The bakers of King Arthur are here to solve the kitchen conundrums you share with us, whether it’s on the phone, computer, or by the good old postal service. In Ask the Baker’s Hotline, Annabelle will pick the brains of the talented King Arthur Baker’s Hotline team to tackle some of your most-asked questions.
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If you’re looking to save time, you might be one of the many folks who’ve asked our Baker’s Hotline: “Can I freeze my yeast dough?” Whether you want to freeze rolls, pizza dough, or full loaves of bread, this is a common question to which you’ll find about a gazillion answers out there in internet-land.
Having been on the receiving end of this question countless times in her 16 years working at King Arthur, MaryJane Robbins of our Baker’s Hotline is here with her hot take (or rather, her very cold take!) on freezing yeast dough.
In short … it’s a last resort. According to MaryJane, yeast dough will never rise as well post-freeze as it would if you baked it the day you made it. This is because some of the yeast will inevitably die in the cold of the freezer. (May the deceased yeast rest in peace.) If you have to freeze yeast dough, try increasing the yeast by about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon per 3 cups (360 grams) of flour. As MaryJane explains, "Some yeast will naturally die off in the cold, so adding a little more at the beginning will help ensure you have enough living, working yeast in the end."
Baker’s tip: Only activated yeast (a.k.a. yeast that’s been mixed with liquid) dies in the freezer. Dry, inactivated yeast can and should be stored in an airtight container in the freezer to keep it fresh for as long as possible.
Trying baking then freezing instead
If you want to make bread or rolls in advance, MaryJane recommends baking, cooling, and wrapping tightly before freezing them for up to several months. When you’re ready to enjoy, let the bread thaw on the counter. If desired, reheat in a 350°F oven until warm, tenting with foil to avoid burning.
If you want to freeze pizza for the future, bake the crust until it’s just set, as demonstrated in our blog, How to make your own frozen pizza. Once cooled, you have the option to wrap and freeze it plain, or pre-top your pie so it’s ready to bake come dinnertime. (Future you will thank you for that one!)
MaryJane’s bonus tips
MaryJane, along with her colleagues on the Hotline, are fountains of knowledge when it comes to freezing your yeast doughs and breads. Here are some of her additional tips:
Tip #1: Sourdough starter is much more sensitive than commercial yeast, so naturally leavened recipes are best baked without having been frozen.
Tip #2: If a recipe yields two loaves but you only need one, consider halving the recipe instead of freezing the extra unbaked loaf. Simply divide all the ingredients in half, including the yeast and salt. (See additional tips in our post on reducing a recipe.)
Tip #3: Most folks want to freeze their dough to “get ahead” in their baking. Instead of freezing your dough, why not make a double batch, then freeze the baked loaves? That way, you only spend one day baking, but you can easily make bread for the whole month!
If you still need to freeze ...
At the end of the day, you may still want or need to freeze yeast dough. Maybe you suddenly have to go out of town when you’re in the middle of a bread recipe, or you just can’t resist the heavenly scent of hot cinnamon buns in the morning. Perhaps the idea of not pulling freshly baked dinner rolls out of the oven on Thanksgiving will churn up more judgment from your relatives than we can fathom — you never know! If you want to give it a try, our Blog Team is here to help: We have posts on how to freeze the shaped dough for no-knead bread, cinnamon buns, and rolls — and still end up with delicious, fresh-baked treats.
Keep your questions coming, and I’ll see you next month with another member of the King Arthur Baker’s Hotline!
Cover photo by Erica Allen.