To the inexperienced bread baker, the task of getting your dough to rise correctly is very challenging since there are so many factors that can affect the rate at which it rises or whether it even rises at all.
Without knowing exactly what you’re doing, you’re likely to have doubts with the rise and potentially even become worried that it’s not rising.
A lot of people are under the impression that dough doesn’t rise when it’s not in a warm environment. This isn’t true. It’s just that the yeast’s activity increases in warmer environments and therefore speeds up the rise.
Dough is perfectly capable of rising in colder areas but it is just considerably slower. Believe it or not, this slow rise is actually better as it allows more complex flavors to develop in the dough.
As long as the yeast is active, dough will rise in colder temperature like when put into the fridge.
For this reason, your dough might not double in size in the time the recipe says, but this isn’t a problem. Simply wait a short while longer until you can see that it’s visibly doubled.
Best Places To Put Your Dough To Rise
When it comes to where to put your dough during its proof, you might be a little concerned as you’re not sure where it will rise best.
For the most effective rise, you want to think about the temperature and humidity around the dough. You want a warm area that’s around human body temperature and an environment that has a decent amount of moisture in the air.
A warm area can easily be found or made and it’s not difficult to get a humid environment either. For humidity, all you need to do is put the dough into a container with a tight seal. This seal will prevent any of the dough’s moisture from escaping and keep everything humid.
Assuming that you want a fast rise (1-2 hours), there are plenty of warm places to put your dough. Here are some places to think about as well as a place for a long, slow rise:
Electric Dough Proofer
I know, you probably don’t have one of these, but it’s the best option for the easiest, most consistent, and effective rise.
With an electric dough proofer, you can control the temperature and humidity inside the box to allow the dough to rise as slowly or quickly as you’d like.
It’s definitely something that’s worth picking up if you’re interested in making a lot of bread.
Keep in mind that this can be used for all sorts of other things too. Yoghurt. cheese, and crème fraiche can be made in it just to name a few things.
Another useful option for proofing is by using something that everyone owns. An oven is multi-purpose in the sense that it can be used to proof and bake your bread.
An oven can be turned on low to create a warm environment and some steam can be added to keep it humid if necessary.
I talk more about this further down.
When you’re in a pinch, you can always use your microwave to rise your dough. This one is very easy but it requires a little prep.
The idea behind this is you need to heat up water until it creates a good amount of steam and heats the air around it.
From here, you simply pop your dough into the microwave and allow it to rise until doubled in size.
I talk more about this further down.
Allowing your dough to proof in a warm room is the easiest option, but it isn’t always reasonable depending on where you are and what season it is.
If you’re lucky enough to either be in a warm climate or you have a decent central heating system, you’ll just be able to leave your dough out in a sealed container on your kitchen counter or wherever is warmest.
If you’re in a cold country and don’t use central heating then your dough isn’t going to rise very quickly like this.
In A Container Of Warm Water
By having two containers of different sizes, you can add some warm water to the larger container and put the smaller sealed container (with your dough) inside it so it gets a good amount of heat.
This method can work very well for a nice quick rise and it doesn’t require much effort.
If possible, seal both containers with a lid as a way to prevent heat loss and water getting into the dough container.
Next To A Heat Source
Try and find something that produces a good amount of heat and put your dough next to it.
Places that give off heat could be a radiator (not too hot or it may kill the yeast), on top of refrigeration, on top of your oven, etc.
Keep in mind that this method may lead to an uneven rise if the heat source is on one side of the dough, so you may need to rotate the container every so often.
A Warm Car
As weird as this one sounds, it does make sense.
If your house isn’t warm but your car is, what’s the problem with leaving it in there for an hour or two?
Sure, it may look a bit strange and be a little inconvenient, but it gets the job done and it doesn’t require much effort.
If you’re really stuck for options, don’t dismiss this one.
In The Fridge
Although it’s not warm, the fridge is a great place to put your dough if you’re not in a rush to proof it quickly.
The fridge is my favorite way to proof my dough when I don’t need to bake it. Sometimes I’ll leave the dough in the fridge for 24-72 hours before baking and it’s extremely tasty.
