The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Quick proofing box from available materials

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Quick proofing box from available materials

I've moved from the couche sitting on the peel on top of a 2 x 8 over the bathtub with hot water, to the couche on a serving tray inside a large plactic bag.  After visiting a bakery and seeing their stand of trays covered in a zippered plastic bag I've been thinking.  I saved some zippered plastic bags from the department store when I bought some sheets.  One of them is almost the exact size of my baking stone.  No sense proofing more than I can bake. 

Materials:

1 14" x 17" piece of scrap plywood -small hole drilled in each corner

1 zippered plastic bag that a sheet set came in

2 coat hangers, trimmed and rebent

1 small piece of duck tape

open proofing box

open proofing box

closed proofing box

closed proofing box

:-Paul

Zigs's picture
Zigs

I like this, very simple... very reusable 

I haven't got into proof boxes yet, is there something they give you that just covering a bowl with plastic wrap doesn't?

spacey's picture
spacey

A proofing box alone will prevent your dough's environment from being too disturbed.  When you open a door, even to a neighboring room, you can have a large temperature change that can affect the proof.


Most proofing boxes also try to control temperature, so you don't have to make your entire kitchen 82 degrees F if you want to rise your dough at that temp.


My proofing box is of the 2 nesting boxes (available at your local mega store like bed bath and beyond) some PVC pipe to act as a spacer between the two boxes, water in the lower box, and an aquarium thermostat/heater to keep the water at 80 degrees.  With the top on, I get a very constant environment for my starters and for proofing dough. I think I got the idea from a post on this site, experimented with it, then bought boxes large enough to hold my 2 starters and 3 mixing bowls with dough for big pizza days (each bowl holds about 1.6 kilos of dough).


I always do no-knead/low-knead doughs so having a constant temp+humidity for my doughs for 12 hours without any work is a huge win.

Pablo's picture
Pablo

"Proofing" would be the stage of fermenting when the loaves have been shaped and they're doing their final rise before getting scored and going into the oven. I wouldn't want to proof a baguette in a bowl!  :-)

:-Paul

Zigs's picture
Zigs

Question still stands, when _proofing_, there's always plastic wrap draped over, wet towel, whatever.  Why the box??? The reusability of it all?

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Well, towels are reusable, but I do pretty wet doughs and I don't like to pile flour on top to keep the towel from sticking.  I have enough trouble with them sticking to the couche!  Personally, I do ridge about using plastic wrap, but that's just me.  If I were comfortable with plastic wrap I imagine it could do the same job.  The plastic keeps the moisture trapped inside with the loaves so they don't crust over prematurely.  

Mostly it was fun to do and I got inspired by the bakery.

:-Paul

Zigs's picture
Zigs

"Personally, I do ridge about using plastic wrap".  I'm not sure what you're trying to say here.

If I ever get to proof box construction it's probably going to be a direct copy of this.  It's just so 'clean', as in, "that car has clean lines"

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Thanks.  I'm glad you like the design.  I was quite pleased with it. 

By "ridge" I meant "object to" - like a dog's back "ridges" when it sees something it doesn't like.  I'm a relic of the hippie days; disposable plastic is something I try to avoid when I have a viable alternative.  I'm no saint and I'm not preaching, it's just my own personal way of being. 

:-Paul

mcs's picture
mcs

Looks good to me,
An advantage a proofing box like this has over covering something with a plastic wrap or towel, is it allows the loaf/baguette to proof without being hindered at all.  Plastic wrap often sticks to whatever container your dough is in, hindering the rising towards the end of the proofing time.  Also, as Pablo said, you're either forced into oiling your plastic wrap/bag or flouring your couche - not always a bad thing, but this keeps another variable out of the equation.  I had something a little more elaborate, but just as functional with a small halogen strip light in it to provide heat.  It worked great when the house was 60 degrees in the winter.

-Mark

http://thebackhomebakery.com

nbicomputers's picture
nbicomputers

nice idea for a simple dead box

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Is that some baker's humour I should be aware of?  I love in jokes.  Clue me in.

:-Paul

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Ah, I see now:

dead box = no heat

live box = heated

:-Paul

SteveB's picture
SteveB

For our cold New England winters, I've been using a simple, temperature-controlled proof box constructed from an inverted plastic storage bin, a light bulb (for warmth), a thermometer mounted on suction cups (to monitor the temperature) and an inexpensive reptile cage thermostat with temperature probe (to dial in a constant temperature) available in any pet store.  It's large enough to hold multiple, stacked half-sheet pans:

Proof BoxProof Box

My wife was even kind enough to sew an insulating cover for me:

Covered Proof BoxCovered Proof Box 

SteveB

www.breadcetera.com

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I like the cover Steve. Nice addition.

