Dough can be stored at room temperature, in the fridge, and also in the freezer.
You can make a batch of bread dough, and provided you wrap it properly, you can keep it in the fridge for up to five days, depending on a few factors.
You cannot just throw it in the fridge and forget about it, however. It is best to consume the dough within 48 hours for best results.
Although the yeast in the dough will cause the bread to rise more slowly in cold temperatures, the bread will still proof and rise.
Because of this, you will need to knead it, reduce its size a little, and then put it back in the fridge occasionally.
Some bakers suggest using the fridge to proof bread dough for the first ‘round’, to boost the flavour and improve the texture of the finished baked product.
How Long Does Dough Last at Room Temperature?
The length of time that dough will last in different scenarios will very much depend on the ingredients within the dough itself.
Bread dough, for example, contains yeast, which reacts to heat. At room temperature, the bread will rise and proof, but you can overproof bread dough, leaving it out for too long.
It is recommended that you either refrigerate, bake, or freeze dough that has been left at room temperature for more than twelve hours.
More complex recipes, with more complex ingredients, can change the length of time that dough can be left at room temperature.
Eggs, milk, cheese, and other fresh produce can turn bad quite quickly. If your dough contains these ingredients, treat it as you would the dairy product – refrigerate it.
How Long Does Dough Last in the Freezer?
Just as with refrigeration, the ingredients of your dough will affect how long it lasts in the freezer. Complex recipes with ingredients such as milk, eggs, cheese, etc. will last for up to four weeks when stored in the freezer, unbaked.
Dough that does not contain fresh ingredients, and instead are a simple mix of salt, flour, yeast and water can be frozen for up to three months.
How to Store Dough in the Fridge
You will want to store your dough in a container or bag that is big enough to allow it to rise. The bag must be sealable so that it is airtight. You can cover the top of a container with cling film if you don’t have a lid.
It is best to flour and oil the container or bag before placing the dough inside, to prevent sticking.
The dough can then be stored in the fridge for up to five days, depending on the dough’s ingredients.
How to Store Dough in the Freezer
Once you have created your dough, section it (if that’s your plan) and shape the sections. If you are creating a loaf of bread, you will need to find a loaf-shaped (or similar) container.
You will want to let the dough sit and proof for the first round, letting it rise. Once it has, oil the loaf tin or container to stop the dough from sticking.
If you are creating bread rolls or similar, shape the pieces in the desired way, as if you were going to bake them straight afterwards, and then flour and oil them. You can place these into freezer bags or containers; they just need to be airtight.
When you’re freezing dough in a loaf tin or similar container, let the dough freeze just a little, then slide it out, wrap it tightly in cling film or place into an airtight freezer bag to then continue freezing. This frees up the container but still allows the bread to keeps its shape.
Make sure you label your dough before placing it in the freezer so you can keep track of when you need to eat it.
Kim is a writer with more than a decade of experience, and a food enthusiast. When she’s not spending her time writing about her favourite dishes, you can find her in the cake aisle of her local supermarket, or making a mess in the kitchen.