I have a bread recipe for 1 loaf of bread I want to try. Does it matter what size of bowl I use to let it rise in? I normally bake 2 loafs. Can I use the same bowl? I have a friend that told me it is to big and my bread wont rise correctly. I love her to death, but she really doesn't know everything like she thinks she does. I'm still new at bread making.
The shape of the container can also be helpful (or make more difficult) the evaluation of "how much did that rise" - if you are looking for "doubled" it's much easier to see that in a fairly straight-sided container, where "twice as high as when you put it" in means it's doubled. Indeed, clear plastic graduated containers are great for this, as you can note the volume when you start the rise and know "exactly" when the rise is "double" - this may be helpful for a new or nervous baker.
In a wide bowl, it is much harder to accurately asses what is "double the volume" as it's certainly not "double the height/depth."
As an old warhorse baker, I don't worry about it much, as I have a pretty good idea what I'm looking for in risen dough, and "precisely" doubled does not matter anyway, in my opinion.
Margalo is missing a detail in their otherwise good answer:
Many bread recipes use two rises, one after mixing ("bulk rise"), one after shaping and before the bread goes into the oven.
For the first rise you just want to make sure the bowl is large enough, so at least double the volume of your unrisen dough. For very large and wide bowls, you just have to take extra care that the dough won't dry out.
But the final rise may need the right size of container:
A shaped loaf behaves differently depending on recipe and shaping. Soft doughs will be put to rise in the baking tin (matching the loaf size), very stable ones simply put on a floured board or on the counter.
But there is a middle-ground where the loaf has a tendency to "flow outwards" or to flatten, no matter how carefully you shape it or how much tension you create. For those loaves, a proofing basket ("banneton") is used to keep the dough contained - or a bowl, if the baker doesn't have any special equipment at hand. This bowl should be both large enough that the bread won't overflow, yet small enough that the dough is kept together and can't flatten. Using a too-large bowl here nixes the purpose.
Yes. The only concern is if the bowl is too small, causing the dough to overflow. If the bowl works for 2 loaves, it will definitely work for 1.