The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How long can bread dough last?

TRK's picture

How long can bread dough last?

I have been forced into an experiment by circumstances beyond my control.  I like to bake sandwich bread most weekends.  Recently I have been using a recipe from Nancy Silverton with a sourdough pre-ferment and a commercial yeast boost at the end.  I like it because I get the sourdough flavor I like with a nice quick rise for the final proof.  Everything was fine, I started on Saturday, mixed it all up, and was ready to bake on Monday night.  The loaves were in the pans, I turned on the oven, and nothing happened.  My oven has been broken since the weekend and my poor bread dough has been sitting, covered, in a bowl in my fridge. 


I have been promised the oven will be fixed today.  I am going to go ahead and shape loaves and try to bake them off when I get home tonight.  Anybody want to hazard a guess on how this will turn out?  Maybe it will have amazing flavor development and I can call it "six day bread."  Or maybe I will have nice little unleavened bricks coming out of my oven.

MaryinHammondsport's picture

I had something similar happen about a month ago. I had the dough shaped and almost proofed and discovered the gas oven would not heat. (Took 3 weeks, out here in the boonies, to get it fixed but that's a whole 'nother story.)

Since it was shaped, panned, and almost proofed, I put it in the fridge as it was, hoping to get the oven fixed in a day or two. The loaf held its shape beautifully, and after the first repair guy left without accomplishing anything at the 48 hour mark, we trotted next door with the loaf in its pan and our neighbor warmed it to room temp. and baked it for us.

It had quite a dried crust on it by that point, going into the oven, and we got no oven spring at all. What we did get was a fist-sized hole in the center of the loaf and really wet and gummy crumb surrounded by a concrete crust. Pretty much a flop!

Neighbor and I decided that what I "should" have done was knock it down, put it, covered, in a smallish bowl for storage, and start over with the proofing and baking later, rather than leaving it in the pan. Of course, this is just theory -- but I still would not recommend doing as I did!

I will be real interested in hearing what you do to your loaves before baking and how they turn out. And good luck!




fertileprayers's picture

Charlotte Fairchild

 Could it be possible to use an iron dutch oven, or a crock pot in an emergency like this? Of course I am giggling, because I realize it is dough, and the world will not end if it isn't baked in the normal way--but it is sad to get golf ball texture bread. When ducks will not eat your bread (didn't rise because it was my first try) I wouldn't try again for a while.


Dutch oven (hot plate) or crock pot? I didn't even mention a breadmaker machine. 

TRK's picture

That is exactly what I did-completely degassed it, mixed the 4 loaves back together and put it in a covered bowl.  I was just told I won't get my oven back until Monday at the earliest (nobody thought to check whether the parts were in stock).  I think 7 days may be too long.  I may oil it, put it in a ziploc and freeze it just as an experiment.  If I end up baking it, I'll report back.

colinwhipple's picture

In BBA, Reinhart in several places talks about keeping bread dough, poolish, or pate fermente in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

 I am thinking that in specifying three days he was being cautious, and that longer will not necessarily have bad effects.

I have kept his pate fermente recipe refrigerated for as long as six days before using it, and it seemed fine.



Trishinomaha's picture

Heck - it's ready to go pretty much. All you've got to waste is a little electricity (or gas) and a little time...I'd give it a go.



Aberdeenshire Quine's picture
Aberdeenshire Quine

When you guys are talking about putting the dough in the fridge, at what stage are you doing that? Before or after the first rise? before or after the second rise?