The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Relaxing dough — why does it occasionally tighten up?

mcaren's picture

Relaxing dough — why does it occasionally tighten up?

Hi — I’m curious to know why there are times when I leave pizza dough in the fridge overnight that it seems very much not relaxed the next day.  (I don’t know the term for “not relaxed” — tight?  Rubber-bandy?)  In any case I thought that leaving doughs to rest for hours would relax the dough, and — perhaps incorrectly — I thought leaving the dough in the fridge would definitely relax it.  However, there are times when I take dough out the next day it is almost impossible to roll out and it springs back much like a rubber band.

To complicate answering my question, I tend to throw ingredients together for pizza dough without sticking to a recipe or method.  Sometimes I’ll use a starter, sometimes I’ll use bread flour, sometimes I’ll add oil, sometimes I knead a lot and other times not so much — so if it’s an ingredient or a method causing the rubber band dough I may be too inconsistent to narrow down an answer.  But — in a very general way — is there a combination or ratio of ingredients or a method that tends to create dough that doesn’t relax in the fridge?  

Thank you.

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

I'd try taking the dough out of the fridge and bringing to room temperature. Cold dough can be stiff and not feel relaxed.

idaveindy's picture

If you are not measuring anything, the stiffer dough is most likely lower hydration.

semolina_man's picture

Please post your recipe/formula for the dough. 

mcaren's picture

I don’t really have a recipe to post — unfortunately I vary the ingredients depending on what I’ve got on hand or what I’ve prepared.  In general I’d say 7 cups of flour, 2 tsp salt, 1-2 tsp yeast, and water to make a fairly wet dough (I tend to knead a sticky wet dough with a kitchen aid for a while and add just enough flour to get it to pull away from the sides — I try to keep the dough as wet as possible without making it too hard to work with...)

But — my question was more about wrapping my head around why resting a dough for 18+ hours in the fridge could result in rubber band dough.  I was just curious — does cold actually contribute to gluten strength?  I thought cold was supposed to relax it (isn’t that why you’re supposed to refrigerate pie crust dough before you roll it out?) — but perhaps it’s more an issue with hydration since I’m not careful about the process...

I appreciate the responses...