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We've got a few questions about resting dough but most relate to yeast-based baking. I'm interested in a dough using baking powder. I've been looking at lebkuchen recipes, and many want the dough to be rested e.g. BBC recipe: an hour. I understand this will make the dough roll out better and hold its shape on baking. These are both good things.

Is there any downside to resting it overnight? I want to cut out and bake them in the morning, then decorate them later the same day. I could keep the dough at room temperature or in the fridge - which would be better?

  • I'm inclined to try it, putting it in the fridge. I haven't made this recipe before so won't be able to compare to the normal method. – Chris H Dec 10 '16 at 18:20
  • Are you willing to save a little bit of the dough and bake some in an hour, and the rest tomorrow? – Joe Dec 10 '16 at 18:37
  • Actually, in thinking about it ... even if you don't have time, you could leave some out of the fridge, and then compare the fridged vs. unfridged ... I'm actually thinking about trying all three, as I'm a bit behind on my cookie baking for this time of year. – Joe Dec 10 '16 at 18:53
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The recipie I use from my grandmother says to put it in the fridge directly after making the dough, and leave it there for a minimum of one night. Two is better. The liquid ingredients should be allowed to cool to room temperature before mixing in the dry ingredients. The cookies often taste even better a few days after baking as the flavours mingle and mellow. I'm not sure about the recipie you're using, but I'm pretty it means the batch makes 50 cookies. I know my recipie certainly makes a lot, though I've never sat down and counted the exact amount.

  • Thank you and welcome. I don't know how easy it would have been to mix if I'd let the butter/sugar/honey cool down all the way to room temperature in this case but it might be a good idea to avoid accidentally cooking the egg. I think it made 30-35, but some of our Christmas cutters are a bit bigger than typical Lebkuchen. And they're still good after a week in an airtight box – Chris H Dec 19 '16 at 14:30
  • My family makes similar cookies every year. I find that the dough is easier to roll out when cold; at room temperature it can be almost too soft to roll effectively. (But my family's recipe may have a different proportion of flour to liquid and so may behave differently.) – Michael Seifert Dec 19 '16 at 15:53
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Note to self : Make sure to read the answer carefully, and follow the link. (maybe I saw the mention of yeast in the question, and didn't see he had said he knew how to deal with yeast).

...

Chemical reactions will slow at colder temperatures, but I have no idea by how much, or if it even applies in this case. The chemical reaction would've happened quickly, assuming the baking powder was mixed in well and I suspect it's that you need the dough to relax some ... which would be inhibited by the fridge, but if that's the case, you'd have to let the dough warm back up again (which might be 30 min or so, defeating much of the point of this)

Although they do call for putting the dough in the fridge for a few minutes if it's too sticky, that is significantly different from letting it get cold all the way through.

I wouldn't try to leave it to rest out of the fridge, because the air will slowly escape, deflating the dough. This is less a problem with double-acting baking powder, as it'll release more gas when it's heated.

If the situation is that you have some time now, but not enough, and you'll have more time later -- then I'd mix up the dry ingredients now. You could also cook the butter/sugar mix, but you'd want to put that back into the fridge and re-heat it later (maybe a low microwave?). When ready, mix the eggs into the dry stuff and add the butter/sugar blend.

(and in reading the recipe -- I don't know if "Serves 1 - 50 Cookies" means that one person will eat all 50 cookies, or that you could make one large cookie or 50 small ones)

Original (bad) answer follows:


I frequently let things rise in the fridge overnight or while I'm at work (or both), when the recipes call for leaving it 'until doubled'.

I typically put it in a container about 3 to 4 times larger than the volume of dough, loosely lidded, with something heavy on top of it (in case it tries to rise so much it comes out of the container).

When you take it out of the fridge, you may need to let it warm back up a little bit, as it can cause things to be a little bit stiffer than it would have been at room temperature.

I would not leave it out at room temperature, as it would ferment much more than called for in the recipe.

  • I vaguely remember hearing that microbial activity is roughly halved for every 10 degrees lower .... but I can't remember if that was in Celsius or Fahrenheit. If F, then 70 to 40 degrees would take 8 times longer; if C, then it'd be roughly 3.17 times longer. ... but I can't find experimental data to show if this is true for yeast. The only data I could find only covered about 13°C range, and it was getting up to where things slow back down. – Joe Dec 10 '16 at 17:31
  • I've proved Chelsea buns in the fridge overnight, and that worked except the ones in the middle of the tin cooked much much slowly than the ones on the outside. But that's yeast. This is a recipe with baking powder, so chemistry not biology. – Chris H Dec 10 '16 at 18:19
  • @ChrisH : Doh. I didn't look at the recipe, missed the mention of baking powder, and was thinking stollen for some reason. Temperature should reduce chemical reactions, too, but I have no idea at what rate. – Joe Dec 10 '16 at 18:32
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I can't be absolutely certain as plans changed and I didn't leave it overnight in the end, but the dough in question was very forgiving once it had cooled down to room temperature (it had to put up with a lot of rerolling).

It definitely needed the rest as after assembling all the ingredients it was runny and not at all rollable. After 3 hours at a cool room temperature it was easy to roll and cut. I think that it would need to come back up to room temperature if rested in the fridge, or it would crack when rolled.

  • This is a little incomplete, as I didn't end up testing it as planned. But it will do unless something better comes along – Chris H Dec 18 '16 at 15:15

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