Author Topic: proofing box????  (Read 19122 times)

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Offline Pizzaholic

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proofing box????
« on: May 28, 2004, 11:19:03 AM »
Thought all you Tim the tool man out there might like my idea for a new proofing box HA ;D ;D

http://store.yahoo.com/usappliance/mcmanegasdrc.html

Just gotta convince the wife that it is a multi purpose thing
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Les

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Re:proofing box????
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2004, 09:58:07 PM »
I would love to know what the purpose of the proofing box is. . . well, actually, how it contributes to a better pizza.

A possibly related question.  Does it help to let pizza dough sit overnite?

Offline Steve

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Re:proofing box????
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2004, 09:04:44 AM »
A proofing box provides an environment which is at the perfect temperature and humidity to promote yeast growth thus giving your dough a good rise.
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Offline Pizzaholic

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Re:proofing box????
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2004, 09:30:04 AM »
Les
YES
Let your dough ferment overnite in the fridge, it gives the dough a great taste, closer to the pizzaria flavors.
There is a lot of information on this topic right here on the site. Another resource is the book that most everyone refers to called American Pie, by Peter Reinhart. He also wrote a bunch of other books, I have the Bread Bakers Apprentice which goes into detail on the fermentation process that occurs when making bread dough/pizza dough. Great books to have if you do a considerable amount of this kind of cooking.
Pizzaholic

Les

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Re:proofing box????
« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2004, 12:12:29 PM »
Les
YES
Let your dough ferment overnite in the fridge, it gives the dough a great taste, closer to the pizzaria flavors.
There is a lot of information on this topic right here on the site. Another resource is the book that most everyone refers to called American Pie, by Peter Reinhart. He also wrote a bunch of other books, I have the Bread Bakers Apprentice which goes into detail on the fermentation process that occurs when making bread dough/pizza dough. Great books to have if you do a considerable amount of this kind of cooking.
Pizzaholic

Thank you very much.  I will be investing in both the proofing box and Reinhart's books.  

BTW, I am thrilled to find this site.  I finally have equipment that allows me to make real pizza, and now I am eager for all the tips I can get.

Offline Steve

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Re:proofing box????
« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2004, 12:24:13 PM »
Les, please join the forum (register)... it's free!  :)
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Offline Pete-zza

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Re:proofing box????
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2004, 03:32:49 PM »
On a couple occasions I have mentioned in passing about an inexpensive "proofing box" that I put together to help a dough to rise, especially in cooler climates or as cooler weather approaches. The proofing box is constructed from components readily available from places like Home Depot and Lowe's.  This is one of those instances where a photo (below) is helpful.  

The proofing box can be constructed for less than $15 in parts from the following components: a standard, small or medium size inexpensive Styrofoam cooler (the lid is generally not necessary but it can be used as a base for holding a container with dough that is to rise); a lightbulb; a porcelain or ceramic lightbulb socket; an ordinary light dimmer switch; and a section of electrical cord (two-wire) with a plug, all connected together in series electrically.  A good choice for the lightbulb is a 25-watt flame-tip auradescent or iridescent lightbulb, but other 25-watt decorater-style lightbulbs will also work.  With the possible exception of the Styrofoam cooler, which can be found in season in almost all supermarkets, building supply companies such as Home Depot and Lowe's sell all of the other components for the above proofing box design.

To assemble the various proofing box components, all that is required is to turn the Styrofoam cooler upside down and make a first hole in the center of the bottom of the cooler for receiving the lightbulb socket and a second, adjacent opening spaced a couple of inches or so from the first opening for receiving the plastic body of the dimmer switch.  Then connect the electrical cord in series electrically with the lamp in its socket and the dimmer switch.  As indicated in the photo, I cover all exposed metal surfaces with duct tape, which I also use to firmly secure the parts to the cooler.  

To use the proofing box, simply place the upside-down proofing box over the bowl or other container with the dough in it that is to rise.  It will be easy to control the proofing box temperature by way of the rotatable knob of the dimmer switch (which is just a variable-resistance device), but it is important that you not use rise (proofing) temperatures that are too high.  A temperature of around 75 degrees F is considered a good  temperature for proofing pizza dough.  The dough will rise faster with higher temperatures, of course, but fast risings don't necessarily produce better pizza doughs and, consequently, better pizzas.  To measure the temperature of the proofing box when in use, I suggest the use of an instant-read thermometer.   Just poke a small hole in one side of the Styrofoam cooler (as shown in the photo) and insert the stem of the thermometer.  

