Fresh Bread made with Older Dough

Old dough boule | Breadin5 04

As I am testing recipes, I can find myself with several buckets going at once. I have a family of four and we just can’t always use up all that dough in a timely fashion. I just opened a bucket of dough that had been untouched for several days, well more than several and it was gray, leathery and had some liquid on it (pictures below). It had a strong “sourdough” smell to it, since it had been fermenting for a very long time. For those of us who like that kind of character in our bread, it was very exciting. BUT, there wasn’t that much dough left and if I were to peel back the leathery bits to get to the creamy dough beneath, I wouldn’t even have enough dough for a full loaf. The best thing to do with this older dough is to incorporate it into a new batch. It jump starts the flavor in your new dough, without having to wait days for the fermentation. It is like having a sourdough starter, that you never had to feed. Although in the dough I will show you, I am using the full amount of Red Star Platinum yeast.

Old dough boule | Breadin5 07

Old Dough 2 | Breadin5 01

If your dough is gray and has liquid on it, don’t fret, it isn’t bad, in fact, it has more character and flavor that should be enjoyed.

If you ever see patches of mold, which is very, very unusual for dough being stored in the refrigerator, you have to throw it out and wash the bucket. In all my years of making this dough I’ve never seen or heard of it happening.

Old Dough 2 | Breadin5 02

Having an Immersion Hand Blender makes this job much easier, since you want to break up the old dough to mix it smoothly into the new. If you have more than 8 ounces of old dough, you should take some out or you can use this method instead.

Just add the water required for mixing the new dough (here is the recipe for our Master Dough or you can use our Whole Grain Master Recipe)* into the bucket with the old dough. Blend until smooth with the blender.

*you can NOT use this method with any dough that has dairy, eggs or other ingredients that may spoil or go rancid. Only use recipes that use flour, water, yeast and salt.

Old Dough 2 | Breadin5 03

Stir in the yeast and salt.

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Add all the flour.

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Stir with a Danish Dough Whisk or wooden spoon.

Old Dough 2 | Breadin5 06

Cover your Storage Container with Lid, preferably one that you’ve poked a tiny hole in. If your lid doesn’t have a hole, then don’t snap it shut. Allow to rise for 2 hours and then you can use the dough or refrigerate it for up to 2 weeks.

To make the bread:

Old dough boule | Breadin5 01

Shape the dough just as you always would.

Old dough boule | Breadin5 02

It is totally normal for our dough to spread out, instead of getting taller. This may be even more profound if you are using older dough.

Old dough boule | Breadin5 03

Dust with flour and slash in any pattern you want.

Old dough boule | Breadin5 05

Bake as directed in the recipe.

Old dough boule | Breadin5 06

Allow to cool completely.

Old dough boule | Breadin5 07


You may also find this post helpful: Gray, Leathery Dough with Liquid on the bottom

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32 thoughts on “Fresh Bread made with Older Dough

  1. This bread looks so beautiful! I’m also guilty of leaving dough in the fridge for a few days…or more…so it’s good to know that you can still save and revitalize it! I’ll be bookmarking this for the next time that happens. Can’t wait to taste all of the new flavors! Thank you for the post!

  2. I haven’t had this happen but I do have a very small portion left from a GF baguette recipe. Can I add to this dough if it is the GF version?

  3. This will be so helpful, Zoë!

    You mentioned that the shaped loaf made from the amended new dough would probably spread a little more. I know that your beautiful doughs are flexible enough to easily handle this, but I had a thought.

    Why not slightly reduce the amount of water added with the flour and yeast for the new batch of dough? For example, reduce water by a teaspoon or tablespoon of water for about 1 cup of old dough; proportionately more for larger amounts of old dough. Or maybe reduce by a ballpark figure of X grams water per cup of old dough?

    1. Yes, that would work, though it wouldn’t always be neccesary. It would depend on the batch, the recipe, and how aged it was.

      But give it a try…

  4. I have left my starter in the fridge for as long as 3 weeks once, illness prevented, otherwise I make bread with my starter frequently. There has been times where it sits for a week but each time it has grayed and had the hooch on top. I just mix it in as well and sometimes I will double feed just to perk it up but I love the strength in flavor of my starter. It’s now goin on 3 years old and I love finding interesting recipes and others ideas on these sites. Thanks you guys!

    1. Hi Mrs. H,

      Thanks for the note, I am thrilled to hear you have been baking with it for 3 years!

      Enjoy, Zoë

  5. Hi Jeff and Zoe… Just love reading all the posts and learning so much from them… Thanks so much for all your advice and comments…

  6. While not related to this topic, I just wanted you to know that we have been enjoying your recipe for Limpa, from ABin5, for several weeks now. And now that it has gotten quite warm here in NE Tennessee, I am using the grill to make this great-tasting dough into Pitas and flatbread. It has a great texture and the fennel, cardamom and Orange flavors work well with a variety of warm-weather dishes.

    1. Hi Snad,

      Thanks for the great note, so glad you are enjoying all the bread on the grill and the limpa!

      Cheers, Zoë

  7. Came across this just in time b/c I had gray dough in my fridge. Reincorporated to a new batch and the bread has more character and tastes so great!

  8. You say to stir the new water, yeast, flour, and salt into the old dough with a whisk or a spoon. Due to the arthritis in my hands, I would find it difficult to use a whisk or a spoon to stir, Could I add the new ingredients using the dough hook on my Kitchen Aid Mixer? Thank you.

    1. Hi Louise,

      You can use a stand mixer, but I would recommend using the paddle attachment since our dough is so wet.

      Thanks, Zoë

    1. Hi Stuart,

      Give me a little more information about what you’re getting. I’m not sure I understand what a spider web crumb is?

      Thanks, Zoë

  9. So my dough was in the fridge for 2 weeks and 2 days. Can I just use it as is and bake? I usually mix into new dough but I don’t want to wait that long…

    1. Hi Rebecca,

      Yes, you sure can. It may not have as strong a rising power, so you may want to stick with flatter breads or pizza.

      Thanks, Zoë

  10. I am using your English granary bread reciepe from Artisianbreadinfive. I cut the recipe in half so using 2Tbls. of malt flour should work. It makes my bread very dense and gummy/. I have since reduced the amount of malt to 1 tsp. and it is much better. Any comments?

  11. I’ve been highly successful with ‘regular’ popovers, but I’m struggling with GF popovers – do you have a recipe or advice?

    1. Popovers are an eggy, non-yeasted concoction, and we do yeasted stored doughs at this site. One thing to try, has a post on popovers I don’t think she has GF popovers, but might be worth a try. You can type anything you can think of into Search Bars on these two websites, if you’re looking for something.

  12. So you don’t change the basic recipe to accommodate the old dough? Would that starter be enough for a dough to rise without new yeast

      1. Okay…so 1) Don’t try to use the old dough as the only leavening agent; 2 DON’T change the flour/water/salt in the basic recipe but reduce the yeast. Among the many, many things I’ve learned from you is to feel comfortable reducing the yeast, even without the old dough. Less yeast = longer rise = better flavor. And I’ve finally learned how to find my answers. Whenever I ask a question, not the page you’re using and then go back to it. As always, in gratitude…

      2. Hi Rosalind,

        So pleased you are enjoying the bread! Less yeast is how lots of people prefer it, glad that worked for you!

        Cheers, Zoë

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