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Guide for Proofing Bread Dough

Homemade bread with beautiful rise and textureA multitude of factors go into making bread with the best crumb, crust, color, and flavor, and the more control you have over each detail the better control you'll have over the final results. Pleasant Hill Grain wants to help you achieve your culinary dreams by providing quality ingredients, as well as strong, reliable equipment, and resources to help you understand the best methods and science behind baking. In this article we'll cover why it's important to control the temperature and humidity of your bread dough, and how you can control these factors in your home kitchen.

Desired Dough Temperature

Have you seen recipes refer to “DDT” and wondered what that meant? DDT stands for “Desired dough temperature” and it refers to the temperature of your dough after kneading. The DDT that most bread bakers aim for is between 75-80° F.

Many factors affect the DDT including room temperature, water temperature, flour temperature, what kind of mixer you used and whether or not you knead by hand.

Flour that's ground fresh just before using it will be warm, so it's best to let it cool to room temperature before mixing your dough, or using cool water to offset the warm flour. Conversely, if you grind your own flour in batches to keep in the fridge or freezer before using it, you can let it come to room temperature before mixing, or offset the cool flour with warm water.

Proofed dough goes into the ovenIt takes practice and experimentation to achieve the DDT you're aiming for, but once you understand how the temperature can be affected, it's easier to know how to regulate it. If you're baking in the middle of summer, versus the middle of winter, you'll need to make sure your ingredients are cooler. The same is true for kneading by hand versus using a spiral dough mixer, because body heat is warmer than the minimal heat created by the friction from a spiral dough hook. Mixers with paddles create more friction (and thus more heat) than mixers with a spiral dough hook.

Controlling the Proofing Environment

Before Brod and Taylor came out with their folding bread proofer there just wasn't an easy, reliable way for home bakers to control the temperature of their dough for proofing. There are some ideas for how to create a warm, humid environment in your kitchen, but even with these DIY options it's difficult to create the exact temperature and humidity that's best for your dough, and it's also difficult to maintain the heat and humidity.

Brod and Taylor bread prooferThe innovative Brod and Taylor proofer accurately maintains the temperature you set, in the range of 70–195°F (21–90C), in five degree increments. Its cabinet is built of super tough reinforced polypropylene with a viewing window. The stainless steel wire rack, and all other parts fit inside the proofer when folded. Inside dimensions are 14.75” x 12.5” x 8.75” high. Outside dimensions are (open): 18” x 14.5” x 10.5” high and (closed): 18” x 14.5” x 2.75” high, so it stores very easily.

Leaving your dough to rise at room temperature on your counter can result in wildly inconsistent results, depending on the weather and temperature of the day. Some kitchens are very drafty, so even if the temperature starts out in an ideal range, it could quickly change.

Letting your dough rise on the counter can also dry your bread out, and form an unappealing skin over the surface of your dough. No one wants dry bread, so it's important to have your dough in a humid environment, ideally between 60-80% humidity, while rising. The water tray that's included with the Brod and Taylor proofer helps maintain this ideal humidity.

Target Temperatures for Proofing Dough

Standard: 81° F

A standard temperature that works well for most bread is 81° F, but if you want to adjust the flavor of your bread by adjusting the temperature it proofs/ferments at, follow the guidelines below.

Sourdough: 70-85° F

Sourdough will be more acidic if proofed at lower temperatures of 70-75° F for a longer period of time than if it's proofed at 75-85° F. Knowing this you can experiment with the temperature and proofing time until your sourdough tastes just the way you like it.

Lean breads: 75-78° F

Lean breads made with commercial yeast turn out best if proofed at temperatures of 75-78° F. A little warmer or cooler won't hurt the dough though, or significantly affect the flavor.

