Long Rise Method/Retarding the Dough

Using the long rise method is the optimal way to achieve exceptional quality in baked goods. A dough method that uses small amounts of yeast over a time period of 12 to 24 hours greatly challenges the quality of the flour. Strictly adhering to times and temperatures is an essential prerequisite for quality. 

The long rise method is a method in which the dough will rest/rise for up to 24 hours (sometimes also up to 28 hours at 0°C) or will only be partially proofed over a long storage time. There are two methods that can be used:

  • Proof directly before baking.
  • Proof before storing, so that it can go straight from the fridge into the oven. 

The photo up top shows loaves made with the long rise method that have small surface blisters. While blisters are still oftentimes considered to be a flaw or mistake, it’s also become accepted to see these blisters as a sign of high-quality bread. They are typical of the long rise method.

It’s nearly impossible to avoid blisters when the dough is processed over a long window of time. It is possible to limit the formation of blisters by precisely adjusting the enzymatic activity of the flour, the temperature and the air humidity.

Prerequisites for executing the long rise method: 

  • YEAST ACTIVITY: The temperature at which the dough is made severely minimizes the yeast activity, therefore largely disrupting the accumulation of gases (loosening). However, aroma formation continues. 
  • ENZYME ACTIVITY: The enzyme activity is also restricted, though the breakdown of gluten and starch continues slowly. 
  • TEMPERATURE: Temperature and the use of fresh yeast particularly influence the breakdown. It makes a big difference whether the dough is stored at 5°C or at 0°C. When fresh yeast is used, the enzymes that are particular to yeast, especially those that breakdown protein, do not get as active. This better preserves dough stability (gluten).

Optimizing recipe parts: 

When using the long rise method, the following parts of the recipe must be optimized:

  • Amount of pre-dough
  • Flour quality
  • Dough hydration
  • Amount of yeast
  • Dough-making method

How much you have to change a recipe for directly baked products depends greatly on the time the dough rises/rests before being baked. The longer the dough-making process lasts, the less predough and yeast must be used, and the lower the dough hydration must be. 

Pre-dough amount:

It’s a common principle that the amount of predough needs to be adjusted depending on the length of rest/rise time. If the dough sits for over 16 hours, then no predough should be used, because the expansion that takes place during the rise will be enough. 

If there is too much predough, then the gluten that has already been partially broken down in the predough will be further damaged, resulting in significant volume loss. In addition, you’ll also get very intense browning due to the broken down starch. Instead of being crisp, the crust will be leathery and will get soft very quickly. 

Recommended amount of predough for long rise method with different timings:

  • In a long rise method of up to 8 hours, the predough should contain max. 40% of the total flour
  • In a long rise method of up to 12 hours, the predough should contain max. 20% of the total flour
  • In a long rise method of up to 16 hours, the predough should contain max. 10% of the total flour

Flour quality:

The quality of wheat flour plays an important role in the long rise method. With wheat flour, it is assumed that flour type W700 (Germany 550), which has less enzyme activity and greater gluten potential (up to 30% after absorbing water), is used. Enzyme activity can be determined from the falling number and the dough absorption measured in farinograms (under 60 farinogram units = FE**) 

**Translator’s Note: In English the unit is often called the Brabender Unit, or BU). 

Dough hydration:

In order to prevent the dough from expanding sideways while proofing, the dough hydration should be reduced by 1-2%. A reduced dough hydration (TA) provides more dough stability during the proof. 

Amount of yeast:

The amount of yeast depends on the rest/rise time and temperature. To avoid using too much in small baked goods, keep the yeast amount below 2%. As the rest/rise temperature increases, the amount of yeast should be decreased! 

With wheat breads, the long dough rise (before the cooling phase) means that only a very small amount of yeast is needed.  If the recipe includes wheat sourdough, you can actually forgo using any yeast at all. 

Dough-making process:

A final and very important aspect of the long rise method is the dough-making process. It’s important to note that doughs with reduced yeast require more time to develop. For small baked goods, a 30-minute rise time after kneading should be planned in. If the dough will be stored at 4°C, the rest/rise before the final working steps should not last longer than 40 minutes, or there could be a loss in volume. 


  • The pieces of dough are shaped for baking and placed either on a baking tray or floured linen clothes. Once they are just shy of proofed, they are placed in the fridge. 
  • To prevent a skin from forming on the dough, the pieces must be covered with plastic. But in order to prevent excessive further proofing, they should spend the first 30 minutes in the fridge uncovered. 
  • As a result of cooling, the fermentation activity of the yeast slows down. 
  • The next day the dough pieces are taken out of the fridge and the proof is completed at room temperature. This proof depends on how proofed the pieces of the dough already were. Most small baked goods tend to only need to proof a few more minutes before being baked. Because the cooling phase of bread lasts longer, most loaves can be baked directly once removed from the fridge.

“Breakfast Loaf” Recipe

Wheat sourdough:

  • 180g wheat flour type 700
  • 180g water 35-40°C
  •    15g starter

DT: 32°C decreasing to room temperature TA: 200   RT: 14-16 hours

Main dough:

  • 820g wheat flour type 700
  • 500g water 10°C
  • 375g mature wheat sour 
  •   22g salt
  •   15g honey
  • 1g yeast (can also be baked without yeast)

DT: 24-27°C   TA: 168   MT: 7 minutes slow / 3-4 minutes fast


  • Briefly mix flour, water and sourdough, then cover and let sit for 20 minutes to autolyse.
  • Add salt, honey and yeast and mix slowly for 7 minutes. Then mix quickly until the dough pulls cleanly away from the side of the mixing bowl (c. 3-4 minutes) CAREFUL: DO NOT OVERKNEAD!
  • After kneading, place the dough into a lightly oiled tub and let it rest covered.
  • Fold the dough after 20, 40 and 70 minutes. 
  • After a total rise time of 90-100 minutes, divide the dough into pieces of desired size and shape (place in a bread baking form, or shape into a round or oval loaf).
  • Place the shaped dough into the fridge at 4°C for the proof. To prevent a skin from forming on the dough, it should be covered with plastic after 30 minutes. 
  • Proof duration: c. 12-16 hours /3-4°C
  • Score before baking. Place in an oven preheated to 250°C  with steam. After 5 minutes, reduce the temperature to 230°C. 
  • Release the steam after 25 minutes and bake until well-browned. In order to achieve a stronger crust, the bread should be removed from the baking form toward the end of the baking.
  • Total baking time for a loaf of 350g c. 30 minutes.