The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

question about proofing

richawatt's picture

question about proofing

hi all, I live in very very dry Phoenix Arizona, and I have seen that when I proof my dough it kinda drys out on top and forms a little crust.  I think im  not getting a good oven spring because if it, and I think it might be effecting the proof rise too.  My question do I prevent the dough from drying out.  I use a couche for proofing so I think it will be hard to put that whole setup in a bag or cover tightly with plastic wrap.  i have tried misting a dish rag with water and covering it with that, but if still drys out. Ive only encountered this with baguette, not others because I can cover them all the way with a rag.  Is the Couche causing it?  should I fold the sides of the couche just enough to support the dough and not any higher then the pre-proof loaf? 

saintdennis's picture

Hi There,

  if you use new plastic garbage bag and put the Couche in and lightly wrap it in.If you tie it too tightly that you will have too much moisture,or use damp towel over bottom the Couche and then cover it with top part of the Couche.


Trishinomaha's picture

Glad Food Storage Bags also makes a set of 3 XL, XXL, and Super large food grade bags. Mine are a blue color. They were originally meant for storing sweaters, etc. I think. The are of of a heavy weight and can be used over and over. They come in very handing when proofing two or three loaves.


breadnerd's picture

I proof the same way, though it's not as dry here as Phoenix!  If if looks like my dough is forming a crust--I mist it a bit every once in a while--and I'll mist the towel that's covering it as well. 


HogieWan's picture

I cover with a pretty damp towel without any problems, but Louisiana is far from dry

mattie405's picture

We sure aren't dry down here, big difference from baking back in the east. Bread rises with a fever pitch during summer months. Nice to see someone from the same town on here.  mattie

LindyD's picture

I sometimes use a large lidded plastic storage box, set a bowl of hot water inside, followed by the dough. That keeps the moisture content high inside the proofing area. My house is very dry because I heat with wood, so the poorman's proofing box works out well.

I will also use the food grade plastic bags that are on a roll at the veggie/fruit sections of the local grocery store. Here they are large enough to cover a cookie sheet. Spraying the dough with oil keeps the bag from sticking and the dough from drying.

rideold's picture

Give a cooler a try.  You can mist the inside if you need extra moisture.  They seal well and can be somewhat temperature controlled if need be.  My sister used to do this and prep the cooler with a quart of boiling water which she drained out of the cooler just before putting the bread in (but then again she and I live in a cooler environ that you do).

richawatt's picture

thanks all, i will have to try some of your ideas, im about to make a loaf, so I will let you know how it comes out

richawatt's picture

is it possible to proof too fast?  I turned my oven on for about three minutes, and I also put a loaf pan of boiling water in with it, and proofed in there.  It took about thirty minutes for my bread to raise about 80% of doubled in size and when I baked it, they felt really soft, almost pillow like.  Is that because of the proof?  is a longer proof better for texture?  they also deflated a bunch when I slashed them. 

nbicomputers's picture

proof to fast ...not realy  

old bakers would have a open fire (small gas burner ) on the bottom of a metal cabenit with a big pot of boiling water. above that would be trays of rolls and breads.  we carefull to rotate them from top to bottom so the heat would be even and the ones on the bottom would not get to hot. this is called forced proof

of course the other way (natural proof) in a covered box at room temp takes longer.

now there electric proof boxes that keep the temp aroung 100 and the humidity at 95%  i have read that to force proof in your oven you should run it at 200 or low setting for 2 minutes with the water in it like you did

the fact that you said that the bread fell when you cut it leads me to think that it was not proofed to fast but to much before you cut it.

a few years (well quite a few) i was out in scotsdale on bussiness for three days in late october the temp was 105 when i got off the plaine  the next day it was 115 and it stayed like that the next day as well.   i remember even the cab driver complaining "I don't know whats going on with the weather it never gets over 96 this time or year".

water for steam yes but oven heat to proof where you are its just not needed.  in fact you just might need some ice water in your dough during mixing to avoid burning  the dough.

richawatt's picture

what do you think would make the loaf fo fluffy.  It had a medium to small hole size, and it browned nicely on all sides. the crust was thin, do you think that had something to do with it?  the whole loaf was really soft, like a pillow. 

nbicomputers's picture

some breads are made to be light and fluffy.  post the recipe and how you handle the bread.

metropical's picture

lately I've been proofing by putting a pan of boiled water in the oven and turning on the oven light.  So far that does a pretty good job.


give me liberty and a 5lb bag of flour

richawatt's picture

I make a poolish for my pre-ferment 12oz flour, 12oz water, and 1tsp of instant yeast. I let that ferment for three hours.  I then add the poolilsh to a 75 2 2 recipe for 2lbs 2oz of dough and kneeded it till it came together, probably about ten minuets.   I let it rise undtill it doubled in size, about two hours.  Divided and formed it into two boules, let it proof until ready and baked it.