Is the KAF proofer worth buying?
Does it replace or really assist proofing in a banneton?
Are there better ones?
TIA for any suggestions…
For a MUCH less expensive alternative, see:
I have a Brod & Taylor proofer that is identical to the one KA offers. KA's may, in fact, be a Brod & Taylor; in any case, it is certainly made by B & T. See my post at http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/36402/my-new-proofer
I love mine. It cuts the final proofing time by a half to two-thirds. Holds two large batard bannetons, one large boule, or two small ones.
I divide and shape my dough straight out of the fridge after retarding, put the loaves in the bannetons, place them in the proofer, and head for Barnes & Noble. When I get back they are ready to bake.
Like Capn Dub says above I love my Brod and Taylor and it was well worth it. I use it in all phases of my bread making usually set to 80-83 degrees and find it really helps the end product.
If you are handy you can certainly make one yourself per Steve B above. The only downside of the B & T is the size. I would love to have a larger one. I have an idea on how to make and market a larger one so maybe one day I will actually follow through and become rich and famous :).
and for the same price. I love mine too. The first thing I successfully used it for was my starter. I always had a hard time keeping the oven below 80 degrees with the light on and keeping the door ajar was a trick with all the grandkid traffic,but the proofer temp control is the perfect solution. And because it folds for out of way storage, I am eternally grateful!
Thanks SteveB, Capn Dub, isand66 and aecummings!
I think I shall get one now!
Just that - none of the books I've been using specifically recommends a proofing box.
But I don't think I'm getting the best rise I can. Our kitchen is cool (cooler still with air conditioning and forced air heating… hot Southern California).
Is the Brod and Taylor the only game in town - part from home-made?
I see it for <$150 at Amazon.
Your help appreciated!
I've seen others, Mark, but none of those I've found even begin to compare. As Phyllis says, above, the folding feature makes it well worth the money. By the bye, I checked the air temp with an instant read thermometer -- which I had also checked for calibration using ice water and boiling water -- and the Brod & Taylor was right on the money at 82 degrees and at 90 degrees.
Thanks (again), Capn Dub.
I have ordered it from Amazon. Free shipping and many good reviews.
Everyone's help much appreciated…
As we all know, the yeast in our sourdough multiplies fastest at around 80 to 82 degrees. Since I shape my loaves cold, straight out of a 38-degree fridge after a 36-hour retard, I wondered how long it took for the dough to approach that temperature. I had been setting my proofing box at 82 degrees, which is 10 degrees higher than the ambient room temperature. That cut the proofing time by about a third, but I noticed that most of the growth was occurring during the last ninety minutes. Checking the internal temperature of the loaves with an instant-read thermometer, I found that they had only reached 67 to 69 degrees at the point where they were ready to bake. I also found that the temp didn't vary much whether I measured in the center or near the outside of the loaves.
That being revealed, I increased the setting of the proofing box to 90 degrees while proofing a batch yesterday. They were ready to bake in a third of the time that it used to take at room temperature. And guess what . . . the internal temperature when they were finished was 77 to 79!
Conclusion? Set your proofing box on the high side if you are doing cold dough. Here's a pic of the result:
Cap'n Dub- I have two questions for you.
First what is your method of bulk fermentation? Do you do the full dough fermentation and then put it into the refrigerator for 18 hours?
Secondly, do you put your loaves in bannetons in the proofer or do you use a couche?
Thank you. I just got the proofer and I am investigating the best ways to put it to use.
Thanks for your questions.
First, I'll deal with the easy one: I use a banneton, turn the loaves out on a peel, and bake on a stone.
Your other question about the bulk fermentation is more complicated. My method relies upon the difference between the temperature preferences of the yeast and the bacteria. While many use the long refrigeration to develop flavor, I bypass that altogether. The yeast multiplies down in that 78 to 80 degree range, while the bacteria like it up around 90--right where the yeast falls off sharply. My method simply skips that lower temperature.
