The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Is it wrong to divide dough before it rises?

giyad's picture

Is it wrong to divide dough before it rises?

This might be a dumb question, but I figure that when dough is mixed properly everything is distributed evenly.  So, would it be wrong to divide the dough into balls before the first rise?

I'm trying to see what can be done to speed up the process of making bread.  Basically, in the morning when I wake up, I don't want to have to wait 2 hours before i can bake a bread.  So if I can prepare the dough the night before, divide it up, and then stick it in the fridge to rise, the next morning I can pull it out and bring it to room temperature, shape it, and then bake it... that would save me atleast a half hour.  Any other suggestions are welcome too to speed up the process.  Obviously I don't want to just rush the dough so that I get stuck with something tasteless, but I don't want to have to wait hours before I can eat.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

or any time.  It just takes more containers or bench space to let the dough rise.  :)

fancy4baking's picture

If you can do that or not, i've never thought of that matter. However, you said you want to do that in order to save time next morning by pulling pieced of dough out of the fridge and allow them to come down to room temperature!!! 

I find that you have done nothing here in this respect! In anyway you're going to need time to bring down the dough's temperature to the ambient temp. and i'm just guessing that small pieces of dough would may be cooler than a large dough as they be vulnerable to low temperature more than large piece of dough!!! So i don't see where is the time saving here!!!!


giyad's picture

good point, but you don't have to yell :P 

no you really make a good point, I guess it doesn't save me time because I can still shape the dough when its cold, the problem is it coming to room temperature and having the yeast do its thing.  I guess theres not much we can do to speed that up except those microwave techniques or putting the bowl in a tub of warm water

fancy4baking's picture

I wasn't yelling at all. Sorry if you took it this way!!

however, i think if you're kitchen is around 60-65 degrees F, you can leave your dough outside, not in the fridge, and that would save you time next morning. What do you think about that?!!!


MangoChutney's picture

It doesn't matter when you divide it, other than efficiency of storage during the first rise.  The dough may warm up faster in the morning if it is in smaller pieces.  A small piece of dough won't be any colder than a large piece after having spent the entire night in the refrigerator.  That might be true 30 minutes after putting the two pieces in the refrigerator, but not after they have been in there all night.

You will still need to let the dough rise a second time after shaping it.  It is not the size of the dough rising that matters, but the number of rises.  Perhaps you can refrigerate it overnight after the first rise and shaping, and put it into the oven straight from the refrigerator?  I have no experience in this because my refrigerator is cold enough that putting dough in it is more properly called "storing" than "retarding".


hanseata's picture

I almost always divide the dough before the bulk rise into individual portions, before I place them overnight in the fridge. Whether I made breads with pre-doughs or with S & F, lean or enriched. The only dough I don't divide is Pain a l'Ancienne, since it is so highly hydrated that is has to be cut in slices instead of shaping.

I never tried baking cold dough, since I always bake several batches of breads one after the other, my baking stone needs to be hot, and I pre-heat the oven for at least 3/4 of an hour, anyway.


carolivy's picture

I am wanting to do this very same thing.  I'm making a fairly hydrated bread...initially a No-Knead Ciabatta Bread but I want to make Rolls instead of loaves.  I've made this before as loaves and it worked great following the recipe, but tried making the rolls by cutting off pieces after the 18 hour counter top proof and I lost all of my wonderful large air bubbles.  The rolls taste fine, but the bread looks more like a good bread with tiny little bubbles.  I want to make it again but mix the ingredients and then divide them and put them in my small pans that I have for the rolls, cover each pan and let them rise on the counter for the 18 hours.  After the 18 hours, I would bake the bread.  Will this work?