The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How long will 'pre-dough' keep?

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SulaBlue's picture
SulaBlue

How long will 'pre-dough' keep?

So, I made my first loaf of sourdough today - wasn't entirely happy with it. Not quite sour enough for my tastes and didn't get quite the rise I had hoped for. I can identify any number of things that weren't optimal - including my fire alarm going off when I removed the upturned metal mixing bowl I'd been using as a makeshift cloche. I can only assume that the residue on my pizza stone is enough to make my overly-sensitive fire alarm go batty. GRRR.


Anyway, not one to give up I said to myself, "Well, it's edible. Not great, but not horrible either, and it'll be fine as toast!" And so tonight I made another batch of the pre-dough to try again tomorrow. Only, I just realized upon putting the pre-dough into the fridge for 'overnight' that I don't have another bag of flour as I'd thought I did. WHUPS! Obviously I can't just substitute spelt or rye, which I have PLENTY of without doing some major dance steps, and I'm not really up for trying a nearly 100% rye sourdough just yet when I obviously haven't mastered the plain-jane version! So, here's the problem - by time I get up, go to the store and get back, it's going to be far too late for me to start bread making as I have plans for the early evening. Can the pre-dough stay in the fridge until Monday morning early-ish? It just got made up around 9pm-ish and in the fridge about 20 minutes ago. If it gets extra-sour in there, I'm completely fine with that as my last loaf was a bit bland, as I mentioned. I just don't want to risk it losing its lift.


I'm definitely going back to the cooking in the Le Creuset as trying to get any sort of steam-substitute going in an apartment kitchen is just... well. No.

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

I've started sourdough primary batters, or pre-dough, the night before and not got back to it until quite late the next day, and I've left them out, not in the fridge; they still come out fine.  The fridge should slow everything down, and it may take longer to rise when you finally do get around to making the bread, but it should be okay.

SulaBlue's picture
SulaBlue

I realized, though, that going to a sourdough rye wouldn't be quite the song and dance I thought it would be. I'm 1/2 ounce short on my pre-dough, but it's also an AP pre-dough rather than working from a rye starter, so I should be fine.


I mixed my full dough up this morning and got a lovely silky texture by time I was done. I knead in the same bowl that I mixed in and added the bare minimum water at first, then a couple more spoonfuls to get it to all come together. Feeling the texture change as I kneaded it was quite lovely and as I knead in the same bowl that I mix in, I think I added much less flour than I would have if I'd floured the counter and gone that route. By time I was done I had a lovely silken ball with a slightly gritty texture - like sand on a baby's bottom. It's going through it's first proofing now.


I'd considered adding some agave nectar to the dough, though the recipe didn't call for it, just to help with the caramelization - but I woke up JUST to make bread after a very sleepless night (2 hours sleep, I think? UGH!) and totally forgot as I was so terribly focused on the instructions -ROFL-

SulaBlue's picture
SulaBlue

I woke this morning, took my pre-dough out and let it sit for an hour to de-chill some and then made my dough. It was still fairly chilly though as it's only 69F in my house atm.


I'm working with a starter that I purchased from a commercial bakery, which was fed about 4 hours before making my pre-dough. It was highly bubbly and active at that time, so I know the starter is good. My rye soaker, using a somewhat finely-milled rye, was made around 1:30 am and I began making my dough at 10:30 am this morning so it had a good 9 hour soak.


I was able to form my dough with minimal addition of extra water to get a good ball and then minimal flour addition while kneading. I had a good elasticity going (didn't check for windowpane as it was noted that the rye dough likely wouldn't pass said test). I put the dough in a mixing bowl, covered it lightly with saran wrap and walked away. I checked at 3 hours and it hadn't doubled. Four hours later and I see only a bit more change than I saw at 3 hours. I have about a 50 percent rise, I'd say?


I know that it can sometimes take much, much longer - but how long is 'too long' to wait and see if it doubles? I do, unfortunately, have plans for going out to dinner tonight about 5 hours from now and still need to do the forming, second proof and of course actually bake the bread. If the dough can go as much as 5 or 6 hours to double well... I could always let the second proof happen while I'm out at dinner and bake it when I get home, though that's iffy as there's no guarantee I'll get home at a decent hour.

SulaBlue's picture
SulaBlue

Well, eventually I did get it to rise by moving it to a warmer spot. The dough was still somewhat firm and held a nice loaf shape - though they were admittedly small. I set them to proof after shaping and POOF! They did indeed double in size again - alas, they went OUT instead of UP. I did not use a couche or banneton.


My question is would using either of these methods have resulted in a taller loaf, or was my dough just overproofed? It went from being semi-firm to being very puffy and loose. Would it have just spread back out the instant I took it out of the banneton or couche when I put it on the pan?