Bread Proofers

Bread

If you live in one of the warmer states of Australia, bread proofing can be a cinch, just place the dough on your kitchen bench and an hour later it has formed into a bubbly dough, twice the size of that it was left. In the southern areas of the country where I live, this won’t happen in the winter months. A piece of dough can sit for hours without the slightest rise; what’s more it is also frequently threatened by the Australian wildlife, bugs and little children, if left too long unsupervised.

Necessity is the mother of all invention, and I desperately sought a solution that would give me the ability to quickly proof bread and keep sticky creatures away. The following are some methods which I have used or are available for any home bread baker.

Bai Marie Style

Fill a small bowl with boiling water, then place the dough in a second well oiled bowl on top. Alternatively you can wrap your dough in a thermo-mat and place that within the varaoma, before sitting the varoma on the bowl of boiling water.

Pros

  • A 900gm loaf of bread dough would normally rise within an hour.
  • It is a simple set up.
  • It is cheap to set up.
  • It is cheap to operate.
  • Everything required to do this method is already in most kitchens.
  • Clean up is a breeze if the dough is forgotten.

Cons

  • Leaving the dough sitting for that period of time leaves it vulnerable to the curious wildlife to interfere with.
  • Leaving a bowl of boiled water sitting can be dangerous.
  • The second proof where the dough is shaped into a loaf, scrolls or rolls gets awkward.
  • Depending on the weather, the water can cool quickly and require a top up.
  • The exact temperature is unknown thus difficult to control.
  • It is a difficult option for incubating yoghurt over 8 hours.Double Boiler

Oven/Microwave Style

Place an open bowl of boiled water into the oven or microwave along with the dough. If the oven has the option to leave a light on only, or to be set at a temperature below 40 degrees, it can help the environment stay at a perfect level.

Pros

  • A 900gm loaf of bread dough would normally rise within an hour.
  • It is a simple set up.
  • It is cheap to set up.
  • It is cheap to operate.
  • Everything required to do this method is already in most kitchens.
  • The moist warm environment is perfect for bread proofing at both the first and second proof.
  • The dough is protected from interference.

Cons

  • The oven is otherwise unavailable for use during the 1 – 2 hours it will take for the first and second proof.
  • The exact temperature is unknown, thus difficult to control if the oven doesn’t have a low heat setting.
  • It is a difficult option for incubating yoghurt over 8 hours.

Oven Bread Proofer

Brod and Taylor Folding Proofer

The Brod and Taylor Folding Proofer would be described as the ultimate option. Specifically for home bread proofers the device operates on electricity, with the user being able to add water to a tray left inside the device to create a humid space, and is able to control the temperature. As the name suggests, this device can also fold down to save space for it’s owner.

Pros

  • A 900gm loaf of bread dough would normally rise within an hour.
  • It folds up, saving the user space in their kitchen when it is not being used.
  • It is simple to set up.
  • It is cheap to operate.
  • The moist warm environment is perfect for bread proofing at both the first and second proof.
  • The dough is protected from interference.
  • It is an easy option for incubating yoghurt over 8 hours.

Cons

Expensive at $400 (including GST and delivery), this item may be out of reach for many consumers.

Brod and Taylor

DIY Bread Proofer

The options of a DIY bread proofer are endless, the more common DIY Bread Proofers use reptile or home brew heating equipment and are made with from food-safe plastic boxes with lid.

When making a DIY Bread Proofer it is recommended to stick to food safe plastic. Styrofoam boxes and some eskies are not safe when heated, toxic fumes can leak from the plastic causing health problems.

Pros

  • A 900gm loaf of bread dough would normally rise within an hour.
  • The cost depends on the budget of the user, but can be mostly built from items already found at home or cheap online.
  • It is cheap to operate.
  • If built properly the moist warm environment is perfect for bread proofing at both the first and second proof.
  • The dough is protected from interference.
  • It is an easy option for incubating yoghurt over 8 hours.

Cons

  • Parts can be expensive if not researched.
  • DIY home electrical and water can be dangerous.

Chicken/Reptile Incubator

Now my favourite method, is a chicken or reptile egg incubator is a hybrid of the DIY option, and the closest to the ultimate option of the Brod and Taylor device. The incubator provides a more economical electrical option for those who don’t wish to go down the DIY path.

Pros

  • A 900gm loaf of bread dough would normally rise within an hour.
  • It is simple to set up.
  • It is moderately priced, depending on the budget of the user ($50 – $200 online).
  • It is cheap to operate.
  • The moist warm environment is perfect for bread proofing at both the first and second proof.
  • The dough is protected from interference.
  • The user is able to top up the water levels without opening the device.
  • It is an easy option for incubating yoghurt over 8 hours.

Cons

  • It can be expensive to purchase if not researched.
  • It is moderately priced, depending on the budget of the user ($50 – $200 online).
  • It can be big and bulky depending on the size of the unit.

Incubator

Summary

Overall my ultimate goal would be to own a Brod and Taylor proofer. However at a cost of $400 I cannot justify the purchase; I also question why it should be so expensive when in the US it retails for approximately $US150. The cost of the device in Australia has increased by approximately $100 in 12 months, despite the exchange rate hardly changing.

Until I win the lotto or the price decreases dramatically, I’ll continue to use a chicken incubator. It may not be pretty and space efficient, but it accomplishes the same results as the Brod and Taylor. What’s more, it has been built to operate non-stop 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for up to 3 weeks whilst incubating eggs, so I know that it is safe to leave operating whilst away from home or sleeping.

If considering an egg incubator as an alternative, I would suggest doing a lot of research first. I measured every one of my favourite bread pans, trays and bowls to ensure I was making the right choice. Several incubators that I reviewed were a lot prettier looking than mine, but left very little wiggle room between the top of the bread pan and the ceiling of the device. As I was purchasing online I had to be 100% sure I was getting the right size.

Coming soon I will be writing about the modifications I made and uses for my bread proofer which is the Chicken/Reptile Incubator.

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