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I prefer my bread freshly baked (who doesn't?), but my mixer prefers kneading two loaves at a time to just kneading one. I have tried to freeze the second loaf before baking it, but when I thaw it, it does not rise well before baking. I've tried thawing it entirely in the refrigerator and then letting it rise on the counter, but that did not seem to work. Does anyone have a good technique or suggestion for this?

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3 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Traditional dough will not freeze well. You have to par-bake it.

In the US, the “freshly baked” bread sold in most supermarkets is par-baked dough. This is risen dough, which is then baked for 70 to 80% of the usual baking time, cooled, frozen, and shipped to the supermarket, where it is baked again until golden. You could do the same.

A par-baked baugette is a bit denser than a traditional one. Freezing the dough before baking it kills most of the yeast preventing it from working during the first stages of baking.

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Does the par-baked dough need to be defrosted prior to baking? I'm assuming that it should be, but of course when I tried it, I forgot to do that. It turned out okay, but not great. –  Rebekah Aug 19 '10 at 18:39
    
Easier if not. The store bought par-baked baguettes I keep go straight from freezer to oven. The package says 12 minutes, but if they go for more than 8 minutes at 400F, they burn. They develop a nice caramel color. The baguettes need to rest 5 minutes or they will still be frozen in the inside. Ovens vary a lot so it's hard to give precise timings, but when you are doing the first bake you want to stop as soon as the bread starts to develop some color, but before it gets a crust. –  papin Aug 20 '10 at 21:07
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I finally got to try this and was very happy with the results. Thanks! –  Rebekah Sep 20 '10 at 22:03
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I've never done it for bread, so I can't be sure it'll work, but for pizza dough, I freeze it in smaller balls, so there's a higher surface to mass ratio when thawing it (in the fridge, takes a day for ~2" / 5cm balls.) It's worked fine, but I admit I'm not entering any competitions with it.

My understanding is that many of the "rising crust" frozen pizzas use a mix of yeast and chemical leaveners, so they can be sure it'll rise after having been frozen, so this might be a possible additive to try. You'll want a double-acting baking powder, as it'll act when heated, not just when it first gets wet.

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All the time the dough stays under room temperature is lost time for the yeast that didn't die on freezing - you can't count on it being "instant" anymore.

Thaw it outside or even in a warmer place 35-40C if room temperature is low.

In my experience, if you have to freeze raw dough at all the best results are with already risen ready-to-bake dough.

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