Once made, bread dough keeps for two weeks in the fridge, sealed in a plastic container. This might be obvious to you, but wasn’t to me until a few years ago. It can’t really “go off” as “going off” requires the depredations of bacteria, and no bacterium in its right mind would attack commercial yeast, which has been selectively bred to be more feral than a wild boar.
Here are a few notes. I made wet dough (80% hydration) and mixed in a generous slug of melted butter, kneading on a buttered surface, to retain the moisture level. The butter, or some kind of fat, seems to be necessary, otherwise it develops a skin in the fridge.
The first rise was done the normal way, but when I knocked it back, rather than just gently squishing it down, I stretched it sideways to about thrice its length, and then folded it in three, much as though I were making ciabatta. (Stretching the dough stretches the bubbles, so you end up with a more open texture.)
Thence into a buttered tupper, and into the fridge.
Once that’s in place, any time I feel like bread, I just break off a piece of the appropriate size, shape it, let it prove for half an hour, and into the oven.
One difference using cold dough is that it doesn’t rise very much when proving, but seems possessed of an almost preternatural oven spring. Also the yeast will continue to work, exuding water vapour, which will condense on the inside of the container and make the outside of the dough wet, so have some flour/semolina handy to dust it.
Anyway, here’s what I did.
- Day Two
- Some quick round buns. 10 mins in the oven.
- Day Four
- Stretched and rolled a strip in semolina, slashed like mad, and got a baguette like thing, although it decided to bend like a banana for some reason.
- Day Five
- With the Royal Wedding imminent, it seemed only right to make English muffins. Break off small chunks, roll into balls, squish ’em flat, dust with semolina, and cook in a large frypan on a medium hob, turning frequently, so they don’t become spherical.
- Day Seven
- After all that Britishness it seemed right and proper for something French, so the remainder was rolled thinly, had slices of butter placed in the middle, folded, rolled, folded, rolled, rested, and then turned into mutant croissants.
- Looked rubbish but smelt and tasted exactly right. Egg glaze next time, for the all-over tan. Always bake croissants on a tray with a lip, as some of the butter will inevitably escape.