An added side benefit to the proofing box is that it can also be used to proof doughs for making breads, particularly where the bread recipes (such as many sourdough recipes) call for higher proofing temperatures.  With the proofing box described above, I have been able to achieve proofing temperatures ranging from room temperature to around 120 degrees F (the temperature I have used to make a "last minute" pizza following the "last minute" recipe previously posted).

Peter



Offline Steve

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Re:proofing box????
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2004, 08:22:39 AM »
You're hard core!!  :o

Don't forget, most professional proofing boxes also introduce humidity (steam) into the compartment to aid in proofing.
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Offline Pete-zza

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Re:proofing box????
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2004, 10:49:30 AM »
Steve,

The idea originally came from a book on sourdough, and I only extended it to the pizza universe, as another tool to have in the arsenal.   I made one last New Year's Eve to help proof some dough in a cold Massachusetts kitchen and got some funny looks from the guests when I dragged the thing out to use it.  They looked at me as though I was a mad scientist ;D.  However, they didn't complain about the pizzas that I made using the dough out of the proofing box.  

I am aware that professional equipment also adds humidity and I tried spraying a little bit of water into the dough bowl, on the sides, but I can't say that I noticed any difference.  You are good at coming up with unorthodox but useful solutions to problems, so maybe you have some ideas about how to introduce moisture into the proofing box without electrocuting anyone.

Peter

Offline Foccaciaman

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Re:proofing box????
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2004, 11:39:13 AM »
I have a quick solution to your moisture problem.

This comes from my mother.
If she felt that conditions were too dry in here bedroom while she slept, she would simply dampen a bath towel and drape it over the end of the bed. Through the evening releasing its moisture into the closed room.
Morning would come and the towel would be dry.
I would say " if you think its that dry, just use your damn humidifier"
"Na, this is easier" she would reply.
Such is mothers from the old school. :)

So my suggestion is that you introduce a small papertowel or washcloth into the box. Making sure that it is suspended in someway (perhaps a pencil stuck into the foam) so that the air may circulate around it.

It will obviously take some trial and error to obtain the proper level of moisture. But as your proofing box is something that  Emeril MacGuyver would build. It seems that this may be an appropriate solution;D
I hope this can work for you.... ;D ;D
« Last Edit: September 09, 2004, 11:40:25 AM by Foccaciaman »
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Offline Pete-zza

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Re:proofing box????
« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2004, 01:13:18 PM »
Thanks, Foccacciaman.  I think what you suggest or a variation may work.

Sometimes when I use the proofing box, I put the dough ball in the bowl without oiling the dough first.  Then I take one of those freebie shower caps with the elasticized rubber bands that the hotels give to guests and snugly cover the bowl.  To date, I have avoided leaving the bowl uncovered for fear that the dough would form a crust, which would impede the rising of the dough (not to mention that a crusted dough is not itself a good idea).  

Drawing on your suggestion, if I take a damp towel and drape it over the bowl (maybe I will have to clip it to the bowl--which should be easy to do) and then take the shower cap and put that over the towel and the top of the bowl, I would think that the heat in the proofing box would be sufficient to create some moisture inside the bowl through the evaporation of the water in the towel, and the shower cap would most likely prevent or minimize the escape of the moisture outside of the bowl.  And since the dough is not oiled, there would be no barrier to penetration of the dough by the moisture.  I might have to crank up the temperature of the box somewhat to compensate for the temperature-lowering effect of the dampened towel, but that would not be a real problem.   As an added MacGuyver improvisation, I could then take a flexible insulated metal tube or probe and run it from the inside of the bowl to the opening in the Styrofoam cooler where I normally insert the instant read thermometer and have a more accurate reading of the temperature inside of the bowl, and control it as required through the dimmer switch unit.

Thanks again, Foccaciaman.

