The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Plastic and rising bread

Magrat's picture

Plastic and rising bread

I keep seeing people talking about covering thier bread with plastic or using a container with a lid when letting the dough rise.  Why do that?  I have never had a problem rising bread with just a plain clean cloth covering it.  (Mainly to keep the kids fingers out! or bugs in the summer. lol)

JMonkey's picture

The main reason I cover the dough while it rises is so it won't form a crust, but I usually just put a plate on top of the bowl these days. I'm sure a cloth, so long as it's thick enough, will do the trick just fine.

Sparkie's picture

I use plastic then a cloth cover, as I never seem to have enough towels. But if it is a small piec eof dough the plate seems workable. The towel does both of the previous ly mentioned, keeps out exploratory unwashed fingers, bugs, (grain moths are killing me here), and stops crust over.

But I usually oil a dough and a tiny spritz from a mister b4 a rise giving it a very nice exterior under a towel. In a fridge for pizza I think ts is best with platic cover unless you have lots of covered cans that stack like we used in pizzeria. buy a few while they are still affordable, cause soon it will all be part of China's economy.


proth5's picture

After reading your introduction and hearing about fog, you obviously live in a damp climate.

I live a mile high in a very dry climate.  If I didn't tightly cover my dough - or cover it with a damp towel as it ferments or proofs, I would have a lovely mass of dough covered with a hard shell. I joke about the fact that some years ago I rubbed a little flour into my couche and even rather high hydration doughs do not stick to it - but it is true.  When I bake in a more humid climate, I must remind myself that flour is needed or I end up in trouble.

I tend to use plastic tubs for the bulk fermentation not only to keep the dough from drying, but as an organization tool (they fit better in the cardboard box I use as a "poor persons" proofer - they stack better than bowls, etc, etc) - so there are many reasons for using covered tubs.

We all have different environmental challenges and often innovate to deal with them.  But what works for you works for you and there should be no reason to change if you are happy with the results.  As you try different types of bread and different formulas you may find that things change and you may have to change some of your techniques.  All part of the vast learning curve of bread baking.

Happy Baking!

Sparkie's picture

Hi Proth 5


If you live in Pheonix or Denver I hope you try out solar cooking, people even bake out west up high. Lotsa sun is all you knead to knead and knead to know!

I live on Long Island a burb to NYC and the land of "Everybody Loves Raymond", (this is a charicature of my family at times. Especially the food part, mamma mia, mangia mangia.)

 I do believe we have fog, and there are times it it wickedly humid, but all in all, it is is rather nice here, but way more hum-id then you.  I may make a proofing box myself as I am tired of futzing with my oven. Either a box that gores over the range top (so I use heat of the warming oven) or a lightbulb or two. Hey we all know it is the heat source for the famed eaZy Bake Oven.

If you proof during the day a corragated cardboardpainted black,  box in a sunny place will do it very nicely. If you ghave a real good exposure you will need to keep an eye on it.  My buddy in TX put a couple of frozen TV dinners on the rear window deck of his "Benz" and points it at the sun at 9-ish am, at noon they are too hot to handle. Oven mitts required, quite cooked. I told him he has the worlds most expensive solar cooker, 63, 000 bucks worth.

 This place is jumping with suggestions, and while I may not take a suggesion at first , cause "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". Many times boredom wins and I try stuff.

I ruined a perfectly good batch of onion rolls the other day , by changing two items at the same time. That was boredom, but, that boredom has lead to some discoveries. That and being a cheapo! One should always change 1 thing at a time, to judge effectiveness.


Gotta go clean a closet (grain moths are eating my cubbord),and set up an easy up (find the problem), then maybe do some onion rolls, or an onion rye loaf. I did not like my last rye, but everyone else asked for more. I am just too pickie.



proth5's picture

I have given a great deal of thought to solar cooking.  My current problem to solve is that I live in a neighborhood with mature trees and every inch of my property that gets anywhere near "full sun" is planted with my vegetable crops - during all seasons.

Additionally, from what I can tell, a solar cooker does not really get hot enough for bread.  Yes, it is possible to get a loaf from it - but not the type of bread to which I aspire.

But when I get those problems worked out, I know I'll try it!

