Author Topic: starters - proofers  (Read 6688 times)

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Offline artigiano

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starters - proofers
« on: October 16, 2008, 11:42:11 PM »
Hi everyone,

I am wondering how important proofers are with these starters?  Is everyone using a proofer as Ed Wood suggests?  I have the Camoldi and Ischia ready to activate and want to make sure I do it correctly.  If proofers are strongly recommended, how can I do this as structuraley safe from fire hazard as possible?  I am wondering different options so I can make a decision with some direction to learn about starters now.

thanks,
Al


Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: starters - proofers
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2008, 03:34:45 AM »
Al,

I did make a proofer box from a styrofoam cooler as described by Ed for my first activations. I have a kitchen oven with a "proof" setting (85F), but didn't want to tie it up for the week or more needed for activation. I have since acquired a ThermoKool MR-138 which would be be better since it both heats and cools. Others have described using incubator chambers for the same purpose.

Regardless, the better you can keep the temperature in the specified range, the less likely you will be to experience contamination. However many people, including myself, on this forum have had to go through the washing steps in spite of carefully following the instructions.

Bill/SFNM
   

Offline andreguidon

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Re: starters - proofers
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2008, 09:29:24 AM »
ive just purchased the Italian cultures too.... but iam trying too find something like the thermokool here in Brazil..... reading posts about the Italian cultures, ive notice the everyone is very careful.... 
"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." Leonardo da Vinci

Offline anton-luigi

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Re: starters - proofers
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2008, 09:53:02 AM »
I dont know,  for activation, the proofing box per Ed Wood's directions works fabulously.  I used the top of the cooler as a bottom,  cut a hole through it to fish the wire through.  Placed the Edison socket on top of the hole to keep the connections free.  I then duct taped it down to the top to keep it in place.  I cut a section out of the side of the cooler and duct taped a piece of clear lexan over it for visualizing the jars within the box.  I used a meat thermometer which I plunged directly through the side to sit squarely in the middle of the chamber. 

Offline artigiano

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Re: starters - proofers
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2008, 07:21:10 PM »
How is the heat controlled?  Do the lamps just generally give off the correct amount of heat needed?  Is there a way to adjust the temp inside the proofing box?  Do many of you also use the proofers to rise their dough in this controlled environment?

thanks,
Al

Offline sourdough girl

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Re: starters - proofers
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2008, 08:50:34 PM »
How is the heat controlled?  Do the lamps just generally give off the correct amount of heat needed?  Is there a way to adjust the temp inside the proofing box?  Do many of you also use the proofers to rise their dough in this controlled environment?

thanks,
Al

Al,

Some good questions...
When I bought my first starters from sourdo.com, DH built me a proof box per Ed Wood's instructions, but instead of styrofoam, it's a Coleman hard-sided cooler.  He put a lightbulb inside, with a rheostat on the cord and also drilled a hole in the lid and put an analog stem thermometer into it.  Works like a champ.  With the rheostat and thermometer (which can be calibrated for accuracy), I can control the heat pretty well... I use it for proofing doughs because, like Bill said, I don't want to tie up my oven's proof setting for long periods of time.  I also use it for making yogurt because the max temp is 110o F in the winter, so it's perfect for that application as well.

A good investment, with multiple applications, that I use regularly!

~sd
Never trust a skinny cook!

Online Pete-zza

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Re: starters - proofers
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2008, 09:03:58 PM »
Al,

I, too, made a proofing box along the lines described by Ed Wood and described and showed it at Reply 6 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,403.msg4887.html#msg4887. I subsequently upgraded the proofing box to include a "window", as shown at Reply 69 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,5762.msg49752/topicseen.html#msg49752.

Peter

Offline anton-luigi

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Re: starters - proofers
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2008, 10:03:48 PM »
How is the heat controlled?  Do the lamps just generally give off the correct amount of heat needed?  Is there a way to adjust the temp inside the proofing box?  Do many of you also use the proofers to rise their dough in this controlled environment?

thanks,
Al
All you have to do is wire up a simple dimmer switch in between the plug and the edison plate,  that allows you to vary the light source,  which varies the temperature.  I'll use it to proof my preferments,  as well as for replenishing the culture after a feeding.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2008, 10:06:22 PM by anton-luigi »

Offline sourdough girl

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Re: starters - proofers
« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2008, 10:18:01 PM »
Yup, rheostat = dimmer switch.  Works perfectly to control the temp in the proof-box.  I recommend a hard-sided cooler for longevity...  I use mine OFTEN!

~sd
Never trust a skinny cook!