Peter
« Last Edit: September 09, 2004, 01:17:30 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline Foccaciaman

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Re:proofing box????
« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2004, 04:36:37 PM »
Technically I guess I have been doing a variation on this for a long time when I do short rises with my doughs. I used to use a damp kitchen towel on the bowl and put it in the oven with the light on for a few hours.

Also on the topic of crust on the dough, there are some recipes that actually call for this to happen. You can just peel the crust off afterword.
This will of course change the taste of the dough. It is worth a try for the variation it taste. :)

Let us know of any taste differences that you may notice.

Actually I just thought of something else you should do, should you try and use a damp towel.
Weigh the damp towel prior to proofing to see how much has evaporated so as to further evaluate if it successfully adds much moisture to your control space.
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Offline Pete-zza

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Re:proofing box????
« Reply #12 on: September 09, 2004, 05:37:36 PM »
Foccaciaman,

Weighing the damp cloth before and after is a great idea.  Since I weigh the dough also before it goes into the bowl I will be able to weigh it again after it comes out of the bowl to see if there is any weight gain.   It will be interesting to see if the two deltas are close, or whether there are other losses within the proofing box.

Peter

Offline Pete-zza

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Re:proofing box????
« Reply #13 on: September 10, 2004, 10:37:27 PM »
I decided today to test out some of the principles offered up by Foccaciaman on how I might introduce moisture and humidity into my proofing box.  I usually don't have a need to use the proofing box during Texas summers, since my normal room temperature is plenty enough warm to rise any dough.  But, since Foccaciaman piqued my interest and curiosity with his tantalizing and provocative theories on quantum physics ;D, I decided to devise an experiment that might prove out Foccaciaman's theories while producing a dough that I could actually use to make an edible pizza.

I decided to use a 50/50 mix of 00 and KA Sir Lancelot flours, about a half-teaspoon of active dry yeast (proofed in about 1 T. of warm water), a little bit of salt, and the remaining water (with about a 60% hydration value) at about 70 degrees F.  I figured that a dough made from these ingredients and the cool water (and no added sugar) wouldn't rise too fast and would allow me to count on a single rise of about 6-7 hours before I could use the dough to make a pizza.  

After I processed the dough in my stand mixer, I weighed the dough (15.35 ounces) and put it into a plastic bowl.  I then took a small, dry towel, weighed it (0.95 ounces), dampened it with tap water, weighed it again (3.35 ounces), draped it over the bowl, secured it to the edges of the bowl, and covered everything with a plastic shower cap with a rubberized band.  I then placed a length of insulated wire with a few inches of exposed copper at one end into the bowl and passed the other end of the wire, also with a few inches of exposed copper, through the opening in the side of the proofing box where I normally insert the stem of the instant read thermometer.  I connected that end to the probe of the thermometer.  

I turned on the dimmer switch to establish a proofing temperature of about 82-84 degrees F, with the objective of keeping the temperature fairly constant for the several hours rise of the dough (I didn't want the dough to blow).  I had made up my mind that I wasn't going to open the proofing box for the next 6 hours, because I didn't want any of the moisture in the box to escape or for the temperature to drop.  I somehow was able to contain my enthusiasm.  From time to time, I would play around with the thermometer to see if it was measuring temperatures correctly (which it appeared to be doing), but that was about it.  

At the end of the 6-hour period, I opened up the proofing box with the same anticipation and excitement of opening up gifts on Xmas morning and removed everything from the bowl to observe the dough.  I had no idea of what to expect, except to say that I thought the dough ball would still look like a dough ball but bigger.  What I found was a flat, wet, flaccid, bubbling, sinking and sticky mass (mess may be more accurate) of dough.  Before allowing a few minutes to pass before I would panic and bring the neighbors running with my screams, I decided what was most important to the experiment at this point was to keep my wits about me and reweigh the damp towel (3.15 ounces) and the dough mass (15.10 ounces) before those measuments would be forever lost to the ages.  

When I looked at the before and after measurements, the differences said that I had lost 0.20 ounces of water from the towel and that I had also lost 0.25 ounces from the dough.   I could understand the loss of water from the towel, but not the dough, unless one theorized that part of the water in the dough, which contributes to the total weight of the dough, somehow had left the dough and gone into the ethers somewhere, much like what happens, I suppose, when one goes into a steam sauna.  But that didn't explain why the dough was moist, limp and shapeless (although, I guess, some people coming out of a sauna look like that too).  And I still don't have a plausible explanation.  I invite Foccaciaman to consult with his colleagues in the quantum physics community on possible explanations and the preparation of a white paper on the phenomena I observed ;D.

Not to be deterred or discouraged, I kneaded the wet dough mass gently, and saw that it was alive and offering up some promise of a successful ending.  The dough tightened--without having to add any additional flour--and returned to pretty much normal form, smoothness and texture.  While I was readying the sauce and toppings, which I had deferred pending a comprehensive clinical review of the dough situation, I let the dough ball sit in the bowl for about a half hour to recover from my many thoughtless expletives.  When it came time for shaping, it handled beautifully, from an extensibility and elasticity standpoint, and I was able to easily stretch it to fit a 16-inch pizza screen.  I couldn't have asked for a better dough.  I dressed the dough round and baked the pizza.   There was little to fault with the dough and the resultant crust.  It was better than the last one made with basically the same dough formulation.  The crust was crunchy and chewy at the same time, it had nice browning on the rim and bottom, and it had the flexibility characteristic of a Neapolitan style pizza.  

I still can't fully explain what the physics is that guided my pizza dough to a successful conclusion but one thing I do know:  It didn't hurt the dough, and quite likely helped it.  In due course, I will ponder the results more carefully to see how I might change the experiment the next time.  In the meantime, I am planning to put Dr. Foccaciaman's name in for a Nobel prize for his innovative work in Pizza Quantum Physics, to be shared with his mother if he is really a good son ;D ;D.

Peter

« Last Edit: September 10, 2004, 11:00:27 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline Foccaciaman

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Re:proofing box????
« Reply #14 on: September 11, 2004, 01:17:09 AM »
I think that it was very interesting results . I have not had much time to ponder them yet. Besides it is very late and I am overmedicated as usual. (the wife lost our new puppy last week so I searched with flashlight in hand for hours, until of course I sprained my ankle. So they prescribed some percocet to go along with the other 15 medications I take every freaking day) Makes cooking fun though. But I never remember the new recipes . I have guests coming tommorow for dinner and no menu planned and these pain pills working in conjunction with my other meds leave me quite flakey. The wife thinks its funny but she will see how funny it is when I forget what I am doing and roll the new dog up in a manicotti with a little marinara sauce tommorrow. ;D

Sorry just rambling on and on. I think Pete, that the next step will have to be dough weighed prrior and after with no moisture added.
I would have to believe under the same control circumstances that you will lose twice the amount of moisture from the dough. I would hope you would. If you don't, then the #'s from the first test are really confusing.

Either way, I feel that the introduction of moisture is something that we should definately be looking into further.
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Offline Pete-zza

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Re:proofing box????
« Reply #15 on: September 11, 2004, 12:24:57 PM »
Foccaciaman,

I believe you are right.  It would be a good idea to take "before" and "after" weight measurements without any moisture added.   Under normal circumstances, I weigh the dough after it has been fully kneaded.  After that, it doesn't matter much what the dough weighs, since it doesn't come into play in whatever I do to it thereafter, except possibly for dough scaling purposes.  I have never done an "after" reading for any dough I have put into the proofing box because my main concern was to get dough to rise fast(er), not the weight of the dough.

As I thought about the experiment some more this morning, I think I actually created a mini-sauna in the dough bowl.  The small towel I used was wet but not soaking wet.  I had wrung out a good part of the water from the towel before putting it on top of and securing it to the bowl, and then covering everything with the shower cap so as to provide a reasonably tight seal.   FYI, when I checked my notes this morning, I saw that I had measured the temperatures of the dough and the towel after I removed the towel from the dough bowl.  The temperature of the dough was 88 degrees F, and the towel temperature was 78 degrees F.  I haven't yet figured out what that means.  

In any event, I might be inclined next time to use only a lightly dampened towel to see whether that is an improvement.   And I might use a different container--one with a snap-on lid that I can snap onto the container with a damp towel in between.  

As I indicated, as horrific as the dough looked when I removed the towel, it came back to form with a little hand kneading on a very lightly floured work surface, with just enough bench flour to keep the dough from sticking to my hands and the work surface (less than a teaspoon).   Based on the final results, I am even thinking of using the damp towel approach in the proofing box in all those cases where I want a long rise time (say, 6-10 hours) outside of the refrigerator, especially where I am using a small amount of yeast (as little as 1/8th teaspoon, even with a high-gluten flour).   The reason would be because of the addition of moisture, not temperature considerations per se, although I would try to keep the temperature within the bowl within normal range (around 80-85 degrees F) so as not to overly accelerate the rising of the dough.   Under these circumstances, someone could start the dough in the morning, put it into the "enhanced" proofing box, go to work, and finish the pizza after returning home later in the day.  Yesterday's experiment showed that the use of the proofing box is not limited only to jacking up temperatures to make pizzas within an hour from start to finish.   It can be used under more normal circumstances, and especially so as fall and winter approach with their lower temperatures (think Minnesota ;D).  

I hope that your day and your dinner plans go well.  Something tells me that an old pro like you, with all your pizza and cooking experience and knowledge, will be operating on auto-pilot and produce your usual outstanding meal ;D ;D.

Peter
« Last Edit: September 11, 2004, 12:50:24 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline Pete-zza

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Re:proofing box????
« Reply #16 on: September 14, 2004, 09:18:27 PM »
I decided today to conduct a follow-on proofing box experiment to the one I conducted last week in which I sought to introduce moisture and humidity to a dough made from Delverde 00 flour and King Arthur Sir Lancelot high-gluten flour.  This time, however, I decided not to intentionally add any moisture or humidity.  The objective was to compare the results of the two experiments to determine what effect, if any, the addition of moisture and humidity to the dough has on the end product.

Today's experiment attempted to follow as closely as possible all the ingredients and processing steps I used the first time around.  The exact same ingredients, weights and temperatures were used except that I used a water temperature that was 3 degrees less than the last time--to compensate for small temperature changes since the first experiment.  I also tried to follow as exactly as I could the mix and knead times and settings of my stand mixer (which I had carefully recorded in my notes for the first experiment).  The weight of the dough ball coming off the dough hook was 15.35 ounces, and its temperature was 82 degrees F--exactly the same as in the first experiment.  I put the dough ball into the same container I used in the first experiment and covered the container with the same shower cap.  I even weighed the shower cap (0.15 ounce) to see if its weight would change due to moisture condensing on the inside of the cap.  

I kept the temperature of the proofing box in the range of 82-84 degrees F, for a period of about 6 hours.  At the end of the 6-hour period, the first thing I did was to take the temperature of the dough, weigh it again and weigh the shower cap again.  There was no change in the weight of the shower cap (and no noticeable moisture condensation) but, as in the previous experiment, the dough ball lost 0.25 ounce.  Its temperature coming out of the proofing box was 88 degrees F--exactly the same as in the first experiment.  

As for the dough itself, it rose considerably but it was not a round smooth ball as I would have again expected.  It was soft, somewhat flat, and a bit moist with dimples, but not nearly as messy and wet as the dough of the first experiment that had been subjected to the moisture and humidity from the damp towel.  The dough was sticky to the touch but it needed no added flour whatsoever, not even bench flour, to be able to work it.  After letting the dough rest for a while as I readied the toppings, I proceeded to shape the dough ball into a pizza round.  The dough pretty much complied with my efforts, although it seemed a little bit more elastic than the dough ball of the first experiment.   I just let the dough rest for a minute or so and continued with the shaping.  I ended up with a 16-inch round on my 16-inch screen.  I used almost the identical toppings for this pizza as the last one (DOP San Marzano and fresh tomatoes, fresh fior di latte mozzarella cheese, provolone cheese, some Mexican oaxaca melting cheese, pepperoni on half with the rest Margherita, olive oil, fresh basil and freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese).  I even baked the pizza the same way as the first one--starting with baking the pizza on the screen and then slipping it onto a pre-heated (500-550 degrees F) pizza stone to provide additional browning on the crust bottom.

