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I'm here not questioning that a second rising (a.k.a. proofing) of a wet dough is necessary. It is, or else you'll get what someone termed "elephant skin".

But I am baking a wet dough too frequently to appreciate a counter that needs cleaning so often.

Is there a way to second-rise (a.k.a. proof) a wet dough in the same container?

Update

The basic steps (I use) are (video):

  1. First Rise (a.k.a. bulk rise) Mix (by a spoon works well; unlike a traditional drier dough, the heat from your fingers is not needed). Let rise/ferment for 12+ hours. I started with a flour:water weight ratio of 1:1, but that invariably remains too wet all the way. I'm working my way down and am at 10 parts flour to 9 parts water. I'm also working my way considerably up from what Jim Lahey @Sullivan St Bakery suggested, and am at 3/4 teaspoon dry yeast for each 400g flour (that's just under 1lb=453.6g) to get improved puffing with nice big pockets of air.
  2. Second Rise (a.k.a. proofing) Pour on a floured clean surface. Shape (again, with your hands or with utensils). Fold to create seams where it will open (or else slice the top after pouring into the preheated container). Let rise for 1-3 hours.
  3. Baking Transfer the dough to a preheated closed heavy container. It's nice if you dust (flour, cornmeal, ..) on top.

The critical steps to save cleaning are "pour" and "transfer". Pouring (step 2) means to pour the dough as a lump. Transfering (step 3) means to carry the dough to the preheated baking vessel.

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    The same container as the first rise, or the same container as you bake it in? I've switched to a final rise in a loaf tin for my sourdough because I find that shape more convenient than a round loaf and transferring a risen ball into a rectangular tin knocks too much air out of it
    – Chris H
    Commented May 4, 2022 at 10:35
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    This question needs clarification. I often use one bowl for high hydration dough. Mix in the bowl, rest, reach in the same bowl to stretch and fold, rest, repeat. Bulk ferment, again in same bowl. Then you need to remove from bowl to shape and move to proofing container (is this what you call 2nd rise?)...so we need to know what you mean by "second rise."
    – moscafj
    Commented May 4, 2022 at 19:17
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    @ChrisH (Homemade bread is an ideal way to carb-preload and to replenish glycogen stores; isn't it?) I tried using a plate or a glass cutting board for the second rise. But the difficulty here is sliding the dough off into the preheated dutch oven. I may still be using too wet a dough (9:10 water to flour) for this to work. 7:10 or 8:10 might be the answer.
    – Sam7919
    Commented May 4, 2022 at 20:24
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    @sam....yeah...can't do it that way....so, as in my comment, after the bulk ferment, you need to shape, and probably place in a basket (or other container) for the final proof. That is what is transferred to the oven. It sounds like you are using dutch oven method. If transfer to oven is an issue, bake on a stone. As soon as you place on stone cover with large stainless bowl...does the same a dutch oven...remove bowl after about 20 min and finish bake.
    – moscafj
    Commented May 4, 2022 at 20:37
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    @moscafj Got it.. Parchment paper is the trick. The brand I'm using is only good until 420F/216C. But even if I find one good till 450F, being right at the limit means the paper itself will become worryingly (as in it's almost burning) brown.
    – Sam7919
    Commented May 4, 2022 at 20:43

2 Answers 2

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I didn't fully understand the question until I watched the video. Some of the terminology may have evolved in the last 16 years or just not been common parlance for amateur bakers at the time.

What you're calling second rise is what most would call proofing. What you're calling first rise would usually be called bulk fermentation - because you often divide after, but even if not dividing by convention it's still called "bulk". In-between bulk ferment and proofing is shaping.

When bulk fermentation is finished you turn the dough out onto a (usually) lightly floured surface for shaping. You want to get rid of large gas pockets but you're not kneading. You gently stretch and fold (and roll, etc. - everyone has their own method) to develop tension so the dough keeps its shape in the oven. This would be nearly impossible to do correctly inside a bowl or fermentation vessel. Other than getting a large cutting board for this purpose to keep your counter clean - and personally I've never had great results with those vs. the smooth bare counter - there's really no way around dirtying your counter.

For proofing, the best method depends on the kind of bread. For a baguette or some round loaves you can wrap in a linen couche or just a kitchen towel to give it a little bit of structural support, and proof on a flat surface, which is what he does in the video. For batards and boules people usually use a banneton or proofing basket, sometimes lined sometimes not. Could you re-use your fermentation vessel? Possibly, if it has the right shape and you line it with a heavily floured towel to prevent sticking. But you're really better off just getting a banneton or two which are very affordable and require no cleaning, even when lined.

