Bread Proofing

Gaelle Marcel / Unsplash

When you’re in the process of baking bread, proofing refers to the final rise after you shape your dough into loaves. It’s an important rest period before baking, also known as fermentation.

Fermentation is when the yeast is allowed to leaven the dough, and at times the words proof and fermentation and used interchangeably. Proofing bread is crucial to the overall flavor and texture of your final loaf. But let’s rewind a bit to learn more about bread making step by step.

Bread Making Overview

Baking bread is a process. You’ll need to set some time aside in your day as bread making takes time, and with a little bit of patience, you will have the aroma of freshly baked bread rolling out of your oven in no time.

Since bread proofing is an important step in a much larger process, I wanted to provide you with an overview of bread making. Check out our article on sourdough bread for a more complete, detailed how-to.

  1. Gather all the ingredients and equipment.
  2. Mix all of your ingredients creating a ball of dough.
  3. Let that dough ferment! This step is also known as the bulk proof.
  4. Next, you’ll punch the dough down, knead it, and shape it into loaves.
  5. Place the loaves into your baking pans and allow it to rise for the second time. This is also known as the final proof. This is where you get your bread structure and flavor.
  6. Once allowed to proof, your dough is ready for the oven and on it’s way to being a beautiful loaf of bread.

Now that I’ve given you an idea of where the bulk proof and the final proof takes place, you’ll have a better idea of where we are at in the overall bread making process when we start talking about bread proofing.

Bread Making Tools

Tools of the trade make the bread making process easier. The following is a list of equipment that can be helpful in your bread making journey.

  • Thermometer: This tool can help gauge the temperature of your water while the yeast is activating and of the dough when it is in its initial rise. A thermometer is also handy when baking to ensure the center of your loaf is cooked all the way through.
  • Scale: No need for measuring cups and spoons when you have a scale to measure out all of your ingredients. A scale will also give you a precisely sized loaf every time!
  • Flour Sifter: Having one of these on hand helps when you have a recipe that calls for sifted flour, but it also prevents you from having to put your hand into the bag of flour when your hands are sticky with dough and you need to flour your work surface.
  • Stainless Steel Scraper: From cubing butter to scraping off your workstation and dividing your dough, this is a tool that definitely comes in handy. Simply put, it’s for scraping every last bit of doughy goodness from your bowl.
  • Proofing Baskets: These add to the visual appearance of your final loaf, creating a professional (and Insta-worthy) look every time. They also are known to help the crust get crispier and produce a beautiful color.
  • Loaf pans: Great for making a sandwich-type loaf.
  • Silicone mat: These mats will fit right into your flat pans and keep your baking from sticking to the pan. Finally! No need for parchment!
  • Pizza stone: Great at retaining heat, these stones are great for pizza but also for making bread. Pizza stones will create a perfectly crusty loaf.

Bulk Fermentation: The First Dough Rise

Bulk fermentation, or the first rise of the dough in bread making, is a very important step in the breadmaking process because this is where we let our dough ferment before dividing and shaping it into loaves. It is during this fermentation process that the yeast is going to work its magic.

The process of fermenting helps the dough gain flavor as the yeast is creating alcohol and other by-products. The carbon dioxide it creates will inflate the gluten, which in turn will help the dough’s structure.

You do not want to rush your bulk fermentation as this is where all the yummy flavor is produced!

Don’t Rush The Process

If you allow the dough to rise too quickly, you will get a lot of carbon dioxide but less alcohol, and this will make the bread have an off flavor. The alcohols released by yeast give bread its tasty, rich, earthy flavor, but if the dough is allowed to rise for too long, that flavor will become pronounced and the bread will have a heavy yeasty taste or smell.

Proofing the dough too fast will also interfere with the gluten structure as the yeast will over-inflate and pop, resulting in a dense or more flattened bread.

Consider A Slower Process

However, you can slow down the bulk rise and this will encourage more flavor and structure. But remember that the yeast only has so much food supply, and there needs to be some sugar to allow the crust to caramelize when you bake the bread.

At lower temperatures, the dough will develop a more pronounced flavor, but it will take longer to rise. Alternatively, warmer temperatures allow the dough to rise faster, which can be a huge time saver. So, it’s really a matter of what you care about more – flavor or efficiency.

#bread #bulkrise #homemadebread #bigabread #biga

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It’s even possible to leaven dough overnight, though it needs to be left in the refrigerator to stop the dough from over-fermentation. An overnight proof will often have a stronger, more yeasty flavor.

The benefit of allowing dough to rise twice with the bulk proof and then again with the final proof produces a finer gluten structure than allowing it to just rise once. It will also prevent huge gaping air holes in your bread.

bread making
Gaelle Marcel / Unsplash

When you take your bulk proof and knead it, you push all the air out, and this is what helps develop the gluten structure.

What Happens With Too Much Or Too Little Proofing?

For comparison, a dough that has not been proofed for enough time will have a gummy-like texture, as it did not have enough time to ferment.

Biggest failure to date. #breadmakingfail #overproofing

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Alternatively, a dough that has been proofed for too long will become very crispy and dry as the fermentation process allowed for moisture loss as the yeast fed too much off the ingredients.

