When you buy your favourite bread or pastry, you don’t think much about how it was made. A dough and an oven and that are that, you’d say, but the process is not so simple. Between mixing the dough with a spiral mixer and baking it in the oven, there are some important steps in between. 

One of those essential processes is dough proofing. Proofing or as most people know it ‘rising’ is a process that lets the dough reach a greater height and volume than it would if it’s directly put in the oven. Dough that has yeast needs to be proved before the baking stage. There are three ways to do this. You can cover the dough and let it rise at room temperature, you can put the pan of dough near a heat source to catalyze the process, or you can simply use a professional retarder proofer (a machine specially made to do this). 


If you own a pizzeria or bakery business where you make a lot of dough and you need to speed up the preparation time, it definitely pays off to get a bakery retarder and proofer. This type of machine is a special cabinet that allows you to adjust the temperature and humidity levels as needed. This way you to have complete control of the proofing process, and have the option to retard it and maintain the dough fresh to be used in a later time. 

Benefits

proofer retarder baking croissants
source: hospitalityhub.com.au

Using a retarder proofer cabinet has two main benefits. First of all, it gives you the flexibility to bake your dough whenever you want, and second, it can improve the flavour of the final product. 

Operational Flexibility

proofer retarder cakes
source: capitalref.com

Dough proofer retarder cabinets allow you to postpone the proofing process. These machines let you divide the production process into two phases: dough mixing and proofing baking. This would allow you to mix the dough and let your staff go home in the night shifts while the dough is proofed in the cabinet and becomes ready for baking the next morning. By not having to keep your staff on night shifts, you could require fewer employees.

What’s more, in addition to regarding the whole process, it can also speed it up. The whole process of making bread can often consume an entire day. You’ll have to mix the dough, wait for it to rise, shape it, wait for it rise again and then finally bake it. If a single loaf of bread takes about six hours, imagine how much you can manage to bake with the help of the retarder cabinet. 

These cabinets will also allow you to keep an amount of dough in stock, which can be used to bump up your production on peak days. Тhe prooving process causes less evaporation, so the dough will be moist and will rise more. This means you’ll need up to 50% less yeast, so you’ll be able to save on this as well. 

Organoleptic Properties 

A slower proofing process can lead to a smoother dough to the core of the product. So, by using the proofer you can also improve the organoleptic properties of your products. The taste and aroma will intensify (that isn’t always the case when you have fast and forced proofing). That being said, you can use this machine to add more flavour to your premium-grade products, like artisan bread.

How to Use a Retarder Proofer

proofer retarder baker chef
source: https://vanrooy.com.au

In the proofing process, the dough rises because of the chemical reactions caused by the enzymes mixed into it. The enzymes interact with the starches in the flour (they turn them into sugar). Next, the sugar turns into carbon dioxide. Once this process is finished, the retarder proofer machine is here to help. 

Most bakeries or successful pizza businesses use the retarder proofer cabinet at night. It can keep the dough below 4°C. At this temperature, the yeast fermentation slows down, and the production of carbon dioxide stop. Practically, it’s put on hold until the set programme begins (for a maximum of 72 hours). This is possible because of the precise control of temperature, humidity and time in a thermally-insulated environment that will let the fermentation begin only at the set time.

There are several stages of using the retarder proover machine. 

Blocking

The first stage starts when the dough is introduced. The temperature is usually set around 2°C or lower (the dough won’t react when placed in such a cold environment). Keeping the chamber this cold blocks some the fermentation. However, avoid setting the temperatures too low, otherwise, your dough will freeze and then you’ll have to wait for it to defrost.

Maintenance

This phase happens between blocking and proving. Maintenance, or the stage of conservation, requires a temperature of 2oC degrees. Since this is quite a low temperature, the dough won’t react, or in other words, it can be maintained up to 72 hours.

Fermentation

Avoid proofing your dough at temperatures that are higher than 30C because it would annul the effect of the retarded proofing process. The heat and humidity stage with temperatures higher than 22 and 28 C is known as the stage of fermentation. This is the stage when the dough rises. 

Sleepy

Once the dough is proved, it can go into the sleepy stage. The bread proving process slows down when the temperature reaches 14oC. At this stage, you should try to lower this temperature while also ensuring to set the right humidity level to maintain the dough. Don’t keep the product longer than two hours in this stage. The duration of the sleepy stage mainly depends on the dough composition and the overall process.