Testing for Proofness | Poke or Push
I seen many references that to test if dough is properly proofed, and ready for baking, "poke the dough with your finger."
However—do you really "poke" with the tip of the finger? Or, do you "push" with the PAD of the finger.
Today—I poked my Pain au Levain as is sat in the banneton and the resulting dent remained. Then like molasses in January started to expand back out but never really filled by in. I only poked about 1/2 inch into the dough. My intial thought was—the dough is overproofed. If dent remain—no good for levain!
It occurred to me that my dough had only been in the banneton for 3 hours. It usually goes closer to 4, I decided to take an alternate approach: I pushed with the pad of my finger. Again—a dent resulted, but it puffed back out fairly quickly and disappeared. A process that took maybe 5 seconds or so. So now I'm thinking—underproofed.
Now I had two conflicting results, and did what any anxious—and hungry (key word) baker would do: I baked!
In the oven, the bread had an excellent oven spring. 15 minutes in, as the loaf began to tan, the oven spring continued a bit more and the loaf began to tear along one of the main score marks. I do steam my oven (1 cup hot water in a pan) and also spray the loaves and oven twice, once on load and once 2 minutes into the bake.
I'm curious as to the process others use.