The finished tasted fine and was very flavorful, although the crust seemed a little bit softer and breadier than the last one and not quite as crusty, but still with most of the characteristics of a Neapolitan style pizza.  As between the two pizzas, I would pick the first one over the second one, purely as a spontaneous reaction.  However, to be certain that the results of the first experiment are reproducible and that the perceived advantages are real, I will have to repeat the first experiment again in some form.  Maybe next time I will use a container with a lid that I can snap onto the container with a damp towel in between.  

Peter  


Offline giotto

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Re:proofing box????
« Reply #17 on: September 15, 2004, 01:28:36 AM »
Pete-zza:

The plastic wrap that holds my dough weighs about the same as the weight in water that you lost (0.25 ounce).  I believe that the kneading you provided after uncovering its liquid form, combined with the way you handle the dough, has a great deal to do with the final texture you experienced.  I tend to find that the way the dough is handled is one of the most important steps in its final texture.  I have re-kneaded crusty dough within 3 hours after it was first mixed with excellent texture and chewy results 12 hours later.

Offline Pete-zza

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Re:proofing box????
« Reply #18 on: September 15, 2004, 12:19:04 PM »
Giotto,

I have seen and read about a lot of variations in how dough is handled, both during the dough formation process and as a dough is being prepared for baking.  In the proofing box experiments, I put the dough into the proofing box and left it alone for 6 hours straight.  There was no intermediate knockdown and no additional rise.  Because of the looseness of the dough, I had no choice but to knead it some to gather it together to be worked and shaped into a pizza round.  

Often, I will read that a risen dough should be handled gently so as not to remove the air and carbon dioxide in the dough and so as not to redistribute the relaxed gluten and toughen the dough ball again.  In other instances, I will read that it is OK to flatten the dough and slap it between your hands and against the work surface.   I tried a New York Times dough recipe using high-gluten flour a while back and it called for two knockdowns and reshapings between the kneading and forming stages.   And several rest periods, which I suspect was to help soften the gluten and render the dough more manageable.  I found that I had to use refrigeration to get the best results, even though the recipe didn't call for it.  

I suppose in the final analysis how you handle the dough depends on the type of dough and style of pizza you want to make.  I suspect, but don't have any empirical evidence, that a New York style dough or possibly a rolled-out cracker-crust dough can take rougher handling than a dough intended for a deep-dish pizza where it is sometimes recommended that the dough be left to rise in the pan for an hour or so before dressing so as to create a lighter or more cakelike effect.  

One of the things I like most about using the proofing box is that I believe that, at least with respect to a Neapolitan style dough or a DiFara type dough, I can get consistent and reproducible results, with or without the addition of humidity, so long as I weigh the major ingredients (flours and water) carefully, control water temperature, and control the proofing box temperature to be around 80 degrees F.   I will have to experiment sometime with a high-gluten flour to see if I can produce a decent New York style dough using the proofing box without having to use a period of refrigeration.  I think I would use the humidity addition approach.

Peter

Offline giotto

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Re:proofing box????
« Reply #19 on: September 16, 2004, 12:58:39 PM »
I performed a test with a digital machine and found that my dough lost no weight over 15 hours as long as it was enclosed in either a plastic produce bag or stainless steel container with plastic lid in my refrigerator compartment set to mid-moisture.  However, when the lid on the container was loose in the first hour, I did loose 1/10 of an oz.

Here's the test.  

- Dough was created with 1/2 tsp active yeast (proofed), little salt, sugar, drops of olive oil, 60% water, 20 oz of high gluten flour.  Rubbed outside with drops of olive oil before weighing it.

- It weighed 32.5 oz, temp 78.5 F, and immediately went into cold stainless steel container with lid only covering half to mimic cross stacking.  It's refrigerator compartment was set to low humidity.

- One hour later, dough temp had dropped a few degrees and it now weighed 32.4 oz.  Top of dough was a little bit drier; but shape was fine.

- I sliced it in half and made two 16.2 oz doughs.  After quickly reforming circles, I put one in a plastic produce bag, and the other back in stainless steel container covered with plastic lid.  Set humidity to medium in plastic refrigerator compartment.

- 16 hours later, both weighed their same weight, 16.2 oz. Temp was 51 degrees for both doughs.  Textures were the same as when the doughs went into refrigerator the 2nd time, with some nice bubbling effect starting to show from the little bit of handling to weigh the dough.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2004, 01:02:43 PM by giotto »