Bread is an essential part of every meal. It’s used to make sandwiches, toast, bagels, pizza, etc. Bread is also a staple food in many cultures around the world.
But what if you want to bake bread but don’t have time for it today? Can you leave your dough out overnight and then start baking it tomorrow morning? Or can you just put it into the fridge or freezer until needed?
Bread dough is an amazing thing. It’s soft, fluffy, and delicious. And if you’ve ever left bread dough out overnight, you know how much better it tastes the next day. The problem is, leaving bread dough out overnight can cause it to rise too quickly. If you’re looking for a way to get that same great taste without having to wait until morning, then read on.
If you want to leave bread dough out overnight, here’s what you need to know.
Rising refers to when the yeast starts working its magic inside the flour mixture. Yeast produces carbon dioxide gas as it works. This causes the dough to expand and become more airy than usual. When this happens, the dough rises from about 1/2 inch high to 2-3 inches.
When you first mix up bread dough, there are two types of ingredients: wet and dry. Wet ingredients include water, milk, eggs, oil, butter, honey, sugar, salt, and other liquids. Dry ingredients include the things like flour, cornmeal, oats, wheat germ, and so forth. These ingredients combine with each other during mixing to create a sticky mass called "dough." Once mixed together, the dough will begin to form clumps because some of the liquid has been absorbed by the dry ingredients.
The amount of time it takes for the dough to rise depends on several factors including temperature, humidity, and even altitude. But generally speaking, most people say that bread should be ready after one hour at room temperature. However, if you live somewhere where the weather gets cold, you may find yourself waiting longer before your loaf comes out of the oven.
Yes, you can leave bread dough out overnight but only when stored properly in the refrigerator or freezer. Here’s why…
Temperature – Temperature affects the rate at which yeast grows. As temperatures drop below 60 degrees F, the growth rate slows down significantly. So if you store your dough outside of these conditions, it could take twice as long to double in size.
Humidity – Humidity plays a role in whether or not your dough will rise well. Moisture helps keep the yeast alive and active. In humid environments, the moisture content increases dramatically. That means less space between the cells for the yeast to grow. On top of that, the heat produced by the fermentation process makes the environment hotter. All of these elements combined mean that your dough won’t rise nearly as fast as it would otherwise.
Altitude – Altitudes above sea level affect the speed at which yeast grows. At higher altitudes, the atmosphere contains fewer oxygen molecules. Because of this, the yeast needs extra nutrients to survive.
If the bread dough is kept in the refrigerator, it might rise overnight. Depending on the dough, storing it in the refrigerator can inhibit the rise for 8-48 hours or longer. Some dough can be left out overnight at room temperature, although this frequently results in overfermentation.
It’s possible that you’ll wake up to fully proofed dough ready to bake. On a morning, I don’t think there’s anything better than the scent of freshly made bread. If you’re looking for an easy way to make homemade pizza crusts, check out my recipe here!
Refrigeration allows the gluten proteins within the dough to relax and become more elastic. This gives the finished product a softer texture and chewier crumb. It also prevents the formation of large air pockets inside the baked good. The result is a fluffier interior and a lighter exterior.
It helps in preventing the dough to get flat or over ferment. Overfermented dough tends to have a dense consistency and a tough outer shell. When refrigerated, the dough becomes firm enough to handle without breaking apart.
Another reason is that it inhibits bacterial activity. Bacteria are responsible for souring and spoiling food. They thrive best at warm temperatures. By keeping them cool, we limit their ability to multiply. Furthermore, refrigerating dough helps prevent mold from growing on the surface. Mold spores need warmth to germinate. Keeping the dough chilled keeps those spores dormant until they reach optimal conditions.
Absolutely! There’s no harm done leaving your dough out at room temperature. However, it may require some patience before it rises sufficiently. For example, if you’ve been making bread all day, chances are it hasn’t risen much yet.
But once it does start to rise, it should continue to do so throughout its life span. As long as it doesn’t go too far beyond what you want, then there shouldn’t be any issues with letting it sit around.
At room temperature, your dough is going to over ferment quickly because the ambient humidity levels are high. So even though it has time to rise, it isn’t going to rise very far.
In addition, when you take your loaf out of the oven, it will still be hot. And while the outside of the loaf is cooling down, the center continues to cook. This causes the bottom of the loaf to brown faster than the rest. Since the middle of the loaf is already cooked, it starts to collapse under its own weight.
You can store your dough anywhere where it has access to fresh air. A closet with a window works great. Or even outside undercover. Just remember to give it plenty of ventilation.
A place that is cold enough is good But not freezing cold. Freezing temperatures cause ice crystals to form in the dough which makes it difficult to work with.
If you plan to use your dough right away, just let it stay overnight. Otherwise, cover it loosely with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Make sure that the top of the container is sealed tightly.
The next morning, remove the lid and allow the dough to come back to room temperature. Then proceed with shaping and baking.
When using yeast, it’s important to keep an eye on how much active dry yeast you’re adding. Too little and the dough won’t rise properly. Too much and it’ll produce a heavy-textured crust.
So make sure that you add only enough yeast to achieve the desired results.
You need to find an airtight container that allows moisture to escape but prevents bacteria from entering. If possible, choose one made specifically for storing baked goods. It might cost more upfront, but it will save you money later by preventing spoilage.
This way, each portion gets used up sooner. Plus, it gives you more control over the amount of yeast you add.
I hope this article helped answer your question about whether you can leave bread dough to rise overnight.