The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

refrigerating bread dough

novicebaker101's picture

refrigerating bread dough

Hi, I was  just wondering if you can refrigerate the dough at  any of the following times during your bread making process.

  1. Right after you mixed all wet and dry ingredients.
  2. Right after you knead the dough.
  3. During the 1st rise ( ie let rise part of time on counter and finish in refrigerator).
  4. Right after it rose and you did 1st punch down.
  5.  If recipe ask for 2nd rise, during the 2nd rise after you folded.( again part of time on counter and part in refrigerator).
  6. If recipe ask for 3rd rise,  during the 3rd rise after you folded. (again part of time on counter an part in refrigerator)
  7. Right after you shape and place in pan or  on cookie sheet.
  8. Right after you score the dough.

If so, how many hours in refrigerator at each step is ok?

Can you refrigerate the same dough at more than 1 step?

 Are there steps  you should never put the dough in the refrigerator?

 What is the best step to refrigerate the dough at? 

Can you put the dough in a warm environment ie on top of dryer  to help warm up dough faster?

Can you start workinbg on  the dough when its still a little cold but pliable?

I assume you can leave dough in greased bowl and oil the outside of dough while in refrigerator for any of the steps and cover with plastic wrap. 

Thank you.


jcking's picture

More than one trip to the ice box can be very tricky.


LindyD's picture

A bit confused if you are Jim or Abe, given this post which is under the same handle.

Or maybe a system burp?

jcking's picture

It was a quote from a post by Abe on the Bread Bakers Guild of America group on YAHOO, sorry for any confusion. He's a professional Artisan Baker.


Chuck's picture

Don't be too surprised if your experience turns out vastly different from what some other folks report though.

The culprit is that little dial in the back of the refrigerator. If it's set with the main motivation being minimizing energy usage, the temperature in the refrigerator can easily be 50F. Dough will still rise at that temperature, although much slower than if left out (say one fourth as quickly?). On the other hand, if there's a cold freak or someone who likes to routinely beat those use-by dates in the house, the temperature in the refrigerator can be only 35F. Yeast activity will come to a complete stop at that temperature. 

Search "retard" here on TFL to find lots of discussions.

(Remember it can take a significant amount of time for the temperature to penetrate a large mass of dough. If you mixed up enough dough to make four loaves and put it in a smallish bucket for a bulk ferment in the refrigerator, the center may ferment for an hour or two longer than the outside.)

novicebaker101's picture

Thanks for all of your answers.