Tips For The Perfect Proof

Since fermentation is related to the flavor of the dough and can only happen during the proofing stage, mastering your own proofing technique will create your own unique product!

The longer the proofing time, the more distinctive the texture becomes, but remember, the yeast only has so much food, so you will want to ensure you don’t overproof your dough.

A good rule of thumb for the bulk rise is 2 to 2 1/2 hours, but even in a cool location no longer than 3 hours, otherwise the taste and structure will be compromised.

Final Proof

In your final proof, the loaves will go through their final stage of fermentation; during this time, the loaves should nearly double in size.

If you proof your loaves in the fridge, this will slow down the final rise, giving the loaves more flavor. This process also makes the loaves easier to handle and score before baking.

#dough #sourdough #finalproof

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There aren’t many specifics when it comes to proofing, just guidelines because times and temperatures depend on things like the amount of each ingredient and the desired end product.

The ingredients in the recipe are directly related to the end result, so it’s crucial to be consistent when reproducing a recipe as variations to the recipe can change the flavor and structure of the bread.

Happy Friday everyone! I hope you are feeling better than I am today. About to go to the doctor … which I absolutely hate! I made this #sourdoughbread yesterday and baked it this morning. I think it turned out beautiful. #sourdough has opened up a whole new creative world for me. I've got some ideas that I can't wait to share with you!⠀ .⠀ I've got two loafs in the #bulkfermentation stage right now. Playing around with fermenting times because it's so cold in my house. My #sourdoughstarter is going strong and I've trained it to stay active in 65 degree temperature. ⠀ .⠀ I also purchased a #grainmill so that I can start milling #freshflour for my baking. ⠀ .⠀ I hope you have a wonderful day!! . #amyinthekitchen #naturallyleavened #wildyeast #artisanbread #realbread #breadbosses #breadlove #breadmaking #countryloaf #theperfectloaf

A post shared by Amy in the Kitchen (@amyduska) on

If you want to achieve a consistent bread, you must first have a consistent recipe or formula based on proofing tests that you have done. It may take some time to master, but you will end up with a bread suited to your own tastes.

The following bread recipe is one that my family has been making for years. It’s adapted from my favorite bread book, “World of Breads” by Dolores Casella.

Easy Buttermilk Bread


  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ⅓ cup butter
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 ounces cake yeast or 2 ¼ teaspoons dry yeast
  • ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 6 cups sifted flour


  1. Warm the buttermilk on the stovetop until it’s hot enough to melt the butter.
  2. Stir in the sugar, salt, and butter and let cool.
  3. Dissolve the yeast in the water and add to the cooled milk mixture.
  4. Combine the baking soda and half of the flour. Add to the yeast mixture and beat until smooth.
  5. Stir in the rest of the flour and turn out onto a floured board. Knead until smooth and elastic.
  6. Place in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled. This is your first bulk proof.
  7. Once doubled, punch dough down and turn out onto the board once again.
  8. Split the dough in half and shape your loaves.
  9. Place each loaf into a well-greased, 8-inch loaf pan.
  10. Brush tops with melted butter and let rise again. This is your final proof. Remember that allowing this to rise in the refrigerator will take longer but will create a stronger tasting bread.
  11. Bake in 400-degree Fahrenheit oven for 50 minutes.
  12. Allow the bread to cool and enjoy!

A Variation Of This Bread

Instead of shaping into loaves, roll out the dough and spread with butter, then sprinkle with 1 ½ cups of chopped, sauteed onions and 1 ½ cups of grated sharp cheddar cheese.

Roll up as you would a jelly roll. Cut in half, place into 8-inch loaf pans. Allow them to proof and bake in 400-degree oven for 50 minutes.

Bread Proofing On Instagram

Instagram post 18007794517235498 This video is an excerpt from a visitcopenhagen film about lillebakery and Karin Carlander. The perfect collaboration between friends and craftsmen working with same values. Thank you Visit Copenhagen for sharing our story.

