Explore the three main types of dough and learn how to properly store and freeze your dough so that you always have a batch on hand when you’re in the mood to whip up something delicious at home.
Basic Bread Dough contains flour, salt, a small quantity of sugar, shortening and yeast. This mixture is mixed to a soft dough with lukewarm water. The dough must be kneaded until the surface is smooth and the dough is elastic. A basic dough will take only 20 – 30 minutes to rise. The texture of the final baked product should be fine and even, without large holes.
A sweet dough has a larger quantity of sugar and often the mixture contains milk, eggs, increased shortening, dried fruit and spices. A small quantity of sugar activates the yeast, but the richer and sweeter the dough, the slower the rising. The dough must be kneaded until the surface is shiny and the dough becomes elastic. The texture of the final baked product should be finer than that of the basic dough.
This mixture contains a large quantity of liquid in the form of water, milk, or eggs. The batter mixture is a thin, dripping consistency and is not as firm as a dough mixture. Batters with yeast, must be mixed until the batter comes together, and no batter threads are visible. The product will then hold its shape when baked. After mixing, the batter is usually placed directly into the pan for the rising process. As batters are soft and runny, these mixtures rise very quickly. The texture of the final baked product is different from that of kneaded dough as it is more open and a little coarser.
Storing Yeast Dough
If it is not convenient to bake bread dough immediately, you can store it in an oiled bowl covered with clear film (cling wrap), or seal it in a plastic bag. Dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days if it contains butter, milk or eggs and up to 4 days if no perishable ingredients are included. Keep an eye on the dough and knock it back (punch it down) occasionally. When you are ready to use the dough, bring it back to room temperature, then shape, prove and bake it in the normal way.
Hint: You can make dough in your bread machine, shape it, place onto a baking tray or into a bread pan. Keep it in the refrigerator over-night, ready for baking conventionally the next morning. Cover with a lightly greased plastic as usual.
Freezing Yeast Dough
Bread dough can be frozen in a plastic bag for up to one month. When you are ready to use it, thaw the dough over-night in the refrigerator or at room temperature for 2 – 3 hours. Once the dough has thawed, place it in a warm place to rise, but bear in mind that it will take longer to rise than freshly made dough.
Storing Baked Products
Cool the bread, then wrap it in foil or place it in a plastic bag and seal it to preserve the freshness. If your bread has a crisp crust, this will soften with storage, so until it is sliced it is best left uncovered. After cutting, put the loaf in a large plastic bag, but try to use it quickly as bread starts to dry out as soon as it is cut. Bread containing eggs tends to dry out even more quickly, while those made with honey or added fats, stay moist for longer.
Freezing Baked Products
Ideally fresh baked bread should be consumed within 2 – 3 days. Avoid storing bread in the refrigerator as this causes it to go stale more quickly. Freeze baked breads if you need to keep them for longer. Place the loaf or rolls in a freezer bag, seal and freeze for up to three months. If you intend to use the bread for toast or sandwiches, it is easier to slice it before freezing, so you can remove only the number of slices you need. Thaw the bread at room temperature, still in its freezer bag. With some loaves, however, freezing may not be a sensible option. For example, very crusty bread, such as French Bread, tends to come apart after it has been frozen and thawed.
Hint: To serve bread warm, wrap the bread in foil and place in a preheated oven at 180 ˚C / 350 ˚F for 10 – 15 minutes, to heat through. This is also a method that can be used to freshen bread.