If you’re in the bakery business, chances are you love preparing tasty goods made of dough. Kneading the dough can be so relaxing, meditative even. But there are certain processes involved in dough preparation that take time and require the use of special techniques and equipment. Like for instance proofing and retarding.
Every dough needs proofing in order to be ready for baking. In addition, craft bakers also work with doughs that need long retarding. These doughs need a suitable climate to support fermentation. That being said, in every bakery, a retarder or proofer cabinet can be a great tool, providing bakers with the ability to change and maintain temperatures and conditions to suit different fermentation requirements.
Let’s take a look at how proofing and regarding differ and how they’re performed.
Proofing vs Retarding
So, what is the main difference between proofing and retarding? Proofing refers to the phase in the baking process when the dough is shaped and is fermenting until it gets to the right point to be baked.
On the other hand, regarding is a bit different. Retarding is the process of placing the dough into a colder environment to slow the fermentation activity. Some types of bread and baked goods require regarding. However, bakers also use this technique to prepare batches of dough overnight and bake them freshly in the morning, thus saving time.
So, both proofing and retarding can refer to the same period in the dough preparation process. However, the only difference is that regarding is done in a colder environment. That being said, when buying a bakery retarder that offers adjustable temperature and humidity, you can use it both for regarding and proofing.
Bakers use retarder provers to allow the yeast to add leavening gases to the air cells that already exist within the dough’s protein structure. As a result, this increases the size of the moulded dough piece by a factor of 3 or 4. The machine is adjusted to operate at a precise temperature and humidity. The yeast activity is best promoted by a temperature of 30 to 40°C.
You shouldn’t let the surface of the dough piece dry out, or it will lose weight, and its surface will split. For that reason, the proofing environment must have very high humidity. The yeast needs about 50 to 65 minutes to inflate the dough’s air cells and create the protein structure. The proofer should be large enough to contain this amount of product.
Dough retarding is the process of placing a partially fermented dough under refrigeration at temperatures in the range of 1.7 to 4.4°C and humidity of around 85%. These conditions are not supposed to freeze the dough but simply slow down the fermentation rate of the final prooving stage so the dough can remain stable for several hours or days. Following the dough retarding process is an integral step in many sweet doughs and puff pastry operations.
The Benefits of Using a Retarder Cabinet
Retarding has two important benefits – the flexibility to bake the dough later and adding flavour. The fact that you can delay the baking time is quite practical. The entire process of making the bread is quite long (starting from mixing the dough, waiting for it to rise, shape it, wait for it to rise again and then bake it). Just one loaf of bread can take up to six hours of work.
If you can break the steps down into two or three days, the task may be more manageable. Some bread recipes can be retarded for a few days, which is an excellent time. You can mould the dough on Friday, allow it to proof, let it retard over the weekend and have freshly-baked bread on Monday. How convenient!
Why Retarding Needs Salt
If you’re following a bread baking recipe, you’ll notice there is salt in the ingredients (almost always). Salt is a key ingredient for many reasons but it’s mainly used because it acts as a natural retarder. It controls the fermentation time because it attracts moisture released by the yeast through osmosis. So, it causes the yeast to slow down.
It is very important that you add salt according to the recipe (not more, not less). When developing the recipe, professional bakers stick to adding 1.8 to 2 per cent range of salt. Too much salt will reduce the volume of your bread and too little salt leads to quicker proofing, which will affect the bread’s flavour.
Using bakery retarder cabinet will help you immensely if you’re in this business. Everything goes faster and you don’t have to spend half a day to prepare just one bread, for example. Pick the size based on your needs and how big is your business. Otherwise, you should follow the bread retarder guidelines in your recipe.