You've probably heard of proofing if you've ever attempted to make bread. But what does it really imply, and how may baked goods best rise? In the process of baking bread and viennoiserie, the yeast in the dough is activated by proofing. In leavened doughs (like bread dough or pasta dough), the yeast cells absorb carbohydrates during fermentation and release carbon dioxide gas, which causes the dough to rise. The phrase "proofing" can be used to describe any stage of fermentation, although it is most frequently used to describe the last rise that takes place after dough is formed and right before baking. 

A yeasted dough must be given time to proof in order for the yeast to release carbon dioxide and for the gluten to stretch and hold the air bubbles. Bread baking and other processes that depend on yeast to form air pockets, such manufacturing croissants, require proofing. The most crucial part of the proofing process is making sure the dough is neither underproofed (which will result in a tight crumb and prevent you from getting those fluffy, flaky layers) nor overproofed (where it rises so much that it eventually crumbles, causing the layers to separate and the butter in croissants to leak). 

When it comes to delicate pastries like croissants, under- or over-proofed dough will not rise properly when baked. If the croissant has a slightly concave bottom and an uneven size of an air pocket inside, this indicates that the dough was under-proofed and did not develop the strength required to stabilise the dough that comes from proper proofing time. It is preferable to leave the dough a few more minutes to proof if you are unsure if it has been proofed for a sufficient amount of time rather than pull it out too soon and run the chance of dealing with unprepared dough. 

Tips for Effective Proofreading 

1. To prevent stickiness, lightly flour or oil your hands and other surfaces. 

2. Make use of proving jars that give the dough space to expand; they have to be at least two or three times the size of the dough. 

3. The ideal temperature for a cold proof is about 50°F, while the ideal temperature for a room-temperature proof is about 75°F. During the bulk fermentation phase of the first proofing before shaping, if the dough becomes too warm, the gluten structure will not expand as quickly as the yeast. Air bubbles will collapse in on themselves since the gluten structure won't be able to keep up with fermentation. Keep dough from rising above 115°F. However, yeast will become dormant if temperatures drop below 40°F. To avoid deflating any gas bubbles, be gentle when folding and shaping the dough. 

4. To retard dough (chilling dough to slow down yeast activity), proof it at a cooler temperature (about 50°F), which will reduce the rise and aid in flavour development. 

5. To avoid the dough from drying out or developing skin, wrap it in a plastic bag or a piece of cloth while it proofs.