The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How long will a dough ball last?

mauiman's picture

How long will a dough ball last?

I'm quite new at making pizza dough (or any kind of dough for that matter). I made some pizza dough balls on Wednesday.  I took them out of the refrigerator on Thursday.  I did not use one dough ball and put it back in the refrigerator after it sat at room temperature for three hours.  Is it okay to use this Saturday?

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)


I wager it'll be better than it was Wednesday.

Franko's picture

It depends a lot on what temp it sat at for the three hours. If it sat at 70+F it's quite likely you could wind up with something that may or may not be tasty , and more like one those frozen abominations you get in the supermarket. A better idea is to use part of the dough as the beginning for a new , fresh dough. This will give you better flavour and you'll have a healthy dough that will spring in the oven...for sure. There's no point in putting good ingredients on an iffy dough.


wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

I once tossed 5 pizzas. 

I took them out of my freezer (they were wrapped in foil) and put them in the garbage. I just couldn't stand to have them tempting me, with their, "You know I'm innnn here; you know you want to eat me!" urging.

A couple days later, I came to my senses and said, "Self, do you realize how much each of those cost to make?"

I preheated the oven to 550 F, took one of the pizzas out of the garbage (yes, it was still wrapped), unwrapped it, put it on the pizza peel, and into the oven it went.

The result: damn close to the best pizza crust I'd ever had. Light, crispy, full of flavor, really quite remarkable.

I can't say I've done it again, but yeah, I did it then, and that dough was fantastic. I've yet to better it.

Your crust will be fine.

If you make a new one using the old one, it'll taste of nothingness.

Trust me on this.

(re: pizza at room temp for 2 days: It's going in a 550 F oven for 15-20 minutes. As Jacques Pepin said, "If there's anything still alive on it after THAT, then it deserves to live!"

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

I can tell you that much of what I hear here and elsewhere about variables doing this and that to a dough is near-unprovable hocus pocus.

Doughs, starters, yeasts, flour, sourdough levains, etc., so much of it is so much more resilient that what you'd think if you believed everything you read.

There's a lot of room for error with bread and you learn much from your mistakes.

[I've had too much beer. Kindly ignore if I'm sounding full of it.]

spacey's picture

Agreed, it is all hocus-pocus, and it's all easy.

Until that day comes around, and nothing works anymore, and you start from zero.


Then it gets easy again.  And... repeat.

mkelly27's picture

I plan my pizza dough around a 3 day max.  ! day for fresh dough (8-12) hrs  Day 2 makes the best pizza, Day 3 it's okay , but. 

This all revolves around a refreigerated rise from the mixing bowl to the peel


wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

I keep it going for 10+ days sometimes, all very slow ferment with very little yeastie beasties. I gets better with age, until it doesn't (or I get annoyed with my waistline and toss it).

ehanner's picture

As soon as the yeast is moistened and introduced to the flour (food) it starts to eat. The two factors that matter are:
1.) How much yeast was used
2.)At what temperature has it been stored
3.) OK I said two, but also the hydration matters also. Higher hydration dough will expend itself faster.

When you took the dough from the cooler, the yeast became active again. Depending on how active it was it might not rise much after a few days. There are at least 2 authors who have master doughs that are intended to be mixed and refrigerated so you have dough prepared to use at a moments notice for a week.


msbreadbaker's picture

A question for those that use the "keeping the dough in the fridge for use over a weeks time" approach, has anyone actually had success with that? I've got the book that touts that way to bake, "Artisan Bread In 5 Minutes a Day", and it has been my experience that after the 3rd day, not much rise is left in the dough.

Also, Peter Reinhart, in his Artisan Bread Book said the same thing, all good until about the 4th day.

Love all of the varied replys on this site. Jean P. (VA)


wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

I've kept pizza dough retarded for 10 days at least, maybe more, but not weeks.

  • AP flour 100%

  • Water 75%

  • Salt 1.5%

  • Yeast 1/4 teaspoon instant

Mix roughly and then ferment at room temp. for 12-18 hours in a bowl covered with Saran/plastic wrap.

Retard in fridge until pizza day, poking it every couple of days to redistribute yeasts.

For pizza day, remove a chunk of dough (or several chunks), put each in lightly oiled bowl covered tightly with Saran/plastic wrap, and let rise until happy. Works great for me, always enough rise.

dscheidt's picture

My basic pizza dough is something like:


100% flour (I use a 13.8% protein high-gluten flour, Bouncer from BSM)

72 to 74% H20 (warm, say 80F)

2% salt

0.1% IDY (not a typo: 1 gram of instant yeast per kilo of flour)


Put water in mixer.  mix dry ingredients together.  Add to mixer.  Mix until water absorbed, and then 60 to 90 seconds more.  Scale and divide into individual dough balls, coat lightly in oil.  Put dough balls in individual zip bags or other suitable containers.  Refridgerate immediately.  Remove from fridge 90 minutes before use. 


this is at its best 48 to 72 hours after mixing, but works just fine at 336.  Well, it tastes fine and the pies look good, it's a pain to to work with at that age, and I don't intentionally age it like that, but do routinely use it at 5 and six days.  Longer periods have been cases of lost in the back of the fridge.  If you're using lower protein flour, you'll want to reduce the hydration.  If you're unfamiliar with handling high hydration pizza doughs, reduce the hydration.  Forming the dought into a tight ball at mixing time is an important step, doing it later produces unsatisfactory results.

Don Bigote's picture
Don Bigote

I found the thread

dating back April 2008, on over fermented dough.  In the discussion, MiniOven posted:

Over fermented dough, simply put

The tell tale signs:

The dough tears when it should stretch, becomes very sticky, will not hold shape or respond to folding to tighten the surface. Tends to look more like goo than dough. Begins to take on an alcohol smell. Can even start to separate and ooz fermented liquid hootch. Can eventually change color and grow mold and stink. In other words; everything a starved starter will do if deprived of food. It can be saved (if you want to). Try thinking of the over fermented dough is a "big mature starter" and add flour and ingredients accordingly.

THAT is just about what happened to me about a month ago.

I was scheduled to test bake in a "portable" brick oven.. and I made pizza dough on Friday night, for use Saturday afternoon.. BUT the bake session got bumped off for Monday afternoon instead. The 65% hydration dough with about 5% yeast, stayed in the refrigerator 2 days longer than originally intended, during which time it exhibited surprisingly active rise despite the low temperature (I had to punchdown twice to keep it from overflowing its container).  Anyway, come Monday, activity had died down, the dough felt overly slack (more like runny), and no way would it pass the windowpane test.   Suffice to say I did not use it in the oven test.. BUT took it home, and not wanting to waste anything, carefully rolled the gooey dough as thin as possible, parbaked it in a pan, then froze it for some other time.. which came a week later.

The result: