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knead proof?

Thursday, 20 January 2011

It is the middle of January, and my kitchen is freezing. Colder than my kitchen was in Buffalo, even. Too cold to proof dough, for sure; I tried to make a batch of dinner rolls a few weeks ago and…let’s just say we didn’t have rolls with dinner that night.

So I need a proofing box. But I don’t really want to build one like this because (a) since we’re living in a rental house, I no longer have a surplus of scrap lumber in the basement and (b) where on earth am I going to store something like that? My kitchen is also tiny.

I have a newer gas oven—with an electric starter rather than a pilot light—so the old trick of proofing dough in the oven won’t work. And besides, if I use the oven, I can’t very well pre-heat before baking, can I? Which means the “bowl of boiling water in the oven” trick won’t work, either.

I found some good suggestions online—this one is my favourite, but again, I don’t have any old plywood hanging around. (I am filing the idea away for future use, though; I think it’s brilliant.) The one that seemed most useful to me involved a plastic storage bin, a cookie sheet, and a heating pad; you put the heating pad under an upside-down cookie sheet, place the bowl or pan of dough on top, then cover with the storage bin.

The problem? The heating pad isn’t in the washroom cabinet, and I have no idea which of the nine million yet-to-be-unpacked boxes in the attic it might be in.

So, improvising on my own a bit, I decided to combine two methods: I put the dough on the table in the kitchen with a bowl of boiling water next to it, then covered with the storage bin. I’m not entirely jazzed about having no control at all over the temperature, but I figure it has to be better than trying to get dough to rise in a sub-60º kitchen.

The results? Pretty good, overall.

dough in the bowl, ready for the first rise

dough & hot water, cozy inside the proofing box

an hour later...

ready for the second rise


I forgot to take a picture after the second rise, but the result…

delicious success!


I used Charlene’s sandwich bread recipe, substituting whole wheat bread flour (which I had on hand) for the white whole wheat flour and vital wheat gluten (which I did not). The finished loaf is a little dense—I think I might have let it go a bit longer in the second rise, but I was impatient to get it in the oven before Asher got up from his nap—but Julia seems to like it.

taste test...

...and the seal of approval

One Comment leave one →
  1. Jill permalink
    Thursday, 20 January 2011 12:42 am

    Good thinking. The bread looks great.

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