The Fresh Loaf

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DIY Proofing Box

bakeyourownAU's picture
bakeyourownAU

DIY Proofing Box

Hey there TFL community :) !

 

How's it going? I hope all is well.

 

We have just finished summer in Australia, and currently in Autumn. Winter looks like its going to be pretty harsh as well. So I needed to come up with a solution to heighten my ambient temp as the enviroment where I run my micro bakery gets pretty cold, comes down to about 15-16 degrees, sometimes even lower because of it being brick walls and floorboards on concrete slab only. 

After thinking of what I could do, I came up with this cost effective solution, a DIY proofing box that has greater capacity than the Bron and Taylor proofer, so you can fit more dough, and also allows for temp control. Its a really simple set up and only consists of three different parts 1) A 90lt storage container 2) A 20x10 inch germination mat (This seemed to be a bit small for this container, but works really well for 50lt containers, so I'll be swapping this with a 20x20inch mat) and a 3) Inkbird temperature controller. All up I believe it cost me about 90 dollars. 

 

Basically all you do is put the germination mat on the bottom of the container and connect it to the temperature controller. Put the thermometer of the temperature controller into the container so you can monitor the ambient temp and set the germination mat accordingly, and thats its :) I also put a cooling rack on the bottom just so the dough doesnt sit on the germination mat directly. 

 

Here are some photos for you :)

Best Regards,

 

 

Petek's picture
Petek

Looks like a great setup! You may wish to consider that the ambient air temperature may not be the same as the dough temperature. See 

Why isn’t the air temperature inside my Proofer the same as the setting? - Brod & Taylor (brodandtaylor.com)

I suggest that you may wish to consider measuring the dough temperature versus the air temperature in your device.

bakeyourownAU's picture
bakeyourownAU

Hey there Petek,

Yes, I completely agree with you :) 

I usually take the dough temp at the start of the mix by measuring the temp of the flour, sourdough, ambient temp and also the friction factor as well. 

I could possibly maybe by a couple of wireless thermometers and put them into the dough :) But that wouldnt be feasible if I'm stretch and folding.

For me, the whole setup is to keep a high enough ambient temp to have bulk fermentation continuing and being somewhat consistent. If I've got multiple different types of breads that need to be baked that day, I usually both handmix and machine mix. So this set up kind of equalizes out the difference. 

Its also very hard to bulk ferment and proof bread at 16 degrees celsium! :))

HeiHei29er's picture
HeiHei29er

Nicely done!  Wrap it in a blanket if you have trouble keeping the temperature up when things get a little colder this winter.  It should help keep the temperature a little more even once the ambient temperature drops.

bakeyourownAU's picture
bakeyourownAU

Hey there! :) 

 

Thanks for the tip.

 

Just an update. I've upgraded the germination pad to the 50cm*50cm pad working at 40w and its doing wonders! :)

Was able to comfortably bulk ferment at prove 8x 26cm batards today. each batard coming in roughly at around 950gr.   

Can easily reach 30 degrees celcius in a room with an ambient temp of approximately 16 degrees celcius. 

Will update further if I make any more changes. 

jl's picture
jl

but this is super neat! I love that everything is reusable/repurposable. You can put an extra shelf in the B&T proofer. How would you do that with your solution?

bakeyourownAU's picture
bakeyourownAU

Hey jl,

 

Thanks for your feedback. To be honest, I've actually never thought of that. I'd be open to any suggestions though.

At the moment, with this set up, I can proof approx 10-12kg of dough in about 3-4 hours. 

Its definitely not a professional set up by any means, but gives me an edge of controlling my ambient temp to some extent, and predicting when my dough will finish bulk fermenting. Over the last few months, its kind of become intuition for me as to when the different dough's will finish bulk fermenting. I mostly only use this set up for bulk fermenting as I cold-proof overnight. The only loaves I proof in here are my toast loaves to about 75%, then I also cold proof those. So at the moment, in terms of proofing, I can fit about 8-10, 960gr toast loaves in here. 

harum's picture
harum

In addition to proper container insulation and correct positioning of the probe, as already mentioned, getting a (e.g., 120V) computer fan for air circulation and connecting it in sequence with the heating element might be a good idea for reaching and maintaining target temperatures within the dough.  

The temp probe in the photo seems to be taped to the thin plastic container wall quite away from the dough?  In the setup with a temp controller that I use, dough temperatures are usually not much more than a degree of Celcius away if the very tip of the probe is just underneath the glass container with the dough.  Sit the container on the probe completely -- and the dough temperature will be going up and down with quite a range.

bakeyourownAU's picture
bakeyourownAU

Hey harum,

Thank you very much for yoru feedback. I think your suggestion for the computer fan is something that can definetly be implemented. 

The set up is definitely not finished up yet. At the moment, temp insulation doesnt seem too bad, but I havent tested it yet in the really cold weathers.  You're right though in terms of temp fluctuation. After the dough is done mixing and is put into their containers for bulk proofing, I perform for S&F in the first two hours (30 mins apart), so as soon as I open the lid, the internal temp does go down about a degree or two, then recovers in 4-5 mins. Folding the dough allows me to regulate the dough temp a bit more effectively, as the bottom of the dough facing the germination mat seems to be warmer, so by folding it, it equalizes the dough temp all around. 

I think a better reading will come about with better air circulation as you have stated. I could possibly also seal the top lid part with some sponge tape to not lose any temp while the fan is on.