The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

What do you use while proofing your loaf?

mikeofaustin's picture
mikeofaustin

What do you use while proofing your loaf?

Do you use an oven? kitchen counter with a damp towel? Seran wrap? Olive oil or flour coating?  What and how do you proof your dough?

hiadam's picture
hiadam

My oven is the old, dial kind and I found out that it has settings much lower than the lowest "official" marked setting.  I just turn it slowly until I hear a click that tells me it turned on the gas.  The temperature at that setting is around 100 F, which works marvelously.

Generally I cover breads with seran wrap that I've lightly oiled.  I found that it can "grow" with the bread but I can remove it without damaging the dough underneath. 

I'd really like to get some fabric and saturate it with oil and flour.  I've seen the 'pro's do it that way -- they fold the cloth in a u-shape.  Then the dough lies inside of the U and they fold the extra cloth over the top.  Of course, they use something solid on both sides to maintain the shape.  If the cloth is big enough they make multiple U's out of it to hold a number of baguettes.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I make sourdoughs, mostly. I proof them in bannetons, enclosed in plastic bags, on a kitchen counter next to the refrigerator, unless they are going into the refrigerator for overnight cold retardation.

When I make batards or other long loaves, I proof them on parchment, sprayed with oil and covered with plasti-crap - also on the counter. I have cold retarded some long loaves on parchment on a 1/4 sheet pan enclosed in a plastic bag.

I have never tried to speed up proofing by using a hotter than roof temperature environment. My kitchen is never cooler than 68F.

David

JERSK's picture
JERSK

   I'm very leary of using ovens for proofing. Temperatures of 90 degrees F and up are to warm. They can kill your dough or make it too sticky.If you rise your loaves at room temp, say in the 60's or 70's you won't have any problems. Oiled things can cause problems as oil can actually stick and incorporate itself into your doughs. Spray oils, like dmsnyder suggested, do work. Stuff like PAM works because they contain lecithin, This acts as a releasing agent. Butter also contains lecithin, so soft butter works better than oil. I use bannetons, basically cloth line baskets, for rising loaves. These are than inverted onto a peel or rimless baking sheet and slid onto a stone. You can also just invert the loaves onto a baking sheet and cook them that way. I posted a thread on homemade bannetons if you want to see what mine look like. They are dusted with flour, no oil needed. Rice flour works best, but whole wheat or white flour work well also. The u-shaped cloths hiadam referred to are called couches. French for beds. You can purchase these through kitchen supply places. I made some out of denim jean legs my son cut off for shorts. They work well for baguette shaped loafs. I'm a cheapskate, so I try to make everything. You can also fashion a banneton out of a colander lined with a linen kitchen towel. Don't use terry cloth.Or you can just rise loaves in a bread pan. Again, use butter or spray oil. In a plastic bag works great.

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

I usually let me dough rise in the bowl that I mixed it in at room temperature, and I cover the bowl with a plate or a pan. I hate dealing with plastic wrap.

Once it's shaped, if it's an oval loaf, I wrap it in baker's linen that's been generously dusted with rice flour. If you don't have baker's linen, a linen napkin will do just fine. If it's a round loaf, I've got a banneton that I use (again, dusted with rice flour), though for larger loaves I'll drape a colander with baker's linen (dusted with rice flour -- this is becoming a chorus!).

As for temperature, the intial rise is usually at room temperature. Sometimes, though, for the final proof, I'll put it in a cooler on an upturned bowl, and throw a cup of boiling water in the bottom. It usually stays between 80-85 degrees F, which is a perfect temperature for developing flavor in sourdoughs.

breadnerd's picture
breadnerd

I usually just rise on the counter, no added heat. If it's a cold day or I'm in more of a hurry, I use warm up the liquids before mixing up the dough, and find a sunny or warm spot in the house to sit the bowl. I did get a seedling warming mat for plants last year, so I might give that a try this winter.

For the final proof I usually use my counter and canvas couches (for baguettes and long loaves) or bannetons or cloth-lined bowls for round loaves. Or loaf pans. I usually just cover with a smooth kitchen towel--no plastic wrap. If I'm worried about loaves drying out, I give them a mist with water once in a while--the loaves and the towels. I find this is enough to keep the dough expanding nicely. If things are moving a little slowly, I set them on my range while the oven is warming up, as the vent in the back keeps that area pretty warm.