Proving Up the Proofing Window

In an attempt to improve upon last weekend’s sad loaf, I kept things simple this past weekend by sticking to my usual 70% bread flour 30% whole wheat, using the same organic sprouted red fife I’d used last weekend to keep things consistent. My goal with this bake was to try to prove up and highlight the difference in results from just a few hours difference in the overnight proof, going from overproofed to … more reasonably proofed. While my results were not perfect – I’m certain oven spring can be even better – they do still highlight the impact of just a couple of hours on a lengthy proofing window.

As I said, I kept things simple by sticking to the same recipe as last weekend with the exception that my schedule shifted slightly in an attempt to reduce the overnight proof by two to three hours. So instead of the usual proofing time, which has without my notice increased to almost 20 hours (!) in recent bakes, I trimmed the proofing time to 17 hours on the dot. As you can see, there was without a doubt an improvement with pronounced cragginess along the scored line.

Many recipes that I’ve followed recommend more of a 14-16 hour kind of timeline so my guess is that I can reduce this even further for an even greater improvement in oven spring. Even on this loaf the finger dent test showed a fairly quick spring-back which hints at a somewhat advanced proof – it should spring back slowly and not completely. As ever, the process is about incremental improvements. One of the things that is both nice and frustrating about bread baking is how minor changes can produce dramatically different results.

Have a good week!

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