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Frozen Dough Tragedy and Triumph

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CAphyl's picture
CAphyl

Frozen Dough Tragedy and Triumph

As a number of you know, I have experimented with freezing dough and baking it later.  I have had some recent mixed results, and I thought I would share it to see if there are some things to learn from my experience. Recently, I made a wonderful Tartine sourdough with olives, herbes de provence and lemon zest, recipe link below.  I froze the second loaf to bake later, and I baked it in the last few days.  It was terrible--a flat, gummy disk.

It would not get done, and you can see how gummy the dough was after baking forever. The color was slightly white, looking overproofed. I did have another bad frozen dough experience recently when I left some frozen five grain dough in the Midwest and baked it from frozen after it had been frozen for some time.  When I baked it, I got a small, gummy disk that also would never get done. I kind of wrote it off as it had been frozen for a long time.  But, it was interesting that the exact same thing happened again back in my home kitchen in California with the olive loaf, which hadn't been frozen for very long.  The gummy olive loaf sure didn't look like the original loaf below, with recipe link:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/39505/tartine-sourdough-olives-lemon-zest-and-herbes-de-provence

Interestingly, I had frozen some other dough a few days before the olive dough, when I made Ian's semolina porridge bread for the first time.  When I made the first loaf, it was tasty, but was a bit flat as you can see in the photos below.

The crumb was fine, but I just didn't get the lift. Ian suggested less hydration, so I tried something different on the second loaf, which I baked from frozen.  I defrosted it and kneaded in more flour and sprinkled it with a bit of yeast to try and get some lift.  It turned out very well when I baked it today, as you can see below.

The crumb came out very well, and the bread was just delicious!  Thanks, Ian. The crumb was just right.

It is interesting that this dough had been frozen longer than the olive loaf. All of the doughs I have frozen recently had pretty high hydration. Is that a clue?  If so, why did the semolina loaf turn out so well, as it was high hydration like the other two that ended up as flat, gummy disks? I have another five grain frozen, which has been frozen for some time, so that will be my next experiment.  Perhaps if the dough seems too wet, I should knead in flour as I did with the frozen loaf I made from Ian's recipe.  So many questions to pursue!  Thought you would enjoy the results of my recent experiments.  Best,  Phyllis

Here is the link to Ian's recipe:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/39261/semolina-kamut-porridge-bread

 

Comments

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

the dough?  Have all the thawed out loaves been reshaped before rising and baking?  Just a light knead tends to distribute cold and thawed spots.

Thawing in cold water might be worth a try.

I have some old recipes for freezer dough that ask for more yeast than standard recipes.  Think there is any truth to it?

CAphyl's picture
CAphyl

Mini Oven:  I generally do thaw the dough out totally and have noticed that just a light knead does help.  Perhaps I will try yeast again with these doughs.  I should note that there have been two bad bakes and most of them were just wonderful, so it is puzzling. Thanks for your suggestions.  Best, Phyllis

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

but it was only frozen for a couple of weeks and worked fine.  Something went terribly wrong with your two examples of Frisbeemaking,  Very strange.  I'm thinking it was a problem with the freezer and you need another really big one just to put bread in - but only after it is baked:-)  Hope someone can help you figure this frozen dilemma out.

Happy Dough Freezing is way better than unhappy dough freezing.

CAphyl's picture
CAphyl

dabrownman:  Freezing the dough and baking later has worked about 90% of the time, so it's hard to figure out.  Hopefully, I can prevent it happening again!  Agree, happy dough freezing and baking is much better than the gummy, awful kind.  Best,  Phyllis

Kiseger's picture
Kiseger

The success bread is beautiful, so well done!  I notice that both formulae have 24/25% leaven but the "tragedy" loaf has an overnight build and the "triumph" loaf has a ca. 4hr build.  Maybe using a younger leaven means it has more oomph to keep working when de-frosted?  Just speculating.  Also wonder whether the olives might have "leaked" water when they warmed up.  Freezing expands the water content in liquids (frozen water has more volume then liquid water) so it breaks the cell walls on expanding - eg. in the olives.  Most other substances contract on freezing.  So when unfrozen the cells can't hold in their water and the liquid will seep out.  So that might have contributed to making it soggy?  This happens when high water content foods are frozen, such as fruit and veg, and makes things slightly less crispy once unfrozen/cooked - I noticed a much more watery texture when using frozen blueberries once.  Again, just speculating, as the kamut porridge recipe doesn't have any "soft" add ins like figs or olives etc.  Am probably barking up the wrong tree here, I'm sure others will have better thoughts on this.  Thanks for posting though, this is really interesting.  

CAphyl's picture
CAphyl

Kiseger:  Very good thoughts on the olives and the freezing/water content.  I guess I will have to try it again to see if I would get the same result. Best,  Phyllis

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

What if freezing a dough saturated with bubbles, tends to pop those gluten bubbles loosing more gas than what would normally be lost deflating fresh dough?  

I wonder if freezing developed dough early in fermentation (after deflating) "saves" the dough matrix more efficiently. 

The speed of freezing might also play a role...  with a slow freeze, a warm inside would expand before being frozen, possibly cracking the already frozen outside surfaces, letting gas escape.  

yeasted doughs:

http://breadbaking.about.com/od/beginnerbasics/ht/freezedough.htm   

CAphyl's picture
CAphyl

Mini-Oven:  Thanks for sharing the link, as there may be a clue in there.  In reading their procedure, I already do almost everything they suggest.  The exception is freezing it in a pan.  I put it in an oiled freezer bag, shaped. A high hydration dough loses its shape in the freezer as it flattens, most likely letting gas escape.  Interestingly, Ian's porridge recipe dough did the same thing...got totally flat, BUT I did knead it again when I added the flour and a bit of yeast....perhaps I needed to reactivate the beasties....In addition, your "early" freezing theory also has merit.  Lots to consider and thanks for sharing these thoughts and link.  Best, Phyllis

isand66's picture
isand66

Glad your experiment with my formula worked out well for you.  I have not tried freezing and baking like this so I am not sure what to suggest, but it seems you are on the right path.  I think some of the comments above seem to make sense especially with the water content of the add-ins.  I wonder if freezing the dough in the bulk retardation stage and then forming the loaves after you defrost may work.

CAphyl's picture
CAphyl

Ian:  My husband loved it.  He even remarked later how much he appreciated the crust...it was just right for him.  And the taste of the bread was just wonderful.  I will definitely make it again, but take the hydration down a bit. Thanks for your comments on the freezing as well.  The consensus seems to be "early" freezing, and I will try that in the future.  Best,  Phyllis

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Perhaps the wild yeasts are harmed more than we think by freezing?  The bread with yeast added after thawing turned out so much better.  So many variables to consider. 

Paul

CAphyl's picture
CAphyl

Paul:  It sounds like there are a few things to do to try and protect or reactivate the wild yeast.  I will consider all of these in future when I freeze the dough.  It's interesting that I had only two "duds" and many more frozen dough successes, so I will have to learn from the best practices and everyone's good advice here.  Best,  Phyllis