What should I use to cover the rising bread dough?

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Whether you’ve just joined the ranks of pandemic bread makers or have been baking the odd loaf for a while, you’ve probably pondered how to cover your dough as it rises.

To prevent drying out the dough or producing an unsightly skin on one side, that enchanting but perplexing stage of the process requires the correct climate. Continue reading to learn why dough should be kept wet and which coverings work best.

What Should I Cover Bread Dough With While It’s Rising?

What Should I Cover Bread Dough With While It’s Rising?

While the bread dough is rising, wrap it with plastic wrap.It is customary to use a moist towel, which may dry out during lengthy rises. Plastic wrap is the greatest at keeping moisture in, but it’s a pricey, single-use material that’s terrible for the environment, so it’s not a perfect answer. Try a Tupperware, a Dutch Oven, a Slow Cooker, or even a shower cap draped over a bowl with a reusable container and cover!

Why Dough Needs to Stay Moist While it Rises

Dough that remains moist bakes light, airy, and full of holes, achieving the alveolar structure or open crumb that skilled bakers strive for.

Dried out dough produces crustier and denser bread. In reality, bakers’ special fermentation chambers maintain a humidity level of at least 75%, while proofers maintain a humidity level of 80% to keep the dough wet.

Wet dough is also more malleable, making it simpler for the dough to rise. That moisture pays off in the oven, where wet dough bounces up well, particularly around the top cuts a baker makes to enable steam to escape. These cuts are used to make the ears on sourdough loaves and other artisanal breads.

Of course, not all breads need (knead?) the consistency of ciabatta; many should be dry and crispy. The trick is not the existence of moisture, but how to regulate its amount.

Home baking recipes often instruct bakers to cover a loaf as it rises to manage the hydration level. These increases (there may be more than one) might take many hours.

What Kind of Cover to Use While Dough Rises

If you don’t have a fermentation chamber or a proofer with a hydrational level control (and let’s face it, most of us don’t), you can still keep your dough wet with a few simple home treatments.

The Traditional Towel

Home bread baking instructions used to instruct bakers to cover the loaf with a moist dish cloth. This approach is still effective, but a wet towel may tumble down and get sticky.

A towel, on the other hand, might dry up over time, leaving the dough vulnerable to drying.

That’s a (Plastic) Wrap

Plastic wrap is light and will not adhere to the dough (particularly if sprayed with oil beforehand). It will not dry out and will keep moisture in by forming a seal around a bowl or bread pan.

People who worry about using less plastic, on the other hand, will reject this option. It’s also a pricey one, since plastic wrap (particularly greasy plastic wrap) is seldom reused.

Shower Dough?

Some creative home bakers have proposed covering a bowl or rising bread dough with a plastic shower cap.

The elastic allows it to stretch and cling securely, and it may be reused if it does not come into contact with the dough (or if you don’t mind cleaning it). Just don’t mix your shower caps or your bread will smell like shampoo!

The Bread Basket

Even if you don’t have a fancy proving drawer, you may have some kitchen containers that may function as storage areas for your rising dough’s moisture.

A slow cooker or a big Dutch oven, for example, may handle a larger loaf while it rises.Once the dough has risen, some recipes call for baking straight within these containers.

Where? Tupperware.

Plastic storage containers now come in many forms and sizes, from small pots to massive tubs. If you opt to raise your dough in a Tupperware container, be sure to break a corner or open a vent to let the yeasty fumes to escape.

What a Dish!

Placing a plate over the top of a mixing bowl is probably the cheapest and simplest technique (since it is widely accessible). While it may be a bit of a balancing act, the plate works well as a cover to keep the moisture in and can be washed right after.

Some Covers Seem to Let More Air In and Out—Is that Important?

Only to the extent that it influences the yeast. Despite common perception, yeast does not need air to for bread to rise. Yeast may consume the sugars in flour in two ways: aerobically (with oxygen) or anaerobically (without oxygen).

This variation, however, may alter the flavor of the bread depending on the variety you make. Aerobic respiration yields carbon dioxide and water, while anaerobic respiration yields carbon dioxide and alcohol.

Can I Put the Covered Dough in the Fridge or the Oven?

Some bakers prefer to place the wrapped dough in the oven with the light on to keep a steady and regulated temperature, since temperatures in other sections of the kitchen might vary depending on the season. Just be careful not to turn on the heat by mistake!

If you wish to delay the rise, don’t put the wrapped dough in the fridge. Yeast work faster when it is warm and slower when it is cold. Of fact, some bakers utilize this to timing the rising, or even to freeze a loaf after the initial rise for subsequent baking.

Which of These Coverings Makes the Best Bread?

The answer depends on the sort of bread and the sophistication of your audience.

I’ve baked loaves with each of these coverings while the dough was rising and found no discernible difference in the end result. However, the judges on Bake Off may differ.

Conclusion to What Should I Cover Bread Dough With While It’s Rising?

While the dough is growing, you may cover it with anything from a moist towel to a Tupperware container or even a shower cap over the bowl.

Whatever technique you choose, the objective is to maintain the moisture level necessary by the recipe so that the bread bakes up with the appropriate mix of airy and crispy.

Frequently Asked Questions on What Should I Cover Bread Dough With While It’s Rising?

Why do you cover dough when rising?

Dough that remains moist bakes light, airy, and full of holes, achieving the alveolar structure or open crumb that skilled bakers strive for. Dried out dough produces crustier and denser bread.

What do I do if my bread dough dries out?

If your dough does acquire a dry skin, you may be able to knead the dry parts back into the dough by adding water. However, if the whole dough ball becomes dry, you should start anew.


Does dough need to be covered airtight to rise?

In general, yes, you should cover the dough as it rises. Covering the dough will provide a warm, wet environment for it to rise in. If the weather is chilly or dry, the dough will not rise as well as it should.

Can you cover rising bread with Saran Wrap?

To keep dough from drying out in the fridge, wrap it with plastic wrap. Wrapping also retains moisture, allowing the dough to rise properly.

Do you proof dough covered or uncovered?

When proving dough on the counter, cover it to prevent air from drying out the skin on the dough’s outside surface (skinning up). When proofing in the oven, we may substitute a jar of warm water. This raises the humidity in the improvised proof box, eliminating the need to cover the dough.

Where is the best place to proof dough?

A warm environment is ideal for allowing dough to rise. On a hot day, your counter will usually suffice. However, if your kitchen is chilly, your oven is a terrific spot to warm up. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 1-2 minutes, then turn it off.

Is metal or plastic bowl better for rising dough?

Stainless steel and wood are also excellent possibilities. Plastic will work as long as it is thick enough. Glass and ceramic may also be used, but they must be thick enough to withstand a pounding.

Is it OK to leave dough uncovered?

Covering your dough with a plastic bag prevents it from drying out and produces excellent results regardless of how your fridge works. If you must prove your dough uncovered for whatever reason, make sure your fridge doesn’t become too dry and that there aren’t any fans moving air that might cause the dough to dry out.

Is it OK to let dough rise too long?

“If the dough has risen for too long, it will feel fragile and may even collapse when poked,” Maggie warns. If this is the case, you may be able to save money by giving it a simple re-shape. More information on this remedy may be found in our blog post on salvaging overproofed dough.

Can I cover bread dough with lid?

When allowing (bread) dough to rise, the recipe always instructs you to cover it. I heard somewhere that you should cover it with a moist cloth. I’m seeing an increasing number of recipes that call for plastic wrap (also known as saran or cling wrap). The towel allows air to get through, while the wrap does not.

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