Can you refrigerate pizza dough after it rises?

Dear pizzaiolo (whoever coined that up, which means anyone that bakes pizza), i have good news for you. Whatever you’re contemplating doing with your pizza dough, you have my full support.

I can assure you of its safety and effectiveness. Be bold and try it out!

In other words,

You can refrigerate a pizza dough even after its rising time on the counter, typically 8 hours, but avoid keeping the dough to rise for a third time after it has chilled in the refrigerator, as the chilling time in the refrigerator is counted as the second rising, and any further rising can cause it to over proof leading to a dense and flattened dough.

As a matter of fact, a lot of pizza experts and restaurant owners recommend the cold fermentation of pizza dough as opposed to proofing them on the counter. This means that you should refrigerate them for the first rise, and then shape into balls and let rise on the counter for the second, or even refrigerate them overnight.

Because it simply produces the more magnificent result. A tastier dough guaranteed to make even Jamie Oliver forget his first name!

Let’s learn below when the best time to refrigerate a pizza dough and what are the sacrifices involved when you opt for refrigeration.

When is the best time to refrigerate pizza dough?

According to many experts on pizza baking, the best way to treat a pizza dough is to refrigerate it right after you make it. You know, when you’d normally go for the first proofing on the counter. Rather than leaving it inside a powered off microwave to proof, just seal it inside an air tight container and pop inside the fridge until you need it.

What experts actually advice is to proof your dough for at least 24 hours in the refrigerator as opposed to the counter, and not suggesting the best time to refrigerate a pizza dough when you thought you could put the dough to use after it rises, only to be disappointed by a pitfall.

Here’s their claims on a refrigerated pizza dough.

  1. The pizza develops a better interior structure because the number of bubbles escaping from the dough is minimized thereby giving the proofed dough good elasticity and the final baked good an open crumb texture.
  2. The pizza dough develops a multi-dimensional flavor profile similar to that of a complex sourdough. This is slightly contrasting to the one dimensional flavor observed when a dough is proofed on the counter. Of course a lot will still depend on the type of yeast you’re using or the pre-ferment. The difference in flavor profile is as a result of the yeast having to work much slower, which we know naturally yields a more flavorful results.

Does my pizza dough loose flavor when refrigerated?

Based on what experts assert, pizza dough actually gain more flavor when you refrigerate them as opposed to proofing them at room temperature. I haven’t been blessed with an exceptionally good taste buds, so I rarely pick up on the difference between the two. Or, maybe it’s cause I’m always lost in the depths of the flavor profile of every pizza I make which is why I haven’t noticed a lot yet. But anyways, if first rising in the refrigerator rings something interesting into your ears, you might want to consider giving it a shot henceforth.

How pizza dough develop the exceptional flavor boost is already explained in the earlier section. How it can go from exceptionally tasting to horrible is not however, and here’s how. Keeping them in the fridge to proof for more than 3 days, sometimes more than 2 days or more than one depending on the leavener you’re using.

In this scenario, the slow acting yeast must have consumed all the sugar in the dough and turned them into alcohol, and this, my friend, imparts into the final crust flavor a flatter appearance, a denser crust and worst of all, a horrible taste. So within the space of few days, a good tasting pizzetta can turn into a baker’s worst nightmare!!

Be sure to use the dough within 2 days and not observe any proofing prior to baking to avoid over proofing.

How to refrigerate a pizza dough

  1. Cut the dough into portions and shape into a tight ball first. The former helps prevent any future lamenting and the latter gives resistance during proofing in the refrigerator and also controls tearing of the dough. This tight ball also makes the dough easier to roll out (work with) and also warm up much quicker.
  2. Place the balls in an airtight plastic container and place on fridge the shelves. This method, as opposed to refrigerating it open will prevent skin formation on the dough which will cause tearing of the dough when stretching and breakage while baking.

How to refrigerate a pizza dough after it has risen

If it has risen for hours on the counter already, deflate it with a brief kneading, cut it into portions and then form into tight balls. Transfer them to a floured tray and cover with plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for up to 24 hours before using.

What to do after taking out of the refrigerator

So, it’s already established. Make the dough and slide it into the fridge (for 24 hours), for a long slow rise that establishes a dominant flavor. Now how do you treat the dough after you’ve taken it out of the fridge?

You first of all need to let it come to room temperature. Working with a cold dough is hell, as that can undo a lot of the good you’ve done already. So let the dough sit and come to room temperature. Then, it will even begin to rise again. If your recipe calls for a second rise (for those who chilled immediately after making the dough without rising it), this is the time to start the counter. If not, knead briefly and observe that the dough is able to retain the shape of a poked finger in it, and then proceed to stretch the dough to your desired shape (i like my pizza octagonal). Then, spread all the goodies for the bake and pop inside the oven until its pizza time!

Final Verdict

Refrigerating a pizza dough after it has risen is not only possible, it is recommended. Pizza dough

Is recommended to be refrigerated after kneading to develop more complex flavor profile which is more desirable.

After a dough has risen on the counter (first rise), it can still be chilled in the refrigerator (second rise) overnight or for one day prior to using. Whatever you’re doing, just make sure that your dough never sits for more than 3 days in the refrigerator, and isn’t proofed in any way for the third time!