The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

overproofed dough

gnowetan's picture

overproofed dough


I made some pizza dough (starter, oil, flour, salt) and let it sit out overnight with the full intention of using it the next evening.  However, my family and I went out to celebrate that next evening, and the pizza was never made.  Due to an overfilled schedule, the dough was left out in rather warm temperatures.  By the time I got to it, the dough had a very alcohol-y smell to it, and there was NO gluten structure to it (basically, it was a batter).

Is there any chance of saving this dough?  I was thinking of adding some bread flour to it and trying to bake it, basically treating it like a firm starter.  Should I bother using my flour on this dough, or should I cut my losses and move on to the next loaf?

I appreciate your input.


drhowarddrfine's picture

Depending on how much you have, bake one by itself and see what happens and let us know. Otherwise, toss it.

Soundman's picture

Hi Nate,

I can think of several things that happen to dough that gets left and left and left, and all of them are bad when you wait that long.

One is that the yeast consume the available food in the flour and start to die off. Then there's the alcohol buildup that makes for the beery smell. Too much alcohol also will kill off yeast. Then there's the CO2 that never got degassed. Hamelman suggests (though I see other bakers don't follow this) not allowing the CO2 to build up for more than 90 minutes without some degassing. Then there are the enzymes!

Time is a good thing for building flavor, partly by allowing enzymatic action to break sugars out of starches, which also supplies food for yeast and bacteria. Too much time = too much enzymatic action, breakdown of gluten, and production of by-products that don't necessarily taste too good.

You can experiment with such an over-fermented dough, and who knows, you may make a wonderful discovery, but probably it won't rise well, if at all, and the taste won't be what you're after either. If I were in your shoes, I'd start another batch. And don't forget, you could have salvaged a good pizza by simply putting the dough in the fridge!


gnowetan's picture

very good input.  i think that I'm of the opinion to throw it in the oven and see (what's the worst that could happen?).  I think that the key lies in the fact that I didn't punch/fold the dough down, and thus the CO2 didn't get released.  I have taken a cue from Reinhart and started experimenting with long fermentation (multiple risings/punch downs over a period of 24-36 hours), but that is not at all what happened here.  

yeah, it feels like a perfectly good (and avoidable) waste of flour, but I don't know that there is a lot that can be done at this point.

Thanks for your feedback.  I think that mostly, I was just curious about the science behind it all.


hc's picture

If so, I'd be curious to see what happened and how it compares to my ill-fated discard-jar pizza dough experience.

(For some reason, when I try to hyperlink a text string so I don't have to paste the entire URL, the editor tells me that I've triggered the spam filter and it won't post my comment. Huh?)