Punching down dough


I was wondering if you could punch down dough multiple times. I’ve read recipes call for a punch down after the dough doubles in volume but is it possible to continually punch down dough once it doubles in volume and still get the same results?

Thanks for your help.


We discussed the reason for punching down in purpose of rise, punch, rise? The way I understand it, every cycle of rising and punching makes the dough a bit “spring-i-er.” So, a 2nd rise/punch will make the dough less dense, more airy and rise higher… I could be mistaken though. Tom is the real expert.

So multiple rises and punches will create a more airy/higher rise…that’s a good thing, right? So, if you did that cycle lets say 4-5 times the crust will have a crispy yet soft chewy inside with high rise? Also, do you have to wait to use the dough after punching down or can you use it right away?

I’m asking this for a room temp fermentation and usage without any refrigeration.


To be correct, the dough should be punched-down at the first full rise. This is seen when you put the dough into a suitably sized container and allow it to rise until it begins to recede on its own. This is the best time to punch the dough. Punching the dough does a couple of things, it mixes the cooler outer portion of the dough with the warmer inner portion to help equilibrate the dough temperature; it also helps to prevent the development of a dry crust on the outer portion of the dough, and lastly, it mixes the more nutrient laden outer portion of the dough withthe more depleted inner portion to allow for better fermentation. (The outer dough portion is cooler so it doesn’t ferment as fast as the warmer, inner core, hence the outer portion has more remaining sugar available to support fermentation).
The reality is that we seldom put the dough into a suitably sized container to allow this to happen, hence, the more practical reason for punching the dough is to keep in in the container into which it was placed. More importantly than the number of times that the dough is punched, is the time between the last punch and taking the dough to the bench for scaling and balling. If you were to punch the dough and then wait 15 to 20-minutes before taking it to the bench you would probably find the dough to be somewhat tough and rubbery, however, if the last punch was an hour before you took the dough to the bench you would find that the dough was much more extensible and easy to work with, like with so many other things, when it comes to punching the dough, timing is everything.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Also, you say the outer portion of the dough is cooler and has more nutrients, so when you are punching should you be folding the outside dough into the center and stop or should you be kneading in order to evenly distribute the outer portion of dough? I guess I’m a little confused about what “punching the dough” actually involves.

Thanks for all your help.


The proper way to punch the dough is to puch your hand down right in the middle of the top of the risen dough (this is where the expression “punching” the dough originates from), this will cause the dough to collapse, bringing the top and part of the sides inth the hole created by the punch. This is all that is needed. With smaller doughs I will commonly punch the dough, then pick it up in my hands and very roughly form it into a loose ball, then place it back into the fermentation container.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Thanks Tom!

Sorry more questions, you mentioned a suitable size container for fermenting the dough. I’m planning to keep the dough in large coolers and portioning out on the fly because of space restrictions. Would you ferment dough in a big cooler with the lid on or cover it with plastic wrap instead? Because the batch is large, would just the one punch in the center do it as you mentioned or was the one punch suggestion only for a portioned out large dough ball?

Thanks again for all you help,


I thought you didn’t have room in the cooler for storing your dough? If you are now planning to store the bulk dough in the cooler for fermentation, then you will want to increase the IDY level to about 0.19% of the total flour weight.
If you’re going to punch it, just punch it in the center and it will be just fine. To cover the dough, just drape a piece of plastic over the bowl. Do not apply a tight seal. When dealing with individual dough balls, we never punch the dough balls as it isn’t necessary.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Hi Tom,

I should have been a little more clear. The bulk dough will be stored in a portable Coleman type ice cooler (without ice of course). I figure the ice cooler will give some sort of a controlled room temp environment.

You mentioned portioning dough after an hour after the punch down. Is the hour wait a maximum time before portioning dough? Since I’d be portioning on the fly I may not portion the last skins until maybe 2-3 hours after the punch down, would that be ok?

You also mentioned in another thread of mine that for a thin, crispy, airy and tender crumb (old Domino’s crust you referred to) I should wait 20 min after forming the skin before dressing. Is there a way to speed up time between the forming and dressing maybe by adding additional ingredients? I’ve heard of people using rice flour, for instance, as bench flour since it has no gluten it creates a crispier crust.

Thanks again Tom.


When I said to begin portioning, I was referring to beginning to use the dough for making skins. Grab a piece of the dough and cut it from the bulk piece, then pass it through a sheeter to form it into a dough skin. Trim the excess and place it into a bucket for additional fermentation (you can use it later). Becareful using the cooler as described. They are essentially air tight, and that is not what you want. Either drill a few ventilation holes into the top lid, or leave a lid slightly open (1/4-inch should be sufficient). No way to speed up the final proofing of the dough skin except for putting the formed dough into a proofer (temperature-humidity controlled cabinet operating at 95 to 100F with 75% relative humidity). If you are planning to use any other form of shaping the dough skin, other than sheeting, you may experience some difficulty when using the method you have described.
\Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Thanks so much for all your advice Tom!


Consider using a few sealed ice packs in your dough ‘cooler’. I have held weighed dough balls in a large, lidded cooler before, and they proof faster and faster as the hours wear on. By the end of the lot, they are getting nearly over-fermented and boozy smelling. Putting a couple/several frozen ice packs in the cooler made a HUGE difference in the quality of the last several dough balls. I sealed them in zipper lock freezer bags with air pushed out . . . washed and sanitized the outside of the bags, then into the freezer. The bag and all go in among my dough balls.

Maybe that sort of arrangement could prove useful in some manner. Even just a big sheet of thick mil plastic sheeting pulled across the dough mass with the ice packs on top? Just offering a temperature management. That dough is exothermic, and you are trapping the heat in that cooler . . . will ferment faster and faster and faster.

Hi Nick,

I will definitely keep that in mind. A question, won’t the frozen icepack freeze the dough that it comes in direct contact with taking that portion of dough longer to proof before dressing?


You really might reconsider getting some of the frozen dough pucks from Roma…they come in a nice flexible plastic tray…its a very good product…some of the cases could be put in completely frozen, then topped with some that had been slightly defrosted and rotate…

Remember, chances are, you’ll need to pick-up your dough on Thursday & will need to keep it until Sunday, for those long shows that are not in your back yard…

I have not had issues with icepaks freezing the dough. I am not exactly overloading the chest with them . . . I’ve figured out about how many I need, and I use a bunch of smaller ones over a couple really big ones. This is just about hanging onto the chill that is on the dough balls I take from my cooler . . . . if you are using ice to chill the dough, then yo definitely need more paks and develop effective use pattern for what you are doing. trial and success is best model.

By using frozen dough balls like Patriot suggested, you can use some of the thawing balls to effectively refrigerate the already thawed ones. Simply put the dough balls into gallon sized portion bags, twist end once and fold under for a loose fit. Works fabulous in the cooler and ease of handling. Then rotate new, frozen ones into bottom to keep the chill and thaw rotating.

Thanks for all of your help guys!!!