Proofing is one of the most important steps in baking bread: without this process, bread becomes an unappetizing, dense mess. It is the culmination of the interaction of flour, water, and salt with yeast; which uses the processes of respiration and fermentation to make dough rise. This rising is due to the release of Carbon Dioxide, which is the by-product of the yeast digesting the simple sugars created when water breaks down the starches of the flour. We call this respiration. As the yeast releases Co2, it also produces alcohol in the form of ethanol and its derivative chemical substances: these are what will give the bread its flavor, and this process is what we call fermentation or bulk proofing. It usually occurs as the dough is made to rest (ideally at room temperature) before it is divided and shaped into loaves.
Most bakers actually refer to the final proofing process when they mention the word “Proofing”. It is the process that the dough undergoes after it is divided and shaped. The dough may be made to rest in proofing bowls or proofing baskets called “bannetons” and covered with towels, or they may be shaped, folded, and left uncovered in rows inside baking trays. The dough is then placed in “Proofers”: proofing ovens/boxes/cabinets (sometimes called dough proofers), or proofing coolers (sometimes called dough retarders); basically, machines that either warm or cool the dough in a controlled-humidity environment. These proofers may be closet or cabinet size for smaller bakeries, or they may be much bigger in commercial bakeries. Heating the dough makes it rise faster and gives us the typical bread flavor we’re familiar with, while cooling the dough makes it rise slower; creating more complex bread flavors. The dough stays in the proofers for a predetermined time (usually from 1-3 hours when heating; much longer when cooling) before it is finally baked. Proofers are an essential piece of hardware that bakers just can’t do without, and they play an important role in helping to ensure that the quality and flavor of the products being made are up to the baker’s exacting standards.
J.E. Flores Bakery Services is your go-to provider for high-quality proofers and accessories such as rollers and fingers. We also provide service, parts, inspection, maintenance, and refurbishment solutions for your bakery. Call us up at 201-437-0221, or contact us online for more information