If you’re making your own bread, you are probably already aware that you have to set the dough aside and leave it to rise for a certain period. It needs to be in a bowl while it does this, so that the dough is supported and doesn’t tear itself apart – but what sort of bowl should you use?
The best type of bowl for dough to rise is a plastic or a stainless steel bowl. This is your best option for proving your dough in because both of these materials retain heat, which will help your dough to rise slightly more quickly than, for example, a ceramic bowl would. However, you can use bowls made from other materials if you prefer.
We’re going to use this article to find out more about what sort of bowl is best for proving bread dough.
What Sort Of Bowl Should You Prove Bread In?
If you want your bread to prove quickly, you probably want to choose a plastic or stainless steel bowl. These materials are both good at retaining heat, and that means they’ll encourage faster yeast activity, and faster rising. Your dough will therefore be ready to cook slightly sooner than if you use a material that doesn’t retain heat well.
Some people prefer to purchase tall buckets specifically designed for dough-rising. These are generally made of plastic, so they trap heat well, and their height also helps you to determine when the dough has doubled in size. They can be a good option, but they tend to be a dedicated tool, and you don’t actually need one.
If you’re working on a budget or your kitchen is too small for fancy gadgets, simply use a plastic or a stainless steel bowl, and watch for the size increase yourself.
You might be wondering whether you can use other materials if you don’t have either plastic or stainless steel. You certainly can; the dough will still rise, just a little more slowly. You can prove dough in:
The next question might be how much of an advantage you gain by using the right material. The simple answer is that you will probably notice a small improvement, but nothing significant.
Can You Let Dough Prove In A Mixer Bowl?
Rather than transferring the dough from your mixing bowl to another bowl to let it prove, it often makes more sense to just prove it in the mixing bowl. This reduces the amount of cleanup you need to do later.
However, there are a couple of things you should do before you leave the dough to rise. First, lift it out of the bowl, and then coat the bowl with a thin layer of oil. This will stop the dough from sticking, and make it easier to lift it out later.
Next, you need to make sure the dough is covered up. Place it back in the bowl, and then cover the top. You can use plastic wrap or a damp dish towel for this. This will prevent the outside of your dough from becoming leathery and dry, ensuring it has a good texture once it is baked.
If you really want to speed up the proving process and your mixing bowl is glass (so won’t retain the heat well), you can transfer the dough into another bowl. However, you’re not going to get a significant gain, and you will have to wash an additional bowl when you’ve finished baking.
Can You Prove Dough In Plastic?
There are different thoughts on this, but at the moment, it’s generally agreed that food-grade plastic is safe to prove bread in. Some people are concerned that plastic can leach chemicals into your food that may cause health issues in the long term, but most people feel that food-grade plastic is alright.
Plastic has the benefit of trapping heat against the dough and helping it to rise well. Dough-rising buckets are usually plastic, and they’re particularly useful if you’re making large batches of dough. Simply buy a big bucket, and you can let your dough prove in there, instead of having to split it into multiple containers.
Your dough should not react to plastic, and there shouldn’t be any issues with proving it in a plastic bowl. However, if you want to put your dough in a warm oven or a hot place to help it rise, you will need to check that it’s not hot enough to risk melting the plastic.
This probably won’t be an issue, but bear it in mind and be careful when warming plastic containers.
What Should You Avoid Proving Dough In?
It’s generally advised not to prove dough in an aluminum bowl. This is because in some cases, the dough can react with the aluminum. This usually only occurs if you are making an acidic dough such as sourdough, but it’s still worth being aware of.
Most bread doughs will be fine if proved in an aluminum bowl, but a lot of chefs prefer to avoid this anyway.
Can you use old plastic bowls?
You can, but if your plastic bowl has seen years of use and is scratched in places, your dough is more likely to stick to it. Try to use plastic containers that are in good condition, and oil them well before you leave the dough in them.
Should you put the bowl somewhere hot?
You want your bread dough to be somewhere warm, but not hot. The optimal proving temperature is between 75 and 78 degrees F.
Bread dough can be proved in almost any container, although plastic and stainless steel bowls will trap the heat and slightly increase the proving speed.