The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Cover Benched Dough??

Feelin Crumby's picture
Feelin Crumby

Cover Benched Dough??

Something's been bothering me concerning how I treat, and react to, the unshaped pieces of dough I have on the counter. Actually, the shaped ones, too. Essentially, I feel panicked :-). Everything I read says to cover them, but I have visited bakeries, and often see photos of bakers with TABLES FULL of loaves out in the open . . . uncovered. What's going on here? What is the difference on the breads if they're not covered during this stage? Any explanations are greatly appreciated. Thanks. Feelin' Crumby

proth5's picture

such as mine, leaving dough uncovered for 15 mins after pre shaping would result in a dry crust over the dough which would make it impossible to shape properly.  Leaving it uncovered for proofing would result in a crust so thick that a proper rise in baking woud be impossible.

I am sure that in more moist environments this is not an issue and you may have seen these pictures or experienced bakeries where this atmosphere is somehow provided - either by the natural environment or by other means.

The point of covering loaves is to keep the outside from drying out "too much" (as we see with couche use, some "drying" is usefull), you must gauge what you need to do for yourself.

Hope this helps.

Janknitz's picture

Why not make two loaves side by side, uncover one and cover the other, and see if it makes much of a difference for that bread.  You'll learn something one way or the other. 

Often when doughs form a "skin" from exposure to the air, they don't rise as well and can be harder to score--think an overly tight balloon.  I routinely allow my challahs to rise uncovered, but I give them an eggwash immediately after shaping to keep the surfaces moist, and then do it again just before baking. 

If covering is an issue becasue you don't want to deal with wet towels or some form of plastic, look for a pot or other deep vessel in your kitchen to cover the dough with--I often use the very bowl the dough was mixed in. 

Or invest in a plastic storage container (food safe is better) big enough to turn over almost anything.  This provids a warm, moist environment (the moisture is provided by the dough itself which sort of "respirates" under the cover) for the dough to rise.  If you need an even warmer enviroment, heat a cup of water in the microwave and place the warm cup of water next to the dough under the cover.  BTW, the microwave itself (turned off) is a good "proofing chamber" if you want. 

jpchisari's picture

Hi Feelin Crumby,

I would suspect that when you see a picture of uncovered dough it is for the purpose of being able to see the shaped loaves that might otherwise not be visible covered in plastic. Purely aesthetic reasons. Dough should be covered as much as possible. A piece of plastic wrap will work fine as long as you dust the tops of loaves with flour.