Baking bread can be a very satisfying experience. It is fun to work with your hands and have it result in something delicious in the end. Part of baking bread is letting dough rise and then proof (also known as its final rise). In most professional bakeries and pizzerias, this final rise is done in a proofing box. The best environment to proof bread is one that is draft-free, fairly warm (but not overly hot) and moist.
A Simple Solution
Most professional proofing boxes are made of heavy, food grade plastic with tight-fitting lids, but really any large, plastic container will work. If you are making a small amount of dough, a shoebox-size plastic container with a tight-fitting lid, well-oiled (or buttered) and placed in a warm place (in the sun or on the dryer work very well) is the perfect solution. If you do not have an adequate sized plastic container, you can simply lay your dough out on your counter and invert your glass or ceramic mixing bowl on top of it. A metal bowl will work, but not quite as well as heat will be released through the metal. Conversely, you can butter or oil your bowl (after cleaning it well) and place a piece of cling film over the bowl very tightly. This will create the same airtight environment as a proofing box.
If you don't have a source of heat for your dough, try using a fish tank heater or similar heater and placing it in a plastic tub with water (without a lid) and then nesting your same-size plastic container holding the dough inside of it, placing a lid on top. This will warm the dough slowly from underneath.
- "Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes"; Jeffrey Hamelman; 2004
- Recipetips.com: Proofing Dough