Dough can be a tricky thing to work with, especially if you’re not very experienced with it. There are so many small mistakes you can make that can ruin your bread, so it’s difficult to know what you can and can’t do without following a recipe to a tee.
Like anything, it takes time to become even an intermediate baker, but anyone can get there with enough work, effort. There will be a lot of mistakes made, but these are what make you better.
You know that bread is generally allowed to rise twice, but what about three rises or even more?
Dough can rise 3 times or more providing that the yeast still has plenty of sugars and starches to feed on after the first two rises. If you’re planning on allowing your dough to rise three times, you should add less yeast to your dough so it doesn’t exhaust its food supply.
Theoretically, the dough can rise as many times as it needs to as long as the yeast still has something to feed on. Dough will only stop rising once the yeast runs out of food completely.
So if you’re ever stuck for time and can’t bake your bread right away, you should have no problem allowing it to rise once more, assuming that you haven’t used too much yeast of course. Too much yeast would lead to the sugars and starches in the flour being consumed much faster and therefore increasing the risk of the yeast running out of food.
Is There Any Benefit To Letting Your Dough Rise Three Times?
The reason almost all recipes call for dough to rise twice is that it is what gives good results. Many people have experimented with allowing dough to rise once, twice, three times, or more, and allowing it to rise twice gives the most consistent best results.
That’s not to say that three or more rises is bad. As long as the dough still has the potential to rise again after a second rise, it will be just as good.
Allowing your dough to rise twice improves its texture by allowing for further gluten development and also helps to even out the crumb. After this second rise, any potential improvements you see are negligible, so it’s not worth letting your dough rise three times unless you need to.
Instead of letting your dough rise three times, it’s better to use less yeast so you can get two rises that are much longer. These longer rises give you more time, so don’t have to be rushed into baking the bread, and helps to develop a much more complex flavor.
Here’s When You Can Let Your Dough Rise A Third Time
In most cases, you’re not going to gain much by allowing your bread to rise more than twice, but sometimes you might need or want to.
Everyone makes mistakes during breadmaking occasionally. Whether it’s a shaping mistake or you’ve just got the timing wrong, it’s going to happen. Fortunately, a third rise can be what saves your bread.
If You’ve Shaped It Wrong
Whether you’ve shaped it and it’s rising unevenly, or you haven’t quite closed the seam properly, misshaping a loaf is just going to lead to an ugly loaf of bread.
When this happens, the easiest thing to do is reshape the loaf and allow it to rise again.
You’re Short On Time
If your dough is almost ready to bake, but you don’t have time to bake it, that’s no problem. There are two actions you can take at this point. You can either chill it in the fridge to slow the rise or you can punch it down and let it rise again.
Alternatively, if you’re not going to have time to bake it until the next day, you can punch the dough down and store it in the fridge to slow the proof and you can take it out of the fridge to bake once it has reproofed.
You Mind End Up Overproofing
A third rise can be a useful way to avoid problems, but there’s still a chance that you run into more problems if you allow your bread to rise more than twice.
Generally speaking, the more yeast you use, the faster it’s going to consume the starches and sugars in the dough, so it’s more likely to stop producing gas and rising the dough by the time it comes to baking it.
If you go on to let the dough rise a third time, there’s a chance that the yeast will end up exhausting its food supply. When this happens, the yeast won’t be able to work anymore, and will therefore stop producing gas completely.
No gas production equals no rise, so your dough may not fully proof before baking and it definitely won’t get any oven spring. To make it worse, since the yeast will have consumed the sugar in the dough, the bread won’t be able to brown, so you’ll be left with a pale, dense brick of bread.
Of course, this isn’t always going to happen. This is only likely to happen if you use more than enough yeast in your dough. Most recipes call for more yeast than what’s necessary, which increases the chance of the dough over proofing
Use Less Yeast For Better Rising
It might surprise you that dough can rise with very little yeast. Even a tiny amount of yeast can get a ball of dough to rise with enough time, so it’s all about patience.
The small amount of yeast allows for a slower rise, better flavor, and makes it very difficult to overproof your dough unless you completely forget about it. Since there’s so little yeast, it takes a long time for it the consume all the sugars and starches in the dough.
Try cutting back the amount of yeast you use by 50-75% and see how you like the finished product. Keep in mind that the dough will take longer to rise, but it’s definitely worth it for the more complex flavor.