.

After the refrigeration how long should I keep the dough (the loaves) in room temperature before I put it (them) in the proofer?

If the dough is kept in the refrigeration for 16 to 20 hours should I use less sour dough or yeast and if yes how much less?


Any suggestions or help would be greatly appreciated.


With Thanks


305 users have voted.


Rani 2010 March 15

Hi Stelios

Just saw your post.  I'm originally from Thessaloniki as well now live in Australia (but Thessaloniki will always be home) I too am starting a bakery here although it will be totally Gluten Free.  Just would like to wish you good luck - kales thoulies.




Kacer 2018 April 21



Yoiu might want to look into sourdough bread and how if fermented appropriately, it seems the bacteria breaks down the glluten so that people with Celiacs as well as people with gluten sensitivities do quite well. Just do some internet searches & read, read, read!


Best of luck to both of you!


Alie0Bronwynn 2010 March 16

Hi Stelios,


I have no answer for you - I've been wondering myself if I should proof overnight and then shape or shape and then proof overnight - I'm hoping someone with more experience answers soon! 


Good luck with your bakery!


margaretdixon 2013 April 29

Hi I am new to this site but would like to share my experience with slow fermentation dough, i leave my dough 16-18 hours overnight in the fridge in summer or in a cool place at other times of year then put into loaf basket or pan to have another rise before baking . just bought the sour dough starter and basket to bake bread in my wood oven, cant wait for it to arive!

Dyer Baker's picture
Dyer Baker 2010 March 16

So glad to see people from this part of the world getting into artisan bakery. I wish you best of luck.

Although I have no commercial bakery yet, just home baking, I usually let the dough to ferment overnight at the room temp. and in the morning I shape it and then I let it till the evening in the refrigerator. The breads I made this way can be seen here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/47414261@N07/sets/72157623500258763/

Hope this helps !

black dog 2010 March 18

Hi stelios,


I have tried both methods on a small scale, i found the easiest method was to shape the loaves and then refridgerate. In the morning (approx 12 hours later) my loaves would be fully proved and i popped them straight in the oven. With the other method i found it used to take too long for them to start rising again. I guess it all depends on what fits into your schedule (to my knowledge there is very little difference in flavour between the 2 methods).


Im not sure if i have any pics of my loaves they used to come out with a lovely red tinge to them and tasted really good. The other advantage with the shaping then refrigerate method is that if you are a little clumsy like me then they will hold their shape better if they are cool/cold going into the oven


I hope this helps


regards and best of luck


Black dog


dukegus 2010 March 20

Hello Stelios,

I'm an amateur home baker in Greece(patras) and I'd suggest as easier and for max volume first to shape then put in banettone and then refridgerate.

I'm using my own sourdough culture and my main workflow is like this.


Mix ingredients and autolyse

Knead(slap&fold 3 min) and then bulk proof in a basket or big tray. Fold at about 30-45 min breaks to get a strong gluten and when my starter is at it's peak of activity(~4 hours) I shape and refridgerate for 12-24 hours.

The time schedule I have given you has main variable your cultures activity, room temperature of bulk proofing and fridge temperature. Sometimes I bake immediatelly of the fridge, sometimes I leave it for 45 min before baking.

I bake at preheated oven at 250C with steam(in a closed pot), I slash the dough before going in the oven and I turn the heat down immediately at 220C where I bake for about 45min until I get a nice reddish color. I never leave my lofs with a crust that is pale because the aroma and the taste doesn't compare.


That's all the tricks I know Stelio though I'm an amateur baker. There are many amazing pro bakers here that will give you more advice.

Cheers ;)

Hugo's picture
Hugo 2013 April 9

I’ve been making sourdough bread for the last 2 months, learning a lot of things along the way. What works best for you depends on your daily routine. My first tries involved a full-day schedule for making bread, but having fresh bread at 10pm is not fun at all, even if you like a bedtime snack. So I switched to a different schedule involving kneading, folding/proofing, and shaping before putting the dough in the fridge late in the evening. Next morning, first thing when waking up, I turn on the oven for pre-heating and get the dough out of the fridge. I slash the dough 1 hour later and bake it right away. Thus, I can have fresh bread at 9am for late breakfast or later for lunch.


CHRISGREEN1066's picture
CHRISGREEN1066 2013 April 11

Hugo - Love the photograph !! I have been making sourdough bread at home now for about 2 months using my own starter. I was inspired to have a try by Paul Hollywood on British TV. I start making my bread at around lunch time. First proving is done at room temperature for around 5 hours by which time the dough has at least doubled in size. I then knock it back and put it into a floured Banneton. It then goes into the fridge inside a sealed plastic bag. 12 hours or a little more in the fridge means that I get up in the morning (6am !!) and put on the oven. Tip the dough out of the Banneton onto  baking sheet which has been covered with baking parchment. Slash the dough and into the oven. I have been happy with the results but feel I am very much still learning. I don't bother to allow the dough to get back to room temperature before putting it in the oven but some comments above had left me wondering if I should be doing that - I may give it a try just to see whether there is any significant difference.