Text from visitcopenhagen: "Fusing the art of bread with next level weaving in Copenhagen’s foodie hood.
The roots of Danish craftsmanship run deep at LilleBakery on Refshaleøen. Mouthwatering baked goods and artisanal textiles intertwine at this haven for foodies. 
Baker and co-owner Jesper Gøtz takes great pride in the atmosphere in his bakery and perfecting the texture of the bread. Everything just oozes with superior quality and a sense of comfort. It all comes down to choices, and Jesper decided to go all the way using woven linen by in the bread baskets to perfect the crust. 
Refshaleøen or “Reffen” is an old industrial neighbourhood of shipyards that in recent years have transformed into a hub for urban innovation in gastronomy, drinks, design and craft. The ten-minute bike ride from city center is definitely worth the effort to get an authentic experience of an up-and-coming neighbourhood. 
Karin Carlander’s studio in Raadvad is another place not to miss if you want to experience textile craftmanship first hand and explore the soft foresty countryside just 50 min. outside Copenhagen." #karincarlander #lillebakery #visitcopenhagen #bakingwithlinen #raadvad #hæveklud #proofinglinen #breadproofing #naturallinen
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Instagram post 17843237227005814 Trying out the 24 hours #proofing #fermentation  #bread #breadproofing #breadstarter #breadmaking #sourdoughstarter #sourdough #homebaking #instabread #instabaking #instahomebaking
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Instagram post 17871901930066450 While I'm still trying to figure out how the convection works, I've got to say this bread proof button has just changed my life! 🍞
#baking #buns #breadproofing #convectionoven #samsung #amazing #lookatthatrise
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Instagram post 17856410809375564 Starting to test some starters mixtures to understand which will give stronger proofing and higher oven spring. On the right side - white flour starter 100% hydration. On the left side - rye and white flour starter (50/50) 100% hydration. In the morning we’ll find out who’s the winner 😄 #breadmaking #bread #sourdough #breadproofing #sourdoughbreadstarter
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Instagram post 17875046722026742 Back to bake
Assalamu'alaiqum semuanya...
Weekend nya buat apa?
Saya perdana pasca lahiran turun gunung keluarkan si OTANG kembali buat yg rutin yes si ROTI ^-^ adonan pakai Frozen Dough yg dibuat bulan lalu selagi masa menunggu kelahiran.. sengaja buat stok banyak tapi sudah tinggal sekilo stok nya.. .
Sekalian berbagi ilmu cz tadi mau cpet naik si dough nya saat Proofing Ke 2 didukung matahari yg super hot alhasil ditaruh persis disamping jendela.. jeng2 gendut lah jadinya ^-^ selain metode ini bs juga taruh dekat yg panas2 semacam Magic Jar dsb.. tp ini hanya utk Urgenitas saja ya ^-^
Proofing ke 2 ini shaping sesuai selera menjelang masuk oven.. banyak yg tanya ''kenapa roti saya masih ada yg terasa mentah? Basah di bawah? dsb..." nah disinilah proses penentu pertamanya.. klo Proofing ke 2 lom maksimal alhasil bantet si roti.. faktor penentu selanjutnya si oven lom panas eh si Roti da masuk nah ini salah satu yg memperburuk kondisi kematangan roti..
Well.. semoga manfaat.. happy baking n cooking again.. .
Vikanomia's Kitchen
#tipsvkroti #breadproofing #bread #eggless #homemade #mamakokihandal #fotomasak #instafood
61 16
Instagram post 17940325645043936 اتاق تخمیر نهایی جهت عمل اوری خمیر قبل از پخت که به صورت اتوماتیک دما و بخار داخل آن به وسیله تابلو کنترل میگردد و دارای بخار گرم و سرد می باشد. برای تولید انواع محصولات حجیم و نیمه حجبم. 
#مرشدی #مرشدگوهر #نان #گرمخانه #اتاق_تخمیر _نهایی #فانتزی #نان_فانتزی #نان_حجیم #کافه_نان 
#morshedi #morshedgohar #bread #proofing #proofer #prooferbakery #breadproofing #automtic_proofer #bakery #cafe #cafebakery
37 4
Instagram post 17850668269077975 Marble rye sourdough bread after first and second proofings. #sourdough #bread #wildyeast #ryesourdough #rye #marblerye #breadproofing #braidedbread #boule
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Instagram post 17845067722698080 Braided Stuffed Bread Rolls - Bake in Progress! #braidedbreadrolls #braidedbread #breadrolls #braidedrolls #stuffedrolls #stuffedbread #creamyfilling #chicken #savoury #sourdough #breadmaking #breadlover #breads #rolls #breadproofing #breadbaking #breadlover #bakedfromscratch #kneading #kneadingdough #bakedgoodies #bakerslife #baked #edibles
15 0
Instagram post 17860698940089102 Happy Birthday to me.  New bannetons (dough proofing baskets/bowls)  to try with my artisan bread baking.  #happybirthdaytome, #bannetons, #breadproofing, #artisanbreads, #smalltownbakery, #handcraftedbykristina
12 0
Instagram post 17876188003025297 Am addicted to baking black and this #bamboocharcoal with #chocolatefilling won me over!

#black #bread #blackbread #bamboo #charcoal #bamboocharcoalbread #bamboocharcoalbun #chocolate #chocolatefilling #baking #bakingbread #breadmaking #breadproofing #flavour #healthyfood #singaporehomecooks
22 4
Instagram post 17853542980191701 #overnightproofing #breadproofing #sourdough #wewillsee #baking101
23 2
Instagram post 17843237662005814 Yesterday morning's bread was all eaten within 12 hours. Husband complained because he only tasted a small slice of it and request another loaf. 
So here I am at 2.30 am, #breadproofing.

Too much love will make you #bake #bread two days in a row :)) #breadmaking #breadstarter #sourdoughstarter #breadmaking #homebaking #instabread #instabaking #instahomebaking
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Heather is the owner of Vibrant Food Vibrant You. She believes that getting healthy starts from the ground up. She loves to garden, cook for friends and family, and can be found on the weekends playing with her dogs or wandering around farmer’s markets.

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