Can You Refrigerate Dough?

Making your own bread at home has become increasingly popular in recent years. Many bakers now own bread machines and regularly make their own bread dough.

After all, there is nothing more delicious than fresh, homemade bread!

Most instructions, especially those aimed at beginner bakers, will tell you to bake the raw bread dough quickly to make your bread rise. However, you may be wondering if you have to do this or whether you can refrigerate bread dough overnight.

In this article, we will answer the question of whether you can refrigerate bread dough. Generally speaking, the answer is yes you can put your dough in the fridge and there are several benefits to this.

Let’s see what they are!

Can You Refrigerate Bread Dough?

Yes, you can refrigerate bread dough. Of course, you can refrigerate anything you want to but that doesn’t always mean it’s a good idea!

In the case of bread dough, however, refrigerating the dough is a trick that both beginner chefs and professional bakers alike can take advantage of.

Let’s look at the reasons why you should make refrigerating bread dough a common practice.

Makes Your Dough Rise More Slowly

Many home chefs may aim to make their bread dough rise as quickly as possible when they first begin making bread. However, this isn’t the best way to make bread.

When bread dough rises at a pace that is slow, you get what is called a long rise. This allows the yeast in the bread dough to do its job more effectively.

Yeast is responsible for several tasks during making bread and one of these is breaking down the starch in the dough. By slowing the rise, yeast gets more time to do its job.

More effective yeast means more broken-down starch and this gives your bread a better flavor. The taste of the bread becomes more complex thanks to this increased yeast activity.

Strengthens The Gluten

Refrigerating dough also gives your bread a better texture. The gluten included in the dough strengthens as the bread rises and by taking this rise at a slower pace the gluten has more time to strengthen.

This process doesn’t happen as well at room temperature.

You will find that when your bread has baked, it will have a better texture and feel more elastic. It will have a better final shape.

Prevents Bread From Becoming Over Proofed

The key to getting the best loaves of bread is to allow the yeast enough time to do what it needs without giving it too much time.

If you don’t refrigerate your dough and leave it at room temperature for too long, the structure of your bread might collapse.

This is called over-proofing. Your bread won’t rise when baking in the oven. Even leaving your dough to get warm for a few hours can result in this.

It’s easy to get distracted or underestimate when you can bake the dough. We recommend taking the proper steps to protect your dough and this means putting it in the refrigerator to cold rise.

Can You Refrigerate Dough?

How To Refrigerate Your Dough

Hopefully, we’ve convinced you that a fridge is the best place for your dough before you bake it. Let’s now look at how you can refrigerate the dough correctly.

You have to take the right steps to refrigerate bread dough. If you’re not careful, refrigerated dough can become dry and this will give you bad-tasting bread. The last thing you need is your dough drying out!

The dough shouldn’t be directly exposed to the harsh and cold atmosphere in the fridge. It needs some humidity so when refrigerating your dough, make sure it is completely sealed.

There are several ways you can do this. You will need parchment paper, plastic wrap, or a plastic bag, as well as olive oil, and an airtight container or bowl.

Your first step is to add a few drops of olive oil to your bowl or airtight container. Spread the oil around the walls of the container so it is all covered.

Shape your dough into a ball and place it into your bowl or container. Make sure the dough has a coating of oil as well. This will prevent your dough from becoming dry in the fridge.

Use parchment paper or plastic wrap to cover the top of your bowl. You need to make it airtight before you put your dough in the fridge.

When Can You Refrigerate Dough?

You can put your dough in the refrigerator at any point in the rising process! Many people might believe that only warm dough can rise but this is not the case.

You can refrigerate unrisen dough without any issues. Refrigerating your dough before the first rise has occurred is fine, as is refrigerating it for the second rise.

The first rise, second rise, and final rise can all be achieved in the fridge. It is easier and more effective if the dough is placed in the fridge for the first rise, however, either the first or second rise can be achieved in the fridge.

You can also put risen dough in the fridge. However, don’t chill fully risen dough overnight.

General Tips

As a cold rise is a slower rise, your yeast will work overtime. This means you should use less yeast than the recipe calls for.

It will take time for the dough to chill from room temperature so it may still rise rapidly to begin with. Keep an eye on your dough until the rise starts to slow.

We recommend allowing your dough to warm a little after taking it out of the fridge. This will make it easier to shape and bake. Dough straight from the fridge is very difficult to shape so let it achieve room temperature!

Final Thoughts

In this article, we learned that refrigerating bread dough can lead to tastier results. You can even leave your dough in the fridge overnight as long as the final rise hasn’t been completed.

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Kathryn Sewell

Hi! I'm Kate and I have been baking and cooking for as long as I can remember. I like to share the most interesting tips and recipes I try here on What Kate Baked for you to enjoy. If you have a favorite recipe you'd like to share send it over on social.

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