I place all the ingredients--the starter, flour/salt mixture, and 92-degree water--in the proofer, setting the temp to 92 degrees. When all have reached 92--checked with a digital thermometer--I mix and knead the dough, and then place the bowl back into the proofer, still set at 92. When it has doubled I divide and shape, put it in bannetons, and back in the proofer. The dough will rise pretty quickly, now. Don't over-proof! 50%, or a little more, will do it. If it has doubled in the bannetons, your loaves will probably collapse.
I turn them out on the peels and slide them onto a 500 degree stone with a bit of water in a pan underneath. The oven is immediately reduced to 425 degrees.
The result is a nicely sour loaf with a stout crust.
Thanks for that - really helpful!
I have bought the Proofing Box - and am looking forward to using it for the first time this weekend.
I'm not too worried about cutting times. I really just want the tastiest dough I can achieve.
I know yeast is killed at 140℉.
So how high can I safely go over that extended (several hours) period of proofing/fermenting, please?
Mark, I have read a number of research papers on the subject of propagation rates of Candida milleri and Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis, respectively the yeast and bacteria responsible for that best of all breads, San Francisco sourdough. It seems that the growth of the yeast peaks at about 80-82°F, while the bacteria peak at 90-92°. The yeast growth rate falls off very sharply at about 90°, in fact, to near nothing, whereas the bacteria slow down much more slowly as the temperature rises. Note that all of that applies only to sourdough, since baker's yeast is an entirely different species with different requirements.
That being said, and assuming it is correct, we first have to define what you mean when you say ". . . want the tastiest dough I can achieve." We have multiple factors at play here: the yeast provides the gas that gives the bread its loft, of course, but it also yields the various compounds that we recognize as that characteristic yeasty taste and smell. On the other hand, the bacteria produce the lactic and acetic acids that impart the sourness to sourdough, but they also give other things that add certain notes to the flavor. Thus, we have to define what you mean by "tastiest dough." The answer to that question is easy: "tastiest" is whatever pleases you the most.
Now here's the rub. Using temperature to control the relative activity of the two different organisms, you can tweak the flavor as outlined above by promoting the growth of one over the other, but often at the expense of the other flavors. That is why most of us (I think) retard our dough for a day, or two, or even more, i.e., to "accumulate" those flavorful byproducts of the critters as they gobble up the starch.
This brings us back to our proofing boxes. The constraint under which we must work is the dough itself: when it is ready to bake, it is ready to bake -- now! There are no two ways about it -- when it is ready, it is ready. So, the way I see it, the final rise serves primarily to give the dough its loft. The majority of the flavor, I believe is developed during pre-ferment and retardation. If that theory is correct, then the final rise needs to be completed as soon as possible, because enzymes begin to break down the gluten as soon as the flour gets wet, and we don't want to lose that springy, gas-trapping before we bake. The speed of the rise, of course, is dependent on the temperature, and therefore can be controlled by it.
Since I shape my loaves straight from the refrigerator and put them in the proofing box, the question, then, is how warm can I set the temperature. It takes time for heat to travel to the center of the loaf and I don't want the outside to overproof while the middle is still at 38°, so that is why I started my little investigation. What I have found so far is that the limit of effective temperature in the box seems to lie somewhere between 90° and 100°F. I am going to refine that by further testing, but as you can see from my previous post, 90° at least works.
One final note, Mark: don't confuse the kill temperature of baker's yeast with that of Candida milleri or C. humilis. Baker's yeast likes it warmer and can take a lot more heat than sourdough.
That's a really helpful post. It confirm the wisdom of a shorter (because) warmer proof. If I don't go above 90℉, I should deb OK by the sound of it.
By tasty, I guess I only mean as full as possible without defeating the roll of the yeast.
At the same time, Ken Forkish advocates long, long fermentations.
I used it for the first time today.
It assembles (and packs away to store) easily. It seems well made; is simple to operate.
Above all, it really does aid proofing (and bulk fermentation). I had good rises with my biga-bases loaf from FWSY. But it doesn't get too hot to present any risk to plastic or banneton because they sit slightly elevated on the rack that comes with it.
Also a positive: it's tall enough to accommodate my Cambro 6-quart; and there's still room for the water tray and a loaf tin as well.
Thanks again to everyone here who so kindly offered advice: as I expected, you were all right :-)
I use my dryer but will likely buy a proofing box off Amazon.