I have tried doing the second proving at room temperature which takes about 5 or 6 hours. However, I have found that when the dough is tipped out onto a baking sheet it just wants to spread out and will not hold its shape. The bread tasted ok but my loaf looked a bit like a "Frisbee" !!!

dazzer24 2013 April 14

Hi there

Like you Im a fairly new baker myself and was moved to really stick at it(and work out why I always produced tasty bricks!) after watching Paul Hollywood.

I set up a good vibrant starter using Pauls method. However I found following his method for building the bread just did not work. The second rise of 10 to 15 hours at 22-24C with 500g of mature starter v 750g of flour is way too much. I was trying to leave it overnight-and only at about 17-18C and coming downstairs to a big over risen floppy mess. Id really love to ask him his thoughts on that. Did you manage to follow his instructions?

Also I've now reduced my starter right down to about 90g or so.If I dont bake for a few days then it only costs me a few pence to feed this rather than the 800g or so Hollywood suggests you keep. Much better to plan ahead and build a portion of this small starter(15g or so) into a levain(150g or so) and then when the levains matured build that into a final dough. Not many other recipes you'll see call for much more than 25% of final dough being mature culture. This method takes 3 days from feeding starter but as long as you know when you are going to bake its not a problem.

As I say Im new to so Id love to hear your experiences. Nice to hear from a british baker! I've been pottering around TheFreshLoaf site for a few months which is excellent too.

All the best


CHRISGREEN1066's picture
CHRISGREEN1066 2013 April 14

Hi Daren,

Yes, like you I have had some problems with Paul Hollywood in respect of times and temperatures. One of my first sourdough bakes I shaped the dough and put it into a basket lined with a tea towel, flour etc and expected it to take around 12 hours to prove prior to baking (my room was about 18c) but being new to this game I kept having a "peek"  at it to see how things were going. I was surprised when, after about 5 hours, the dough had doubled in size and filled the basket. I carefully turned it out onto a baking sheet where it immediately collapsed in a matter of a few seconds. But my flat "Frisbee" tasted great !! I bake bread most days and am having great fun with it. I keep changing what I do in order to try to find "the perfect loaf " !!!!!!!!!! Some of the photo's on this website look fantastic so I am a man on a mission. Helpful comments by people like Hugo and Davo are great and I will just keep at it. As I type this I have some dough proving in the Banneton which should be ready for the oven in about 3 hours time but whether it will collapse again when I tip it out of the Banneton ... who knows ?? I may upload a photo to give everyone a laugh.

Cheers Chris

dazzer24 2013 April 15

Hi Chris 

thanks for getting back. It's very addictive I know. I'm managing to bake 6,7,8 loaves a week and selling most to friends, colleagues etc. what I have found is that, unfortunately, one 'fault' can have many different causes. I've started to be a bit more analytical and if I think I can improve try just to change one variable at a time. As far as density goes another thing could be hydration. I don't usually go lower than 65% for sourdough. I think proving in the fridge really helps when it comes to getting wetter doughs in the oven. Much easier to slash too. I'm lucky enough to have a multi function oven too which I can use to bottom heat only for 5 or 6 mins. Together with a few very quick squirts from a spray gun this relay helps delay crust for more oven spring. Don't use the fan either initially. 

Ill post some pics too soon!




davo 2013 April 12

Chris, when you get a spreading frisbee it's a sure sign that it has overproved. Generally with sourdough after the bulk ferment (before shaping) you don't "knock back" - that's just taking out all the air and hoping there's enough oomph left to go again. I suggest you should NOT look for at least doubling in the bulk ferment - try either same tome but less starter, or shorter time. It shouldn;t feel too puffy with big bubbles when you shape the loaf, more like just starting to get slightly airy. I'm happy if it has increased as little as 30% before shaping. It should not get as big as it can get before going into the oven. You want tthe best overall rise (including the oven spring in a loaf that retains its structure) which is not the biggest rise before it hits the oven. Maybe try 3 hrs bulk ferment, then shape gently without knocking back, then 4-5 hours, then bake, all at room temp. See if you get less of a frisbee then, and adjust from there.


Also are your stretching and folding during the bulk ferment? That will help with gluten development and keep some tension/structure in the loaf.

