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How long can you let a dough rise?


Scott would like to know....

Good Morning:

The dough proof instructions in the book generally call for an overnight rise, 8-12 hours at room temp.

Can it proof longer, as long as 24 hours?  Would in the refrigerator be ok for a 24 hour proof?



226 users have voted.


farinam's picture
farinam 2016 June 9

Hi Scott,

There is probably some sort of limit as the yeast and bacterial activity and other reactions leading to the break-down of the gluten and so forth continue at reduced temperature.  So, you can still end up with an over-proved dough.  It is even possible to freeze dough though there will have been some activity in the dough during the cooling phase.

Another factor is the proportion of starter that is used in the recipe so, a recipe with a smaller starter percentage might be able to run for longer as there is more potential for population growth before saturation occurs.

Possibly, your best bet is just to experiment with your particular conditions and recipe and see how it turns out.  A couple of less than perfect, but still edible, loaves is about the worst that can happen.

Good luck with your projects.


Anonymous 2016 June 10

I left in the fridge for 18 hours, brought to room temp and proofed in the pan.  It turned out fine but had very little sourdough flavor.


farinam's picture
farinam 2016 June 10

Hello Scott,

It depends what you call 'sourdough flavour'.  The 'sour' part of sourdough really applies to the 'aged' starter which has a relatively high concentration of the acids (lactic etc) produced as a by-product of the bacterial activity in the culture.

When starter is refreshed and used to leaven a dough, the acid concentration is greatly reduced and the flavour profile is a lot milder and in many cases the acidity is virtually undetectable especially in a freshly baked loaf.  In fact a freshly baked loaf can have a hint of sweetness about it even though there is no sweetner (such as sugar) added.  A hint of acidity can develop as the loaf ages, possibly due to loss of moisture and an increase in the acid concentration as a result.

Factors likely to affect the flavour profile are the proportion and age of the starter used in the recipe and the time available for the bacteria to work to produce more of their acids.  This is where refrigeration can come in as, apparently, the bacterial activity does not slow down as much as the yeast activity and it is reported that you can get a more acid finish using this technique.

However, keep in mind that a lot of 'commercial' 'sourdough' breads have had the flavour 'enhanced' by the addition of 'flavourings' and so the taste of such breads should not necessarily be used as a guide to what you can achieve naturally.

Good luck with your projects.


Cayokath. 2016 June 12
Rising time depend on so much. The strength of your starter/yeast/levain along with the dough ingredients and the temperature all impact it. I've had good luck retarding the rise in the refrigerator, in my practice of making the week's dough, portioning it, and putting it in tightly covered containers for a few days. When I'm ready to use it, the dough sits at room temperature until doubled in bulk and is either shaped or punched down and proofed again to the same point then shaped.
Mark Bowie 2016 June 12

I always prove my bread in the fridge AT LEAST over night. It's a case of personal preference and individual opinion to whether it tastes better or not. I do it as it is easier to judge timings and I work shifts. For the first time in the fridge do a familiar loaf that you are used to and keep an eye on it, do the same technique I.e. Covered with polythene bag and bring it back to room temperature before you bake. 

NTC 2016 June 13

Can I ask if you take it out of the fridge and leave it to come to room temp untouched? Or do you knead it when it comes out of the fridge? My dough can take hours to come to room temp and we have an aga! Whats your thoughts about sticking on top of the aga to warm up quicker? 


Sheryl Nadler 2018 January 24

Why does it take so long to rise! 8-12 hours! Also my starter has never gotten 2 inches and bubbly like it’s supposed to.  My first loaf turned out flat and hard and I’m working on my second loaf of sourdough bread it’s in the oven now after I after he rose for 8 to 12 hours I turned it out I let it rest and then I did what I was supposed to stretch and Paul and then I put it back on the thing to rise again and it didn’t rise high it rose 2 inches or 3 inches to the side to the left that seems very odd any thoughts 

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