by Tammy Taylor
OK, so if you follow me on Facebook, y’all know we’re doing a grocery no-spend challenge this month. Which means I’m baking LOTS of homemade bread. But I’m trying to find shortcuts so that I’m not starting over every day, it seems between pulling out ingredients & bowls, measuring cups & spoons I’m spending way too much time in preparation & cleanup. So to experiment I baked & froze 3 loaves of bread, then I made up another batch (which makes 2 loaves) and stuck the dough in the fridge. I was wondering if that refrigerated dough would still bake up the same as fresh. Here’s what I found:
The prepared dough was placed in a greased bowl covered with a plate when I placed it in the fridge. Even though it was in the fridge the dough still rose & pushed the plate up. I brought it out and punched it down, re-greased it, re-covered it & put it back in the fridge overnight.
In the morning I noticed it had risen a bit again but not near as much as yesterday. I wanted to experiment with working with cold dough instead of allowing it to come back to room temp. So I sprinkled flour on the counter and plopped the cold dough on top of it. I rolled it out and placed it in a warmed oven to rise. Instead of my typical 50 minute second rise time I allowed 1 hour 5 minutes and it seemed to rise nicely. I didn’t want it to over-rise since that tends to make the bread to partially collapse during baking & make a misshapen loaf.
When the rise time was over I turned the oven on to 375 degrees for my glass pans. Then I baked for the regular 30-minutes time, buttering the tops when 5 minutes of baking time remained. The loaves baked beautifully!
So there ya go – question asked, question answered! The Reader’s Digest is YES – refrigerating the dough overnight worked fine! (with a little tweaking). I’m also experimenting with pre-measuring the dry ingredients to both speed future bread preparation as well as eliminate any extra kitchen cleanup.
Since each batch in my recipe makes two loaves my hope is to bake 1.5 batches of bread (since my oven holds 3 loaf pans), then mix up & refrigerate one batch which is 2 loaves for next-day baking and freeze any extra dough in single-loaf dough logs for future thaw-n-bake sessions. Much of the kitchen cleanup can be eliminated that way since you’re pulling out those ingredients, bowls & measuring cups & utensils only once. Work smarter, not harder is what I always say…
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