On a Different Note: Freezing Yeast Dough

Reader Maria writes in with this:

I have a question about freezing yeasted bread dough. Is it ok to do, and if so, at what stage in the process should I put it in the freezer? I’ve been told a variety of things and it seems to me like it would make the most sense to do it after the 2nd rise (if there is one) and rounding process. It would be really handy if I could freeze things, since I have a pretty full schedule. I’m particularly interested in freezing sweet doughs, like for cinnamon rolls. Is there is a difference in freezing a sweet dough vs. a whole wheat bread because of the fat and sugar ratios?

Even though I’m talking crème brûlée this week, this question is well worth answering, for I get it a lot. The answer is that yeast doughs of all kinds freeze well, though I personally don’t freeze unbaked bread very often. However I regularly employ the freezer for things like Danish, croissants, brioche and cinnamon buns. The best point to freeze a yeast dough is after shaping, just before the second rising (proofing) stage. Simply freeze the whatever-they-are on pans, then once they’re solid, put them in freezer bags for storage

The night before you want to bake, lay out your rolls or buns on parchment-lined sheet pans and put the pans in the refrigerator. By morning they will have thawed and will be ready for proofing and baking. The proofing will take perhaps 50% longer than normal because the dough will be deeply chilled, but once proofed, they should bake up every bit as well as if they’d never been frozen.

Thanks for the question, Maria!

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