You can of course proof in a loaf pan and go directly to the oven to avoid the transfer step, but you're not going to get the kind of result I think you're looking for. It'll be more like sandwich bread than a crusty artisan loaf like is shown in the video.

For transferring to a Dutch oven, I find it much easier to proof in a banneton and then carefully turn it out onto a decent sized piece of flour dusted parchment. Then I lift the parchment with the loaf on it into the very hot Dutch oven. (I also tuck two ice cubes under the edges of the parchment before popping the lid on for extra steam). Works flawlessly for me. I really wouldn't worry about the temperature and the parchment. It might get a bit brittle but it's not going to combust at 450 degrees in a humid Dutch oven. After 25 minutes when you move to the uncovered portion of the bake, you can take the whole thing out, remove the parchment if you're concerned (I don't bother and still have never had a problem), and finish on a stone until it's done.

What he does in the video - lifting the dough off the flat surface and into the oven directly - is not as easy as it looks. Definitely not for a six year old.

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  • Perfect. Two quick sequels. What's special about a banneton (thanks for the keyword)? Is, for example, porosity essential and an ordinary mixing bowl (with towel etc) would not be suitable? Also in the same vein, I am getting reasonably good results by proofing on parchment paper, but I did indeed need to reduce the water, hence coincidentally compensating the evaporation. Bonus third sequel :-) I like the idea of ice cubes; might these be risky if I'm using a dutch oven coated with ceramic; might the ceramic crack?
    – Sam7919
    Commented Jan 30, 2023 at 15:15
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    My pleasure. :) When you see a banneton I think you'll get it right away, but yes porosity helps dry it out a little bit and form a nice crust, and it makes sitcking much less likely. In a lined solid bowl, yes the towel will absorb some moisture but there'll be nowhere for it to go after that, so sticking is more likely and the crust might not be as nice. And btw you don't need an expensive one - don't pay more than $15 each. Commented Jan 30, 2023 at 15:25
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    Re: ice cubes, assuming you're using an enamled dutch oven, I suppose there may be a small risk but I've not had a problem. It's not like you're submerging the thing in ice water. But if you are concerned, a spray bottle of plain water works great too. Just spray everywhere, including the underside of the lid, and spray AS you're lowering the lid too. In fact I do both ice AND spray because I'm a little obsessed with oven spring. :) Commented Jan 30, 2023 at 15:27
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Regardless of what you mean by "the same container", and of your definition of "wet" dough (your recipes only have 70 and 75% hydration, which is rather average) you cannot save yourself a cleaning step.

When you take out your dough for the second rising, you have to knead it - without a kneading in between, there is no "second rise" per definition. The only way to not having to clean anything would be if you would knead it in the container in which it was rising. And this won't work well for several reasons.

  • Container size/shape. To knead a ball of dough, you need a container which is noticeably wider than the ball of dough (or, instead of a container, a flat surface). But for rising dough, you need a container which is as wide as the ball. If it is too wide, you will have a huge surface for drying out, and the thin shape will also change its temperature too quickly, which is suboptimal.
  • Stickiness. You won't be able to take an overnight-risen ball of dough out of its container in one piece, there will be tiny pieces sticking to the bottom and walls. And before you start kneading, you have to prepare the kneading surface by flouring it. And the surface has to be clean - you cannot have small pieces of dough already sticking to it, or these will bind with the flour to make terribly hard pieces of dough, which then embed themselves into the bread dough, creating unpleasant lumps in the bread. So at this point, you would have to transfer the ball to a second container or surface, wash the first container, dry it, flour it, then knead the dough in it, then wash the second container/surface.

I cannot see a way to avoid the problems caused to stickiness - if you oil the container, it has to be clean and dry before that too, and if you raise the bread in flour, you will afterwards get too hard a bread if you do the intermediate knead in that flour. So, you do need a separate container for rising and a separate one for kneading.

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    Re: "you have to knead it" I'm not sure we're talking about the same process. The recipe I'm using is this (youtu.be/13Ah9ES2yTU). They called it "no knead bread", and it would be nice to truly avoid kneading altogether.
    – Sam7919
    Commented May 4, 2022 at 20:29

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