The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Proofing box

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alittlesquirrely's picture
alittlesquirrely

Proofing box

I just discovered another use for a neck warmer. I lined a plastic tub with bubble wrap, heated the neck warmer 2 minutes in the microwave and placed it in the tub with the lid closed. Temperature went to 80 degrees within 2 minutes and stayed there for over an hour! It declined slowly and was still warm after 2 hours. In addition to heat, the warmer gave off moisture causing an almost steam bath in the tub! I used a "hot pockets" neck warmer. Carolynn

Sjadad's picture
Sjadad

Carolynn, Very creative! I use a Coleman cooler as my proof box. I heat some water in a Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave and put it in the cooler. I use a probe thermometer to monitor the temperature. It works great. My Proofing Box

alittlesquirrely's picture
alittlesquirrely

Hello, I am new at this. Is one cup of hot water enough to get the temp. up for raising? BTW what temperature should I aim for? I used the neck wrap out of despiration, but I think my dough rose way too fast that way. I would like to try something else. Does a foam or coleman cooler keep heat in better than a plastic tub? Carolynn

ssor's picture
ssor

I oil the inside of a plastic bag and put the dough in that and drop it in a large bowl or pot of very warm water.

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

I have bread proofing in the basement where it is under 50° F.   A long cool proof gives way to deep complex flavor.


Jeff

alittlesquirrely's picture
alittlesquirrely

Jeff, I would love a long cool proof, and tried to leave my dough in a bowl out on the cold counter for two days, but it never did raise. How long can I leave it there? Why didn't it raise? I am in the mountains at 7,200 feet...thought that would help!

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Carolynn,


Good question.  Tell me all that you can about your recipe and technique and I am certain that we can find the answer.


Jeff

alittlesquirrely's picture
alittlesquirrely

Jeff, I made a honey, whole wheat with white whole wheat flour and bread flour, two TB honey. I am a retired left-brained chemist, so followed the recipe, including the yeast (even though they said I could use less up here), but I did add a couple TB more water because the dough was so dry. This altitude drys out the flour. I wanted to make the dough relatively soft like the white breads, but it was really dense and heavy.  Kitchenaid did the mixing and kneading for 5 minutes. I hand kneaded a couple minutes just to give it "love". I never got that "window pane" texture that I read about. Carolynn

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

It sounds as if your dough was much too dry and the fact that you got little rise also brings your yeast into the spotlight. 


Did you proof the yeast to see that it is in fact alive and working? 


What are the proportions of flour and water in the recipe?


Does the recipe call for whole wheat flour and bread flour as you used?


At 7200 feet with a decent recipe and active yeast you should see a very rapid and substantial rise, too much rise in fact.


Jeff


 

alittlesquirrely's picture
alittlesquirrely

Yes, the yeast was fresh out of a new jar of rapid rise, but I think you are correct about the dough being too dry. Yes, the recipe called for the whole wheat (I used white whole wheat) and the bread flour. I believe the ratio was 1 to 3 liquid to flour. I made a potato bread today with only bread flour and prepared mashed potato etc., and added almost 1/4 cup more water! Dough was almost sticky and that puppy rose in a half hour way over the top of the pan! (In my "neck warmer" proofing box). I just can't seem to get any consistency, nor can I judge how much extra water to use on a given day or a different recipe. If I add more water to my wheat type recipies, they just get thick, heavy, and gummy. I'm having fun, but the learning curve-wow.

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Carolynn,


Here is a link to a quick lesson on baker's math. 


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/handbook/baker039s-math


This will help tremendously in communicating information regarding your recipes.  Specifically I am interested in the percentage of water in your recipe in the language of baker's math.


Another thought, if you are new to baking I would sugggest that you curtail your use of whole wheat flours in favor of white flour as a matter of learning to bake bread.  Baking with white flour is relatively easy as compared to whole wheat flour.  White flour will allow a wide berth for mistakes and errors, while allowing you to create a worthy loaf of home baked bread.  On the other hand, whole wheat flour is not so forgiving and almost demands that you get it exactly right.  Not that much fun for a new baker.


