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5.3.2: Yeast Doughs

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    Bread is one of the simplest and yet most complicated of items to make. Most doughs consist of flour, water, salt, and yeast. The art of making simple and complex doughs is understanding the nature of the item and what affects the finished product – gluten development and the fermentation of the leavener, yeast.

    Types of Doughs

    Lean Doughs

    These doughs are low in fat and sugar.

    1. Hard and crusty bread – these are crust French bread, rolls, pizza doughs, and hard rolls. These are the leanest of all doughs made.
    2. White and Whole wheat bread – these bread may contain some fats and sugar. They are softer doughs and usually have a soft texture and crust.
    3. Grain bread - these types of bread are made from other types of flour and grains. They may contain additives that add acid and sweetness to the doughs i.e. rye, oat, flax seed, and sprouted grains.

    Rich Doughs

    These doughs contain great amounts of fats and sugars, and also eggs. These additions give the bread a softer feel and richer taste. These types of doughs can be sweet or non-sweet depending on the amount of sugar that is added or toppings. Such bread include brioche, coffee cake, and dinner rolls.

    Laminated Doughs

    These types of dough have the fat rolled into the dough to create layers. This is done by rolling or pinning in the fat and folding the dough to create the many layers that make up the dough. This process gives the dough a flaky and buttery texture. Although there is some sugar in the dough, the majority of the sweetness comes from the added fillings and toppings. The two main types are croissants and Danish however, some other bread can be finished in this style.

    The production of bread

    As with everything, there are specific steps to making bread. It is much more complex than just adding the ingredients to a bowl and stirring. The process is a building block of steps that cannot be rushed - or done out of order. Each step is necessary to insure that the bread comes out as desired. As seen below there are many steps in making the perfect yeast dough. For the purposes of this class, we have narrowed down the number of steps to 7 but understand that there may be additional steps that are required for the making of each individual bread and these steps do not incorporate the pre-step of measurement or the final stages of bread production such as storage.




    Punching down


    Second proofing (optional)


    Scaling (Measuring) Ingredients

    The recipes or formulas used in baking are exact and getting the amount of each ingredient is necessary. This is done in the bakeshop by weighing out the ingredients. Liquid can be measured by volume but with large quantity, it is more accurate to scale out each and every ingredient. Pay special attention to spices and salt. Salt plays an important role in the fermentation of yeast.


    The purpose of mixing is to give an even distribution of the ingredients and to form a smooth dough. This is also the beginning of gluten formation. There are many ways to mix ingredients but we will highlight the 4 most common below:

    Straight Method: 

    Dry and wet ingredients are mixed together until they come together, then kneaded until developed into a smooth non-sticky ball. This ball will be allowed to rise and then baked.

    Sponge Method:

    This method differs from straight dough method in that we allow some of the yeast to ferment before we mix together all of the dry ingredients in order to form a ball of dough. This helps the flavor develop. To makeyea st bread using this method 1/3rd of the flour is mixed with the wet ingredients and yeast. This yeast/flour mixture is allowed to sit for around 30 minutes and you should visibly see bubbles form on the surface. After the time has elapsed the rest of the dry ingredients are added and the straight dough method is followed where the dough is kneaded, allowed to rise, and baked.

    Batter Method:

    There is no kneading involved in the batter method of preparation which sets it apart from all of the others. The batter method involves combining all of the ingredients together until a batter is formed. The batter is then moved to a prepared loaf pan and allowed to proof. After proofing the batter is then baked.

    Rapid Mix:

    With rapid mixing, a bread machine does all of the work. The bread machine will mix, knead, proof, and bake a loaf of bread in around 2 hours without the need of elbow grease on the part of the baker. This is easy and convenient.  



    This is the beginning of the fermentation of the yeast. The yeast will feed on the sugars and starches it will release carbon dioxide and alcohol. The gluten will work as a net to trap the gases and cause the dough to rise. Fermentation is part of the development of the dough. Improper fermentation time will affect the finished product. Over-fermented dough will become hard and tough whereas under-fermented dough will not have enough volume.

    The dough is placed in a large container that will allow it to “grow” or expand. The dough is covered during this time to avoid air hitting it and forming a “skin” or crust that will ruin the texture of the dough. Some doughs can be oiled to avoid this.

    Folding/Punching Down

    As the dough ferments the yeast will releases gases. These gases are what cause the expansion of the dough. The purpose of punching down (or folding) is to control this process and help further develop the gluten. Many things can affect the feeding of the yeast and too much carbon dioxide is just one. The folding releases the gases and allows the yeast to continue its process. During this release, the dough is folded thus realigning the gluten strands similar to the kneading of the dough. It also helps to keep the temperature of the dough constant.

    Decorating/ Shaping

    Once the doughs are scaled out, they need to be pre-shaped into a form that will allow for the next stage. Most bakers choose to pre-shape their dough into round shapes. This round form allows for a smooth surface to the dough. The gluten strands are pulled tight and help for continued fermentation. This also gives the baker the chance to feel the dough for the texture and strength of the gluten strands. If the dough is slack or loose then you can give it a tighter shape. If the dough is tough and not too elastic give it a looser form. Try to get your pre-shaped dough as close to the final makeup shape as possible.

    Second Proofing (also called bench proofing)

    Once the dough has been shaped, it needs to rest. This step can be anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. This allows the gluten strands to relax and get ready for the final stages of the process. This is done on the bench or work area. The dough is covered with plastic wrap but not tight. It will continue to ferment and rise.


    This is the stage of cooking the bread. The oven is set for the conditions needed to produce the finished desired result. The ovens used in class are the convection oven and the deck oven. Each cooks differently due to the type of oven. Bread is finished in different ways before going into the oven. They can be washed with water, egg wash, heavy cream, as well as other types of washes. These will affect the finished products' crust and look. Both class ovens have the ability to inject steam to help with crust formation allowing for rapid expansion without splitting the crust. It also helps in heat distribution and helping with oven spring. Oven spring is the final rise that occurs in bread once it begins to cook. This then sets the structure of the bread as the temperature of the dough rises the yeast dies at 140 F. Scoring is another useful technique used to avoid the splitting of the dough as it rises in the oven. Slits are made to the top of the dough with a lame (curved razor tool) or sharp knife.


    Once the bread is cooked to the correct internal temperature (this varies for types of breads), then it is removed from the oven. The cooked bread is placed on a cooling rack. The cooling allows for many things to happen. Excess moisture is released from the bread as it cools and the alcohol created by the fermented yeast evaporates. Most bread are allowed to cool on the pan. Bread baked in loaf pans or other pans can be removed and set on its side so that moisture does not condense on the bottom causing the crust to become soggy.


    The bread can be stored in moisture -proof bags to prevent staling or wrapped tightly with plastic wrap in their pans. Before either occurs, the bread must be cooled completely.

    • Wrapping or bagging hot or warm bread will cause moisture to form and thus making the bread wet and soggy.
    • Once properly bagged, bread can be kept at room temperature if used occurs within a few hours or days, or frozen for longer periods.
    • Putting bread in the refrigerator will increase the staling of the bread as will leaving them unwrapped on the rack.
    • Bread that has a hard crust should not be wrapped, this will affect the texture of the finished crust.

    For transport or for longer storage time, freezing bread is an appropriate method of storage and will not result in changes to texture after thawing. 

    This page titled 5.3.2: Yeast Doughs is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Tammy Rink & William R. Thibodeaux via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.