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When I bake bread, I often let the dough rise in the metal mixer bowl. I was wondering if this is a good idea, as the metal is probably colder than a regular bowl and may inhibit rising. Would it be better to transfer the dough to a glass or plastic bowl to rise instead?

(Note: I've done this often and my dough does rise, I just wondered if it might rise more if it wasn't in a metal bowl.)

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Or use a microwave oven for bowl of dough and pan of hot water without turning the microwave on. The microwave creates a wonderful moist sabachatina for rising dough. –  user21245 Nov 12 '13 at 8:07
    
Try it. If you like either one better than the other, then that's the way to go. –  Pete Becker Nov 12 '13 at 13:30
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3 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Your metal bowl sitting in your 70°F room is 70°F (at least, if its been sitting there for a bit). Your plastic bowl, or glass bowl, or ceramic bowl, or any other bowl sitting in the same room is also 70°F. They're all actually the same temperature.

Now, given, when you touch the metal bowl, it feels cooler than the plastic one. This is because your finger isn't 70°F, and your body heat is transferred away quicker by metal than (say) plastic.

If the dough is room temperature, it won't matter—heat isn't flowing out of it. The dough itself doesn't generate much heat. If your dough started above room temperature, it will cool a little quicker in a metal bowl. But, if you wanted to keep it from cooling, putting it in a warm place is much more effective.

A stainless steel bowl is fine. I'd avoid aluminum (and copper, if anyone makes a mixer with such a thing) due to them being reactive, especially if you're making sourdough.

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Yeast is very sensitive to metal ions. Fifty years ago, it was common sense not to use a metal spoon to stir bread dough. The steel in kitchen utensils today is of sufficient quality not to react with the food, but I would distrust any metal beside stainless steel, not just alu or copper. (Although it is unlikely that you will find mixer bowls made from anything but SS, I just wanted to stress it). –  rumtscho Apr 25 '12 at 16:49
    
@rumtscho: Interesting. What happens when the yeast reacts with metal? –  citizen Nov 12 '13 at 10:48
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@citizen it dies off and the bread doesn't rise. Like heavy metal poisoning in other organisms, just much quicker and triggered from much smaller quantities than with mammals. –  rumtscho Nov 12 '13 at 11:48
    
@rumtscho I'm skeptical that it'd matter. It seems that if the metal is going to leach into the dough, it'd happen during the mixing & kneading, and that any leaching happening during the rise isn't going to effect more than the outer few mm of the dough. Also, KitchenAid dough hooks are aluminum, and kneading with them isn't a problem. I have some tinned baguette pans, dough rises fine in them. Maybe the problem is silver (e.g., silverware); silver ions are known for being antimicrobial, but no mixer bowl is made of silver. –  derobert Nov 12 '13 at 15:04
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Personally, I always use my stainless steel mixer bowl. Warmth, and in my experience, moisture, are the keys. Steps I add to any bread recipe I prepare:

  1. I prewarm the mixer bowl in the oven for a few minutes while my yeast is blooming.
  2. Once I am done kneading the dough I turn it out, wipe out the bowl, add oil, and turn the dough in it to make sure it and the bowl are both coated.
  3. I then put the bowl in the oven along with a pan of hot water.
  4. Turn the oven on "warm" and crack the door open. This creates a wonderful, moist womb for the dough to rise in.

I've never had this method fail me. Give it a shot :)

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I do this too. But I don't call it a "moist womb". –  Sobachatina Apr 26 '12 at 14:23
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It is just fine that you let your dough rise in your mixer bowl as long as you keep it in a dry, warm place so that it would rise faster.

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While a fast rise is more convenient, a slow rise is actually more desirable as it allows for more flavour development. –  ElendilTheTall Apr 25 '12 at 11:26
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@Elendil- What you said isn't wrong but sometimes more convenient is more desirable. –  Sobachatina Apr 25 '12 at 13:29
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Sobachatina - after working in an artisan bakery for 5 years I can say that if you are baking bread from scratch convenience probably isn't a concern. It's far more convenient to buy bread from the store or a bakery. If you're trying to make good bread then ElendilTheTall is spot on. –  djmadscribbler Apr 25 '12 at 15:52
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@djmadscribbler- I definitely agree that longer rises are tastier- however- I don't have time for long proofs on weeknights, the grocery store is very far away, sandwich bread risen for only an hour is still worlds better than anything at the store. Convenience is a huge concern if you want to eat the bread as a staple. –  Sobachatina Apr 26 '12 at 14:27
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