The Fresh Loaf

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Temperature controlled Proofing Box made cheap

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gavinc's picture
gavinc

Temperature controlled Proofing Box made cheap

In my quest to control temperature to get the best results from my sourdough I assembled a very effective proofing box made from a couple of plastic tubs and an old fish tank heater. I use it to active the culture, bulk fermentation and the final fermentation (when not retarding in the refridgerator).

Just put the heater in the bottom of one tub, part fill with water; just enough for the second tub to sit snuggly inside and float making contact with the water and put the lid on. Easy and cheap. After a bit of testing and altering the dial, I have a constant 24 C. I can increase or lower the temperature as required (although I find I get great results by leaving it at around 24 C for every phase).

The pictures are attached here and also a liquid levain (125% hydration) after being in the proof box overnight.

I discovered the idea on the internet about 12 months ago.

Cheers,

Gavin.

proofing boxproofing box 2active liquid levain out of proofing boxactive liquid levain out of proofing boxproofing box 2proofing box

audra36274's picture
audra36274

I usually place mine in the oven with a pot of boiling water and the light on which works fine, but the oven is tied up for however long it takes to proof and rise and then you have to remember to take it out in time to preheat the oven. I hate having the oven tied up on "baking" day. My husband has even contemplated many times trying to build some kind of proofing box, but I have always put him off because of the storage issue. This is brilliant. Surely I can find a place for 2 plastic bins. I had pondered the idea of the fish tank heater back last year but your pictures seal the deal! Thank you, thank you! I am off to the Dollar store!

                                                                               Audra

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Audra,
I use this same setup when I'm doing the 3 stage Detmolder starter builds with one further addition. I also add a small aquarium pump to move the water around the lower bin. Otherwise the heater is surrounded by warm water and may cycle off thinking the tank is warm enough when only a few cups are actually warm. When I start I try to use tap water that is close to the target temp and hopefully a couple degrees warmer.

I think I'm going to cut a section out of the top cover and install a piece of clear Plexiglas so I can see the progress of the dough clearly and read the temp gauge inside.

Eric 

audra36274's picture
audra36274

I have always had fish so I can salvage parts to death in the aquarium stand, so the pump is a free addition to the proofing box. The Plexiglas is the mark of genius! I am glad you brought it up. I hadn't thought that the oven has a door with a window, and I wouldn't of missed it till I couldn't see in to check my progress, without creating a draft. My husband is a carpenter, and I can't wait to see the look on his face when he gets home to find his Dremel, the caulking gun of silicone, and half the contents of the fish tank on the table! Thanks Eric!

                                                                    Audra

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Hehe, Audra it's a worthy project and I'm sure he will be impressed with your cleverness. I need to find a food grade tub for bulk ferment that will fit inside. Shouldn't be a problem to find. I'm looking for something that will hold 10 lbs of puffy dough.

In the picture above it looks like the bottom tub is sitting on a smaller container. I'm guessing that is to keep it off the floor. I think I'll get a piece of foam insulation to set the tub on and another for the wall behind the containers.

A very handy gadget I bought a while back is an Infra Red thermometer. I can see the cold wall, the heated water and the dough with the click of a button. It was only about $25 and I use it every time I bake to check the water and dough temp.

Eric 

audra36274's picture
audra36274

If it is ,I would have thought they were more than that. $25 huh? Good deal. That sure would come in handy when I need to check the temp on the grill. Boy Eric, you have been a wealth of information today! I am very excited about the box. No more worrying this winter if "this old house" is too old and drafty. YEA!

                                                                                        Audra

gavinc's picture
gavinc

Eric - Correct.  Anything will do to keep it off the floor.  I'm currently using another upturned tub to keep it from making contact with the floor surface.

I knew of the pump idea but haven't found it necessary yet.  The chap who came up with the idea was an engineer and even he said it may be a bit over the top. LOL.

I like this idea much better than a light globe in a polystyrene box.; that could be quite hazardous. 

