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I used to make pizza dough effortlessly when I had a gas oven. The pilot was enough to keep a warm temperature.

My last two ovens have been electric ovens. I have tried many approaches, including keeping a hot water bath in the oven with the dough, and leaving the light on. But have had no success in getting a good raised proof.

Are there any surefire methods to proof pizza dough with an electric oven?

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No, an electric oven is not especially well suited as a device for speeding up dough proofing.

The closest you can get is by turning the oven on at the lowest level, without preheating, and babysitting it. Provided that you have a standard, large oven, it is unlikely that you kill the yeast - but you really have to pay attention to it, so it is labor-intensive, and not actually surefire.

If you insist on a warm proof, you will have to buy or construct a separate proof device.

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  • Excellent. Thank you for this advice. Dec 17 '20 at 18:16
  • You can get a feel for an electric oven. Something like heating to as low as it goes, then turning off until just the light is on may be warm enough for a couple of hours if it's well insulated. My dials are only marked down to 50C, though they go a little lower and I don't trust them to be that precise at the extreme of the range, so don't dare leave it on with the dough in there
    – Chris H
    Dec 18 '20 at 6:52
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A pizza stone in your oven really helps with this. Set the oven as low as you can and let it heat for 20 minutes, this will give the pizza stone some time to absorb some heat. Once you turn the oven off it will continue to radiate heat and keep the interior warm for some time. You can also put some metal in the oven to achieve the same effect, although lasting less time. Heat the oven as above, then turn it off and keep the light on while you prove your bread.

I use the method above often in the winter when I need results within a time-frame, but if you have time you don't need to. Your dough will rise, it'll just take longer, so you could work into your process. I like to knead my pizza dough the day before and give it a long proof in the refrigerator as it gives a more flavorful result.

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With a bit of experimentation and practice, you can probably do this.

First of all, my oven has a mode where it only has the light and fan on. That's useful for proofing, because both consume energy, thus generating heat. They're sufficient to maintain the oven around 30-35 degrees, but they would take forever to heat it to that temperature.

So when I need to proof something, I turn the oven on for precisely 45 seconds, then turn it to the "light and fan only" setting. I've found that if I'm starting from a cold oven that's enough to bring it to approximately the right temperature (not right away -- the heat needs to diffuse from the element). An infrared thermometer can help you find the right time, as can simply feeling the walls of the oven after ten minutes diffusing. Even if your oven doesn't have a setting like that, an initial blast of heat can maintain a warm temperature for a while.

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It depends on the electric oven. Mine (manufactured by Neff) has a “Dough Proving” setting, which of course does exactly what you want.

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