The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Food Dehydrator as a Proofbox?

linder's picture

Food Dehydrator as a Proofbox?

Has anyone had experience using a food dehydrator as a proofbox?  If so, what did you do to maintain the humidity and prevent the dough from forming a 'skin' on it, drying out?  I have a dehydrator and thought it might be the perfect place to quickly proof dough. Thanks.


Boron Elgar's picture
Boron Elgar

May I recommend use of your microwave, instead? You can easily adjust temp and humidity by adding in an insulated cup or two of hot or ice water, depending on what you seek. It is a closed system and helps prevent skin forming.

Since I am a big believer in retarding doughs overnight at lower temps, I usually use the fridge, but my kitchen is not air conditioned, and when I bake in the summer months, I do all my final rises in the microwave to keep the temps and humidity on an even keel.

You may have to experiement a bit to get the conditions you seek...check temps along the way, but it sure beats adding some sort of box or adapting another widget along the way. Most folks have easy access to a microwave. If you don't, well, I hope someone else comes along and answers you more directly.

mimi7107's picture

I've used the microwave as well for many years and it works great!  Sometimes I leave the light on and sometimes off, depending on the bread.  Other than taking the dough for a ride in the back seat of my car on sunny day, it's the best place I've found!

ehanner's picture

A proofer needs to be warm, humid and NOT breezy. My dehydrator has a fan in it that would quickly skin over a dough. If you don't want to spend for a home proofer, try using a small heat pad under a sheet pan and covering the dough with a large plastic tub. Set the heater on low and mist the tub lightly with water. A translucent tub will allow you to observe the dough fermenting with out removing the tub.


Rocketcaver's picture

I agree that those plastic dehydrators found in the department stores would not make a good proofing box.

But, I have a large plywood dehydrator box built from the book "Dry it You'll Like it" several years ago, it has no fan and a very gentle heating element with a pretty good temp controller.  I have used it as a proofing box for years by simply covering the open bottom with cardboard.  Set the temp controller as low as it will go and it works great.  I have a digital thermometer with the probe situated right by my dough, and if it gets too warm I open the top just a smidge.   Untold loaves of standard and sourdough bread have begun life in this box over tha last 15 years or so.


ssg's picture

I've proofed in a dehydrator (an Excaliber, with a fan), by placing my banneton/brotform inside a large ziploc bag (I do the same to retard in the fridge). It works fine, though the lowest heat setting on the dehydrator is still quite warm. I find flavour development is poor due to the very quick proof, but that would depend on what you are looking for. Worth a try, certainly.

linder's picture

Thanks, ssg.  I thought that might work.  I am trying to proof some sourdough whole wheat bread in loaf pans.  It worked when I covered the loaves with both plastic food wrap and a dry cloth towel.  I also put a pan of water in the bottom of the dehydrator (9 shelf Excaliber with fan) and a wet cloth  in back of the loaf pans, but away from the fan and electrical unit.  Flavor of the loaves was fine as this was the final rise and the sourdough starter is quite flavorful on its own.  I had just gotten tired of waiting forever for the loaves to rise.