Proofing. Isn’t this what we are all trying to figure out?

I talked about the Baker’s Mind in my last "How I’m Going to Learn" post. I’ve been learning so much from posts by @fullproofbaking and @nmuvu. Part of developing a Baker’s Mind is devising experiments to gain knowledge. It goes along with what @memoirsofabaker called Knowledge and Practice. We all need knowledge to practice the “right things.” And the more knowledge we gain, the more “right things” we find to practice.

I now take an aliquot at the end of my bulk fermentation and put it in an Aliquot Jar. During bench rest, I wait until I start to see the dough start to rise again. I figure that after all my cutting and scaling and preshaping that I should let my gluten relax and come together. Let time do its thing. This usually takes 1-2 hours depending on the ambient temperature.

I then shape my dough into bâtards and place them in bannetons covered in plastic bags. I then wait and let them proof. I first let the dough rise to a 50% increase which produced a large ear and a nice crumb (posted a few posts ago). I then tried a 60% increase (this post). My ear was a bit smaller and the crumb seemed more well fermented. I just took the covers off my prototype Challenger Bread Pan on loaves with a 70% increase. The ear peeled back more this time, and I can’t wait to see what it looks like inside. I’m not sure it can take more, but I’ll do 80% next time and see. I figure I’ll keep increasing until I fail and my loaf flattens out due to over fermentation.

One more thing I changed after listening to @fullproofbaking and @nmuvu. I turned my fridge down as far as it would go (around 33F). After my loaves hit the right increase, I put them in the fridge with my Aliquot Jar. They retard overnight (maybe 17 hours). In the morning, I look at my Aliquot Jar, and the dough is either at the same place or it even retracts just a bit. This tells me that most of my proofing was done at ambient temps completely under my control.

My hope is that through various experiments, I will start developing that Baker’s Mind. And if I can combine that with some Baker’s Hands, well…then I’ll be a Happy Baker even though I already am!