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Proofing: A Critical and Delicate Stage

Proofing, the critical stage in breadmaking where the dough is allowed to rise, is often dismissed as a simple rest period for the dough before baking. However, in reality the dough is doing anything but “resting”. During proofing, yeast is busily converting the sugars (glucose) in the dough into energy for itself, 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. 

As the dough proofs, carbon dioxide bubbles form, giving structure to the dough that remains when the loaf is removed from the oven. These carbon dioxide bubbles are what separate leavened from unleavened bread; they are why a loaf of bread and a cracker have such different textures despite both beginning with flour and water. The addition of yeast, and the time to allow it to convert sugars to carbon dioxide, is what makes bread so addictively delicious.

Rising Again

In baking terms, proofing is the second rise in the baking process. The dough has already been allowed to rise once; the resulting carbon dioxide is why recipes will often instruct the baker to let the dough rise until it has doubled in size. After the dough is formed into its final shape, it is allowed to proof, or rise a second time, before baking. 

It sounds simple, but to make this happen the artisan or industrial baker requires specially designed proofing equipment that is necessary to obtain consistent results. 

Consistency, after all, is what the baker and the customer desire and, besides this, a well-designed proofer will increase profits for any bakery, as well as improving flavor and texture in the finished bread.

We take a look at Sveba Dahlen and Debag, two major manufacturers that produce proofing equipment, to see what advancements have been made in recent times.

You can read the rest of this article in the Spring Issue of Asia Pacific Baker & Biscuit magazine, which you can access by clicking here

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