The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Prod and Taylor proofer

carole's picture

Prod and Taylor proofer

New to site and a keen amateur home baker.  I'm tempted to buy an electric dough proofer (Prod and Taylor make a folding one which has been well reviewed here in the UK and elsewhere).  Does anyone have experience of these? I'm busy perfecting my sourdough method and my concern is whether or not prooving my dough in an artificial though very consistent and steamy temp may mean less flavour to the finished loaf?  Most recipes state a prolonged,  cool bulk prove (eg overnight in fridge) is best for flavour.  I don't want a bland loaf!   Any advice would help me please.

barryvabeach's picture

It is true that a shorter warmer proof will have less flavor than a longer cooler proof,  if everything else remains the same.  A proofer can be of help for those who live in a cooler climate, or to manipulate the population of the starter culture when refreshing a starter.  While it takes up more room, a better purchase, IMO, is a small wine cooler.  They can often be found used for under $100.  That will allow you to ferment at cooler temps, but warmer than a fridge.  Note that most wine coolers do not use a compressor and instead use a different technology which means that they won't keep the  interior at a set temp, if they are located in a hot area   Since it is larger, I keep mine in a garage, and in the hot months, it won't chill down to the set temp.    One other benefit is that you can use a wine cooler as a proofer by following one of the DIY threads on this site - you buy a thermostat and heat source, and unplug the wine cooler and set it to a warmer temperature than the room it is in.  Here is one such thermostat  and you would plug it into a heating pad or terrarium mat placed in the wine cooler.    That would give you the best of both worlds. 

clazar123's picture

No matter how you achieve it, warmth is key in achieving a good bulk ferment.

I have a Brod & Taylor and, in general, I do like the product. It is easy to use and easy to store. When I bought it, I was living in Wisconsin in the US and spring/winter/fall seasons were quite cool. I was fermenting not only bread but vegetables (kimchi & saurkraut) and yogurts. It was a handy tool. Before I bought it, I was able to use either my oven with the light on (until my husband turned the oven on for a pizza without removing my kefir) and my microwave with the light on. Since we had several people living there and the microwave was in frequent use, it was an inconvenience. The next best place was the top of the refrigerator since the heat rose off the coils in the back. They all worked-that few degrees of warmth is essential for proper fermentation. OTOH, the Brod&Taylor did take up significant countertop space when it was set up. OTOH, it can be set up in any room.

All that being said, I didn't buy mine until I was very sure it would be used. When you start any new hobby, the toys and tools can get quite expensive. I have learned to visit the thrift store for pans,bowls and bannetons and I re-assess my many casseroles/metal bowls/jello moulds for size/shape before I spend beaucoup bucks on  a specialty pan.

Bake delicious fun!

suave's picture

Generally, if you don't know exactly why you need this or that gizmo, then you don't need.  This is true in this case as well.  Master your basic recipe, and you will know what you need to invest in.

HansB's picture

What suave wrote it true. That said, I use my B&T proofer on every bake. During bulk/S&F, I keep it at 77° where the dough ferments nicely before going into CF overnight. It's also perfect at 80° for reviving my starter after spending time in the refrigerator. It's one of my best baking equipment purchases...

bread1965's picture

It significantly helped to improve the consistency of my results beyond what my technique could do. After several years of baking I bought one and am glad I did.  I use it to both develop my starter as well as bulk/proof my breads. It's small and compact, works well.  I found it on sale and thought it was reasonably priced. Is it necessary? Of course not. But for me it's been a nice to have. If it broke down tomorrow I'd replace it. Good luck..

Our Crumb's picture
Our Crumb

I'll hereby cast another vote for avoiding the lures of commercial consumerism.  They pummel us 24/7.  And baking in general -- tho bread baking somewhat less so -- like so many pastimes, is "supported" by a multitude of manufacturers aggressively eager to make a buck or quid off your new enthusiasm.  I have tried to recognize and resist those temptations when I find myself under the spell of pitches aimed at a newly germinating interest.  I DIY'd a proofer that served us well for several years (styrofoam box+light bulb+reptile enclosure thermostat) until I decided that bread baking was here to stay for my duration and happily asked for and received a B&T proofer as a gift.  No regrets.  Put it on your Christmas list and if you're still baking by December, Santa may oblige.  Until then, get creative, convince yourself of the need for a B&T with a kludge of some sort.  Then you'll really enjoy the B&T if it shows up.

Regarding warmth and bread blandness:  A typical process is to do your bulk ferment at 78˚F (25˚C) or thereabouts, then shove the dough (shaped or not) in the cold (fridge: 37˚F, 3˚C) overnight for flavor development and bake immediately in the AM or after a short-ish warm proof if necessary.  Guarantee: no blandness.  I can attest from doing just this hundreds of times.  Of course, this assumes natural levain, not commercial yeast.  It will help the latter but it is really with natural (sourdough) levains that it works magic.


carole's picture

This is so helpful - thank you to all who've replied.  Hoping for more P&T insights as I have a birthday coming up and it may arrive if asked for!


HansB's picture

It is B&T, Brød & Taylor proofer.

albacore's picture

I can't imagine baking life without a proofing box. A proofing box gives you consistency with the timings of your fermentations and starter/levain builds. Of course breadmaking timings are never absolute, but a proofing box goes a long way to making them more reproducible.

So many of the newbie woes on TFL about underperforming starters are because the infamous "room temperature" is too cold, or varying too much. I always think Room Temperature is a pretty useless phrase in baking texts, because it could mean 16C, or it could mean 25C...

OK, if you live somewhere where the year round temperature doesn't vary much, you may not need a proofing box, but otherwise it's a no brainer.

Many, including me, have built their own. I built mine before Brod & Taylor made them (and mine is better, anyway...) but if DIY is not your thing, splash out on one - you won't regret it!