We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Bread Proofing?

By Henry Gaudet
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
DelightedCooking is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At DelightedCooking, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Bread proofing, or proving, is the final step in making leavened bread before the actual baking and during which shaped dough is allowed to rise one final time. After mixing ingredients and allowing the dough to rise, the baker will punch, knead and shape the dough before letting it rest during bread proofing. Some recipes, however, refer to any time the dough is allowed to rise, including the initial rise, as bread proofing.

Fermentation is responsible for causing bread to rise. When yeast is mixed with the flour and water, it begins to convert carbohydrates into simple sugars that it can use. As the yeast feeds on these sugars, it produces alcohol and carbon dioxide. Warm temperatures speed this process along, but temperatures of more than 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius) kill the yeast and stop the reaction.

Mixing the flour and water also makes gluten, the substance responsible for giving dough its strength and elasticity. This elasticity causes the dough to trap the carbon dioxide in tiny air bubbles. As more of these bubbles become trapped, the dough takes up more space and begins to inflate, or rise. Gluten stretches around these tiny bubbles, making an intricate mesh laced with tiny hollows. After the bread is baked, these hollows created by the bubbles give the bread its light texture.

For the first rise, the yeast becomes active as it mixes with flour and water. This mix initially is uneven, and during the mixing and kneading process, some of the yeast is completely dry, and some is fully activated and producing carbon dioxide. As a result, the first rise might not grow evenly. Portions of the dough might be too dense, and other portions might overproof and spring leaks in the dough’s surface. Bread proofing evens out the leavening process for a more consistent loaf.

After the first rise, the baker will punch down the dough and squeeze out most of the carbon dioxide. With all yeast in the dough now fully active, the dough will rise evenly. Even, predictable rising allows the baker to shape the loaf as desired without the risk of one side inflating more than another. Stretching the dough tight and tucking it underneath itself also will help trap carbon dioxide more completely for a lighter bread.

The length of time required for bread proofing will depend on the recipe that is being used. Dough made with rye flour, for instance, rises especially quickly. On the other hand, sourdough bread might need to ferment for days. Of course, the desired density also will have an impact on the proofing time as well, and recipes using similar ingredients might call for different treatments.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By lluviaporos — On Oct 30, 2013

It's really good to read this and understand why people make bread the way that they do. I have always followed the recipes but some part of me wondered if there was actually a purpose to letting the dough rise multiple times, or if it was just tradition or something.

I guess all the different shapes of bread actually add something to the texture and the flavor, rather than just looking nice. You learn something new every day.

By pleonasm — On Oct 30, 2013

The time used for making sourdough bread is going to depend on what starter you are using and what recipe you're following as well. If you're making your own starter from scratch that's probably going to take a few days, because you need to basically catch wild yeast and make sure that it's growing properly and there is enough of it to use in the bread.

The proofing itself probably won't take that much longer than a normal loaf, but the first rise might take quite a bit longer.

It is completely worth it though, since a good bread loaf of sourdough is absolutely delicious.

By Ana1234 — On Oct 29, 2013

My mother used to joke that this was the final proof that you've followed the recipe properly and that was why it was called proofing.

It did seem to be the step that went wrong the most often when I was learning to make bread, but I don't know if that's true for everyone. Even talking about making bread makes me want to have fresh bread! I think I might go and make some pumpernickel bread for breakfast tomorrow.

DelightedCooking, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

DelightedCooking, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.