Bread dough in the refrigerator


Hi there,

New here. Been baking for years, but have never got the hang of refrigerating my doughs the day before baking. Always wind up with dry spots. Is there a proven technique to keeping the dough moist in the fridge over night? I have had most success with a large bowl and plastic wrap, but when the bread rises, it pulls the plastic away and lets part of the dough dry out. Perhaps this is the norm?

I appreciate everyone's advice!

Thank you,

badge posted by: Oregon_baker on September 27, 2010 at 10:12 pm in Baking, yeast
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reply by: wingboy on September 27, 2010 at 10:29 pm

Hi Bryan,

I use a Cambro container. It's about 4 quarts and has a lid. I've used ice cream containers, too. Anything food safe seems to work.

What part of OR? I'm near Corvallis.

reply by: brightbakes on September 27, 2010 at 10:49 pm

as a part time artisan baker, I am constantly 'retarding' my doughs by sticking them in the refrigerator at different points in the fermentation process.
Refrigeration is such a handy tool in controlling fermentation!
The first thing to try is to make sure your container is large enough so that when the dough rises, it still is under the rim of the container. This way, if you place plastic wrap over the top, the dough can't "push" it out of the way. Also, use an extra large piece of plastic wrap. If you are placing the breads in the fridge during final proofing, (in the pans), a shower cap sprayed with cooking spray works great! :)
Oh, and if you don't already, always mist the entire surface of your dough with cooking spray. This helps seal in the moisture too.
All the best of luck in your baking adventures!
Cathy B.

reply by: Oregon_baker on September 27, 2010 at 11:20 pm

Thanks for the info! I have a cambro circular container I use for proofing that I could try to us for the refrigerator rise. Do you completely seal the lid and/or still put plastic wrap over the dough?

I'm in Hillsboro, outside of Portland.

Thanks again!

reply by: frick on September 28, 2010 at 2:10 pm

I just shove my dough in a gallon ziplock. Force all the air out, though, as it will expand to fill the bag by the next day. I reuse the bags by putting them, when empty, in the freezer.

Some people spray the bag with baking spray but it is not necessary. When you are ready to take the dough out, just turn down the top part inside out and the dough will just pour right out.

reply by: sddickes on September 28, 2010 at 5:01 pm

I also use the Ziploc gallon bag although I just leave about 1" open at the top. I do lightly oil and bag. I have been refrigerating the empty bags to reuse them, but I like the idea of freezing them - thanks frick. Susan

reply by: toffee on October 01, 2010 at 2:44 pm

That's why I love the BC; I always find new ways to solve problems. I would never have put the dough in a gallon ziplock thinking it would rise too much. I assume it is a 3 cup flour recipe? Or do you make a bigger batch and just split the dough? I am going to try this the next time I am pressed for time or just want to let the flavor develop.


reply by: hickeyja on October 02, 2010 at 11:12 pm

If you check your grocery store shelf carefully, you should find the larger size ziplock bags. They are 2 to 2-1/2 gallon size. Great for a 2-loaf batch of dough.

I always use the ziplock bags for refrigerating doughs. The bigger bags also work well for panned loaves. You can easily fit 2 4x8 pans into the 2 gallon size bag.


reply by: nanvaughn on October 03, 2010 at 12:38 pm

I teach FCS classes and have to refrigerate 24 bags of dough at time. I find that if I put them into a double bag, squeeze all of the air out and place in freezer for 1 hour, then transfer to the refrigerator, I can successfully store these many bags for overnight. I get the gallon size bags from Gordon Food Service. I also find that spraying the inside of the bag with vegetable spray makes it easier to get the dough out later on. Once the dough gets a crust it is no good and has to be cut out from the remaining dough.

reply by: heeschen on February 10, 2011 at 8:26 pm

I bake mostly whole wheat and rye breads. Can both types be put in the refrigerator overnight for the second rising?

reply by: frick on February 26, 2011 at 7:25 pm

I forgot to mention that a 4 1/4 cups flour recipe (about two pounds of bread) will fit in a gallon ziplock. It will completely fill the bag but so far has not popped it open, but you have to squeeze all the air out first.

reply by: Linda S on March 07, 2011 at 7:42 pm
Linda S

I'm a newbie to bread baking. I see a lot about overnight proofing in the refrigerator, but haven't seen anything regarding sweet bread dough specifically.

I would like to be able to start a Portuguese Sweet Bread dough and let it rise overnight, but I'm afraid to try that without knowing if it would cause a problem.

I made my first ever batch of Portuguese Sweet Bread (successfully!!)using the KAF recipe and the instructed rising of about 2 hours for the first rise and 90 min. for the 2nd rise and it was fine, but I also know that the longer you can rise the dough, the more the flavors will develop, so I'd like to see if I can do an overnight rise.

My Mom's old recipe made 6 loaves and rose 12 hours, but since I'm only making 1 or 2 loaves, I know that would be too long unless it's in the fridge or in a really cold room.

Also, if I can use the fridge overnight, what time would I have to start the dough to be able to have it out for the 2nd rise about mid-morning?

Thanks for any help, it's greatly appreciated.