How Does a Proofer Oven Work?

A proofer oven works by controlling the temperature and humidity inside the oven, which allows dough to rise faster without drying out. The warmth and humidity of the oven causes yeast to activate and more carbon dioxide to be produced. These ovens are most often used in commercial bakeries.

Also called "proofing cabinets," proof boxes and proofers, these ovens keep the temperature around 100 degrees and the humidity around 85 percent. They come in various sizes, which are big enough to proof large amounts of dough at the same time.

Proofing is the actual technique of letting dough rise. Also known as proving or final fermentation, it occurs during the fermentation process. Determining whether the dough has risen the desired amount can be challenging. One method of determination is to poke the dough. If it springs back quickly, then the dough needs more proofing. Dough is overproofed when it develops very large bubbles that pop and form tunnels.

When a baker wants dough to rise slower, it is placed in a refrigerator or a refrigeration unit called a "retarder." The retarder is warmer than a refrigerator but cooler than a proofing oven. Bread proofed in a retarder has a sour taste.