I like kitchen stores. I like to wander around them and check out all the gadgets and toys and fun kitchen things. As you can imagine, I’m pretty familiar with the contents of my local kitchen stores, so you can imagine my surprise and curiosity when, on one of my browsing sessions, I came across a big, white, electronic-looking box I’d never seen before.
So I investigated. Turns out, white plastic box is a collapsible proofer by Brød & Taylor. Having recently spent time at the Culinary Institute of America for a baking boot camp, I was experiencing lingering twinges of envy over their ovens and giant proof boxes (and, of course, my true love — the Hobart Mixer). Therefore, I was intrigued and sorely tempted at the thought of my own temperature-controlled proof box.
I stood there gazing at the box, desperately wanting it, but, I mustered all my self-restraint and resisted the urge to impulse buy. However, the proofer remained on my mind and, after some internet research and a respectable waiting period (a few days), I returned to the store and emerged triumphant; proofer in hand.
The proofer is basically a box with a heating element in the bottom and plastic sides that fold up so that the entire box collapses down into a neat little package between uses. In addition to the bottom, sides and lid, it also comes with a metal rack so that bowls and trays don’t sit directly on the heating element and a shallow metal dish for water, so that you can create a humid proofing environment.
The proofer can hold a temperature anywhere from 70 to 120º F, which allows a nice range in proofing temperatures. In addition, the proofer is additionally marketed as an ideal place to make yogurt, due to the steady, controlled temperature. According to the literature, it’s also great for melting chocolate and keeping it at a good temperature for dipping strawberries and other delectable edibles. While I’ve used the proofer for both dough and yogurt, I haven’t yet experimented with the chocolate.
Okay, enough of the facts from the website and accompanying literature. How was my experience with the folding proofer? Really good. It’s a breeze to set up and pretty much idiot-proof. You just plug the power cord into the socket next to the temperature display (and into the wall as well), pour some water in the tray, if desired, unfold and set up the walls, replace the metal rack and set the lid over the whole thing. It actually sounds more complicated than it is and only takes about 20 seconds to set up.
The first thing I made with my proofer was english muffins and it worked like a charm. The dough rose extremely well in the box and the moisture from the water tray kept the dough from drying out. I’m also on of those people who considers it a personal challenge to see how long I can make it without turning on the heat once the weather turns cold, so you can see how a proofer might be necessary in my kitchen. Yes, I could probably have accomplished the same thing by putting a dish of boiling water in the oven, but then I wouldn’t have the same temperature control and I wouldn’t be able to preheat the oven or cook something else in it during any of the proofing times.
The only downside to the proofer was that I wish it were a little bit bigger. While the proofer will fit a 9 x 13″ pan, I wish it could fit a half-sheet pan. I use half-sheet pans for almost all of my prep and baking, so being able to fit a half-sheet pan in the proofer would be really useful for me. However, the size of the proofer will still handle a decent size bowl or pan, so I’m still happy with it.
Having successfully made english muffins, I decided to give making yogurt a try. The booklet that accompanies this setup includes two methods for making yogurt and I’ve now tried both. And…both recipes work! There’s a whole but about heating up the milk in a microwave and holding it at a temperature etc, but once that initial part is over, you put your jars in the proofer at 120º F for an hour and then turn it down to 86º for another 1 to 4 hours — until the yogurt sets up.
The yogurt was fresh and tart, and I enjoyed each bite (or sip because I used some in smoothies). Just make sure to reserve some of the yogurt to seed the next batch!
So I’m pretty psyched about my proofer. Like I said, I wish it were slightly larger so it could accommodate a half-sheet pan, but there’s still so much I can do with it at the current size. Like make a lot of yogurt. And (spoilers!) orange pistachio sticky buns… everything I’ve tried so far has worked out well and I can’t wait to continue to use it.
So, how much does this folding proofer go for? According to the Brod & Taylor website: $148.00 for a 120v model (USA & CANADA) and $159 for a 240v international model. There’s also a shelf kit available for $19.75, which allows you to install a second metal rack for double the proofing space.
All opinions and photography in this review are my own. I was not asked to write this review and was not compensated for it. I did acquire my proofer at a discounted price, because I purchased a floor model in store.