Easy, Versatile Refrigerator Dough

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Refrigerator dough seems to be a thing of the past. A recipe for it cannot be found in most modern cookbooks, which is a shame, because it’s a really quick, convenient, and inexpensive way to have fresh bread everyday.

I first read about refrigerator dough in 1996, in Amy Dacyczyn’s Tightwad Gazette. If you don’t already own  The Complete Tightwad Gazette, I highly recommend it. It’s an invaluable resource for the frugal life, and is well worth the money. Anyway, Amy didn’t give the refrigerator dough recipe (why, I’ve never understood), but said that it could be found in older Betty Crocker cookbooks. Of course, thanks to the wonders of the internet, mastering the art and science of frugality is much easier. You don’t have to scour your local library for 80s cookbooks, which is what I did when I wanted to try out this recipe, because I’m going to share it with you right here!

So, what is refrigerator dough? Basically, it’s just a yeast dough made with mashed potatoes. It’s a great way to use up small amounts of leftover potatoes after Sunday dinner.

The potatoes help the dough retain its moisture, which allows you to store it in the cool, dry environment of your fridge for about a week (5-7 days). This dough makes a tender, fluffy, mildly sweet bread, which is very versatile. You can make dinner rolls, braids, bread sticks, donuts, and cinnamon rolls with it. A few years ago, I used some to make pecan rolls, and my husband said they were the best sweet rolls he’s ever had! I’ve also successfully substituted whole wheat and rye flour for 1/3 to 1/2 of the all purpose flour. This is the recipe I use:

Refrigerator Roll Dough
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1-1/2 cups warm water
2/3 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup softened butter (I use Smart Balance sticks)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon orange juice (this helps feed the yeast)
1 cup unseasoned mashed potatoes at room temperature
6-1/2 to 7 cups unbleached, all purpose flour

Dissolve yeast in the warm water. Mix in sugar, salt, butter, eggs, orange juice, potatoes and 5 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to make the dough easy to handle – this is a sticky dough.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, and spray the top of the dough lightly with cooking spray. Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate at least 8 hours. You’ll know that the dough has risen long enough when you can poke it with your fingers and the indents remain.

Punch down the dough, and divide it into 4 equal parts. Use a fourth for any dinner roll recipe. The last time I made a batch of this dough (way back before I broke my ankle!), I used a fourth of it to make cinnnamon rolls for Sunday breakfast.

The following Thursday night, I made margherita pizza (our favorite) for supper,

and on Saturday morning, the girls requested donuts for breakfast, so I rolled, cut out (I used a biscuit cutter, and made center holes in the dough rounds with my fingers), and fried the remaining dough. I turned half a can of leftover chocolate frosting into a glaze by melting it in the microwave.

This dough also makes really great crescent rolls. Roll a fourth of the dough into a 12-inch circle. Spread with softened butter, and cut into 16 wedges. Roll up, beginning at the rounded edge. Place rolls, points down, on a greased baking sheet, and curve slightly into a crescent shape. Brush with melted butter. Let rise until double, 45 to 60 minutes. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake rolls until light brown, 13 to 15 minutes.

If you try this recipe, please let me know how you like it.

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Heather is a minimalist in love with a recovering packrat. 7 years ago, she and her husband sold pretty much anything that wasn't nailed down in order to pay off their mortgage, and they've been living happily debt-free ever since. They have 3 hilarious little kids who were conceived with the help of in vitro fertilization, and they haven't had a good night's sleep in the last decade. Heather is an anglophile who loves all things British, and spends her free time looking at real estate listings in Cornwall. Every day, she and her family work toward a simpler, more meaningful life. Some days are awesome, some are disastrous, and you can read about all of them here.

Have a question? Need a listening ear? Contact Heather, or visit Want What You Have on Facebook.

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3 comments… add one

  1. Jen November 19, 2011, 1:03 am

    I am going to try this!

    Reply
  2. Bek @ Just For Daisy November 21, 2011, 9:38 am

    Looks great! I will have to try this, thanks for sharing! :)

    Reply
  3. Tasha D December 8, 2011, 2:54 am

    I started reading two of the series of books when my husband and I chose to become debt free 2 years ago. W e are so close I could just scream it, but I will wait. Fortunately for me, my MIL gave me a 1972 Betty Crocker cookbook for a wedding gift 10 years ago. It has this recipe, plus two other recipes for refrigerator dough (a traditional and sour cream version) I have tried all three and prefer this one to the others. I love that cookbook. I joke that upon my death, it goes with me, so that my three kids don’t fight for the book..lol. Thanks for posting. You inspire me to continue on our journey of debt freedom.

    Reply

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