CHRISGREEN1066's picture
CHRISGREEN1066 2013 April 12

Thank you for your comments. You wil appreciate that being new to this means that much of what I do is guesswork or interpretation of books. I had thought that "Knocking Back" was done just the same with sourdough as it was with dough made from dried yeast ..... so this is a big "eye opener" for me. My loaves tend to be quite "dense" inside - have a heavy crumb. Not like the light looking ones I see photographed on the website. So when I start my next loaf off at lunchtime today I am going to change a few things and see how I get on. Thanks again. Chris

CHRISGREEN1066's picture
CHRISGREEN1066 2013 April 14

Hi Davo,

I have not been stretching the dough during bulk ferment. I have simply been leaving for several hours and waiting to see if it is growing in size etc. Then shaping it for the Banneton. The only streching I have been doing is when initially kneeding the dough prior to bulk ferment. If I need to be stretching it during bulk ferment - How many times do I do this ? Does this process not Knock the air out of the dough ? I am a bit confused !! Chris

davo 2013 April 15

Do 2 or 3 times during bulk ferment. I'm pretty flexible on this. in fact, my kneading is usually done as short bursts of french fold (slap and fold) at 10 min intervals. I do these with wet hands but only for a few seconds. after a few of these I just leave the dough a bit longer (typically 30 or so mins) and then do a stretch-and-fold using flour (not water) to stop stickiness. But really, to the dough, there's not a lot of difference between a few light french folds and a stretch and fold. And if you forget it for a bit , the process is pretty forgiving.

You won't really deflate because it shouldn't have gotten that airy, especially the first one or tow, and anyway a stretch and fold if done right is failry gentle, and shouldn;t really "knock" it "down".

Hugo's picture
Hugo 2013 April 12

Knocking the dough makes sense with the commercial yeast only, which tends to be overactive and rise too quickly. Well I’ve read this in some book recently, and it seems to make sense! So with your feral mix of lazy yeast and happy bacteria, please be very gentle! *grin*

Doughball 2013 September 1


I am a home baker who is just keeping on trying, sometimes with good results sometimes no so good. I have found the most useful thing is to keep reading the website picking up various tips and trying one slightly different method at a time. My bread is slowly improving, the last one a delicious olive and sesame loaf from (I think) Dan Lepard, which tasted great but still didn't have a huge spring. I think I am probably "knocking back" too much whilst shaping, so this week I shall attempt to shape the dough, whilst getting some tension and keeping the bubbles, mmmm difficult! 

After that I shall try and deal with the problem of an oven (Bosch) where it is impossible to cook without the fan which seals the top of the loaf before the loaf has a chance to spring.....


dominic_schoenstaedt 2013 September 8

I work in a small bakery in england and the way we do our sourdough is as follows.


Build sourdough starter. Let rise to about 50% maturity then retard till the morning.

Mix dough to 75F let bulk ferment for 3-4 hours depending on temp in bakery and dough.

Then Shape and let proof for 30mins to an hour depending on temp again in the bakery. 

Store in Fridge for up 18 hours.

Take out while oven is heatig up (and the bakery) 45mins to 1 hour. This will take the chill of the loaves and dry out the bottoms of the loaves. Then score and bake. As the dough is allot cooler we tend to bake at higher temperatures 250C-265C for the first 4-6 mins and then lower it to 225C to finish the bake.

Some of our sourdoughs we will make to cover two days of bakes. Same process as before but instead of letting the sourdoughs proof up a little bit we take what is needed on the second days baking and store it straight away in the fridge as it will have an extra 24 hours to ferment and we want to slow the fermentation down as much as possible. 

Hope this helps to get an idea.

jeremy6 2013 September 16

I also have a small bakery.


we mix feed the levain at 5am, mix dough 9am , three hours bft with turns every hour.

devide, mold and retard in a 8C fridge overnight.

next day bake retarded loaves at 5am, mixing next day levain at the same time.

works well, things run concurrently so less time overall without cutting into fermentation time.

if you have access to a walk in fridge retarding is the way to go. 

low temps are a good way to get a soft crumb through protease breaking down the gluten. gotta be carefull it doesnt go to far though.

we also have some yeasted dough that is bulk retarded. just make sure you turn an hour or so after it goes in the fridge so the centre of the dough chills as much and the outside.

hope this is usefull to someone.






108 breads's picture
108 breads 2013 September 17

It seems like most of you shape the dough and put it in the fridge overnight or for up to 18 hours. My confusion is whether to bake right away or to take time - not sure how much - before baking.

If I understand correctly, if baking in an hour or less after removing the shaped dough from the fridge, the trick is to increase the oven temperature by 50 to 75 degrees farenheit (10 to 25 degrees C) for the first four to six minutes.

I recently made one batch of rye bread dough, baked half right away, while shaping the other half and placing it in the fridge for a few hours. The first loaf came out wonderful, but the second, refridgerated, loaf did not rise nearly as well. Perhaps, it needed a brief interval of a higher oven temperature.

jeremy6 2013 September 17

I think the point is that you have to mix your ferment your dough slightly differently if it is going to go into the fridge for an extended period.

if I'm going to put something in the fridge overnight, I would normally bulk ferment the dough less than if it was going to be baked that same day. if baked that day the dough would ferment maybe half again or even twice as long depending on the temperature.


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