The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Challenger Fermentation Mat

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Challenger Fermentation Mat

I have always had success with Challenger products - especially their pan.

Until now, I've proofed with the (old) Brod & Taylor box. That, too, has worked well - although the actual version I have seems to be obsolete.

But now Challenger has their own Fermentation Mat.

May I ask: has anyone tried it, please; any advantages over the Brod & Taylor box?

Thanks in advance for any advice, guidance… :-)

albacore's picture

- to state the obvious, of course. But place a jar of anything other than a thin liquid on it and I guarantee the temperature at the top will not be the same as the bottom.

It has the advantage of needing very little storage space, but a decent proofing box really needs to be an enclosure. I guess it's better than nothing.



Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Thanks, Lance!

What you kindly point out seems like common physics sense to me :-)

Not sure what they want the mat to achieve with starter jars. Unless it's to 'provoke' a levain into action.

The good people at Challenger surely appreciate the point, though, that a mat will heat the bottom of any vessel more than its top - as you say.

Does anyone know what they are aiming to achieve with something as expensive as this mat?

Am I missing something?

(Not criticizing. Just wondering whether it's worth buying when I do already have the Brod & Taylor box.)

happycat's picture

Google for germination seedling mat and be amazed at the cheaper versions and variations available. Someone clearly repurposed it and is marketing it at a markup to bakers. 

Any steady source of warmth is going to be more control than nothing at all. I've used nested mixing bowls and hot water to help speed up starter or proofing to great effect. This mat is a more controlled version and takes little space.

I'm surprised their instructions say to put the temp probe under the mat. Seems like low end repurposing of the seedling product where you would put the probe into the earth where their roots are.

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Thanks, @happycat!

It looked like that to me. If so, wouldn't it be rather atypical/unrepresentative of the Challenger approach? I thought I must be missing something, given the integrity of the Challenger team :-(

…Seems like low end repurposing of the seedling product…

Colin2's picture

I'm sure the Challenger team are lovely people with great products.  But I can't help pointing out that they are also selling a plastic food storage container for $56 (as a "proofing box" ... there's even a video!) and an 8" bench knife for $30.  Bless their entrepreneurial hearts, they have found a market of people willing to pay premium prices for baking goods and they are testing its limits.

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Thanks, @Colin2!

I have a feeling that your assessment of the Challenger enterprise is a good one :-)

I shall continue to use their main pan and starter jars, though. And be wary of the rest…

rgreenberg2000's picture

Mark, it sure seems that Challenger has rebranded a seedling or terrarium heating mat for baking purposes.  FWIW, I use one for my starter refresh and leavain builds when the weather gets cooler, and it works well.  I use an Inkbird mat that indicates it will increase temps 10-20 degrees over ambient.  I use whatever size box I need for whatever I'm keeping warm.......the pic below was taken just a few minutes after getting things set up, the temp eventually settled at 85F (room temp was 68F.)

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Thanks, @rgreenberg2000!

My B & T has also always worked well.

I am beginning to see that my even thinking about getting the Challenger fermentation mat was based more on a 'belief' in their company and its integrity than on moving to a realistically superior alternative to what I have now.

All the comments here steering me in the right direction much appreciated :-)