I highly recommend experimenting with this method. Just make sure to allow the dough to get to room temperature before trying to shape it.
A fridge proof is best during the initial rise. It is possible once shaped on the second rise, but you’re more likely to forget about it and let it overproof.
I talk more about this further down.
What Temperature Should Dough Rise At?
Although dough will rise in both cool and warm temperatures, we’ll be talking about what temperature is best to rise dough quickly and properly.
Using something that can keep the dough at a consistent and accurate temperature will be valuable for proofing the dough.
Dough rises most efficiently when at a temperature between 80-99°F (27-37°C). Keeping the dough in a slightly humid and draft-free area at this temperature will allow it to rise well without risking killing any yeast or slowing the proof. A proofing box is ideal for getting a reliable rise.
When following a recipe, the proofing time you see will be from dough that’s in this temperature range.
If you’re following a recipe and don’t have anywhere that’s as warm as this, you can still rise it at your room temperature and be patient as you’ll have to wait longer.
How Can I Make Dough Rise Faster?
Many people love the idea of being able to make fresh bread in just a couple of hours. Who wouldn’t want fresh bread with minimal effort and time?
For this reason, plenty of home bakers look for the fastest way to proof their bread. Here are some things that can help.
Dough can be risen faster by increasing the surrounding temperature slightly or by adding a few pinches of sugar when kneading. A higher temperature will cause the yeast to become more active and produce more gas. Sugar will provide the yeast with more food and allow it to produce gas faster.
These two tips can be a great help to those who struggle to prove their dough or just don’t like waiting for too long.
If you’re planning on baking and a lot of basic bread, these are useful, but not if you’re wanting to make bread with more complex flavors.
If you’re in pursuit of better bread overall, you’ll want to slow down the rise rather than increase it.
Can I Rise Dough In The Oven?
This method is likely the most common one used to proof dough. It’s recommended by so many people that I’d be surprised if you’d never heard of it before.
The oven can be a great place to rise your dough when you’re in a pinch. It’s draft-free and can be gently heated to creates a comfortable environment for the dough. Simply turn your oven on low for a few minutes until it’s just slightly warm, then turn it off and proof your dough in it.
You want to avoid allowing the oven to get too hot. By getting too hot, it may start to bake the dough and kill the yeast, so you need to be careful.
If you have the option, just turn the oven light on for a while until it gets slightly warm. Keep the light on throughout the proof to allow continuous heat to get to the dough.
Can I Rise Dough In The Microwave?
This method for rising dough isn’t all that common, but it’s still useful for those home bakers that don’t have many other reliable options.
It may sound odd to proof your dough in a microwave, but it does make sense. All you’re doing is creating appropriate conditions in a closed environment for your dough.
If you can make your microwave warm and humid, you’ll be able to rise dough in it. Heat up some very hot water and allow it to boil for a few minutes until it becomes humid and warm. Let it cool to a more gentle temperature and place your dough inside to rise as normal.
The problems you might face with this is an environment that gets too hot and you might struggle because of the fact that most microwaves are quite small.
Don’t stick your dough in if it’s still very steamy and too hot or you’ll end up disappointed with a ball of unrisen/partially risen dough.
You won’t be able to put large containers of dough in it, so you’re confined to one or maybe two standard loaves depending on the size of your microwave.
Can I Put Dough In The Fridge?
This can confuse most inexperienced bakers. Yes, dough does rise in cold temperatures.
Many people believe that dough can only rise in warm environements, but that’s only because commercial recipes make everyone believe that.
These 1-2 hour proofing times are ridiculously quick compared to bread that was made hundreds of years ago. Dry yeast and fast proofing times make decent bread, but it can be so much better.
Dough can rise in the fridge, but it does so very slowly. The colder temperature slows the yeast and allows more complex flavors to develop. Simply keep the dough in an airtight container and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. You may need to knock it back occasionally.
If you’ve never tried proofing your dough in the fridge, you need to. A longer rise will only improve the flavor and texture of your bread.
Large molecules break down into smaller, more flavorsome ones and gluten continues to develop during these cold rises.
Once you master simple bread recipes, try a cold rise and you’ll notice some tasty differences.