The loaves have risen, which means that yeast has done its job. Now, it is time for the loaves to gain unique aroma and flavour of home-made bread. It is achieved through retarding, i.e. slowing down the fermentation process. This is when bread proofing process takes place. You are going to withhold the yeast activity for 7 to 12 hours (otherwise, they will consume all the starch, excessively ‘inflating’ the loaf and, eventually, the gluten structure will collapse, making the loaves flat and miserable).
Retarding time is pure bliss for bacteria which are fine in lower temperature which inhibits yeast activity. Bacteria will use this time to give your bread intense flavour and rich aroma.
Retarding gives bakers the most freedom in terms of planning their work. It provides you with flexibility allowing you to obtain fresh bread exactly when you need it.
Temperature during retarding should range from 5 to 12 degrees Celsius [approx. 41 to 53 degrees Fahrenheit]. If you had a place in your home with a constant temperature of approx. 10 degrees Celsius [50 degrees Fahrenheit], then it would be perfect, as afterwards you would be able to have the loaves ready for baking faster. However, if the temperature exceeds 12 degrees Celsius [approx. 53.5 degrees Fahrenheit], choose the fridge (5 degrees Celsius [approx. 41 degrees Fahrenheit].
During retarding, the loaves should remain in baskets and plastic bags.