Thursday, January 6, 2011

Proofing your bread.

A BIG Thank you to Chef Beth for sharing this WONDERFUL information!!  
I hope you enjoy it. 

Proofing Your Dough 
What is proofing? Proofing is allowing your bread to mature into the proper 
condition for baking. If your dough is not properly proofed many things can take 
1.) If you proof with little or no moisture your breads will be dry & rough textured. 
2.) If you proof with to much moisture (this is very hard to do) your dough can 
become unreliable & collapse when baking. 
3.) If you proof at to hot of a temperature you dough can bake on the outside 
while still proofing on the inside causing inconsistent bread product. 
4.) If you proof at to cool a temperature (usually means your water is cold) you can 
end up with dry, tough breads. 
Proofing is fairly easy. All you need to do is follow a few simple rules & you should 
consistently end up with wonderful soft, tender breads. 
First allow your dough to thaw. 
Egg, milk or water wash if desired. 
Score if necessary. 
Then proof. 
Proofing requires moisture. Usually 85% is the proper humidity you need to 
achieve. This humidity must be maintained throughout the proofing process. This is 
the main reason why placing a pan of hot water on the bottom of the oven for 
proofing does not work. It cools off. I use a mini crockpot. Fill it with hot water & 
run the cord out the oven door & plug it in & keep it plugged in for the duration of 
the proofing process. You can also use an electric frying pan set on the lowest 
temperature that will keep your water hot. You don't want it to boil & this is the 
reason why I prefer the mini crockpot. It's usually used to melt chocolate & that
makes it just hot enough to maintain steam. Not sure if you have enough humidity? 
If your oven window is so steamy you really can't see through it, you are probably 
right on the money! The entire interior of your oven should be wet with steam. 
The temperature for proofing should not be more than 85-90F. Any hotter & your 
dough will start to bake on the outside while proofing on the inside & you will end 
up with inconsistent bread texture. To achieve this temperature in your oven 
simply turn on your oven light in an electric oven. That's usually just enough heat to 
reach this temperature. If you have a gas stove the pilot light is more than enough 
Once proofing is finished remove the water source & dough from the oven quickly 
but let the oven stay steamy & preheat to the proper temperature for baking. 
Proofing times vary by product so watch closely & make yourself a chart of the 
times it takes for the various breads you make & tape it to your fridge so you 
always have the best possible breads! 
Approximate times for dough types. (Don't forget! Your dough will rise more 
during baking!) 
Pillsbury French Bread: Thaw 1 to 1-1/2 hours, proof 1.25 hours for loose crumb 
suitable to serve as a dinner bread, proof 40 minutes to use as a submarine 
sandwich bun & a tighter crumb. 
Kaiser Rolls: Thaw 1 to 1-1/2 hours, proof 30-40 minutes. 
Cinnamon rolls: Thaw 1.25 hours, proof 45 minutes. 
More tips for baking breads & rolls: 
Use an oven thermometer to ensure the proper temperature is reached. 
Use a probe thermometer in your bread to be sure it is baked to the correct 
internal temperature. Most all breads should have an internal temperature of 195F 
at baking completion. I use a probe thermometer in all my loaf breads. You only 
need to check one loaf, usually the one in the center of the oven that would be 
surrounded by other loaves. 
For rolls, & pastries I use my eyes & see if they are properly browned. 
What is scoring?
Scoring is slicing lines into the dough. Slice 1/8" to 1/4" deep. This allows the 
gasses to escape in a uniform pattern thus allowing your bread to rise in a uniform 
What breads do you want to score? 
French bread, baguettes, Artisan style loaf breads, large rolls (such as the kaiser 
rolls which come pre-scored). 
You can score in straight lines, cris-crosses, however you like to decorate your 
Which wash should you use? 
For a crisper crust use a beaten egg to brush over your dough. 
For a softer crust brush with a combination of an egg beaten with 2 tablespoons of 
For a very soft crust use plain milk or water to brush your dough. 
Be sure to brush all exposed areas of the dough, even in the score marks you've 
made on the surface. 
Resting your dough 
Resting your dough is exactly what it sounds like. Leave the dough alone covered 
with a towel for the required time. 
Retarding is allowing the dough to rest usually under refrigeration. 
I hope all this information brings you lighter, softer breads & lots of compliments 
from your friends & family! 
Chef Beth

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