The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Can I Refrigerate Tonight For Fresh Baking Early Tomorrow?

abrogard's picture

Can I Refrigerate Tonight For Fresh Baking Early Tomorrow?



I'm new here.  And I'm new to baking.


I have searched and I've seen a number of threads about refrigerating and freezing breads/doughs.

So many it got confusing in the end and I thought it might be acceptable if I raised the question again in a quite specific manner.

I am not talking about freezing.

I am not talking about sourdoughs.

I am talking about simple french bread.

Every day I bake but the problem is my children don't get fresh bread for their sandwiches in the morning. They get left over bread from yesterday. Which was baked at about midday. So by the time they eat their sandwiches the bread is about 24hours old.


What I want to know is if I can somehow refrigerate the dough at some stage or other so's I'll have enough time to bake in the morning before leaving for school?

I'm usually up at 6a.m.  We leave for school at 8.30, latest. Actually I'd like to have the lunches made well before that. Currently they're made by 7a.m.

I will practice. Tonight I'll prepare a dough and let it rise for an hour before refrigerating it.  Then 6.a.m. tomorrow I'll take it out and leave it (hopefully) rise for an hour and then I'll bake it.

I'll tell you what happens.


But I'm posting the question because my testing and trying may not return good results for the longest time. Posting the question may  bring me an answer in a day.


I realise that I probably should make a different bread - one with better keeping qualities than the simple french bread. And I will. But I'll start here.  I've started with french bread, we like it, I'll see what can be done with it and I'll slowly branch out in other directions.




 ab  :)




bassopotamus's picture

I do our baguettes with a no knead recipe that I kind of modified from a couple others. Mix it, do a couple stretch and folds, stick it in the fridge, and bake the next day. Having time to bake on you schedule could be tough though. I bake short baguettes in a chicago metallic baguette pan (each loaf is about 315g of dough). They don't need to proof super long to still get oven spring (maybe 30 minutes) and I bake at 500 for about 15-18 minutes. Works fine, but for you it may be tough to get the oven preheated, the loaves shaped and proofed, the loaves baked, and then cooled enough to make lunch. You could save a little time by shaping baguettes the night before and sticking them in the fridge.

Janknitz's picture

I have three ideas.  

I really only have time to bake on the weekends especially in warm weather (hot in Northern California this time of year), so I bake bread, slice it, and freeze the slices 2 to a zipper sandwich bag with a piece of parchment or wax paper between.  On school mornings my kids zap them in the microwave for about 20 seconds, and the bread tastes freshly baked.

When the weather is cooler (and I'm not worried about heating the house first thing in the morning by firing up the oven) I often  make up a batch of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day dough.  First thing in the morning I take some dough out of the bucket, roll it into a loaf pan, turn the oven on to preheat while the dough is proofing, and bake.  It's about an hour from fridge to cooling rack  (your bread would be just out of the oven around 7 a.m. and that's too hot to slice and make sandwiches yet).  

Finally, a bread machine might meet your needs.  You could set it up before bedtime so a fresh, cooled bread would be ready in the morning.  I've dug out my old machine and used it this summer when it is just too hot for the oven.  I just find that there is a lot of waste with bread machine bread because of the shape and the hole at the bottom, but it comes in handy sometimes.  

One more suggestion.  If you add some sourdough starter to your dough, it will have better keeping qualities.  I think the ratio is to add about 30% of the total flour weight in 100% hydration sourdough starter.  It's enough to help the dough stay fresh but doesn't necessarily add a sour flavor.  





abrogard's picture

Thank you all very much for your suggestions.

My experiments have all failed.  I've actually only experimented four times since I posted.  I tried putting the dough in after the first rise, I tried after the second rise, I tried later at night (less fridge time) and I tried longer rise in the morning.

Nothing worked.

It simply took too long to recover in the mornings. It never recovered. The finished product was too flat, not sufficiently risen.

Since putting those attempts on the shelf I've discovered 'bread improver' and have been experimenting with it and my day time baking.  I've actually got a thread here somewhere talking about that.

I'm keen to try the 'two slices frozen' system (with microwave, never thought of that) and the  'artisan bread in five minutes' dough, whatever that is.

For the sake of anyone following this thread hoping for an answer to the same question I can report the first poster was apparently right, it is not an easy thing to do and requires much trial and error.

So far I've failed. Too convincingly for me to want to continue down that track. I'll try those two I've just mentioned.




 ab :)



marc's picture

For my baguettes I place the bulk dough immediately into the fridge for an overnight proof—takes up much less space.

Then in the morning, divide, form and allow for final proofing while your oven comes to temp. I find that the cold dough is much easier to work with.

Word of caution: Double check the amount of yeast you are using though. A recipe might not necessarily be compensating for a long overnight proof. It really takes very little yeast for an overnight proof and you certainly don't want the dough to overproof. 

abrogard's picture

Well the short answer is that I'm not taking notes, not doing anything scientifically enough.

I take the point. I fully understand, I appreciate it.  When I get set up for it - I don't even have a thermometer at the moment - and have the time - everything I do gets done in a welter of incidents, ever seen a 'harassed mum' comedy, well it's like that except I'm a dad, not a mum - then I will do it.

I will take precise measurements and note everything down.

I will vary only one variable at a time.

I will be very methodical and I fully expect I'll make some real progress.

Right now I'm stumbling around, catch as catch can, as I said.

Witness the bread improver. I researched the ingredients and didn't like what I read about the enzyme, so stopped using it. Now my bread won't rise as much as it did before! I think! Without precise measurements.....

Now I'll get some gluten. All I've been able to find is some high gluten flour sold in 500mg packs as an additive. I'll try it. It might be the right stuff, it might not. Stumble on....

Measuring the yeast accurately, for instance, is something I need to do...  I just do a vague 'two teaspoons' with a spoon that I'm not sure is a teaspoon or not.


So I'm a bit of a clown, doing a hit and miss thing and promising to do better later.

But I'll tell you what, the bread always tastes lovely  (I even fancy I can detect the improvement in taste when I STOP using the 'improver')  and I'm thoroughly convinced by the guy I read that was saying we should be using stone ground whole meal flour and I'm kinda planning to work  my way there....






abrogard's picture

Thank you for those comments. I'm sorry I didn't reply/acknowledge earlier but something went wrong and I didn't get notified.

I've since learned something about the importance of temperature and precision and I'll be taking steps, such as buying a good thermometer for the job, to improve my way of working.




 ab :)

abrogard's picture


 O.k. thanks. I'll do that.