2 Proofing Bread Dough in Your Instant Pot & Other Options

Proofing is the process of yeast actively working in your bread dough, causing it to rise. Bread dough rises well in a warm environment and here are a few ways to proof your dough, including the Instant Pot! Visit my Bread Gallery for lots of bread recipes and inspiration.

Why is Proofing Important?
Proofing (also called proving) develops overall flavor and texture of your bread. Dough that is not proved well can be densely textured, heavy and flat in flavor.

The ideal temperature for most bread dough is 80°F - 90°F. Warmer temps can cause bread to rise too quickly, then collapse.  In dough that contain butter, (dinner rolls, croissants) warmer temperatures can cause the butter to leak out of the dough.

Bread dough rises more quickly if it's warmer than room temp. Dough that rises in two hours at a 73°F room temp will take one hour at 90°F. The killing point of yeast is 140°F, so you definitely don't want to proof bread dough in temps this high.

Bread dough will will proof, or rise, even in cold temperatures, but at a much slower rate. This colder proofing process is often called "fermentation," and develops a flavor profile that is similar to a sourdough bread. My Rustic No Knead bread dough sits at room temperature, overnight, for at least 12-18 hours. In this case, slower is better.

Dough that has doubled in size in loaf pan

Methods of Proving Your Bread Dough

There are several different ways and I've listed them in the order that I use most often. Really, any warm place, away from drafts will do. (Laundry room near the dryer is an example) Make sure your dough is lightly oiled to keep it from forming a dried skin on the surface and cover it with plastic wrap, foil, or clean kitchen towel. Do not place dough in direct sunlight, as it will be too warm.

One batch of my dinner rolls, rising in my 6 quart Instant Pot

Instant Pot (Yogurt setting)
If you have a pressure cooker with a yogurt setting, you can use it to proof your dough.
(See Note, if you have a model with the Sous Vide setting)
1. Lightly oil the bottom of your insert.
2. Place the dough in the insert, flip it over, so the top is oiled.
3. Cover with plastic wrap, then put a dinner plate, pie plate or lid from your pots & pans that will fit.
4. Select Yogurt Low for one hour.
     Do Not use the pressure cooker lid! Your dough can rise to the top of the lid, stick and make a big mess.
Your dough can be ready in as little as 30-60 minutes, depending on your altitude.
Higher elevations allow dough to rise more quickly.
Some cookers, like the Instant Pot, have at least 2 yogurt settings, one for heating the milk and one for incubating the yogurt. You will want to use the lowest Yogurt setting for proofing bread:
  • Yogurt Low/Less = 86°-93°F
  • Yogurt Normal/Medium = 96°-109°F

If your pressure cooker has a Custom or Sous Vide setting, select a temp no higher than 90°F for best results. *NOTE* If you have the SV Model of Instant Pot, you can't use the yogurt setting without its lid. You'll have to use the Sous Vide setting, which can be used without the pressure cooker lid.

If your pressure cooker does NOT have a yogurt setting, I recommend using any of the methods listed below. (Do NOT use the Keep Warm setting, as it is about 145°F and too hot)

Microwave Oven
This is my next favorite option that works really well for the first rise. Put your covered dough into your microwave and place a large measuring cup or drinking cup of very hot water along with it. Close the door and keep it closed to maintain the warmth. I measured the temp to be around 80°F, which is perfect.

This is my favorite option for proofing dough that is shaped and in the pan, which is the second rise. You can also use it for your first rise as well.
Using your oven helps maintain the temperature by keeping it in a self contained area. It's basically a homemade "proofing box." Most oven temperatures will NOT go below 200°F. I've tried turning on the oven, then turning it off, but different ovens come to temp at different rates, AND I've forgotten to turn it OFF! These options are better and more consistent:
Standard oven: You do not need to turn your oven on.
1. Put a 9x13 pan of steaming hot water on the bottom rack.
2. Place your covered dough on a second rack above it.
3. Close the door and keep it closed to maintain the warmth.
The steam will warm up the oven to the correct temperature to help your dough rise.
Convection Oven: Your convection oven may have a bread proof! If so, use this setting according to manufacturer directions.
Dehydrator: Your oven may have a dehydrator setting. If it is close to 100°F, you can use it. Dehydrators use a fan, so make sure your dough is covered well with plastic wrap.
Air Fryer: (I haven't tried this method) My Instant Pot Vortex Plus Air fryer has a dehydrator setting. The lowest temp is 105°F, which can be used. You will need to make sure your dough is covered tightly with plastic wrap, or the surface of the dough will dry out and crack. If there's room to include a tall drinking glass of hot water, include it with your dough.

Electric blanket or heating pad
This is an option I've seen used, but haven't tried. If your electric blanket or heating pad doesn't have an "auto-off" feature, it can be worth trying.
1. Select the lowest temperature setting and place a clean kitchen towel on top.
2. Put your covered bread dough on the kitchen towel.
3. Covering the top with an additional kitchen towel will also help keep it warm.
Dough that has doubled in size

How do I know when my bread dough has 'doubled in size'?
1. You can use a container with markings to show size. See above photo.
2. Poke the dough lightly with your fingertip or knuckle. (I use this with bread loaves)
     If the dent bounces back quickly, it needs more time.
     If it collapses, it's risen too long.
     If it makes a dent and starts to rise slowly, it's ready.
3. Charmin test: (I use this on dinner rolls)
Squeeze the shaped dough lightly with thumb and forefinger. It should feel airy, slightly squishy and bounce back.

Why does bread dough need to rise twice?
Dough that is proved twice results in a better gluten structure. It will have smaller holes, rather than large, gaping holes. Your first rise will contain large air holes, so pushing all the air out of it, shaping and letting it rise again will give you a better crumb, or texture. The second rise will be shorter than the first rise.

How many times can I proof my bread?
Two times, unless you are using a rapid rise yeast (only one rise). The first proofing is done in a bowl, before shaping. The second proof is after the dough has been shaped and before baking.

Can bread dough rise too long?
Yes. Over proofed dough can have a gummy, crumbly texture and have a sour, bitter taste. Shaped bread dough that has risen too long can collapse during baking.

Help! My dough proofed too long and it's collapsed. What can I do?
Over-proofed dough is bubbly, air bubbles have popped and the dough may be sticky. When poked, it sinks and doesn't spring back.
To rescue, gather up the dough with floured hands or dough scraper, press down to remove the gas, re-shape and let rise. *Note: the rising time will be much shorter, so keep an eye on your dough!

My bread is dense, not light and fluffy. What happened?
Your dough did not rise long enough. It is also possible that too much flour was used.


  1. I learned something new today! thnks!

  2. I usually put bread dough in the oven to rise and turn the oven light on to maintain 80°-85°F temp. I don't preheat the oven until it's time to bake


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