Proofing Technology Giving Dough a (Good) Rest

Proofing is one of the baking stages that makes the most use out of the one intangible “ingredient”: time. Technology solutions dedicated to proofing can help make the most out of this crucial stage, for all environments, textures and production methods.

Chef Michelle Bridges, Manager of Bakery & Culinary Support, Baxter Manufacturing, contributed to this article.

Dough will be proofed twice in some formulations; primary fermentation occurs immediately after mixing, while “proofing” takes place after the loaf has been shaped, and before baking. The resting dough is allowed to rise. The fermentation process is all about the yeast: during proofing, yeast is transforming the sugars (glucose) in the dough into energy, producing carbon dioxide and ethanol as waste products. Most of the ethanol evaporates during baking, and what little amount remains adds flavor to the bread. It is the carbon dioxide that is responsible for the light, spongy texture of the finished loaf. Well-proofed loaves look puffy, feel soft yet still a little rubbery and resilient. Then it’s time to bake.

In industrial and craft production environments alike, proofing needs to achieve consistent characteristics for the dough – and this is where proofers come into play. The equipment must meet some key requirements determining its structure, enclosure, air circulation and temperature control.

Technical specifications

Proofers in Baxter’s equipment portfolio offer features suitable for multiple products with varying times. Taking into consideration the machine’s footprint, they are built with a modular design. Michelle Bridges, the equipment specialist’s newly-appointed Manager of Bakery & Culinary Support, explains the Baxter proofer’s technical specifications: they are made of stainless steel for durability and hygiene, with programmable digital controls that allow you to set heat, humidity and four independent rack timers, for when multiple products with varying proofing times need to be handled simultaneously. “The modular design lets you custom-fit your proofer to your capacity requirements, while the patented airflow system utilizes dual 6” fans to force air in a dual circular pattern for balanced, controlled proof which delivers consistent proofing results,” she explains.

In addition, the independent air ducts enable abundant moisture within the proofer using a nozzle to spray water onto a heated metal plate – a flash spray system that delivers consistent moisture while proofing, Bridges adds.

Different types of proofing equipment

The company’s MB300 Proofing Cabinet Base, which was specifically designed to be used with OV310 Mini Rack Rotating Oven, has a capacity of up to 16 pans sized 18×26, with 3” spacing. It is easy to monitor and operate with digital controls, and its doors open independently. The MB300 stands on heavy-duty 4” casters. “It sits below the OV300 and together it provides a complete package of proofing and baking but in a compact package,” the specialist tells us.

The remaining proofer models made by Baxter are designed to work with oven racks, and they come as single, double or triple wide proof boxes. The key features of these models include the patented air flow system, easy-access heat and humidity system, internally mounted, and the field reversible door. The eye-level control panel has options to set heat and humidity as well as four independent timers. They are also made of stainless steel, and the modular panel construction comes with cam lock attachment. Their defining specifications include:

  • Field assembly- shipped compact
  • Open floor- no ramp required
  • 99.5” overall height to match rack oven

The company’s representative recommends a flexible combined solution: “The Baxter Retarder/Proofer is an excellent way to maximize square footage and add flexibility to production scheduling for small bakeries, large supermarkets or institutions. Our space-saving combination eliminates the need for additional equipment by combining all the features of a proofing cabinet and retarder in one unit. For space-saving equipment, it offers surprising depth. Every width we offer is available in five depths. We include four independent rack timers, so you can simultaneously proof products that require varying times at once. Single-width comes with a field-reversible door that can be hinged on the right or left and switched on site. Double-width models have doors that swing from the outside corners, with no center jamb to limit loading of racks.

Models include single, double and triple wide configurations which accommodate end or side load oven racks.” They come with the same set of key features as the proofers; in addition, the control panel can adjust retarding temperatures, and it has a programmable 24-hour timer for one or seven-day cycle. This equipment is 99.5” overall height, to match the rack oven, explains Bridges.

In what manufacturing circumstances should a certain equipment range be chosen over another? “Our specific proofer/retarder models support a variety of yeast dough production in stationary settings,” she tells us. These models support all stages of proofing and retarding: “We offer flexibility of programming, from retarding through the final stages of proofing by allowing the customer to choose the optimum settings controlling temperature and humidity levels.”

Read more in our print magazine Asia Pacific Baker & Biscuit (Autumn 2017)!

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