For proofing I use an insulated box (in which last year's turkey was shipped) with a heating pad on the bottom and cooling racks above the heating pad to keep the dough away from the heat source.  I can actually control the temperature pretty reliably using the lo-med-hi heat settings (since I am currently working on the Detmolder method for rye bread the different heat levels are important.).  Also works well for yougurt - culturing cream - etc

Magrat's picture

Yes we live in a very humid climate.  Humidity at the moment is 88%.  Even living in a drier climate when I lived in the praries we didn't use plasstic.  I understnd the reasoning now.  The shower cap idea is pretty cool.  heh heh  I have seen that shower cap-like product before, but I am cheap, so I will likey rip off the shower caps during my next hotel visit. lol  (which will be in about a month. lol) 


kudos to you all, you all answeered my question, and gave me new ideas. :D


I have a loaf of whole wheat bread resting now. :)

proth5's picture

Since my job normally requires constant travel, the idea of using the shower caps is often suggested to me. (And I could have hundreds and hundreds stored up...)

Problem is, after years of  living in hotels - I don't want to look at 'em :>)

Happy Baking!

Barkalounger's picture

I live a mile high in an arid climate as well, and plastic covering is a must.  I remember someone in an earlier post mentioning how wonderful these covers were as an alternative to plastic wrap.  I've always meant to try them, but haven't gotten around to buying them yet.  As an added bonus, you could put one on your head and perform surgery from the looks of them.

proth5's picture

I actually do own a set of those covers.  I use them to cover my bowls during the slow "fold and wait" process I use for developing the dough.  They work great.

Also they are a good alternative to plastic wrap for general houshold use. They also take me back in time because my grandmother used to use something like them...

They are a bit pricey, but they last a good long while.  My first set started to get little tears after about 2 years of heavy use.

merrybaker's picture

I use something similar... those free shower caps that many motels provide.

goetter's picture

I use a Kuhn Rikon silicone bowl cover ("MagicCover") for this.  Doesn't fold up as small as the shower-cap style bowl covers, but longer-lived and easier to clean.

dougal's picture

I'd go along with what proth5 said above.

Plastic boxes make a great deal of sense for dough fermentation. Effectively zero moisture loss or gain. And non-consumability. But the great advantage is stackability. You can put things on top! (This matters principally in my fridge!) Mine are unbranded (OK, Tesco-branded ...) are plenty big enough (1 uk gallon capacity, 4.5 litres, about 1.2 us gallons), were cheap and should last for years. I used to put clingfilm over the mixing bowl, but the box is better, and frees up the bowl for reuse, or else cleaning while its easy!

But how you cover during fermentation is less important than that you do. In most locations, a towel isn't going to adequately prevent drying, unless the towel is well damped. And a cotton towel will be messed up by accidental contact with the rising dough - and vice versa.

However, since getting a couple of linen-lined wicker baskets, I now know that some drying of the shaped dough surface during (normal, shorter duration than fermentation) proofing is actually no bad thing.

Proofing loaves under oiled clingfilm (plastic wrap) makes for a comparatively sweaty dough.

So I now cover proofing loaves with linen -- which sticks to dough much less than cotton does!

kingdomkatz's picture

I am new to baking bread and have a question. I make my dough in a bread machine on the dough setting. It seems to already have risen once. Then I take it out, punch it down, form it and put it in a bread pan to rise again. The recipe says to cover so I spray the plastic wrap with oil and lightly cover. However, the bread rises above the bread pan and the top comes in complete contact with the plastic wrap. After I gently take the plastic wrap off and start the baking, the loaf falls and looses it's nice round top. Instead I get a loaf with a flat top :-(. Can you tell me what I am doing wrong? I don't see any way of covering the dough with plastic wrap without it pushing up into the plastic. Do I need to cover it for the second rise? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Antilope's picture

I put the uncovered dough in an OFF oven to proof  (with the oven light on to add a little heat). I mist the dough and mist oven walls and door interior and the dough stays moist. No need to cover the dough.

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

For me, I dont like using towels because it is another thing to launder and sometimes touches and sticks to the dough. 

I prefer the shower cap. However, last week we turned the oven on and forgot the bowl was in the oven. We baked our leaven and shower cap and ruined the bowl. A towel would have allowed me to taste the baked leaven and saved the bowl.