The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Testing for Proofness | Poke or Push

marc's picture

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.

Janknitz's picture

More like a quarter inch or so.  And I do try to find an inconspicuous place. 

LOL, I have no idea if I poke or push!  I'll have to pay attention during my weekend baking. 


flournwater's picture

I'm a poker.  About a quarter inch or perhaps slightly more.  But I don't think it's going to make any difference whether you poke or push.  I believe it will make a difference on how deep you make the indentation, whether the dough is wet enough to stick to your finger and the humidity in the proofing environment. 

wally's picture


Unless you keep you fingernails really clipped, pushing with the PAD of your fingertip is the way to go.  You're pushing, not drilling, so 1/2 inch is overdoing it.  Immediate spring back and the dough is underproofed; delayed spring back and it's in the 'zone.'  If you can push a quarter inch down and get a very delayed reaction, then you've probably overproofed your loaf.


marc's picture

I think I'll go with "push" method and use the pad of my finger (even though i do keep my fingernails really short).


I'm pretty sure that my bread needed to proof a bit longer.