purpose of rise, punch, rise?

I understand why we let dough rise. I also understand the flavor that yeast adds. However, I see a lot of recipes that call for allowing the dough to rise, deflate it, let it rise again, and sometimes even deflate and then do a third rise.

What is the purpose of multiple risings?

From my On Food and Cooking textbook from college:

…the dough has now been stretched to the limit of its elasticity. The dough is now punched back to relieve the stress on the gluten, squeeze out excess carbon dioxide and divide the gas pockets, redistribute the yeast and its food supply, and even out the temperature (fermentation generates heat) and moisture.

It really is a cool book to read. I’m sure it could be picked up on Ebay cheap.

Thanks Brad,

However, it really doesn’t answer my question. Let’s say I’m making a dinner roll. Why not take the dough immediately after mixing, roll into a ball and throw in the muffin tin and then let rise and bake? Why let it rise, punch it down and let it rise again? If the dough is already risen in the shape I need, why do I care about feeding the yeast that I’m about to bake to death anyway?

In a word, flavor.

Daddio if I am correct… it allows the yeast to do its job and then by pushing down you slow the expansion and allow the fermentation to continue without over expanding of the dough?

All intendet to increase and enhance the flavor.

Oh, sry…

Doughs made from hard bread flours are always put through a second complete rising to develop their tougher gluten fully; recipes for homemade breads may call for one or two risings. The second takes half as long as the 1st. Otherwise, the dough is now shaped into loaves, placed in pans, and allowed to rise for a shorter period. Bakers call this step “proofing”… the purpose… is to set the structure of the final loaf in preparation for “oven spring,” the final expansion of the dough that occurs in the first few minutes of baking.

also

Taken together, the three stages of mixing, kneading, and fermentation require several hours of work and waiting from the bread maker. In commercial baking, where time and work are money, mechanical dough developers can produce a “ripe” dough, with good aeration and an optimum gluten, in 4 minutes. Yeast is added to such doughs only as flavoring.

I’m kinda confused by that last line. Maybe they assume production with chemical leavening? Tom?

added fermentation time improves flavor profile, third rise imrpoves the texture with a finer crumb . . . . and now Brad shares the fuller gluten development in higher protein doughs. There you go.

I love this board.

Snowman;
If I understand the question correctly, you are asking why allow the dough to ferment for a period of time prior to just scaling, balling, panning the dough and allowing it to rise in the pan (proofing) and then baking.
The fermentation stage of dough processing allows for biochemical gluten development, mellowing/softening of the gluten structure, allowing for a more extensible, rather than elastic dough which allows the dough to expand better during baking, rather than tearing or bubbling, and it contributes significantly to the development of flavor in the finished roll, or pizza crust both as a result of the by products of fermentation (alcohol, carbon dioxide, and acids) and an increased level of protein denaturization during baking as a result of the wheat proteins being exposed to those by-products of fermentation.
I hope this answers your question.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor