The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Is it wrong to divide dough before it rises?

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giyad's picture
giyad

Is it wrong to divide dough before it rises?

This might be a dumb question, but I figure that when dough is mixed properly everything is distributed evenly.  So, would it be wrong to divide the dough into balls before the first rise?

I'm trying to see what can be done to speed up the process of making bread.  Basically, in the morning when I wake up, I don't want to have to wait 2 hours before i can bake a bread.  So if I can prepare the dough the night before, divide it up, and then stick it in the fridge to rise, the next morning I can pull it out and bring it to room temperature, shape it, and then bake it... that would save me atleast a half hour.  Any other suggestions are welcome too to speed up the process.  Obviously I don't want to just rush the dough so that I get stuck with something tasteless, but I don't want to have to wait hours before I can eat.

wildman's picture
wildman

Normally for high hydration (70% and up) bread doughs you need to develop a structure to the gluten so the loaf retains its shape long enough to bake. Popular artisan bread making methods use a series of folds and turns of the dough over time during the first rise to build this structure into the dough. This is why I think you need to divide after that first bulk rise. If you are making lower hydration doughs this is less of an issue but even if you are working with straight doughs your crumb texture will likely suffer.

I don't know what methods you are trying to use and it is unclear from your post. Could you clarify what kind of bread you are making and how you normaly make your bread? Is this a pure levain bread, straight one day bread or some sort of hybrid? Baked in a dutch oven or free form? 

HTH!

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

or any time.  It just takes more containers or bench space to let the dough rise.  :)

fancy4baking's picture
fancy4baking

If you can do that or not, i've never thought of that matter. However, you said you want to do that in order to save time next morning by pulling pieced of dough out of the fridge and allow them to come down to room temperature!!! 

I find that you have done nothing here in this respect! In anyway you're going to need time to bring down the dough's temperature to the ambient temp. and i'm just guessing that small pieces of dough would may be cooler than a large dough as they be vulnerable to low temperature more than large piece of dough!!! So i don't see where is the time saving here!!!!

 

giyad's picture
giyad

good point, but you don't have to yell :P 

no you really make a good point, I guess it doesn't save me time because I can still shape the dough when its cold, the problem is it coming to room temperature and having the yeast do its thing.  I guess theres not much we can do to speed that up except those microwave techniques or putting the bowl in a tub of warm water

fancy4baking's picture
fancy4baking

I wasn't yelling at all. Sorry if you took it this way!!

however, i think if you're kitchen is around 60-65 degrees F, you can leave your dough outside, not in the fridge, and that would save you time next morning. What do you think about that?!!!

 

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

It doesn't matter when you divide it, other than efficiency of storage during the first rise.  The dough may warm up faster in the morning if it is in smaller pieces.  A small piece of dough won't be any colder than a large piece after having spent the entire night in the refrigerator.  That might be true 30 minutes after putting the two pieces in the refrigerator, but not after they have been in there all night.

You will still need to let the dough rise a second time after shaping it.  It is not the size of the dough rising that matters, but the number of rises.  Perhaps you can refrigerate it overnight after the first rise and shaping, and put it into the oven straight from the refrigerator?  I have no experience in this because my refrigerator is cold enough that putting dough in it is more properly called "storing" than "retarding".

 

wildman's picture
wildman

I do it all the time. Mix flour and water and allow to autolyse, add commercial yeast or/and levain and salt mix thoroughly. Bulk rise during which dough is folded and turned several times as required by flour mixture. When bulk rise is completed divide dough and shape into rounds, let rounds bench rest 20-30 minutes then final shaping using folding and turning methods, add tension to rounds after shaping and put into proofing baskets, ziplock or polywrap proofing basked and place into fridge 12-15 hours. Preheat oven and French ovens 30-45 minutes pop first proofed loaf/loaves right out of the fridge into hot French ovens and bake 50 minutes or so. 

HTH!

giyad's picture
giyad

you bake straight out of the fridge??? no way! I'll have to try that!

wildman's picture
wildman

Yes, right out of the fridge to the oven no warm up at all. But realize that the dough has been proofing for many hours in the fridge and are fully proofed at this point. Works for straight one day doughs and pure levain high hydration (77%-78%) doughs just as well maybe better due to the improved handling of the cold dough. AFAIK this is a very common small bakery practice. It works really well to allow you to do the prep long in advance of actual bread baking. I use this method so I can have fresh baked loaves that can cool a couple hours while I prepare the main meal usually when we have a bunch of guests for dinner or just over for "girl" food. The ladies seem to be able to drink and eat a lot of bread, cheese and other appetizers and skip eating any actual food. 

HTH!

MoonshineSG's picture
MoonshineSG

you do need 45-60min to pre-heat the oven anyway... So that shoudl give you sufficient time to (slightly) warm up the dough if you take them out from the fridge when you start your oven... Just a thought... 

But cold/partially cold bake does solve a scheduling constrain.... 

wildman's picture
wildman

Using a 60 minute preheat wastes energy and time. Inexpensive ovens heat soak faster than high quality ovens due to lower mass and poor insulation and sealing but often do not have high enough BTU output to reliably maintain temperatures over 400F. High quality ovens typically produce higher heat faster with higher output burners and more retained heat due to better insulation and sealing means they require less preheating time and reduced burner duty cycle. 

As for preheating a DO, preheat with the lid sitting on the rack. Then it is just a matter of surface area, mass and air temp. I bake in a 36" Viking all gas range with LeCreuset FOs which are about as heavy as they get and even my medium size round 28cm FO is fully up to temp in less than 30 minutes. I have not seen any oven and Dutch oven that needed to preheat more than 30 minutes to be fully up to temperature if they had the burner BTU output to reliably maintain at least 450F as measured by a good oven thermometer. 