Eric 

nbicomputers's picture
nbicomputers

be carefull we all know what happens when some water gets on a hot light bulg.  if it gets to steamy in there and water starts to condense BOOM!!!!!!

SteveB's picture
SteveB

Norm, how can you see where you're going in your unlit bathroom?  :)

SteveB

www.breadcetera.com

Yippee's picture
Yippee

Steve:


Is this design capable of turning on/off the light bulb automatically (like an aquarium heater with a built-in thermostat) if the temperature is outside the desired range?  Thanks.


Yippee

SteveB's picture
SteveB

Yippee, yes it is.  That is how the thermostat maintains the dialed-in temperature; it cycles the incandescent light bulb on and off to provide heat when necessary.

Yippee's picture
Yippee

but I'm not handy at all.  Would you please help me by providing the following information?


1. tool(s) needed for this project


2. materials needed


       a. please specify the size of you bin


        b. please specify the brand of your thermostat


        c. voltage of your light bulb


3. how to connect and complete the circuit


4. how do you stack you half-sheet pans inside the bin?


5. I used to sew; does your wife have a pattern for the cover to share (a sketch would be fine)? If you feel that I don't really need a cover, I can just pass. 


6. anything else I should be aware of?


I'll follow your footstep when your more complicated project is done.  Let me try this one for now.


Thank you very much.  


Yippee

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

...we're fortunate enough to live in a heated flat.  If anyone is having problems with plastic wrap sticking to the tops of their rising loaves, grease the plastic wrap; this always works for me when I'm making ciabatta.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

What's missing is features such as:

• Elevated and rotary control panel, with TFT type 8,6”, rotary bottom for fast and start functions;

• Air temperature control

• Servocontrolled humidity

• Servocontrolled oxygen ;

• Pulse oximeter;

• In-bed scale – 10 kg (optional);

• Parameters trends for monitoring and diagnosis;

• Rotary tray – Auxiliary illumination with high intensity LED’s

They are available on this model:

Baby ... errrr ... Bread IncubatorBaby ... errrr ... Bread Incubator
 David
SteveB's picture
SteveB

David, where did you get a hold of the plans for my next project?  :) 

SteveB

www.breadcetera.com

Pablo's picture
Pablo

I want one!

:-Paul

spacey's picture
spacey

When I was a kid, there were old, decomissioned long-care hospitals that were decomissioned that we would sneak into and explore.  That reminds me too much of the many iron lungs that were left to rust there.

Russ's picture
Russ

Nice work. If I were crafty enough I would have done that too - or if I'd seen this post before I bought a cooler that now functions as my proofing box. 

 

Russ

edh's picture
edh

It's funny, I was just looking at one of those zippered bags the other day after buying some bedding. I hate just throwing them out, but my house is so very full of stuff I hate throwing out that I was just about to shut my eyes and toss it when my husband said "oh just save it, you know you always find something to use those things for."

This is brilliant; I proof loaves under an inverted rubbermaid box, but my mixing bowl doesn't fit. A plate over the bowl works pretty well, but can slide off if someone bumps it and I don't notice. This will take care of both ferment and proofing. I always choke a little too when I use plastic wrap, so I'm deeply grateful!

There's certainly plenty of plywood scraps kicking around my shop (can't throw that away either...)

edh

Pablo's picture
Pablo

No sooner do you throw something away than a useage presents itself, eh?  It's hard to find a balance.  Those zippered sheet bags are surprisingly heavy duty.  I have some pillow case sized ones that I've been unable to toss out, too. Maybe I could proof muffins in those...  :-)

:-Paul

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Ahh, yet another use for those great department store bags...thanks, Pablo!  Stayiing Green, recycle!  Whats really nice,  I can fold it up and put it way after using it...I really don't want some big ol, proofing box sitting around, anywhere, when not in use.


Clip on adjustable dial light for temperature control might work too.


I have a small clip on plant light with an adjustable dial.  I've used it before to lower and raise the amount heat needed...This would probably work to control the temperature under the plastic cover...it has worked great before for temperature control, up close.


I used it to raise a baby bird from the size of your little finger nail to a full grown healthy adult, small finch..Little bird was pushed out of the nest, very small and featherless, being the runt...it was kept at an exact temperature, by adjusting the light, the bird was tucked into a plastic bowl with kleenex and an instant read thermometer to check and keep the temperature exact.  I used my vegetable steamer for sanitizing and heating it's food, that was given with an eye dropper, and also checked with the IRT.  It's amazing what you can do when you don't have much time to act.  "Little Bird" so tame and friendly.  He lived to be nearly five years old..always had a crippled foot caused from his fall from the nest.


Sylvia

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Other things I don't like to throw away:  extra starter and counter scrapings.  I save the counter scrapings in a container and on Sundays when I feed my starters I use all the leftover starter and counter scrapings in a "kitchen sink" dough that I bake on Monday.  Odd bits of flour in the bottom of bags, etc. I clean it all out and into the dough.  A time to experiment and play. 

