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Step-by-Step: Thawing and Proofing

Thawing the Dough in a Cooler

Proofing is the stage between thawing and baking. Yeast in the dough grows and creates gases that develop flavor and causes the dough to rise. When thawing and proofing, remember that yeast needs time to develop; It does not like to be rushed and does not like extreme temperature changes.

Step 1: Pan out and cover the rack.

Set up the dough the night before on a bakery rack. Cover and place in the cooler overnight. A cover is very important! It prevents the dough from drying out and losing moisture. If the dough is left uncovered, the dough will dry out and form an unwanted skin on the outside.

Step 2: Make Sure Your Proof Box is Working.

As the proof box warms up, you should see and feel moisture on the floors and walls. Water droplets on the rack and steam escaping out of the door are both good indications that your proof box is working properly. You want to physically see the moisture in the box. If there’s no water, then there could be a calcium buildup in the water line or the filter may need to be cleaned/changed. The type of water your facilities have can also affect equipment and steam. Over time hard water buildup can block your water lines and this can also affect the bake. Equipment should be regularly maintained and serviced.

Step 3: Cooler times and temperatures.

Times and temperatures depend on many variables, including: location, humidity, room temperature, time of day, season, weather, elevation, equipment maintenance, product type and size, and expiration date. Time ranges from 10-14 hours, with 16 hours as a maximum not to be exceeded. The average temperature ranges from 37ºF to 42ºF. 

Step 4: Remove from the cooler.

In the cooler, dough will expand and proof slightly. Once it’s had its time in the cooler, and depending on the size of the thawed dough, proof times should be adjusted accordingly. So, if the dough expands more than expected in the cooler, then the proof time won’t need to be as long.


Proofing the Dough in a Proof Box

Step 1: Set Proof Box.

Start with your bakery’s suggested proof settings. If you don’t know what these are, start off with 80-85% humidity and 100-105ºF. 

Step 2: Analyze Thawed Dough.

First, proof time depends on how the dough performs in the cooler. Once the dough is removed from the cooler, check the following:

  1. Has the dough expanded significantly in the cooler? Reduce proofing time.
  2. Has the dough barely expanded significantly in the cooler? Increase proofing time.

Step 3: Let It Come to Room Temperature.

After thawing, let the dough warm to room temperature for 5 to 15 minutes so it can adjust to the conditions gradually.

Step 4: Adjust & Customize Settings.

If the above settings are not working, record and take notes to get accustomed to your proof box. Adjust humidity first, heat second, and gauge the time from there. 

Step 5: Adjust Proof Time.

Softer dough and product under 4 oz. proofs quickly, while more dense dough and heavier product takes longer. Start by setting your timer between 15-25 minutes. Keep checking back and adding time as needed, until the product is perfectly proofed. Guttenplan’s dough will increase in size 1 ½ to 2 times its frozen size.

Step 6: Watch Your Dough.

Set your timer early and keep an eye on the dough. You can always add more time. But, once the dough is over proofed there is no fixing it, so make sure you keep an eye on it!

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