 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

If you know about Tim the Tool guy on TV you know why I added the pump. I agree on the light in the styrene box. I have poured hot water in the cooler and that works too.

Eric

gavinc's picture
gavinc

ha ha.  That series made it to Australia and was a great laugh.  I think there's a bit of Tim all of us guys.

breadbakerme's picture
breadbakerme

Where did you find an infra red thermometer for only $25?  I haven't seen one under $100.

Thanks.

Marni's picture
Marni

I haven't tried this but it sounded plausable, so here is a suggestion from Whirlpool that I posted:

  http://www.appliance.net/2008/bread-bakers-can-use-the-microwave-761 

 Has anyone tried this? 

Marni

granniero's picture
granniero

Marni,

I don't have this oven but I use my microwave all the time to proof. I use a qt jar or large glass cup and bring water to a good boil. Leaving hot water in, I put 2 loaf pans in and shut the door. 30-40 minutes later, risen bread, waiting to bake while not tying up the regular oven which is pre-heating. During the summer, I just set pans in garage on top of freezer but it is cooling down now, will go back to microwave. Good luck. 

nbicomputers's picture
nbicomputers

all you need is a warm moist place.

i use in my house (dont mock me) the bathroom stall shower and a 10 dollar electric hotplate with a pot of boiling water on it.

placed on the bottom of the shower and the trays of dough on a small folding ironing board with no cloth cover.  yep its riged but it works.

in the bakery a proof box was a metel box that held about 20-30 trays about 2 to 4 inchs apart . a dead box had a door that closed,,thats it.  i live box bad ether a electric element that was emersed in a water tank or a small gas bunner with a pot of water you had to rotate the trays so the ones closest to the burner would not get to hot. so every 15 minutes you would move the top trays to the bottom and the bottom ones to the top.

some places had a box that was connected to the boiler and was filled with live steam.

new proof boxes are computer controlled for temp and humidity.

gavinc's picture
gavinc

You are right.  A warm moist place.  Hard to come up with a place that the "handbrake" will let me use.  So this is my way of balacing acceptance with the need; and I can move it around.

sharsilber's picture
sharsilber

My husband thinks that I have gone crazy - but I thought that you all would appreciate how excited I am about my new home made proofiing box.  I have 2 whole grain loaves in there with a 15 watt bulb and a bowl of boiling hot water.

Proofing boxProofing boxSharon

www.thebraidedloaf.com

gavinc's picture
gavinc

Hi Sharon,

How did the loaves turn out?  Looks like that would work well.  You will need some way of controlling the temperature from season to season I think; like a baffle you could open or close in the top. Have you monitored the temperature in the box?

Regards,

Gavin. 

sharsilber's picture
sharsilber

They came out well -thanks.  In the warmer temps I can proof on my counter under the sky light or in the laundry room with the dryer going.  But now with the colder temps and rising heating costs I think that this will work out for the winter.  I will pick up a thermometer to keep an eye on the climate in there.

Sharon

www.thebraidedloaf.com

Freddy's picture
Freddy

Dough left to rise uncovered outside a Proof Box can dry out. The dough is moist. Its surface tries to reach the same moisture level as the drier air around it, so it releases moisture which migrates to the air. With a high humidity rising environment, the dough won't need to do this. The higher humidity helps ensure that the outside edges of the dough won't go crusty, without having to cover the dough. Proof Boxes also provide a higher temperature, allowing for a faster rise.
Freddy Braun
http://theinfraredheaters.com

waldowales's picture
waldowales

I cover my bread with a wet cloth and put it in the dishwasher, set to heated dry. Five minutes or so will get it warm enough to finish rising.

kensbread01's picture
kensbread01

Probably not a good ideal for most.  One slip up and that dishwasher could go on and you have dough in your pipes.  Nothing worse that dough in the pipes or flour for that matter.  Will turn to concrete after it dries.... seriously, I think this may be a good ideal if you know what you're doing.  kudos to you waldowales!!!