Microwave Proofing Box

Microwave Proofing Box

A proofing box (sometimes also called a “proof box”) is sealed space where a baker can control the temperature and humidity in order to proof dough under controlled conditions. Generally, the temperature of a proofing box is kept around 100 degrees F, and the humidity at about 85%. In a professional bakery, a proofing box might look like a large, walk-in cooler. By using a controlled environment, the baker is able to proof dough faster and more predicably than by relying on room temperature. 

For the home baker, there are a number of ways of improvising a proofing box. Some people use Styrofoam coolers or aquariums equipped with lights or submersible heaters to produce the desired atmosphere for proofing bread. Others try to control the temperature by putting dough in the oven with the light on. I have found that a simple and reliable way is to use the microwave.

Let me first clear up any misconceptions by saying that I do not run the microwave with the dough in it — ever. I have read about proofing dough in the microwave by actually nuking the dough; this to me is anathema to the whole idea of baking homemade bread.

So, how do you proof bread in the microwave? Start by placing about 2 cups of water in the microwave and heating it for several minutes, until it boils rapidly. Allow the water to continue boiling for a minute to really fill the microwave with steam. Then, working quickly to avoid losing too much of the steam, open the microwave, move the cup off to the side, put your dough in the microwave, and close the door. You have now created a warm, humid environment in which to ferment or proof your dough.

Dough proofed in a microwave “proofing box” will rise more quickly than dough proofed at room temperature, so keep an eye on it. But avoid opening the door too often, as each time you do you will lower both the temperature and humidity. Generally, I leave the dough alone in the proofing box until the minimum time given in the recipe for fermenting or proofing, then check it to see if it has developed sufficiently. For long ferments, you might even want to remove the dough, reheat the water, and then put the dough back in.

So, there you have it. At zero expense and with minimal effort and attention, you can recreate an expensive proofing box in your own kitchen.

Advertisements

10 Comments

  1. July 7, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    […] to ten minutes, then turn it off and put your dough inside.  Finally, my ultimate standby, from a fellow blogger:  heat a jar of water in the microwave until it boils, set the dough inside (microwave off) next […]

  2. coolquilting said,

    February 15, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    great instructions! My house is quite chilly so my dough never rises well…

  3. May 15, 2011 at 8:01 am

    […] to ten minutes, then turn it off and put your dough inside.  Finally, my ultimate standby, from a fellow blogger:  heat a jar of water in the microwave until it boils, set the dough inside (microwave off) next […]

  4. June 1, 2010 at 11:43 am

    […] Luckily I had a warm spot in the sunroom to help things along.  There’s no way I could have used the proofing box trip (as explained by gaaarp). […]

  5. March 28, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    […] rising, as we approached the three hour mark it was a bit too slow for me.  I therefore used gaaarp’s method to speed things up.  Essentially, you create a proofing box in your microwave.  I like this method […]

  6. March 28, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    […] rising, as we approached the three hour mark it was a bit too slow for me.  I therefore used gaaarp’s method to speed things up.  Essentially, you create a proofing box in your microwave.  I like this method […]

  7. Sara said,

    March 14, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    Me again–haven’t had too much need for proofing boxes for a while, but did today and tried this out–worked like a charm, thanks agani!

  8. September 27, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    […] proofing box – a proofing box (sometimes also called a “proof box”) is sealed space where a baker can control the temperature and humidity in order to proof dough under controlled conditions. Generally, the temperature of a proofing box is kept around 100 degrees F, and the humidity at about 85%. (See how I simulate a proofing box in my microwave oven.) […]

  9. sarabclever said,

    June 15, 2009 at 11:16 am

    Cool–I have used a method for turning your oven into a proofing box, but this seems like an even better method!

  10. June 14, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    […] I took Adrian out of the refrigerator about an hour before I mixed up the dough, but the starter was still quite chilly. Because I didn’t add any additional water (I ended up mixing in quite a bit of flour during the kneading stage), I wasn’t able to adjust the dough temperature by using warm water. So after the mixing, the dough was still quite cool. This was fine with me, as I like to use a long ferment with sourdough to build in as much flavor as possible. However, I didn’t want it to be an all-day process, either, so I fermented the dough in my “proofing box“. […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: