If I'm baking a simple bread but I don't need it until later, could I let it rest for significantly longer than the recipe calls for, periodically kneading and deflating it if need be.
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I'm no bread expert, but when I let a bread (or pizza) dough rest for longer than the recipes says I typically cover it tightly and put it in the fridge, letting it come to room temp before baking. However, if you want a surefire answer, Erin Mcdowell's guide on speeding up and slowing down yeast is right here: https://food52.com/blog...
you can only do that so many times before the yeast dies. it's better to make the dough, bench rest it per the instructions, shape it and then put it in the coldest part of your refrigerator. when you are ready to bake, pull it out of the fridge, let it rest under cover so it doesn't dry out, then proof and bake. From experience, I've found that most bread doughs taste better with a slow ferment which is what you are doing. I do this for a living and have years of experience with baking; this is the way to go!