The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Proofing pot (a prototype)!

Miller's picture
Miller

Proofing pot (a prototype)!

I'm experimenting with a way to keep my starter at a suitable temperature when building it up and during bulk feeding. This is a prototype that I devised.

The temperature control device (thermostat) can be set to the desired temperature which is read by the probe and the heat lamp turns on and off accordingly. I have actually found a better one for this purpose which keeps the temperature within a range that you set and is five times cheaper, which I have ordered. The heat lamp is meant to be for lizard etc. enclosures.

One thing that could be immediately improved with the existing kit is to use a light bulb with a lower power rating. Mine is 100W which too much. I keep the pot partly covered with a towel and thus regulate the temperature inside the pot.

It's not as sophisticated or as versatile as a specially made proofing box, but it does work.

suave's picture
suave

A water bath would give you much more consistent results.

Miller's picture
Miller

Thank you for the suggestion.

Unfortunately lack of room wouldn't make it possible here.

BaniJP's picture
BaniJP

If you want to investigate the waterbath idea further and invest a little, I would recommend an immersion circulator. You can clip them on the pot and it keeps the water at a consistent temperature. Also great fo tempering chocolate, cooking proteins to perfection etc. You should be able to pick one up for maybe 70-80$.

Miller's picture
Miller

Thank you. I had a different impression about waterbaths! It’s a neat solution, but more expensive. Of course, as you say it serves other useful purposes and that needs to be taken into account in considering cost vs benefit.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Miller, I just had a thought. If the temp probe can be slightly submerged in water, you could get an aquarium heater and place it in your pot filled with water.

If it can’t be submerged, maybe you can put it in a plastic bag and then place in water. Maybe electrical shrink wrap that is heated in order to shrink. Where there is a will there is...

Dan

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Here's a thermostat  with included  A/C outlets, heating only, $30 :

www.amazon.com/Inkbird-Aquarium-Temperature-Controller-ITC-306T/dp/B07KC24CKD?tag=froglallabout-20

Here's one specially for home-brewers, 1100 watt, heating and cooling, $35 :

www.amazon.com/Inkbird-Itc-308-Temperature-Controller-Thermostat/dp/B011296704?tag=froglallabout-20

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I was thinking of rigging up one of those with a light bulb or heating pad in a box, or the oven, for proofing.  Are those overkill?

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Now that I think about it, a couple years back I used this controller. Only the metal part of the probe and had no problems. It was coupled with  this heating mat. But if I were to build this again, I would consider an aquarium heater similar to  this one.

You might be able to get by with the heater only, using the built it temp controller. 

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Or a terrarium / reptile heater, or heating pad, that heats the air.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Another good idea, Dave!

Miller's picture
Miller

I originally began my search by looking at heating mats and I actually had decided on a particular size mat for my needs. However, later on I came across the other thermostat options, some of which have been mentioned here and I decided to go in the direction of using a heat lamp which I would place in a box. The thermostat that I now have cost about $17 and the heat lamp around $13. There are thermostats at the same or lower price that have two probes, for example one for cold and one hot. However, with these ones one has to connect the input and load wires to plugs and sockets. Here's an example costing under $10:

I could use one of these to either heat or cool the proofing box with a heat lamp or a fan respectively, but I'm put off by the idea that I would have to do some work with the wiring.

May I assume that a waterbath is more precise in keeping the desired temperature compared to my solution which aims to keep the air surrounding one's starter at the set temperature? I know from my brief experience that my heat lamp set up results in temperature variations of up to plus or minus 1.2º C which I suppose is not critical.

The probe on my thermostat can be used directly in the water or as suggested by Dan.

Hopefully, I'll find a solution that will be less costly than a Brod & Taylor proofing box!

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Miller, I am under the impression that water would be more effective than air temperature. Example - Sous Vide.

The most important thing about any proofing temperature is the actual temp of the starter, levain, or dough. Point in case - the larger the mass, the warmer the temp. And my Brod & Taylor is often set to say 78F but after a few hours of fermentation the dough can reach 84F or higher. The active fermentation creates heat. On long ferments the top of the container is cracked to allow some heat to escape. Don’t forget to monitor the actual temp of the starter/dough.

Dan

Miller's picture
Miller

Thank you for the information about the starter or dough temperature. I didn't think about the heating effect of the fermentation process.

I'm wondering how one deals with the case where the ambient temperature is higher than the desired temperature for the starter or dough, when in fact you need to lower the room temperature to what is best for the starter or dough and keep it steady in a controlled manner. My thought about this would be to use some kind of electric fan, but I haven't researched it yet.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

A fan blowing air at ambient temp will not cool the dough. Without a dedicated retarder with variable temp settings, you can place ice in a close container with the dough or some other similar method. If you are working with a starter or even a dough with warmer than desired temps you can reduce the amount of sd culture or commercial yeast. Using cold water is also often used in this case.

Miller's picture
Miller

I was thinking ahead. I'll bear in mind what you say when I may have to face this issue in the summertime.

suave's picture
suave

Wiring is not all that complicated, but it is more convenient to have a controller with power outlets.

Miller's picture
Miller

I haven’t found a way to set the controller to be in an on state (closed circuit) between temperature A and B. The controller that I ordered has settings that allow what I mention above.