Tuesday, February 8, 2011
In recent years there has been lots written on the use of cold rise or cold fermentation. Books like Artisan Breads Every Day and Artisan Breads in Five Minutes a Day have been huge proponents of the cold rise technique.
Not that it is a new idea. From what I understand, bakeries have been using a cold rise for a long time.
When we talked about yeast and rising, warmth was one of the keys to a quick rise. In a cold environment, yeast will not die but it will slow down greatly.
One of the goals of an artisan baker is to extract the most flavor out of the flour to produce a flavorful loaf of bread. One of the ways this is done is by slowing down the process to allow the yeasts and bacterias to time to grow and develop depth of flavor.
Three ways to slow down the bread baking process is to use less yeast, to use wild yeast (sourdough) or to use a cold rise. A cold rise is one of the easiest because you can take your favorite recipe, and adapt it to a long process bread just by allowing it to rise in your refrigerator instead of a warm place or room temperature.
Did I lose you yet?
Here is how I've used the cold rise technique. After mixing up the dough, allowing to rest, and kneading, I place the dough in a greased bowl, mist the top with spray oil, cover with plastic wrap or loose lid and place in the refrigerator.
The dough should rise slowly and be double in size by the next day. Sometime within the next three days, remove the dough from the fridge and shape into loaves, rolls or whatever desired. You can use the entire dough ball or just cut off a portion and refrigerate the remainder for another day. The flavor will continue to develop each day but after three days, you want to be using the dough up.
After shaping, allow the dough to rise at room temperature until nearly doubled. Since the dough is cold it will take longer, usually two hours. It might not rise as much as usual but should finish rising in the oven.
I have found many advantages to this method. First is the time. I can get out my bread baking ingredients, and mix up several batches of dough in less than an hour. The only challenge is making sure my fridge can handle all the large bowls of dough. Remember the dough will expand, so allow large enough bowl. Also, doughs all look alike so I find it necessary to mark each bowl otherwise I won't know if it was for ciabatta or bagels. The time savings of only getting the ingredients and mixer out once for several batches of bread is worth it.
I can't believe I took a picture of the inside of my fridge, but this was one big bread making day and if you look close you can see four bowls of bread dough.
Hospitality is also much easier with this method. Once upon a time, I could make a meal and clean a house in one day. No longer. Unless the meal is super simple, like pizza, and I have a dessert made ahead, I can't pull a meal together, take care of my children, and have a clean house - at least if I also want to be a loving gentle mother.
Now my hospitality menus are planned entirely around what I can make the day before, since it is foolish to try to clean the day before with young children. But with the cold rise technique, I can still have freshly baked bread or rolls.
If you want to learn more about this technique, look for Artisan Breads Every Day at your library. Nearly all the recipes in this book utilize the cold rise. I found many favorite recipes in this book. Later this week I'll be sharing one with you.
Have any of you attempted a cold rise? What was your experience?