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proofing delicates: cover or learn to control humidity (sorry, very long)


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Hi there:

Given the specifics of my situation below, how would you accomplish a final proof without damaging a delicate dough such as croissants, high hydration demi-baguettes, etc?

 

I got my hands on a used, small wine fridge last year, which has worked well as a temperature controlled chamber for fermentation of anykind such as pickles, sauerkraut, sourdough, yeasted breads, etc.  Depending on outside ambient temps, I use either the fridge on its own, or, a heating pad with an inkbird temp/humidity controller. 

 

This is fantastic for things easy to cover - the lacto-ferments are in jars, most breads are in bannetons which I can stick into a plastic bag.  The covers prevent the product from drying out.  Unfortunately, this doesn't work well with things like croissants or high hydration demi baguettes.  If I put any plastic over these, it sticks to the dough and is a real pain to get it off.  I have tried putting things like jars to raise plastic wrap, but this in itself is an exercise of frustrating futility that ultimately leads to at least a couple casualties - omg plastic wrap is arrrrrghhhhh and the jars start shifting around uuuggghhh! 

 

I found some sheet pans that come with covers - however, these are half-sheet size which don't fit into this fridge; maximum size appears to be jelly roll (16" max width and length), and jelly roll size pans don't come with covers that I could find.

 

Therefore, I looked into controlling humidity.  Based on some research, to prevent dough from drying out, you want RH inside the fridge to be around 80-85%.  Anymore, and it condensates on the dough with fluctuations in temperature, any less, and dough can dry out.  Controlling humidity has turned out to be rather difficult.  The inkbird I have has an option to control humidity, so I purchased a small humidifier.  It... didn't work as expected.  Hard to describe, but either the doughs end up sogged or dried out.  RH is incredibly complex - if temperature drops, the RH increases, and may precipitate out, and then the fridge's compressor sucks out the moisture.  If temperature increases, RH drops unless you add moisture to the air.  It turns into something like a PID balance nightmare.

 

I've tried other options, such as rice/semolina flour and a tea towel.  This is "okay" for the baguettes, but that won't work if I'm proofing with eggwash, or making neapolitan pizza dough (the rice flour and semolina burned at the high temps)

 

Maybe the better questions are, a) can anyone help me figure out how to control humidity in a small chamber, and b) should I maybe consider a 3D printed cover instead?  Figuring out how to control RH would actually be fantastic, because I can then potentially use the fridge to cure meats later on.

 

I'm fairly certain I'm overthinking this somehow.  There's got to be an easier way...

 

Thanks for reading.

 

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Cheap solution: go to a supermarket, buy a plastic box of your required size, put aside the lid, turn upside-down the box and it becomes your cover.

 

More expensive solution: check some websites selling used stuff, you should be able to find a wine fridge or a cigar box with controlled umidity. Most wine fridges should have a humidity controller to avoid troubles with corks. Cigar boxes without controlled humidity have no sense. Given the current situation, there should be a wide selection of used stuff for sale, since lots of people are selling stuff to get some cash. Once you find what suits you then you can resell your actual wine fridge.

 

 

 

Teo

 

Teo

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