Jeff

alittlesquirrely's picture
alittlesquirrely

Thanks so much for the link! I surely am new to this and I see I have some homework to do! Yes, I will stick to white bread flour for now. Wheat flour is for experienced bakers, and by glancing at the formula on the link, I see  that I had far too little liquid. I can try a slow cool rise with the white. I had only tried it with the wheat. It looks like practice is the answer. Nice thing about bread...even if it doesn't turn out perfect, it's still good! Thanks again, Carolynn

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Carolynn,


Once you are comfortable baking with white flour you can begin a slow transition to whole wheat by replacing 25% of the white with whole wheat and then slowly increase the amount of whole wheat that you use in each subsequent bake.  Using this method you will quite successfuly teach your self how to bake with whole wheat.


Also keep in mind that at your elevation you will want to significantly reduce the yeast in your recipes.


Jeff

alittlesquirrely's picture
alittlesquirrely

Thanks Jeff, I will do that, but liquid still seems to be issue with me. It is very dry up here, even in the summer (what little summer we have. I keep the flours in the frig. to add a little more moisture, and I have learned to hold back on flour and add a little at a time to get the right consistency. I will start adding a little wheat and see what happens. Seems like wheat grabs onto all the liquid! Is adding gluten of any value when using wheat flour, or unnecessary?

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Keeping flour refrigerated is a good idea for whole wheat flour as it will help retard the rancidity that eventually occurs in this flour. Make certain that your flour is tightly sealed as the refrigerator will actually remove moisture from the flour.


I do not use wheat gluten as I view it a a shortcut to gluten development that can better be achieved through proper dough handling, fermentation and proofing.


Most importantly, you want to make certain that you are following good recipes. There are a great many poor recipes to be found in books, newspapers, magazines and the internet.  Below I have added the suggested reading list from one of my bread classes. I hope that you find it helpful.


Jeff



Suggested Reading


The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread by Peter Reinhart
An excellent book for those looking to advance their baking skills.


Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day by Peter Reinhart
Reinhart's latest book with a wide variety of worthwhile recipes.


Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman
A well written engaging book and the number one favorite of many serious bakers, possibly a bit too advanced for a novice baker. Jeffrey Hamelman is one of the more accomplished bakers of our time.


Artisan Baking by Maggie Glezer
Great recipes from bakers around the country with a wealth of background information.


The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book: A Guide to Whole-Grain Breadmaking by Laurel Robertson, Carol Flinders, and Bronwen Godfrey
An older [1984] and worthy book on whole grain breads.


Bread Alone: Bold Fresh Loaves from Your Own Hands by Daniel Leader and Judith Blahnik
An excellent recipe source for good contemporary breads from Europe


Local Breads: Sourdough and Whole-Grain Recipes from Europe's Best Artisan Bakers by Daniel Leader and Lauren Chattman
More breads from Europe plus fascinating reading about European bakers.


Beard On Bread by James Beard
A good book published in 1973 filled with classic old fashioned bread recipes. I am of the opinion that most of the recipes call for too much salt.


Mastering The Art of French Cooking, Volume Two by Julia Child* and Simone Beck
Chapter 2 of this invaluable classic book covers bread making in a spectacularly complete, detailed, and well illustrated fashion. Instruction of this quality is hard to find in any book.


The Village Baker: Classic Regional Breads from Europe and America by Joe Ortiz
A valuable book aimed at home bakers and those interested in volume baking.


The Italian Baker by Carol Field
A well written 1985 book with easy to follow, successful, high quality recipes that produce first rate results. This was one of the very first books presenting recipes for what is known today as artisan breads. This book is held in high regard by professional bakers.


Other good baker/authors that you can look for: Raymond Calvel, Daniel T. DiMuzio, Dan Lepard, Beatrice Ojakangas, & Michel Suas.


*A note about Julia Child and her recipes: Julia Child is known throughout the culinary world for recipes that work. As simple as this may sound this is actually an enormous tribute to her greatness. Resulting from intense effort and dedication to her work, her instructions are clear, precise, and her recipes work. For a beginner in the world of bread baking, or cooking, I recommend any of her recipes in any of her books.


 

alittlesquirrely's picture
alittlesquirrely

Thank you so much for your help. I had no idea the frig. dried out flour! I do keep them in a "lock and lock" container though. What a wonderful reading list! My birthday is coming up soon and I have asked for both of those Reinhart books! I can't wait to get them! They do sound a little intimidating, but I will go slow and with great courage!

annsie's picture
annsie

I've been filling a large rectangular Rubbermade container with hot water, then setting my loaf pans tented with plastic wrap on top.  This works pretty well, but it's messy, and obviously dry heat.  I'm interested in the bins--has anyone found any large size food grade bins that aren't super expensive?