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We have, because of Corona, started to make our own bread daily. This means we have dough in a round bowl in the fridge all the time, taking up a lot of space we can't use (on top of it, but also around it, because of the corners). I was wondering if it's possible to buy a square container with a completely closing lid, to make space on top of it in the fridge, as an extra shelf.

The problem I see, is that the yeast is creating air bubbles in the dough, basically filling the container with gas and therefore overpressure.

What kind dough-containers would be suitable? Do they need an air-valve to prevent overpressure in the container?

  • I don't htink it fills the container with gas. It fills the dough with gas and then teh dough fills the container. If the dough is not overflowing the container you don't have a problem. – user50726 Jun 6 '20 at 19:44
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    @aris only partially correct. Remember that the “empty” space in the container isn’t really empty, but full of air. When the dough expands, the air gets compressed as well and the pressure rises. – Stephie Jun 6 '20 at 20:59
  • @stephie, obviously the air gets compressed, but not by much. it's not even enough to pop a lid. i've never had a lid pop where the dough also was not overflowing the container. – user50726 Jun 7 '20 at 15:53
  • @aris I respectfully disagree - if you don’t trust my experience, you can ask plenty of Tupperware users and sellers in Germany, where the larger mixing bowls are nicknamed “peng” bowls, because the dough makes the lid go “pop” and thus “audibly signals” that the dough is done rising. Without the dough actually touching the lid. See here, for example: m.facebook.com/108179510591441/videos/516082935676626 – Stephie Jun 7 '20 at 16:02
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Most containers are not completely airtight. If you are worried that something like a cambro container seals too tightly, you can cover it with a baking tray or square plate, rather than the original lid. Alternatively, just poke a few holes in the lid.

Of course, make sure that there is enough head space between the dough and the top of the container, to avoid spills.

  • Hmm, poking a few holes might be a good idea! But you'd agree that having a container with an air valve (or at least not tightly closing) is necessary, to prevent pressure-buildup? – Rvervuurt Jun 6 '20 at 15:05
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    @Rvervuurt only if the container seals tightly. Most containers won't. Even if you get a container with a push-on lid like the ones I linked to, a pressure buildup will just pop the lid. The only time I would be worried about pressure is when I have sealed glass containers like a mason jar. – LSchoon Jun 6 '20 at 15:16
  • @LSchoon things could get interesting if there's something heavy on top of the lid, since OP wants to store things on top of it. – Kat Jun 7 '20 at 19:58
  • @Kat Again, only if the lid provides an airtight seal. – LSchoon Jun 7 '20 at 20:05
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I would recommend thinking about a rectangular or square container for another reason beyond space saving - if you are doing long cold rises (as suggested by your question), you may at some point try stretch-and-fold techniques. I personally find this a lot easier to do with a square container than a round one.

Any food-safe, appropriately sized box should do, active dough will be creating gas, but except for the most tight lid types, the lid will simply pop up at one edge or corner, even with some weight on top. I wouldn’t go for a vent, because of your dough really is on a fridge-exploring mission, a small vent won’t hold anything back and be a pain to clean. Instead, check on the dough occasionally (unless you have your recipe down well enough to know how the dough behaves) and knock it back if really necessary.

The only type I would not chose is the clamp-down lids, because they can’t pop open if necessary.

If you don’t have a container with a lid and would rather continue using the bowl you have, consider a plate or pot lid for round containers or simply a chopping board.

Here’s a peek into my fridge (yes, the containers seem oversized, but this dough needs it): enter image description here

Both are of the “cheapo, with a not-so-well-fitting lid” kind.

  • We make a 6- or 12-bun dough every nth day (depending on if I eat at home) and bake 2 or 4 (again, depending if I'm home) small buns a day, so the dough is under constant supervision. Going to see if we can find a container similar to yours. I expected clamp-down containers to be a problem, but since I couldn't find anything online that actually said this, I figured I'd ask here, hoping it's useful for future generations :D – Rvervuurt Jun 6 '20 at 20:14
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I must say that I'm more experienced with focaccia or pizza than bread, namely products that need to be rolled out before baking. Speaking of the time window of a night/few days in the fridge, I've tried various kind of containers more or less airtight and I'd say that it doesn't make a difference. Nor would I say that you absolutely need a valve. I do use rectangular containers but this is due to the fact that I need to roll the dough afterwards on a rectangular baking dish. Again since it's products that need to be rolled, the main point is to prevent the surface to dry, that would make the rolling a mess.

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