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Monday, December 14, 2009

How to Proof Your ‘Proof & Bake’ Products

• First, allow your dough to thaw. For best results, thaw in the refrigerator. Once the dough is thawed, it’s time to proof.
• Proofing is similar to raising, but it requires constant moisture. Usually 85% is the norm. This humidity must be maintained throughout the proofing process.
• One of the best ways to do this is to use a mini crockpot filled with hot water. Simply turn it on, plug it in, then run the cord into the oven and place the filled crockpot inside. This will provide just the right amount of humidity for proofing.
• If you also turn on your oven light, the temperature inside the closed oven will be ideal for proofing - you never want it to be higher than 90˚F. Any hotter and your dough will start to bake on the outside while proofing on the inside which will result in inconsistent bread texture. Your oven light, or pilot light if you have a gas oven, will keep the oven slightly warm, but never exceed the ideal temperature.
• Once proofing is finished, remove the crock pot and the dough from the oven quickly so that the oven stays steamy.
Preheat to the proper temperature for baking, then bake as usual.
• Proofing times vary by product so watch closely and make yourself a chart of the times so you always have the best possible breads! — Chef Beth of Zortman, MT

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