How to Bake Bread Straight from the Fridge | Cold Proofing Guide

If you want freshly baked bread for breakfast, then cold proofing is the ultimate method for it. All the work is done on the previous day from mixing, bulk fermenting, dividing, resting to shaping and even glazing. The only thing left to do in the morning is the baking part.

There are few things better than freshly baked bread for breakfast.

I used to avoid this method with commercial yeast fermented dough because I always thought that there would be too much of a risk of over proofing. Yeast dough ferments quite rapidly and final proof at room temperature usually takes an hour or two at the most.

So, up until recently I kept the cold proofing method for naturally leavened bread and used the cold bulk fermentation method for yeast dough instead.

Cold bulk fermentation is another great method that allows for flexibility in your baking schedule, and it is super low risk as it is very hard to over ferment the dough to a stage where it is unusable. Cold proofing is essentially the reverse of cold bulk fermentation.

But as it turns out cold proofing is perfectly safe if done correctly. Even if the dough over ferments a little, there is a solution for saving it most of the time.

Technical things to consider.

I try to keep things as simple as I can when creating recipes and using various principles. If you have watched my cold bulk fermentation guide, then you know that I stick to 1% instant dry yeast for that method. My fridge is around 5C (41F), and I know that with that amount of yeast the dough will ferment well in as little as 12 hours.

When I started playing around with cold proofing, I decided to also use 1% yeast and as it turns out it works perfectly. My loaves are fully proofed in 12 hours.

So, your first step would be to find out how much yeast is required to bulk ferment a dough in your fridge in a certain amount of time. Then, use the same amount of yeast for cold proofing and work from there.

If you have never fermented dough in the fridge, then I would highly suggest starting with cold bulk fermentation because it is simpler, and you will get a better feel for how the dough is rising.

Final dough temperature is extremely important. We are using less yeast, so the dough will ferment more slowly, but we still want to aim for the same temperature that we would aim for in any other recipe. So, if your kitchen is cool, then make it warmer. If it’s warm, then make it cooler. 24C – 26C (75F – 79F) is generally a range I stick to. Your ideal range will depend on the temperature of your kitchen.

Bulk fermentation time should be slightly reduced in most cases. The doughs in the video were fermented for 1 hour and 20 minutes before being divided and shaped.

If you are making a bread that requires pre-shaping, resting, and final shaping, then the bulk fermentation time should be reduced further to make up for the resting time.

If the dough seems to ferment rapidly for any reason, then cut the fermentation time down. We really do not want to ferment the dough too much before it goes in the fridge because it will take time to cool down and while it is cooling it will continue to rise rapidly.

Refrigerate the dough right after final shaping.

Less yeast, less time, same dough temperature.

Practical things to consider.

What shape does the bread have? Is the dough sticky? What final proofing/baking vessel are you using? How big is the loaf? Is it meant to be glazed? Is it meant to be scored?

Is it a huge loaf that can’t fit well in the fridge or perhaps once it has risen it will bump into something. Would it be better to bake two smaller loaves?

If the dough is sticky and the final proof is done in a breadbasket, then it may need some extra dusting of flour to help it fall out the next day.

If possible, use a high-sided baking tray so that the cling film (or whatever else you use to cover the dough) does not come into contact with it. Not all doughs will be sticky but it’s better to be safe than sorry. During rolls with flour will help the clingfilm release even if it ends up meeting the rolls.

Recently I used another baking tray to cover dough whilst it was fermenting in the fridge. That worked out great.

Brushing a loaf with oil or glazing the bread will also prevent sticking.

What to do it the dough has over proofed?

If the dough has blown up and perhaps climbed out of the bread tin, then don’t worry too much about it. Take it out, re-shape it, place it back where it was and leave it to rise up once again at room temperature and the bake it. This will work almost every time. Only an absolute disaster of a dough may not rise back up again.

Of course, things like cinnamon rolls would not be possible to save this way. The only thing you can do is bake them as they are.

What if the dough has not risen enough?

Take it out the fridge while the oven is pre-heating and let it rise until it’s big enough and then bake it. It’s that simple.

Which breads can I cold proof?

As far as I can tell you can cold proof any bread dough with some trial and error. Give it a go and see how it turns out. Learn from the experience and improve on the next bake.

I randomly picked the recipes for this video without pondering much about them. I wanted to make a loaf, a flatbread, and some rolls. They all worked out perfectly.

The recipe specs.

Soft white loaf:

200g (7oz) white bread flour

130g (4.5oz) milk

1 egg yolk

4g (0.14oz) salt

2g (0.07oz) instant dry yeast

1 egg white for glazing



150g (5.3oz) white bread flour

50g (1.75oz) whole wheat flour

4g (0.14oz) salt

2g (0.07oz) instant dry yeast

130g (4.5oz) water


Cheesy rolls:

180g (6.4oz) white bread flour

20g (0.7oz) whole wheat flour

4g (0.14oz) salt

2g (0.07oz) instant dry yeast

30g (1oz) melted butter

50g (1.75oz) grated gouda cheese

10g (0.35oz) chopped chives

1 egg yolk

85g (3oz) milk


1 egg white for glazing

50g (1.75oz) grated gouda cheese for topping


All doughs were made using the no-knead method. Final dough temperature 25C (75F).

Bulk fermentation took 1 hour and 20 minutes with one-fold halfway though.

All were refrigerated right after final shaping and left to rise for 14 hours.

The loaf was baked at 160C (320F) fan on for 35 minutes.

The pita was baked at 250C (482F) fan off for 4 minutes.

The rolls were left to warm up and rise for 35 minutes before being baked at 200C (392F) for 20 minutes.


Click here for a full pita guide.

Click here for the other cheesy roll recipe.

Click here for the cold bulk fermentation guide.

Cold proofed bagels.

Cold proofed ciabatta.

Cold proofed whole wheat rolls.

Watch the video here

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