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Dough out of 'fridge... Is there a "too long" before baking?

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  • Dough out of 'fridge... Is there a "too long" before baking?

    Good morning all,
    I see a general, ball park average of about two hours before baking that people seem to remove their dough balls from the 'fridge. I am assuming that is a minimum in order to allow the dough to relax and soften, to get to room temperature so it is easier to stretch & handle. My question is, is there a maximum, or just a too much before? I mean within reason, of course. Not extra days. Does it matter if it's three hours? Four? So maybe when I start the fire in the oven I might as well get out the dough too? (Three hours easily from lighting the match to full white dome, though I like to go a little longer just for heat saturation enough to make me feel comfortable. So 3.5 - 4 hours from lighting to baking). Nothing is going to go wrong by having my dough balls out for three or four hours before baking, right? It's not at all like I need the dough to proof and hold a shape and worry about collapsing. So? Of course, I'm about to find out this evening anyway.
    Thanks, gang

  • #2
    Re: Dough out of 'fridge... Is there a "too long" before baking?

    Hi Kim!

    Time is not particularly critical for pizza. Bread serves as a good reference for it is far more critical there.

    The key to proofing lies mostly in the balance between CO2 being generated and leaking out. During early proofing there is plenty of food and the yeast population and rate of CO2 generation is growing. As an aside much of the early CO2 is dissolved in the dough itself. As proofing progresses the CO2 migrates from the dough to pockets in the gluten web to create the holes/bubbles in the dough. At "peak" rise the rate of CO2 generation is approximately equal to the rate of leakage out of the dough. Sugar/food for the yeast is declining. The rate of yeast death is increasing. And as it overproofs the amount of sugar in the dough declines (which leads to a paler/grayer (sometimes browner) crust instead of the gold of a properly proofed loaf. And less oven spring. And, because more time means more enzymatic and bacterial protein and starch degradation the dough has less strength so will tend to puddle more (not hold shape) and dying yeast releases chemicals that make the dough more extensible (further making the loaf flatter).

    Following PRs or FBs dough method and retard, at two hours out of the refrigerator the dough is still pretty underproofed by bread standards. The dough should have sugar and give a more golden crust than later. To be honest, I don't see a big difference out to four or five hours at reasonable temps other than the dough getting gassier which is not a big deal to me. However, at some point the color of the finished pie will pale and become grayer as the depletion of sugars prevents caramalizaion and the golden color. If rerfrigerated I also find the texture tends to get cardboardy as the degradation of the dough progresses. Eventually the taste goes off, too IMO.

    I don't leave my dough balls out in the hot sun (95+ F) for more than an hour or so. While I do typically pull another tray of dough balls out every hour or two to "stage" their peaking, three or five hours at 75 seems to not be a problem.

    Happy New Year!


    • #3
      Re: Dough out of 'fridge... Is there a "too long" before baking?

      Hi Jay,
      I sort of had an understanding of what you've just said, but you said it far, far better than I was even close to doing.

      I was pretty sure leaving the pizza dough out for three or four hours wouldn't be a problem. I just like to know because often when I'm doing a bake day there are several things to have organized and anything that can be flexible with respect to my schedule needs is appreciated. Breads while in final proof are not so flexible and I have to pay attention. Oven temps can be regulated and I can hold an oven till the bread dough is ready even if that means I started my fire too early and end up burning more wood than necessary: At least I can hold it at temp. So knowing I have some leeway with the pizza dough is good. I can take it out when I'm comfortable and get on with other tasks.

      Thanks Jay, all the best in 2012 and then some.