Enriched doughs: 80-84° F

Yeast dough with a fat content of 20% or higher is called an “enriched dough”. Enrichments may include butter, buttermilk, yogurt, eggs, oil and/or sugar. Doughs made with this high of a fat content rise best at warmer temperatures, but not so warm that the butter will melt. 80° F should be a good proofing temperature, and if the dough comes out of the fridge we suggest proofing at 84° F.

Rye breads: 80-85° F

Rye dough requires special attention because its gluten structure is so weak and it has a much higher enzyme content than breads made with modern wheat. The enzymes, while beneficial for our digestion, are detrimental to dough structure. To speed the proofing time so the enzymes don't have as much time to impact the dough, proofing in a warm environment of 80-85° F is ideal.

Pre-Ferments: 70-72° F.

A pre-ferment (also called a “mother dough” or “fermentation starter”) is a pre-dough used in the final dough to initiate fermentation. Pre-ferments are used to create breads with more robust, nut-like flavor, longer shelf-life, and easier digestibility. If your recipe says to leave the pre-ferment at room temperature, we suggest keeping it at 70-72° F. Some recipes will say to refrigerate your pre-ferment for 1-3 days instead of letting it sit at room temperature for a few hours.

Proofing Cold Dough

Are you working with cold dough? Cold dough takes longer to proof. As a rule of thumb, plan on an additional hour for every pound of dough. Frozen dough should be thawed in the fridge before proofing.

Brod and Taylor Bread Proofer

Brod and Taylor proofing boxBrod and Taylor's innovative bread proofing box is a multi-use kitchen tool ideal for home bread bakers—or anyone with an appreciation for scratch recipes, organic cooking and wholesome ingredients. Designed as the ultimate solution for rising dough, the proofer’s consistent low-heat also works as a yogurt maker, chocolate tempering machine, bread crisper, plate warmer and more.

In slow cooker mode, temperatures may be set between 85–195°F (29–90C), in five degree increments. For slow cooking recipes that recommend a low setting in traditional slow cookers, set the temperature to the maximum setting of 195°F. The rack and water tray are not used when slow cooking. For best results, use a heavy duty Dutch oven or stock pot with a tight fitting lid. Maximum dimensions for a slow cooker pot are 11.5" diameter and 8.75" high, including handles and lid.

One of the things we like most about the Brod and Taylor bread proofer box is the toughness of its construction. Between the details of the design and the quality of its materials, our experience—after an extended period of offering this product—is that breakage is a non-issue. It assembles very quickly, feels solid, and truly is a rugged, reliable performer. We've used one in the PHG test kitchen for years and endorse it enthusiastically.

Included with the Brod and Taylor Bread Proofer & Slow Cooker is a 55-page booklet with recipes for yeast breads, sourdough, yogurt, butter, cheese, kefir, kombucha, tempeh, and slow-cooker recipes like chuck roast, pulled pork and caramelized "black" garlic.

Commercial Bread Proofers

We also offer commercial Rofco dough proofers that are ideal for bakeries and restaurants! See the table below to learn how these proofers compare to the smaller Brod and Taylor proofer.

Bread Proofers Features Table

The table below lets you compare the features and key specs of our bread proofers, and more details are available on individual product pages. If you have questions not answered here or would just like to discuss your particular needs, our knowledgeable customer service representatives would love to talk with you.

Notes1. Size is measured length x width x height, in inches.

Bread Proofer Comparison

You can see all of our Dough Proofers here (link opens in new window)
Proofer Temp Range Shelves Proofing
Size1 Electrical Weight
brod and taylor dough proofer Brød & Taylor Proofer 70-195°F 1 14.5" x 18" 18 x 14.5 x 10.5 200W,
7.25 lbs.
RK30 dough proofer Rofco RK30 Proofer 140°F 6 11.4" x 18.5" 16.5 x 25.2 x 36.2 550W, 220V 66 lbs.
RK48 dough proofer Rofco RK48 Proofer 140°F 6 18.5" x 18.5" 23.6 x 25.2 x 36.2 550W, 220V 88 lbs.

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