Almost every bread recipe will instruct you to let your bread rest. Is your bread just being lazy, or is there a purpose behind letting bread dough rest?
Bread dough must rest for a variety of reasons. One reason is that it makes the dough infinitely easier to knead and shape. Another important reason is that resting will allow the bread to rise correctly, ensuring a sky-high, light, fluffy, and delicious result.
Hey! Im Michelle, a bread baker with over ten years of experience. Ive enjoyed making bread of all kinds, from regular white sandwich bread to Artisan options like sourdough. I’m here to explain why letting your bread rest before baking is so important.
All hands to the sky! Its time to discuss why the resting period is so critical to bread-baking success!
- 3 Reasons Why Dough Needs to Rest
- Always Make Sure Your Bread Dough Rests!
- What happens if you don’t rest dough?
- How long does dough need to rest?
- Why does dough without yeast need to rest?
- Why must you allow the dough to rest before rolling it out?
- Is it OK to let dough rise too long?
- Is it okay to not chill dough?
- What is Overproofed dough?
- How do you know when dough is proofed?
- How can you tell if you have kneaded the dough long enough?
3 Reasons Why Dough Needs to Rest
Your bread recipe likely says that your bread needs to rest, which can sound odd. What’s the big deal about letting bread dough rise? Well, there are actually three key reasons why resting your dough is necessary for a successful loaf.
1. Easier to Knead/Shape
Everyone knows that kneading bread dough is a critical part of the bread-baking process, but its not always the most enjoyable part. Kneading (and shaping) can be tricky, especially if youre working with dough thats not quite ready.
Bread dough that has not rested long enough will be impossible to work with. It will snap back while working with it, so much so that kneading in your bread machine may also be unfeasible.
That brings us to reason number one why your bread dough needs to rest. A proper resting period will allow the gluten to expand and absorb water in the dough, making it more flexible and easily kneaded.
So, if youre struggling with a tight and stubborn ball of dough, the simplest solution may be to allow it to rest for a little longer.
2. Higher Rise
One of the most critical ingredients in a bread recipe is yeast. Yeast is living microorganisms that feed on the sugars of the flour (and added sugars, if used), releasing carbon dioxide for the bread to rise. Without yeast, you will end up with a flat, dense loaf.
But how does this connect to the resting period? Well, yeast needs enough time to feed on the sugars and expel CO2. If you quicken or skip the resting period, your yeast wont have enough time to produce carbon dioxide, leaving you with a flat and unpleasant loaf.
At the same time, the gluten strands will relax and reform into long protein chains that will ensure a picture-perfect structure.
How long should you let your bread to rest? That mostly depends on what type of bread youre making and where youre letting bread dough rest.
In a warm environment, most bread rises within a few hours. However, some people place their loaves (especially Artisan loaves) in the refrigerator to slow the process and allow them to rise for up to 24 hours.
Regardless of where youre planning to let your bread dough rise, its essential to give it enough time so that it can bake and rise beautifully with a pleasant texture. Most of the time, your bread will need at least an hour.
3. Improved Texture and Flavor
Theres a reason why bread bakers allow their loaves to rest in the refrigerator for extended periods; it improves the texture and flavor of the loaves drastically.
This all comes down to whats happening while the dough is resting. During this time, the gluten chain is relaxing and restructuring while the yeast is creating CO2. These two processes ensure a better crumb, texture, and flavor.
So, the next time you think about rushing your breads resting period, think again. Allow it to rest a little longer, and you will notice some impressive changes.
Okay, so now we know why the rest period for bread dough is critical. Now we need to learn a little bit more! Ive hand-selected some commonly asked questions that go hand-in-hand with our interesting topic. Lets check them out!
What happens if you don’t rest dough?
If you dont allow your bread to rest for the required amount of time, a few things can happen. For one, it will be challenging (if not impossible) to knead and shape. The loaf may also come out dense, flat, and lacking flavor. That said, always let your bread dough rest!
How long should the dough be left to rest?
That really depends on the type of bread youre making and where youre letting the bread dough rise. For the most part, bread only needs about 1 to 3 hours at room temperature. If its in the fridge, you can let it rise for up to 24 hours.
Can bread dough rest too long?
Unfortunately, yes, you can let bread dough rest for too long, otherwise known as overproofing. Overproofing will cause bread to collapse and have an odd flavor and texture. The best thing to do is follow the recipe closely and keep an eye on your bread while resting.
Always Make Sure Your Bread Dough Rests!
A time of relaxation is essential for success. Allowing the dough to rise will make it much easier to work with (kneading and shaping) while also ensuring the loaf rises properly with a wonderful texture and flavor.
How long do you let the bread dough to rise? Please leave a remark.
What happens if you don’t rest dough?
To put things simply, when you do not allow your bread to rise, it is going to be dense and less flavorful. it will be more akin to a cake than anything else, given that it will be just dough and not the plethora of air bubbles that make bread into the fluffy loaves that everyone knows and loves.
How long does dough need to rest?
Next, shape the dough into a ball and let it rest, covered in plastic wrap or an inverted bowl, for about 10-15 minutes before proceeding. This will relax the gluten and the dough’s elasticity, making it easier to roll out the dough and shape the knots.
Why does dough without yeast need to rest?
Resting allows flour to absorb water and lets the gluten that was formed during kneading to relax. Both of them allow you to deal with the dough.
Why must you allow the dough to rest before rolling it out?
By chilling the dough before rolling it out, we allow the present gluten strands time to settle down and relax. This actually makes your pastry dough easier to roll out and cuts down on any shrinking during the baking process. Chilling also lets the available moisture find its way back into all parts of the dough.
Is it OK to let dough rise too long?
“If the dough has risen too long, it’s going to feel fragile and might even collapse as you poke it,” says Maggie. If this is the case, there’s a chance you can save your dough by giving it a quick re-shape. Learn more about this fix in our blog on saving overproofed dough.
Is it okay to not chill dough?
Popping your dough in the fridge allows the fats to cool. As a result, the cookies will expand more slowly, holding onto their texture. If you skip the chilling step, you’re more likely to wind up with flat, sad disks instead of lovely, chewy cookies. Cookies made from chilled dough are also much more flavorful.
What is Overproofed dough?
In contrast, over-proofed means that the dough has run out of food. It has reached its limit. It’s been pushed past its limit and has no strength left. In really over-proofed dough the gluten strands will eventually break down, and the dough will collapse.
How do you know when dough is proofed?
Gently push your finger into the top dough. If the dough springs back quickly, it’s underproofed. If it springs back very slowly, it’s properly proofed and ready to bake. Finally, if it never springs back, the dough is overproofed.
How can you tell if you have kneaded the dough long enough?
After kneading the dough for several minutes, press it with your finger. If the indentation stays, the dough still needs more work. If it springs back to its original shape, your dough is ready to rest.