Proofing bread is essential for making soft and fluffy bread. Allowing gas to raise bread dough takes a bit of time, but how long does it take for bread to rise? And does a no-rise bread exist? Well, let’s find out:
The short answer is there is no set time for bread to rise. The length of the rise is dependent on many things with the amount of yeast used and the temperature of the dough having the most impact. Bread dough typically takes around 1-4 hours to undergo its final rise, yet this can potentially be much longer in cooler conditions.
Bread dough usually undergoes two rises. The first otherwise known as the bulk fermentation stage develops dough maturity and flavour. In the second, or final rise, the gas is retained in the gluten structure which allows the bread to rise. For a more detailed answer, check the proofing bread page.
The CO2 gas that inflates the gluten matrix is provided by the yeast. The yeast supplies enzymes which break down the starch in the flour into simpler sugars. Yeast then consumes the sugars in the bread fermentation process to produce CO2 (among other products). Yeast operates best when it’s warm therefore, warming the dough or the dough’s proofing temperature speeds the rise similar to if more yeast was added to the recipe.
One of the hardest things to manage in bread baking is temperature. Room temperatures fluctuate with the weather and seasonality. They also rise when the oven is on, filling the kitchen with warm air. The best solution to create the perfect proofing environment is to get yourself a home proofing box like this one from Brod & Taylor:
With one, you are able to fine-tune the temperature of your proofing environment, making inconsistent rise times a thing of the past! Click to see the price on Amazon, or here to get the best price from the manufacturer. Other factors that speed up the rise, detailed in the proofing bread article include:
To give you an idea of how long it takes bread to rise in certain recipes, here is a simple table. As just mentioned there are more elements that impact the speed of the rise than this, so it’s better to learn how to tell when dough is done proofing, rather than relying solely on timing vs temperature.
I’ve based the timings in this table on a bread recipe that has a 1-hour bulk fermentation before shaping, and a Desired Dough Temperature of 26C (79F). The desired dough temperature is the temperature of the dough once it finishes mixing.
*The yellow section is the area best suited for bread bakers except when retarding the dough in the fridge.
Tip: Active yeast quantities should be halved. For example, 2% fresh yeast is the equivalent of 1% Active dried yeast. See my yeast conversion table for more.
If you are in a hurry you can add more yeast to speed up the rise and produce a higher risen loaf. But this is not the best solution in many circumstances. A slowly risen bread dough benefits from more fermentation activity and gluten development. The dough maturity this provides will often enable the bread to rise even higher!
The most recognised way to tell when to end proofing is the poke test. This involves poking your finger into the dough and measuring how quickly it springs back when you remove your finger. The optimum time is around 3 seconds for it to spring back. Less than this and the dough is not done proofing yet.
You can also become familiar with the height that the bread rises in your baking vessel (loaf pan/banneton). Once you repeat the same dough weights in your tin you’ll be able to tell how when the bread is risen just by looking at it.
Placing bread dough in the refrigerator for its final rise is a popular choice for many bakers. The cool temperatures of most home fridges halts the action of the yeast and the enzymes that would supply it with sugars. Because of this, there is very little rising that occurs in the fridge, the process is otherwise known as retarding the dough.
When retarding, even though there is very little gas produced, starch continues to be broken down into sugars and organic acids populate. The resulting bread is often sweeter and more flavourful than otherwise.
This and the ability to prepare bread to bake the following day make proofing dough in the fridge a fantastic option for artisan and sourdough bread bakers. It’s also used for enriched doughs such as Brioche during the first rise as the cooler dough is easier to shape. If you are going to proof your dough in the fridge I suggest that you allow for some rising time at warmer temperatures.
For large loaves it’s best to proof till ½ -¾ proofed before placing them in the fridge.
For small rolls or baguettes retard right after shaping and proof them on the counter or a proofer until ready to bake.
Loaves need time to rise in order to populate the gas in the dough. There are bread types, such as Campaillou, that mature during bulk fermentation and are then divided and baked right away -with no final rise. Flatbreads such as pitta bread or tortillas can be made without any proofing at all but tend to benefit from some time to rest before baking.