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Yeasted dough is usually given a second rise because after the first rise it's shaped, which knocks the air out of it and so it needs time to be leavened again. But what if you shaped the dough before the first rise and then baked after letting it rise (without deflating the dough in the process)? Would there be any difference in the end result compared to the two rise method? Assume that in both cases, the dough is left to refrigerate overnight for the first rise.

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Part of the effect of the first rise is to develop gluten in the dough. With an overnight rise, the flavour and texture of the final product will most likely be fine. However, you might have trouble shaping the dough before it has risen and/or relaxed.

Note that even in bread recipes that explicitly tell you not to punch down the dough (such as Ken Forkish' recipes), there is a first- and second rise.

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Just an update, I found this article comparing the two methods https://kneadrisebake.com/why-does-dough-need-to-rise-twice/ and in conclusion, the dough left to rise twice resulted in bread that had a better, more lighter texture than the dough risen only once.

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Yeast, enzymes, water and time develop gluten far beyond kneading, there is a significant difference between the texture of the dough after the first rise which makes it much easier to shape and often less sticky as well. If you skip the first rise you lose the benefits of this process. You can also see how responsive your yeast is and make sure it gets a good start.

That being said there are no knead, single rise methods that work just the way you suggest. After mixing you put the dough into whatever you plan bake it in and let it do its thing for a day in the fridge. The shape and type of the pans/tins you can use is more limited as it will often stick like glue. You could knead your dough and then put it into a non-stick baking tin and give it a long rise in the fridge and probably get a good result, provided it doesn't stick.

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  • Would you get the same amount of leavening either way? After punching down the dough it loses some air, and then regains it back during the second rise but would this decrease the amount of leavening provided compared to not losing any air at all before baking? – CrackerJacked May 14 '20 at 13:40
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    Getting a good rise requires good gluten development in order to trap air and stretch, more proofing means more gluten development. However, I don't believe in punching dough down, and when I shape I do so in a way that keeps as much air in the dough as possible. Why waste all of the yeast's hard work? However, you will usually get it all back, it depends on a number of factors. – GdD May 14 '20 at 13:45
  • Punching down dough does have its time and place, for instance if you want to make a tight-crumbed bread like sandwich bread. – LSchoon May 14 '20 at 18:11
  • For my usual recipes I typically find after a long first rise (partly in the fridge) there are visible air bubbles on the surface, and I suspect that inside the air is unevenly distributed. A gentle stretch and fold and second rise evens all this out. Most one-rise recipes I've seen use a tin, which I imagine helps control the air within the dough. – Mark Wildon May 15 '20 at 10:52

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