:-Paul

bwaddle's picture
bwaddle

Instead of plastic wrap, I use those plastic-shower-cap-looking covers. Saran makes them, and there is an off brand you can get at the dollar stores for, you guessed it - a dollar. You get about 20 in a box - various sizes.


Bettie


 

BellesAZ's picture
BellesAZ

All these creative ideas for making your bread rise.  I just use a dough doubler for the first rise and the light bulb inside my oven seems to do the trick nicely too.  I also find that my interior cupboards get really warm if they are near the light source or next to the heating vent. 


Does it matter if the plastic sources are food safe? 

yozzause's picture
yozzause

As a keen aviculturalist  i made a hospital cage for any birds that were ailing it was a simple ply wood enclosure with an underfloor source of heat in the form of an incandescent  25 watt light globe (getting hard to buy now thanks to energy efficient replacements) the temperature was able to be regulated with a drafter that allowed more or less heat to escape. The front had a wire insert as well as sliding glass that could be removed for thourough cleaning. A similar piece of equipement would work well as a prover. I often use my car as a prover here in Australia in the winter months ,as most days it is still sunny and the car gets quite warm. I am thinking i may need to build one for my home brew as that can suffer from the cold too!


yozza

flodnar's picture
flodnar

Rather than making an elaborate box, use what you have at hand, your oven. For an electric oven, turn it on to 350 deg F for 1 minute, and turn off. Turn on the oven light. Then proof the bread. Remove it arfte the apprpriate time and then preheat the oven, usually about 5-10 minutes. Experiment with the time in the ovn to avoid overproofing. For gas ranges, it should work about the same. Just get the chill out of the oven, and the bulb does the rest.

joyfulbaker's picture
joyfulbaker

For enriched loaves (i.e., challah or a white or WW loaf), I boil a glass of water (about 8 oz.) and, when it's done (2 minutes on high) I place the shaped loaves in the microwave.  No plastic wrap or cover is needed.  I leave the water glass inside for about 3 or 4 minutes to keep the humidity high.  I then remove the glass of water and close the door (not turning on the micro), and the loaves proof very nicely for the balance of the time.  For the crusty hearth breads, I keep them at room temp covered with those elasticized "plastic caps" (room temp anywhere from 68-74 degrees) for as long as it takes--for that nice, long fermentation, maybe a couple of hours, sometimes even more.


 

Pablo's picture
Pablo

After about a year and a half my zippered sheet case had seen better days.  Kind of grody and the zipper didn't work any more, etc.  I went in another direction, although I still reused something being thrown out.  I found someone giving away a stove and stripped the top off and slid the oven cavity under a piece of countertop.  Then I added a heating pad to the bottom and a temperature probe and external thermostat.


What I partiuclarly like is having two shelves so I can proof two separate items easily, even if one is a pan of Danish.  I also like having specific control over the temperature.  Proofing at 70 degrees is really different from proofing at 75 or 80.  The thermostat tops out at 90.



I get much more consistent results with controlled temperature.  Much less likely to be disappointed with a load of stuff that didn't rise much or that blew the top off the container and spilled all over the counter.


:-Paul

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Very resourcefull and well done Paul, control has a great deal to do with success, it gives some predictability. Control of ingredients control of finished dough temp control of proofing environment. A great little cabinet, all the ideas shared on your post give some good ideas to help in the proofing stages thanks everyone.


Regards Yozza  

BellesAZ's picture
BellesAZ

This is far too intense for me.  We are still talking about proofing.... right?  LOL


Some of these contraptions look like a fire hazard... really quite scary.

Pablo's picture
Pablo

I like that the size of the proofing cavity is the same as my oven cavity, so a pan that will fit in the oven will fit in the proofing box.  I like that it's front loading because I'm a bit of a clutz and the more of an angle I have to do things, (like from the top) the more likely that I'll spill the whole thing into a pile.  And I like having precise temperature control over a long period of time (until, again, it bursts into flames).  :-)


:-Paul

BellesAZ's picture
BellesAZ

I can see it now.. the fireman holding a smoking, smoldering heating pad and you having to explain to him that you're trying to proof bread.  LOL  I'm not making fun of you, promise.  I'm just totally entertained.  Hahaha!

spacey's picture
spacey

I just posted pics of my box in another thread. It's a bit less of a fire hazard (he says, crossing his fingers and hoping his cats don't decide to chew on the cord).

Pablo's picture
Pablo

If I got a crisp crust, sour flavour, and an open crumb...


:-Paul

Baker Frank's picture
Baker Frank

Yippee

Looks Great!!! Thank you so much for your suggestion.

Frank