Sample schedules

 

Stage of the process Option A Option B Options C and D
First kneading 6:00 AM 5:00 AM 5:00 PM
Autolysis 6:15 AM 5:15 AM 5:15 PM
Second kneading 6:35 AM 5:35 AM 5:35 PM
Fermentation 6:50 AM 5:50 AM 5:50 PM
Loaf moulding 10:40 AM 9:40 AM 9:30 PM
First rising 11:00 AM 10:00 AM 9:50 PM
Retarding 12:00 noon 11:00 AM 10:50 PM
Second rising 8:00 PM 6:00 PM 6:00 AM 11:00 AM
Baking 9:00 PM 7:00 PM 7:00 AM 12:00 noon
Done! 10:00 PM 20:00 8:00 AM 1:00 PM

 

Times written in italics mean steps whose time may be adapted to your needs. This stems from significant flexibility of the retarding phase (7 to 12 hours).

If you arrange your own timetable, remember that the time given in italics and in bold should be set no earlier than after the lapse of 7 hours and no later than after the lapse of 12 hours of retarding.

Obviously, bread baking might interfere with other chores and a home baker is often forced to extend or shorten the time spent on a particular phase. You can always try to make up for such deviations, for instance:

  • if you spend less time on the first kneading, the second kneading should take longer;
  • if autolysis takes much longer than planned, fermentation time should be shorter;
  • if fermentation needs to be shorter, then give back the missing time during the first or the second rise.

In general, you should try to achieve the right total time meant for bread rising, by adjusting the time of particular phases.

While it is quite easy to compensate for slightly shorter time of earlier steps by extending the time meant for the later ones (and the other way round), the effects of excessively long fermentation may prove irreversible, if too much starch is consumed, the dough’s gluten structure is weakened or the bread becomes too sour.

Regardless of minding the time, you should also observe how the dough looks at every stage. If the starter is too weak or if the temperature is too low, it might be necessary to extend the times given in the schedule. If everything else fails, scoring is your last resort!

Remember! Do not get discouraged by failures and, if possible, make notes on how particular bread loaves turned out, recording the time periods, the temperatures and the condition of the  dough, and correcting errors next time you bake bread. Even if your fresh, home-made bread is far from perfect, it will still be much better than the best bread bought in a store. And, next day it may be used to make toasts or other bread-based dishes.