The primary four stages of making bread are mixing, proofing, shaping, and baking. In this article we will explain exactly what proofing bread is and also different ways how to proof bread.
The question actually has a very simple answer. Online you will find different spellings, but I want to inform you that proofing bread/dough is the same as proving bread/dough. So these are not 2 completely different terminologies.
The Definition of Proofing Bread
Proofing is the process of the final rising phase dough undergoes. This happens after the dough has been shaped and before it is scored and baked.
The final rising phase is actually the same as the second rising phase. But what’s the first rising phase? We need to dive deeper into that as well, or you’ll only have part of the story.
In short, there are two dough rising phases:
1st rising phase of dough: Called bulk fermentation (before shaping)
2nd rising phase of dough: Called proofing dough (after shaping)
During these both phases the dough rests and rises. But how does this work you ask us? The dough rises because the yeast consumes carbohydrates (sugars, fiber and starches) and it expels carbon dioxide.
Tools for Proofing Bread
- Dough Proof Box. Our Favorite is the Brod & Taylor Folding Proofer & Slow Cooker
A dough proofer is a warming chamber that can increase the activity of yeast. This device typically keeps air inside at 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit and 75% humidity, which helps it to leaven bread faster than normal! This product can also be called proofing oven, proofing box, dough proofing box or proofing cabinet online.
- Proofing Basket. Our Favorite is the Bread Banneton Proofing Basket
This is the one we have. It’s a handmade proofing basket of high quality. What was very important for us is that this basket is eco-friendly, food-safe and non-toxic. It’s easy to cleanup, and the perfect produtct for proofing your dough for your homemade bread loaves.
Different Ways of Proofing Bread
There are different ways you could proof bread. This wouldn’t be Make The Bread if we wouldn’t give a complete overview of all the ways you could do it. Below, you can even read some creative ways to proof your bread if you’re a daredevil.
1) Proofing at Room Temperature
This is the most traditional way of proofing bread. Here, the dough is kept in a glass bowl at room temperature, and the bowl is covered with a damp towel or cloth. A tiny bit of oil can also be used to make it easier to handle the super-soft dough from sticking.
2) Proofing Bread in the Oven
Bread can be proofed in the oven as well. For this, the glass baking dish has to be filled with boiling water and then kept at the bottom rack of the oven. The dough has to be held in the middle frame. The heat from the boiling water helps in baking the bread, and the warm and steamy air inside helps in the rise of the bread.
3) Proofing Bread Using a Slow Cooker
Here, the slow cooker must be filled halfway through with water and has to be pre-heated. The lid has to be put upside down, a dish towel laid on top, and then the bowl of dough has to be placed on top. Here, the heat from the hot water leads to the rise of the bread, and it is proofed.
4) Proofing Box
This process is mainly used by serious bakers. A proofing box is a bread-making tool that maintains a consistent temperature and humidity inside that helps raise the dough when kept in. This process indeed saves a bit of time too.
There are also other unconventional and unique ways to proof bread such as:
- Using a Heating Pan
- Heat Mats
- Oven Light
Please note that the unconventional way will take some more time than usual. But we wanted to mention these choices as well since it’s always the choice of the baker how to proof bread.
In this below video, it shows you how to make a homemade proofing box/fermentation chamber for a fraction of the price of any pre-built box (but only try this if you like to do it yourself and you are creative – making a DIY proofing box isn’t that easy).
When you keep bread in the refrigerator, the process is called retarding dough. Retarding dough is actually the process of slowing down the final rise in the bread-making process. This can be easily done by proofing bread overnight in the refrigerator (the cold slows down the rise).
It has some benefits as well. It will allow you to bake the bread at a later time, and it will add extra flavor to your bread.
What Is a Dough Proofing Box?
This sounds like a very complicated product, but it’s actually something very simple. We are not sure if you realize, but you can actually use your oven as your proofing box.
Of course, you can also choose a specific product for this. Here you can find our review of the best proofing box on the market today.
We will also tell you here how you can use your oven for this (in case you were wondering). It’s actually not that hard.
The most important thing that you should remember is that you shouldn’t turn your oven on (at all) during the proofing period. You need to place 3 cups of boiling water into a pan on the bottom of the oven. After that, place your dough on the middle rack and close the door.
This keeps the dough warm and humid. The temperature range will be between 70-120 degrees Fahrenheit.
This is everything you need to know about proofing bread. Feel free to contact our team if you have any more important questions about this concept. It’s an essential part of the bread baking process.
If you feel like we haven’t answered everything in this article, please get in touch with us as well. We are always updating our website.