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Q&A

How can I freeze bread dough?

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I would like to be able to freeze unbaked bread dough, so that at some later time I (or someone I'm giving it to) could thaw it out and then bake it. (Fresh-baked bread is nicer than thawed already-baked bread.) If I'm going to do this, when in the process should I do it, and are there any special considerations for packaging it?

My usual baking process is:

  1. Make the dough at night and let it bulk-ferment overnight.
  2. In the morning, the dough will have doubled in size. Shape it into loaves.
  3. Let rise a few hours until it (roughly) doubles again.
  4. Bake.

Is it better to freeze the dough before or after that final rise? Would freezing kill the yeast, and so it would not rise after thawing, and therefore I should do it right before #4? Or would it try to rise while thawing, and so I should freeze it before the final rise (after #2)?

I've bought frozen bread dough that was oven-ready after thawing, and also frozen bread dough that I had to let thaw and then rise. Neither of these were recent and both were commercial products, so there were probably other ingredients involved beyond those of the home baker.

I can science this when I next bake, and if so I can report back. But I was hoping to do this next time I bake, so if I can find an answer before doing my own research, that'd be better.

Finally, is wrapping the dough in parchment paper and then putting that in (freezer-grade) zipper bags the right packaging? Or is there a better way to ready dough for the freezer? I'm thinking of parchment paper because it's what the bread would then be baked on, and I worry that the dough would stick to the plastic bag. I do not have a vacuum sealer.

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1 answer

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The best results depend on:

  • freezing after the first rise and shaping, but before proofing

  • in a form that you can store easily

  • with minimal trapped air

So: knead your dough and let it rise to your usual standard; punch it down, then put it into a greased loaf pan (even if you aren't planning on ending up with loafs). Freeze until solid -- overnight should do. Remove it from the pan, and store the no-longer-sticky frozen rectangular lump of dough in airproof packaging. A freezer-rated zip bag is usually a good idea.

When you want fresh bread, remove it from the freezer and the bag. If you're going to bake it in a loaf pan, put it in one now. Defrost in the refrigerator, then let it proof again before baking.

Storage time will depend on the airproofing and temperature, but a month is a safe bet.

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