What Is Dead Dough In Baking

A dead dough might not come off as ideal for some in baking. But the art of making and using it has existed for centuries, as far back as Egyptian times. It is significant to most newbie bakers, especially for those still practicing making sculptures and scoring techniques.

So, what exactly is dead dough in baking, and why do people make them?

dead dough

What is Dead Dough?

Also called ornamental dough, a dead dough is referred to as “dead” since it doesn’t have any leavening agents, such as yeast or baking soda. These ingredients often make the dough rise when baked, so their absence creates a lot of difference. Initially, a dead dough’s primary ingredients only included flour and water. But people have also added salt, sometimes sugar or glucose, to create them.

These days, many people experiment more ingredients to make a variety of results, such as a lighter or darker color or a sweeter or more delectable taste. The most common elements now added and mixed in making a dead dough include water, wheat flour, refined flour, sugar, sugar syrup, and liquid glucose. It is up to you how you want to adjust the ratio for each ingredient before mixing, kneading, and rolling it to achieve your desired consistency.

Whatever mixture you’ve come up with, don’t add a leavening agent so your dough will not rise while still holding its form well. (Read Is It Illegal To Eat An Orange In The Bathtub)

Common Dead Dough Uses

Many people use dead dough since it is cheaper than other doughs and pieces. Most ingredients are also readily available in the kitchen and can be easily made by anyone.

Here are some of the most common uses of dead dough in baking:

As ornamental pieces

Coming from its name, an ornamental dough makes popular ornamental pieces in baking. It can come in the form of edible bread baskets, toppers in baked goods, and decorative structures such as gingerbread houses.

As sculpture dough

The dead dough is quite similar to sculpting dough; hence, many people use to make sculptures out of it in different shapes and sizes. They can also pass as incredible bread sculptures and beautiful centerpieces since they hold up well in large structures.

As a personalized touch

There’s no better dough for customization than dead dough when you want to design letters or numbers personally. You can easily roll out a flat piece of it and use tiny bits of coiled dead dough to form names or shapes out of them. You can practically carve anything you imagine out of it!

As a substitute for short-crust pastry

If you didn’t know, dead dough makes an excellent alternative for short-crust pastry in pies since their taste is almost similar. A dead dough can be a great substitute depending on the ingredients used. (Read Ran Out Of Butter For Kraft Mac And Cheese)

How To Make Dead Dough

dough making

We have a quick and easy recipe to follow in making dead dough. All you need are the following ingredients:

  • 17 oz refined flour
  • 17 oz wheat flour
  • 10 oz water
  • 10 oz sugar
  • 3 oz liquid glucose

Preparing your dough:

  1. Mix the dry ingredients (refined flour and wheat flour).
  2. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan or pot over heat to create a sugar syrup.
  3. Mix the dry ingredients, sugar syrup, and liquid glucose in a bowl.
  4. Continue mixing until combined, then knead it into a dough.
  5. Knead until you reach a stiffness that easily rolls and cuts to shape.

Baking your dough:

  1. Preheat the oven to 290°F (145°C).
  2. Place your dough on a floured baking sheet, then put it in the oven.
  3. Leave it for around 1 to 2 hours, depending on how thick your dough is until you notice that it is already firm.

How to Make White Dead Dough

If you specifically want to achieve a white dead dough, you may follow these steps:


  • 10.4 oz white rye flour
  • 8.81 oz light buckwheat flour
  • 6.56 oz syrup

Preparing your dough:

  1. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Add your desired syrup amount.
  3. Mix everything by hand or with a bowl scraper.
  4. You may add more syrup if you still need to achieve your desired consistency.
  5. After mixing, your dough should feel smooth to the touch.
  6. Cover it with plastic wrap.
  7. Put it in a box or any container of your choice and cover it with a damp cloth.

Baking your dough:

  1. Preheat oven at 320°F (160°C).
  2. Bake your dough until you see a color change.
  3. Take out your dough after a few minutes.

Adding yeast to a Dead Dough: Is it possible?

It is called dead dough for a reason, and that is it doesn’t contain any yeast or baking soda. Still, there are instances where you can add yeast to a dead dough!

People add a pinch of yeast to their dead dough to practice scoring techniques. Bakers mostly do this to become more skilled and confident in scoring proper loaves of bread. The best thing about dead dough regarding this type of practice is that it can be scored and rolled multiple times until you achieve what you need.

This dead dough usually consists of flour, salt, water, and a pinch of yeast. Just think of it as a play dough whose surface is like a proper bread dough for practice.

What You Can Make Out of Dead Dough

pizza making

Apart from using it for scoring, there are other things you can make out of dead dough:

Make flatbread

The best you can do out of dead dough is to make some flat bread! You can take portions of your dough and form it into a ball before rolling them out as thin as you can on a floured surface. Once you’ve created them, you can either bake them in an oven or cook them in a skillet. 

If you’re baking them, set them in the highest setting and heat them for around 30 to 60 minutes. You can now place your thinly rolled dough and wait for up to 2 to 6 minutes until cooked.

But if you cook it over a skillet, preheat it over medium heat until it starts smoking. Pour a thin layer of oil, place your thinly rolled dough, and cook for up to 2 to 6. Make sure you flip it so that you will cook both sides.

Make pizza

Yes, you can make a pizza out of your dead dough! It might not be as delicious as the pizza we usually eat, but they make a good alternative. 

Begin by separating the dough into individual balls before you roll them out until thin. This will be your pizza crust. You can now put your sauce and cheese before putting it in the oven. Ensure you preheat your oven to the highest temperature for around 30 to 60 minutes!

Once preheated, you can place the thinly rolled dough and cook for 2 to 6 minutes until you notice that the crust is firm and the cheese has already melted. (Learn How Many Slices Is 2 Oz Of Turkey)

Make a new dough

It’s possible to make a new dough out of your dead one with flour, baking powder, salt, and water.

Start by thoroughly combining 1/8 cup of flour and one teaspoon of baking powder before you add some water. You can then combine your fresh and dead dough in a bowl. Just make sure that you do not directly incorporate the baking powder into the dough since it will be too concentrated, and you won’t be able to spread it properly.

This new mix can make soft crackers, tortillas, pitas, and more.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you still have questions about dead dough, these pieces of information might help:

Is dead dough edible?

Yes, the dead dough is edible, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you should eat it. It is more of a decorative piece in baking.

What does dead dough taste like?

Dead dough tastes bland, slightly sweet, and has a bad texture. We recommend you add flavors or toppings if you want your dead dough to taste better.

What can I do if the dough is too stiff?

Try adding more water to your dough. A dough becomes hard when more flour is used, which makes it dry and difficult to work with.

Can you color dead dough?

Yes, you can color dead dough. The best thing about this kind of dough is you can experiment however you want to. The dough will have a darker or lighter color depending on the flour used. Foods like turmeric or beetroot can also help adjust the color of your dough.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know the many uses of dead dough, you can also start making one if you’re a newbie baker. With some experimenting, it might unleash your best-hidden skills in sculpting and decorating in baking!

What Is Dead Dough In Baking

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