The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How many times to proof

tanjaG's picture

How many times to proof


I have a question, maybe a silly one, but anyway. How many times do you proof your dough? I'm asking because, i know the recipe says proof 1 time, then shape, proof, bake.

But, with 2 small children at home, i don't always have the luxury of ''time''. You know, when it's time to shape, i'm no where near the dough, and time flies.

So, sometimes happens that i have to deflate the dough and let it rise again, and when the recipe says, it probably won't rise to double, at the end of THIRD (as i said, 2 small children) proof the dough is double in size. Then i shape it, proof for the final time and let it bake.

The question is, is that bad for the dough? How many times is it ok to proof?

Thank you all for your wisdom!!!


G-man's picture

The answer is really as many or as few times as you want.

What you're doing with the proofing and such is developing texture and flavor. The longer the dough ferments, the more the flavors will come out. On the other hand, the bread will become more dense and crusty as well.

Proofing fewer times and adding more yeast to raise the dough quickly will yield a softer, more tender loaf with less flavor. Proofing several times over the course of a few hours is splitting the difference between a yeasted white loaf of sandwich bread made in an hour or so and a rustic, crusty bread that's been built over the course of a day or two.

That's my understanding, anyway, based on what I've read and my own experiences.

thihal123's picture

Any more updates to this very interesting question? I've only seen recipes that call for letting the dough rise twice. But what if I keep punching the dough down and letting it rise for a total of say three or four times? What would the problem in that be? Sometimes, I'm not ready to let the bread bake after 2 rises. For example, suddenly I'm called away and won't be back for several hours. Can I just punch down the dough a 3rd time, put in the fridge and let it rise?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I once cleaned out a cupboard and threw in a package of yeast, turned out to be super rapid rise!  That dough gave me a run for the grains.  Seemed like every half hour I was punching it down.  At least 3 times but there seemed to be enough food in the dough to keep going.  I have punched down commercial yeast doughs twice when they seemed to be fermenting too much gas for my preference but after that, not sure if it would slow down much in the fridge unless you shocked it... put the dough bowl in a larger bowl of ice water and a bag of ice directly on top of the dough.  That might slow it down.  :)