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November 18, 2009 9:17 PM   Subscribe

Fresh baked bread noob. What's the best way to keep fresh bread dough for 24 hours before baking?

So I found an awesome recipe for some fresh bread that I would like to make rolls with for the family Thanksgiving dinner. Problem is there will be some time traveling and spending time at family B for lunch, so I can't go straight from machine to rising on the counter to oven as I'm used to.

I'd like to be able to make the dough the night before, and be able to bake it fresh the next afternoon. What's the best way to go about this? If I let it do its rising cycles, can I then refrigerate the dough overnight and on the way to dinner without affecting its quality? Or would it be better to chill the dough immediately after its done mixing and let it do its rising for the few hours it'll take to drive and make the first family visit?

I do have a timer on the bread machine, so I could set everything up to start mixing early in the AM and be ready to take out and let rise about the time we would leave, but it would sit in the car (in MN - not exactly yeast-rising temps) for the roughly 4 hours it'll probably take to drive to family A, eat/visit, and drive to family B.

Any tips on how to keep the dough? Thanks all!
posted by SquidLips to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
posted by emptyinside at 9:51 PM on November 18, 2009

You have a couple of options here, but in my experience (and I'm a reasonably experienced recreational baker), the best option is refrigeration immediately after mix, and do your rising as you take the drive, etc. Refrigeration will add a lovely caramel crust. Bear in mind your rising times etc. will change.
posted by smoke at 10:09 PM on November 18, 2009

Best answer: Cut the amount of yeast in half and mix the day before, refrigerate after mixing. Keep the dough cool while traveling--use a cooler and ice if you have to, since I am assuming you will probably use the heater while driving.

You should practice this in order to get your actual proofing times down. Opportunity to eat tasty bread!

I have no actual experience doing what you plan to do. I can tell you that in a commercial bakery, after making the dough in the manner just described, 4oz. portions proof in about an hour in a warm, moist environment, i.e. on sheet pans, in a proofing rack, over a large container of water just under simmering, proofing rack covered with a plastic bag.

Half the yeast, make the day before, refrigerate after mixing.

Practice the rest.
posted by halcyon_daze at 10:09 PM on November 18, 2009

Seconding refrigeration.
posted by chicago2penn at 10:39 PM on November 18, 2009

Best answer: Refrigeration improves flavor. Retarding dough is a classic way to develop flavor, don't be afraid to refrigerate dough for 8 to 24 hours. Beyond that you start to get degradation. It will continue to proof a tiny bit in the fridge, but not very much. Put it in the fridge on the final proofing, covered in plastic wrap or otherwise sealed to prevent moisture loss, and make sure it warms up, roughly 62F before you stick it in the oven. For a 1.5 pound loaf, this means about 2.5-3 hours.

If you let it do the majority of the final proofing before you refrigerate it, you want to stick it in the oven once it warms up. Otherwise, simply wait for it to proof to the appropriate size. Do you know how to tell when your dough is properly proofed? When it springs back when you poke it with your finger, it's underproofed. If it is flabby or doesn't bounce back at all then it's overproofed. Properly proofed dough will bounce back a little when poked but a mild indent will linger. When your dough hits that point, stick them in the oven as you would normally.
posted by hindmost at 11:55 PM on November 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

Refrigerate after mixing; it will improve the flavour.
posted by primer_dimer at 3:14 AM on November 19, 2009

I ALWAYS retard the dough overnight. Make, first rise, form, in the fridge.....proof, bake.
posted by JPD at 3:41 AM on November 19, 2009

You might also want to parbake the rolls (transporting dough is ... sticky). Just pop them in the oven for 80-90% of the total bake time in the morning (you're looking for fully-risen and set bread, without any browning) and then finish them off when you get where you're going.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:36 AM on November 19, 2009

I'd do what uncleozzy says. I find transporting dough a tricky thing (humidity, temperature, etc is so fickle in a car). You could rehearse the whole thing to get the times down, but then it might be raining on Thanksgiving, or your car window might not be sealing properly that day or whatever.
posted by bluefly at 7:23 AM on November 19, 2009

Refrigerate, but cut down significantly on the yeast. I find that cutting down from 1-2 teaspoons to 1/4-1/2 teaspoon is about right for bread dough that will undergo overnight refrigeration.

In my experience, dough will rise in your refrigerator overnight, and much more than you expect. It will also lose moisture if uncovered, so do make sure to seal with plastic wrap.
posted by goingonit at 7:36 AM on November 19, 2009

Best answer: I find dough stores really well (in the fridge) in a lightly oiled ziploc. It's what I do with pizza dough, as I'm going to be cutting chunks off rather than using it all at once.
I don't know how well it would work for transporting it, but if it's been in the fridge overnight it would probably work just as well, and stops the stickiness being a problem.
posted by opsin at 10:20 AM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Great thread, thanks for launching it.
posted by theora55 at 2:17 PM on November 19, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses everyone! The machine is busy kneading up a test batch as I type. I added half the yeast called for. As soon as it beeps (I believe this is after first rise) I'll take it out, split it up (into roll-sized balls) and pop them in the fridge.

Since I'll have a bunch, just to experiment I think I'm going to take half and roll the balls in a little extra flour to keep them from sticking; the other half I'll add a little olive oil to the baggie before dropping them in as suggested. (And yes, I'm leaving plenty of room for rising.) Tomorrow afternoon I'll take out, let them 'proof' / warm to room temp, and toss them in the oven.

I will report back on level of success and I'll post the recipe too. (Now I'm hungry for bread. I'm half tempted to steal a chunk of the test batch out from the fridge, let it do its thing and bake it tonight, even though there's half the yeast in it. Just to see what happens!)
posted by SquidLips at 5:45 PM on November 21, 2009

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