The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Dry "crust" while proofing or raising bread

RiddelSkittle's picture

Dry "crust" while proofing or raising bread

I'm relatively new to bread baking, having only started a couple of months ago. And I think I have a problem when it comes to proofing that may not be a real concern, but I'd rather know.

My problem is that every time I try to proof bread, or even raise it the dough on the top becomes 'crusted' over and dry. This may be taboo, but I desperately spray it with water or brush it with oil to keep it moist. If not, I'm left with trying to shape loaves that have that crusty part that becomes very unyeilding when shaping or frustrating when slashing. For some reason, this just doesn't seem very natural to bread making, and it's becoming annoying. Any tips?


PaddyL's picture

....cover the bowl with a damp cloth.  I grease my bowl with Crisco, then turn the dough over to make sure it's greased when I turn it top-side up.  It's quite a natural thing to do when making bread.

Ford's picture

I place one to two tablespoons of vegetable oil in the proofing bowl and roll the ball of dough over in the bowl to cover all sides.  Then I cover the bowl with plastic wrap while it proofs.  No crustiness on the dough while proofing.  I can give the dough several "stretch and folds" in the bowl, if I desire, during the proofing.


kneadingbob's picture

I use a uniform shaped plastic container (square or a cylinder). I note the level of the dough and mark with a dry marker the dough height and the make a mark at twice the height. Put the lid on and wait. No crust and you know when dough has doubled in volume.

Syd's picture

You have to cover your dough while it is proofing.  If you don't, the surface will dry out and develop a crust as you have experienced.  This will be exacerbated by a draft which is why you will often see instructions in older recipe books to keep proofing bread out of a draft.

I used to always use a damp tea towel to cover my dough while proofing.  It is probably the most eco-friendly way to do it, although it does have its drawbacks.  If the proof time is very long, the likelihood of the towel drying out is high and then it will no longer protect your dough from crusting.  This means you have to check on your towel periodically and re-dampen it. 

Now days I just use cling wrap like most people.  It seals airtight and the dough will never crust on you.  A good tip if you are using stainless steel bowls:  wet your finger with the tiniest amount of oil or water and run it around the rim of the bowl. Now your cling wrap will stick tenaciously to the bowl and your dough won't lose a drop of moisture.  And, as everyone has suggested, grease your bowl ever so lightly before you put the dough in it.  This will prevent the dough from sticking to the bowl and will prevent any unsightly rips.  It will also make cleaning up easier.


hutchndi's picture

Go to the cake section of your local bakery and ask for some disposable cake containers, I have been using these same ones for about 5 years now and they work great!

hanseata's picture

I, too, grease the rising bowls and turn the dough ball over to coat it, like the others do. Usually I cover the bowl with cling wrap, but plastic shower caps also work great. And they are larger than the usual plastic caps for bowls you can buy in a dollar store.


stevenpn1007's picture

Thanks for the great ideas.  So I make challah, which is a braided egg dough.  I've been oiling the bowl and the top, so it doesn't dry out, but it's also more difficult to roll our the braids.  The oil sometimes stops them from holding together.  a little flour on the board seems to help, but not always.  So I'm wondering what the best ideas are for something that prevents the dough from crusting over, but doesn't make it oily.  I appreciate any comments.  Thanks.