The Fresh Loaf

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interpreting poke test on refrigerated dough

TylerDavis's picture

interpreting poke test on refrigerated dough

my daily timeline is such that I ferment overnight in the refrigerator, then shape, proof, and bake after I get home from work.


How do I interpret the poke test for optimally proofed dough when it is very cold?  How fast should I expect the indentation to spring back?

clazar123's picture

The finger poke is used for the final proof, usually, not the first bulk fermentation. If your dough was rising in the refrigerator and has doubled, then by the time you shape and proof at room temp, the dough should be warm enough to use the finger poke test to determine if it is properly proofed. It should not be that cold by that time.



David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

I've decided that the the best you can do is this:

Poke the dough before you put it in the fridge.  See how it responds. Heck, video the test on your phone.

Poke the dough as soon as you take it out of the fridge.  See how it responds. Heck, video the test on  your phone.

Bake bread, take pictures and note the taste/texture.  Forward to self with the two videos.  If the bread came out great, then the poke tests for both points in time ought to look just as they did on the video.

If the bread came out not so great, determine if it was over proofed or under proofed, and next time bake the same loaf under same conditions but change the proofing times accordingly. Do video tests again, bake and see how it comes out.

Eventually you will get a great idea about how the dough should respond in order to give you the loaf you want, simply by poking  your bread and seeing if it responds the way it did when you got the perfect loaf. :)

The shorter answer is that the dough will respond slowly because it is cold dough, and the test may not be easy to administer in a way that gives you the results you are after.  BUT it can't hurt to do the videos and see whether this is true.

TylerDavis's picture

I am using the poke test on the final proof, not the refrigerated bulk fermentation


I have left the shaped loaf on the counter at 75 F for up to 2 hours and it is still cool to the touch, not yet to room temperature.  Poke test is inconclusive since cold dough responds slowly.  At that point I go ahead and bake but I'm not really sure what level of proofing I achieved.