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I often find myself with an urge to bake things in the evening, but without enough hungry mouths left to justify actually producing anything substantial by the time the recipe is done.

As such, it'd be handy to have some guidelines for how to modify a recipe so that I can do part of the preparation in the evening, leave the dough to rise overnight (either at room temperature or in the fridge), and continue with the recipe the next morning.

Things I imagine might come into play:

  • A conversion from counter rise times to fridge rise times - does 90 minutes at room temperature correspond to a certain duration at 40F? Is the risk of over-proofing more or less, if I sleep in and miss my target?

  • Reducing the amount of yeast in a recipe by some fraction, so that it doesn't rise as quickly (but what fraction?)

  • Specific features of a recipe that make it an especially good or bad idea to try this kind of modification - certain ingredients, cooking temperatures, whatever.

Any advice along these lines would be appreciated! Interested in guidelines for both bread and other yeast-based doughs (rolls, buns, pizzas, etc.).

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There are no strict formulas or conversions, the mathematics of bread baking are too complex for such predictions.

Rising at room temperature overnight is not recommended, it is generally way too warm in our homes.

The thing you can do is to take any recipe you have, and stick it in the fridge as-is, either for the first or for the second proofing. It should generally turn out OK overnight, but if it tends to overproof or underproof, you will have to adjust the amount of yeast in the future. You have to find this out by trial and error. In the morning, you will have to give the dough time to warm up back to room temperature before continuing to work with it.

There aren't that many things to be said about ingredients. Doughs with very high amounts of butter will tend to change their handling with refrigeration and are more demanding about the temperature at which you shape them.

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  • If you have a basement accessible (and clean enough for open food storage), that can provide a nice middle ground between fridge and regular out-in-the-open temperatures. But in the end, it just boils down to trying – Hobbamok May 5 at 13:41
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    Interesting. When I make bread, I have regularly let mine rise overnight on the counter and I've never had a problem. – Michael Mior May 5 at 16:53
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This is a supplementary answer.

There are apps for calculating the ingredients for overnight rise. For example, I use PizzApp which has yeast ratios for long rises, either at room temp or refrigerated. Sometimes this means adding 0.5g of yeast to a recipe, but it works. There are similar apps for bread making, but I haven't used one so I can't recommend any.

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This is not strictly an answer but I though I would add this (I have no problem removing this answer if it is too off topic).

One thing I do when baking bread is combining equal amounts of flour and yeast to make a kind of pancake batter that can rise overnight and then I incorporate the rest of the flourer in the morning. One needs to lower the amount of yeast, the recipe I have followed suggests 1 gram of fresh yeast per kg of flour, but I've done maybe 1 gram of yeast to 300 grams to 500 grams, which has turned out fine (It doesn't really matter if the batter has over-proofed). The point is that after you incorporate the rest of the flour and kneed you get a nice and flavourful dough, which needs to rise only for a couple of hours, 2~3.

I think you can apply this method for most bread recipes, I tried it with pizza dough and it worked fine. BTW, according to book I follow (in Swedish unfortunately) this is the method used for making baguette and making this kind of batter is apparently a technique from Poland.

Best of luck with the baking! :)

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