Pizza dough left out over night smells like alcohol?

Although I love making bread and do it often, two nights ago I made Jim Lahey's no knead pizza dough. We didn't end up making pizza that night so it sat out (of the fridge) for another evening. Smelling it now, it has a hard-alcohol smell.

I baked a little of the dough off yesterday and it was just fine. I'm just wondering if anyone has experienced this before?

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cratecooking
cratecooking January 24, 2013

While I've never left dough out to ferment that long, I just made Lahey's no-knead bread this weekend and his book actually suggests that in the winter the bread dough may need to sit out for up to 24 hours. I would imagine that any harmful bacteria in the dough (if present) would die once baked for half an hour in a hot 500F degree oven. Maybe it's not the best pizza dough to serve for a dinner party, but if it tasted fine I don't see the harm in baking it. I would bake it off, I enjoy a good culinary experiment every once in a while.

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hardlikearmour
hardlikearmour January 24, 2013

One of the products of fermenting yeast is alcohol, so that is what you're smelling. Many doughs are made with preferments, that sit out for 12+ hours to get more yeast and bacterial activity (good bacteria, not pathogens). They typically result in tastier bread. Your pizza dough has probably overfermented which would be a problem for bread, but not necessarily for pizza or focaccia. I would definitely use it, and you may find out you like it even better!

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darksideofthespoon
darksideofthespoon January 24, 2013

Thanks for the feedback. I'm always used to a beer-y smell when fermenting my doughs, just certainly not a hard alcohol smell. I showed the dough to my husband and he retorted "did you use Vodka to make this instead of water?!"

Good thing we're adventurous, maybe I'll report back with the results!

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boulangere
boulangere January 24, 2013

If, as hardlikearmour points out, your dough has over-proofed (rise, proof, and ferment can all be used interchangeably, as they mean the same thing), you'll certainly get more of an alcohol smell. The by-products of fermentation are heat, alcohol, and carbon dioxide. If you dough has over-proofed, you won't encounter anything harmful in going ahead and using it. You may, though, notice that the rise is a bit less than you might expect. An excessive alcohol content tends to begin killing off yeast cells, as in higher concentrations it creates an environment that is inhospitable to yeast. Too, the yeast may well have overgrown its food supply. Once it has converted the starches to sugars and has gobbled them up, its only remaining food supply is the protein in the flour. Once that is compromised, the dough literally cannot hold itself up. As if those aren't insults enough, the crust will likely not brown well, no matter how long you bake it. Once its sugars are gone, there is nothing left in the dough to brown. All that said, what the heck, go ahead and consider it all a science experiment and bake it!

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darksideofthespoon
darksideofthespoon January 26, 2013

So, we had our pizza. The dough rose well and by the time I had eaten 3 pieces I totally forgot about my dilemma. It tasted wonderful, though and was chewy and crisp all at the same time. YUM!

Thanks for all your help, foodies. :)

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