The Proof is in the Proofing

OK, so you’ve done your mise en place, mixed, autolysed, kneaded, fermented, shaped your dough, and now it’s on it’s final rise, known as proofing.  The recipe says the dough should almost double, but what does that really mean?  How can you tell when your loaves are proofed and ready to bake?  Easy, just give it a poke.

So, how does the “poke test” work?  You poke a finger gently but firmly into the dough, about a quarter to half an inch (maybe a centimeter), then watch what happens when you remove your finger. 

  • If the place you poked doesn’t fill back in, you have allowed the dough to overproof. 
  • If it fills back in immediately, the dough is underproofed. 
  • If, however, the poke hole fills in slowly, your dough is properly proofed and ready to bake.

That’s all there is to it.  So, the next time you bake and want to know if your dough is ready, poke away!

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9 Comments

  1. January 26, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    […] checked to see if it was indeed finished proofing using a new tip I picked up from fellow BBA baker Phyl .  Phyl calls this the poke test.  Stick your fingertip into the bread and watch what happens […]

  2. June 20, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    […] some of my old posts and, to my chagrin, realized that I had given some poor advice. In my post on proofing dough, I mixed up the test results for overproofing and underproofing. It has been fixed now. I […]

  3. June 13, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    […] checked to see if it was indeed finished proofing using a new tip I picked up from fellow BBA baker Phyl .  Phyl calls this the poke test.  Stick your fingertip into the bread and watch what happens […]

  4. June 13, 2009 at 10:32 am

    That is such a helpful method of testing. Thanks!! I never was a great judge of telling when it had exactly “doubled.”

  5. June 11, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    Um, a quarter of an inch is 0.6 centimeters, or 6 millimeters, *not* a couple of centimeters.

    • gaaarp said,

      June 11, 2009 at 10:49 pm

      I’m glad somebody knows something about metric conversions. I’m still married to imperial measures (although I do use grams on my kitchen scale).

      Of course, you could poke it a few centimeters, half an inch, an inch, it doesn’t really matter.

      • June 11, 2009 at 10:54 pm

        I’m Canadian and grew up when the country converted from Imperial to metric. I speak both languages. Fluently. 😉

      • gaaarp said,

        June 11, 2009 at 11:02 pm

        Thanks for the correction. I updated the post.

        When I was in elementary school in the ’70s, we studied metric. I remember them telling us that the US was going to convert to metric at some point. I think Reagan might have put an end to that idea.

  6. Nicole said,

    June 11, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    This is much a much more detailed explanation than I’ve ever heard before. I thought that if it didn’t fill in, that meant it was done. Didn’t know it was supposed to fill back in slowly! And I also didn’t know that overproofed dough would fill back in immediately. Thanks for sharing!


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