There has been an ongoing talk in the http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/6103/craving-crackly-crust-sour-rye-bread#comment-31264 about Bread Boxes.
No these are not the Boxes on your counter nicely decorated and filled wiith ready to eat treats. These are a tool that, for any pro baker like my self, is a must. I have had them in every bakery i worked in. In fact when making corn bread (heavy rye) if you dont have one don't even bother to make it.
These boxes were made of hard wood and about 4 foot square. They were only 4 inches tall. the sides were made from one inch wood and the bottoms were 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.
what were they used for well almost everything
For corn rye the box was wet with water and the dough was placed in the wet box to rise. Another box was put on top upside down as a cover. this would allow for an 8 inch space for the dough to rise which was just right.
shapped loafs were put in a canvis line box to rise and when done taken from the box, put on the peel and into the oven.
on cold days the boxes were put in the oven for a miute or two and being hard wood they would abrorbe just the right amount of heat and hold it for a long time. this is great to get a dough to rise when it is cold.
when it's to hot the boxex were stacked slightly ajar to allow for some air to cirulate and since wood not only holds heat but insulates from it as well as the moistur in the wood would cause cooling by evopation. So inside the box would be cooler then the air temp slowing the yeast down on hot days
the wood could breath so the dough would get are through the pores of the wood even if closed.
the natural wood held moisture so the yeast had the right amount of humidity for a healthy rise. If it was a dry day the boxes could be wet with a cloth.
in my days of pro baking if the bread did not need more than 4 inchs of space the boxes would be stacked five or ten high filled with bread rising.
the best thing is these boxes can be made without much effort. And while the ones i used were 4 foot square there is no reasion you can't cut them down to a size you can use. maybe 24 inch by 24 inch by 4 inch. Or 18 inch by 18 inch by 4.
You would need to make two of them one for the bottom and one for the cover. If you want to make a lot of bread you could have a plain piece of wood to be used for the top making it posible to stack the two boxes and still have them covered as we did in the bakery.
just a note we also had 2 inch tall boxes that were used for rolls (like kisier) which did not need as much space. But a set of 4 inch high should be all that a home kitchen needs and one flat peice for a cover when stacked.
make these when you have time or better yet have someone make them for you. its as simple as nailing a wooden fram and puting a bottom on it.
carpentry note if tou make 24 inch squar make the box bottom 26 inch to allow for the thickness of the wood sides