There's nothing like eating a warm and freshly baked loaf of bread. Usually, in order to enjoy a loaf straight from the oven, you need to spend most of the day making the dough. But if you have homemade bread dough in the freezer, you're in luck. Making bread dough in advance and freezing it for later use saves time and space in the freezer—a ball of dough takes up less room than a baked loaf.
To plan ahead, make a few batches of bread dough, shape them into loaves, and freeze them for whenever you want freshly baked bread. You can also consider giving frozen dough loaves away as gifts to family and friends. That way they can enjoy a fresh loaf without having to make homemade dough themselves.
How to Keep Yeast Bread Dough Fresh
You don't need any special supplies to freeze bread dough. Simply gather the dough, the pans you'll bake it in, and some plastic wrap. When making the dough, make sure to mix the bread according to the recipe’s instructions but add twice as much yeast. This is to compensate for the yeast that will die off in the freezing process. Additionally, you want to ensure that you use only active dry yeast—not fast-acting yeast.
After making the bread dough, follow these six steps to prepare for freezing:
- Let the bread go through its first rise, as most yeast bread goes through two rises. Allow the bread to rise in a greased bowl as per recipe instructions.
- After the first rise, punch down the dough and knead. Then, shape the bread dough into loaves or one single loaf.
- Place the loaf (or loaves) in a bread pan lined with greased plastic wrap to prevent sticking. This also allows the dough loaves to hold their shape when frozen.
- Place the bread pans in the freezer and let the dough freeze for about 10 hours.
- Remove the frozen bread dough from the pans. Wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in a resealable plastic freezer bag.
- Date the bag(s) of dough and place in the freezer immediately. Your dough can be frozen for up to four weeks.
Using Frozen Bread Dough
Your dough still needs to go through a second rise before baking, so don't put a frozen loaf of bread dough directly in the oven. Plan a night ahead for the second rise—since it's hands-off, it's still easier than spending a whole day making bread dough.
To use frozen dough loaves, remove a loaf from the freezer the night before you want to bake it. Keep the loaf wrapped in the plastic and let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Place the thawed dough in a greased bread pan, cover, and let it rise on the counter. Bake the bread at the temperature and length of time described in the recipe.
Freezing Yeast Pita and Pizza Dough
It's imperative that pita bread and pizza dough made out of yeast goes through at least one rise prior to freezing. Add a little bit of extra yeast to the mix to ensure a good rise after freezing. You can keep pita and pizza dough for six months to one year as long as it's wrapped very well. If you cut the dough into smaller portions, simply wrap each section in a tight and firm film before freezing. The dough will last the best if you put your freezer at -10 degrees (in comparison to the usual zero degrees). A deep freezer will store frozen doughs nicely.
When you're ready to use your dough, first put it through the second rise before baking as normal in the oven. Do not thaw your dough in a microwave oven, as the yeast can easily be killed.