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Saving Overproofed Dough

By Cook's Illustrated Published January 2010

Despite the best planning, sometimes we let our dough rise for longer than intended. Should we then bake it and hope for the best or start the proofing process over?

To find out, we baked three doughs—Rustic Italian Loaf, Almost No-Knead Bread, and Ciabatta—after letting them proof for twice as long as recommended during the second rise.

The bad news: The overproofed loaves were about 20 percent smaller than the properly proofed loaves, and tasters deemed them crumbly, gummy, and lacking in the resilient chew of properly proofed bread. The good news: We found an easy way to rescue overproofed dough. Simply punch it down gently, reshape it, and let it proof again for the recommended amount of time. In the test kitchen, these steps resulted in bread that tasters found acceptable in both texture and flavor.

1. Using your fingertips, gently punch down the overproofed dough.

2. Reshape the dough into a ball.

3. Allow the dough to rise again for the recommended amount of time.