There is absolutely no good reason to warm up properly cold proofed bread dough. Fully proofed cold dough handles better. If the proofed loaves are not fully proofed then letting them come up in temp can speed up the process but this is more a matter of accurate measurement using a scale for your ingredients and some experience in the proof timing. Once you have it worked out fridge proofing it is very reliable. 

HTH!

 

jaywillie's picture
jaywillie

If you bake using a baking stone or steel, as many of us do, then you have to allow for a long preheat. It's not the oven, it's the stone.

wildman's picture
wildman

to preheat up to oven air temp. I have tested various baking vessels and baking surfaces I haven't seen anything that took longer than 30 minutes in my Viking range. I have tested cast iron LeCreuset French ovens, inverted heavy ceramic baking dishes and ceramic baking stones using an IR thermometer. I found nothing that took more than 30 minutes to preheat up to the air temp measured in the oven using a good oven thermometer. I start each test with a cold test item in a cold oven and pull the item out of the oven to check it with a digital IR thermometer. 

HTH!

giyad's picture
giyad

Ok, so I tried it out and as you all said it worked!  However... it looks like I never mentioned that what I was actually baking is a flatbread, similar to a pizza.   So actually there was a huge difference between one I baked straight out of the fridge and a ball that I pull out of the fridge, let come to room temperature, flatten, let rise 20 minutes and then baked.  They came out much thinner straight out of the fridge.  I'm going to test this out a bit more to make sure that it wasn't how thin I rolled it out before putting it in the fridge, but so far my results are great but different.

It was definitely much faster like this though, not having to roll it out and wait for it to come to room temperature or rise again, I could literally wake up and make one :) well, the oven still needs to preheat but thats all

giyad's picture
giyad

So I tested this out today again.  I made one batch of dough yesterday and split it in half.  One half I put straight into the fridge (lets call this A), the other half I separated into 4 dough balls (lets call this B).

B) I then let the 4 dough balls rise, then flattened them out, put them on a plate separated by parchment paper, covered the plate with saran wrap and put it in the fridge.

A) First thing in the morning today I took out the dough ball from the fridge, let it come to room temperature, separated the dough balls into 4 pieces, left them to rise about 10 minutes, flattened them out, let sit for about 20 minutes on a plate separated by saran wrap, then baked.

While A was coming to room temperature, I took out the 4 flattened B ones and baked one straight away (oven was preheated for an hour).  I proceeded to bake 2 more, but left the 3rd one to come to room temperature before baking.

My findings:

  • All of A turned out great as usual, it took much longer to get from fridge to baking, but tasted excellent, came out fluffy and while baking you can notice the rise.
  • All of B, including the one I left out for an extra 40 minutes, didn't rise almost at all in the oven.  The dough stayed pretty flat and bubbled only a little.  The result was a dough that was much thinner than expected, and a bit hard to chew (though still edible).

I won't be pulling them straight out of the fridge anymore, but what do you think could be the reason for this?  My guess is that the gluten was too relaxed and so the CO2 escaped extremely easily.  Something I did notice is that the dough had a bunch of holes kind of like popped bubbles when I took them out of the fridge.

Has anyone ever tried this method for pizza? Flattening it, refridgerating it and pulling it out the next day to bake straight away?

 

wildman's picture
wildman

method and straight into the oven only with high hydration doughs. The overnight fridge proofed method when used with high hydration bread doughs need to be proofed in a basket or something like it and baked in a French/Dutch oven. Obviously the loaves need to be fully proofed or they will come out not as high as loaves that were retarded and shaped after warming up out of the cooler before baking. You also seem to be mixing methods, these doughs when retarded need very delicate handling to preserve the gas as much as possible and should never be punched down or flattened unless it is your intent to have a heavier finer crumb structure.

HTH!

 

 

giyad's picture
giyad

I think I see what you are saying.  Now I'm not punching done or handling the already flattened dough that comes straight out of the fridge, but maybe they aren't fully proofed in the fridge, is that what you're saying? Or is it possible that they overproofed in the fridge (since I'm noticing holes in them)?

I punch down only before flattening and separating into dough balls, I then let them rise again before flattening them out.

wildman's picture
wildman

your proofed dough is just not fully proofed when you are taking the dough out of the fridge. I don't know your dough hydration or weight or yeast percetnage or even if you are using commercial or a wild yeast levain but it takes a long time to proof dough in the fridge. For example for an overnight proof on the counter I use 0.8g (yes 0.8g or 0.08%) of SAF Red instant yeast in the usual 1,000g flour receipe at 78% hydration. Keeping it simple for a similar 1,000g mixed flour 78% hydration receipe about 300g of the flour in the recipe comes from the levain which is bulk proofed for 5-6 hours, divided, shaped put in proofing baskets and fridged at 32F for 12-14 hours. Then I just pop the cold dough into preheated F/D ovens and bake at the usual 475F. Works perfectly for me but the dough is right on the hairy edge of being over proofed by 14 hours in the fridge. 

HTH!

 

hanseata's picture
hanseata

I almost always divide the dough before the bulk rise into individual portions, before I place them overnight in the fridge. Whether I made breads with pre-doughs or with S & F, lean or enriched. The only dough I don't divide is Pain a l'Ancienne, since it is so highly hydrated that is has to be cut in slices instead of shaping.

I never tried baking cold dough, since I always bake several batches of breads one after the other, my baking stone needs to be hot, and I pre-heat the oven for at least 3/4 of an hour, anyway.

Karin