Offline artigiano

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Re: starters - proofers
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2008, 12:43:59 AM »
From my understanding I need: 1 light bulb with the plate connected to a dimmer that is placed in an upside down styrofoam cooler or coleman cooler with a meat thermometer to see what the temp is.  Proofers are a new thing to me so I am trying to understand the overall uses and concept other than activating the starters I have.  Are they used for controlled dough rising as well?  I thought most people just adjust variables to coincide with the temperatures of that given day such as adjusting yeast or starter amounts, fermantation times, salt amount.  Sourdough girl, what other applications do you use your proofer for?  Anton do you have any photos of your proofer?  Also, nice work Peter, I had a feeling you would have built yourself one. 

thanks,
Al


Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: starters - proofers
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2008, 03:05:15 AM »
Are they used for controlled dough rising as well?  I thought most people just adjust variables to coincide with the temperatures of that given day such as adjusting yeast or starter amounts, fermantation times, salt amount. 

Al,

Yes, I use mine all the time for fermenting/proofing of breads. If you can control the temperature, you can tweak the other variables in a controlled way to produce better and reproducible results. When it comes to natural starters, temperature has a powerful effect on flavor and leavening.

Bill/SFNM


Online Pete-zza

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Re: starters - proofers
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2008, 11:47:43 AM »
I thought most people just adjust variables to coincide with the temperatures of that given day such as adjusting yeast or starter amounts, fermantation times, salt amount. 

Al,

That is something that you would do if you did not have a proofing unit of some kind, either a home-make unit like we have been discussing or a ThermoKool or equivalent unit. I use my proofing box when I need temperatures above my room temperature. The proofing box can't cool things to below room temperature. You would need a ThermoKool or equivalent unit to do that. One of my best uses of my homemade proofing box is to warm up very low hydration doughs to make them easier to roll out to make cracker-style pizzas, such as described, for example, at Reply 16 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,5762.msg49138.html#msg49138. I don't sense from your writings that you are into cracker-style pizzas but the proofing box is perfect for that application.

BTW, a meat thermometer may work with a proofing box but I use an old analog instant read thermometer with my proofing box.

Peter

Offline anton-luigi

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Re: starters - proofers
« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2008, 01:13:55 PM »
I hesitate to post these pics.  While my proofer is functional,  it is not pretty.  And it is sitting on top of my messy guitar workbench at the moment.  I dont have pics of the dimmer control,  as it is mounted up and away from the proofer.   


http://i110.photobucket.com/albums/n98/almightycrunch/proofer004.jpg
http://i110.photobucket.com/albums/n98/almightycrunch/proofer003.jpg
http://i110.photobucket.com/albums/n98/almightycrunch/proofer002.jpg

Offline artigiano

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Re: starters - proofers
« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2008, 01:16:11 PM »
My only concern is that if  I have some parties where I make around 25 dough balls the proofer will be too small so it will probably only be applicable to small batches and the starter activations.  I have been thinking about making bread as well with the starters and using the proofer for that dough would probably work well.

Offline anton-luigi

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Re: starters - proofers
« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2008, 01:17:06 PM »
there is not a tremendous amount of room in mine,   that is for sure.

Wow,  25 pies is a lot of work!!!!
« Last Edit: October 18, 2008, 01:19:28 PM by anton-luigi »

Offline artigiano

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Re: starters - proofers
« Reply #15 on: October 18, 2008, 01:48:43 PM »
I really appreciate the pics!

Offline anton-luigi

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Re: starters - proofers
« Reply #16 on: October 18, 2008, 03:35:19 PM »
I suppose there would be another way of getting the light source in there to maximize the available space, but this works for me like it is.  The plate could be mounted on the side of the cooler to open up the floor space,  but the weight would be an issue here,  as it is quite a heavy porcelain base. 

Offline sourdough girl

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Re: starters - proofers
« Reply #17 on: October 18, 2008, 04:51:56 PM »
Since my Coleman cooler is quite a bit larger than most styrofoam coolers and since I use a smaller flame-shaped chandelier bulb instead of a full size bulb, I have a lot of space in my proof box.  I'm sure I could easily fit 25 dough balls for proofing since there is also a ridge about 2" down from the top edge (lid is domed, adding more space) and I have a sheet pan that just fits on that ledge, as does my wooden peel. 

Also, DH used a light-weight plastic mount for the light bulb, which could help solve the weight issue for the styrofoam cooler.

Al, I use my proofer for starters, bread doughs, pizza doughs and yogurt making.  Not only do I make a lot of bread and pizza, but I also make a lot of yogurt because I use it in place of sour cream (always!) and I also make cheese out of it, so the proofer gets a lot of use!

Hope that helps!

~sd
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Offline artigiano

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Re: starters - proofers
« Reply #18 on: October 21, 2008, 11:36:48 PM »
Yes it does help!

thanks everyone,

Al

Offline artigiano

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Re: starters - proofers
« Reply #19 on: October 24, 2008, 11:54:59 PM »
I made the proofer and decided to activate the Ischia first.  Proofer works great and temp doesn't fluctuate!


 

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